Tanya Chapter 1: The Questions, The animal soul, and The side of evil within man

Chapter 1: The Questions, The animal soul, and The side of evil within man

22nd Kisleiv/(LY)24th Kisleiv

1. Should one view himself as a Tzadik or Rasha?
  • The Talmudic contradiction: On the one hand, it states in the Talmud that prior to the souls descent into this world, the soul is sworn to being a Tzadik and not a Rasha, and that he should always view himself as a Rasha even if the whole world says that he is a Tzaddik. On the other hand, it states in the Mishneh in Pirkei Avos that one should never be a Rasha in his own eyes.
  • The disadvantage of each perspective: The disadvantage of the first perspective is that if a person views himself as a Rasha then he will be depressed and not be able to serve Hashem with joy. The disadvantage of the second perspective is that if a person always views himself as righteous, then he will not have any remorse about his sins, which can lead him to lightheadedness and transgression.

2. The five levels of Jews:
  • In the Talmud we find five different levels of righteousness.
    • There is a righteous man who has good.
    • A righteous man who has bad.
    • A wicked man who has good.
    • A wicked man who has bad.
    • A Beinoni.
  • The Talmudic definition of a Tzadik Vera Lo versus a Tzadik Vetov Lo: The Talmud explains that a righteous man who has a good life is a complete tzaddik [and hence has a good life]. The righteous man who has a bad life is an incomplete tzaddik.
  • The Zoharic definition of a Tzadik Vera Lo versus a Tzadik Vetov Lo: The righteous man with bad, means that he has evil within him that is subjugated to his good.
  • Who rules in the Tzaddik and in the Rasha-the evil or good inclination? In another area of the Talmud it states that Tzaddikim are judged by their good inclination while the wicked are judged by their bad inclination, while the Beinoni is judged by both.
  • Does Hashem create people as Reshaim or Tzadikim? Iyov stated regarding G-d that he creates the righteous and the wicked. This requires clarification, as the Talmud does not state that righteousness or wickedness is decreed upon a soul upon its descent.

3. Understanding the level of the Beinoni:
  • We need to understand the level of the Beinoni by which we find many discrepancies.
  • Raba called himself a Beinoni: Raba stated that he is a Beinoni, to which Abayey responded that if so then he is leaving no life for any individual.
  • Must conclude that a Beinoni has no sins: Based on the above definition of Raba regarding himself, we must conclude that certainly a Beinoni is not someone who has half merits and have sins, as if so Raba would have never made this mistake about himself, as the Talmud states that he learned Torah continuously to the point that even the angel of death could not take his life, and hence how could he possibly imagine that he spent half of his life sinning.
  • When one sins, he is called a Rasha: A further proof for this definition of a Beinoni, and that he must be a person without any sins is that when a person sins, he is called a Rasha while when he repents he is considered a complete Tzaddik.
    • Rabbinical transgressions: Even one who transgresses a light rabbinical prohibition is referred to as a Rasha.
    • Not protesting a sin: Even one who does not protest a transgression is called a Rasha.
    • Bittul Torah: Certainly, one who transgresses a positive command which he can fulfill, such as Torah learning, is called a Rasha, as he has belittled the word of G-d and is liable for excision and certainly is considered more wicked than a person who transgresses a rabbinical command.
  • Beinoni does not even have sin of Bittul Torah: Accordingly [that even one sin deems one a Rasha], we must conclude that a Beinoni is not even guilty of the sin of nullifying Torah study, and it is for this reason that Raba mistook himself for a Beinoni.
  • Gloss-The Zoharic definition of a Beinoni: Although the Zohar states that whoever has more merits then sins is called a Tzadik Vera Lo [which contradicts our entire premises above that even a Beinoni has no sins at all], in truth, this was the assertion of Rav Hamnuna to Elijah the prophet who responded to him as it states in the Raya Mehemna that in truth the interpretation of a Tzadik Vera Lo is a person who has his evil side subjugated to his good side. As for the assertion of Rav Hamnuna, since there are 70 faces for the Torah, various interpretations are initially pondered.


23rd Kisleiv/(LY)25th Kisleiv

  • The borrowed Talmudic definition of Beinoni and Tzadik: Although we find [in the Talmud and other sources] that a Beinoni is defined as one who has an equal amount of sins and merits, while a tzaddik is one who has more merits than sins [which once again contradicts the above asserted of definition], this is a mere borrowed term with regards to reward and punishment, as in truth one is rewarded and punished in accordance to whether he has a majority of sins or a majority of merits.
  • However, regarding the true definition of the term and differences between a Tzadik and Beinoni [we must conclude as stated above regarding the Beinoni, and as we will now define regarding the Tzadik].
  4. The definition of a Tzaddik-No evil inclination:
  • The Talmudic sages state that a Tzadik is judged by his good inclination. As King David stated regarding himself that he does not have an evil inclination, having killed it through fasting.
  • Whoever has not yet reached this level of killing his evil inclination is not even close to the level of a Tzadik, even though he has more merits than sins.
  • G-d planted Tzadikim in each generation: In light of the above understanding of the true definition of a Tzadik, it is understood that which the sages state, that G-d envisioned that there would be very few Tzadikim, and He hence planted them in every generation.
    • The necessity for having a tzaddik in every generation is because the verse states that a tzaddik is the foundation of the world.

5. The two souls found in every Jew:
  • It states in the writings of Rabbi Chaim Vital that every single Jew has two souls.
  • Even a Rasha: This applies to every Jew whether he is a tzaddik or a Rasha.
  • The scriptural source: This is derived from the verse which states “and souls I have made” [in the plural tense].
  • Nefesh: These two souls that are found in every Jew are of the level called “Nefesh” [and not necessarily of the higher level called Ruach or Neshama].

6. The animal soul and its bad traits:
  • From the side of evil: One of these two souls found in every Jew comes from the side of evil.
  • Where was it found? This soul which derives from the side of evil is invested within the blood of the body, as the verse states that the soul of man is in his blood.
  • Gives vitality and energy: This soul which derives from the side of evil is responsible for giving energy to the body, just like blood.
  • The source of all bad traits: All of the bad traits in a person come from the four evil elements found within this so
  • Yesod of fire-Anger and arrogance: The bad traits of anger and arrogance derive from the element of fire found within the soul.
  • Yesod of water-Lust for pleasure: The bad trait of lust and chasing after pleasures derive from the element of water found within the soul, as water helps the growth of the various pleasures [such as fruits of pleasure].
  • Yesod of wind-Frivolity and lightheadedness: The bad traits of frivolousness and lightheadedness and grandeur and purposeless conversation derive from the element of wind found within the soul.
  • Yesod of earth-Depression: The bad traits of laziness and depression derive from the element of earth found within the soul.

7. The uniqueness of the animal soul of a Jew and its good traits:
  • Its good traits: The good traits that are naturally found within every Jew by birth also derive from this soul that comes from the side of evil.
    • An example of such traits that are naturally found in every Jew by birth is compassion and kindness.
  • The root of the Jewish soul: The reason that the animal soul of a Jew also contains good traits is because it derives from the level of evil known as Kelipas Nogah which also contains good. It comes from the mystical level of the tree of good and evil.

8. The animal soul of a gentile and its lack of true good:
  • This is in contrast to the animal soul of the Gentile nations which come from the other impure Kelipos which do not have any good in them at all.
  • Even their good contains ulterior motives: In fact, it is for this reason that all of the good that the nations of the world do is for their own self benefit, as the Talmud states that the kindness of the nations is itself sinful as they only do so for purposes of bragging.

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