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Tanya for Friday, 5 Shevat, 5779 - January 11, 2019

As Divided for a Leap Year

Tanya for 5 Shevat

4 Shevat, 5779 - January 10, 20196 Shevat, 5779 - January 12, 2019

This [Torah study and fulfilling the mitzvot] constitutes [7] "the whole purpose of man," for it is written: [8] "[I command you these mitzvot], that you do them this day'" - "this day" referring specifically to this world of physical action.

[The Alter Rebbe's point is that the main objective in the commandment to love G-d lies, not in the love itself, but in the practical and wholehearted fulfillment of the commandments that is motivated by this love, for the main thing in this world is action].

Only "tomorrow" [i.e., in the afterlife] is the time of reward, [9] as is explained elsewhere.

[Hence the true love of G-d, which is in itself a partial reward for one's serving Him, is not as important in this life as the actual performance of the mitzvot, which can be generated even by a love which remains hidden in the mind and heart. This, then, is the love referred to in the verse, "for it is very near to you in your heart that you may do it" - a love which, though it may not find overt expression in the heart, is yet sufficient to motivate the performance of the mitzvot, and within reach of every Jew.

How does this love motivate one to perform the commandments? This the Alter Rebbe now goes on to explain]:

The mind, by virtue of its inherent nature, is master over the left part of the heart, [the seat of the animal soul, whence come one's mundane desires and evil thoughts], and over the mouth and the other bodily organs, which are the instruments of action.

[Hence by having - in his mind, at least - a love of G-d and a desire to fulfill the mitzvot, one can utilize the natural mastery of the mind to overcome the desires of his heart, and to motivate his mouth and other bodily organs to study Torah and fulfill its commandments. We thus see that this can be done even by one whose heart is not under his control, as is a tzaddik's].

This is true of everyone [except he who is truly wicked] - that is, not the Beinoni who is considered "like a rasha," but one who is truly a rasha; in his case it cannot be said that his mind is master over his heart].

[On the contrary, our Sages state [6] that the wicked are under the control of their heart but their heart is not under their control at all - [they are unable to master the desires of their heart, for their mind has no active control over it.

This also resolves an apparent contradiction. The statement, "Tzaddikim have control over their heart," indicates that anyone of a lesser rank, including a Beinoni, is not in control of his heart, while the statement that only the wicked are "under the control of their heart," implies that anyone outside the category of rasha - even a Beinoni - is in control of his heart. Where, then, does the Beinoni actually stand?

The previous discussion of the mastery of mind over heart explains this point. There are actually not two alternatives - of either being in control of one's heart or controlled by it - but three.

The tzaddik controls his heart. He can arouse a love of G-d in his heart, directly, without resorting to his mind as a medium of influence.

The rasha, on the other hand, not only does not control his heart, but is controlled by it.

The Beinoni, although not in control of his heart, as is a tzaddik, rules his heart by way of his mind, which is under his control.

To a certain extent, then, i.e., as regards the practical effect of his heart on his thought, speech, and action, the Beinoni does in fact control his heart. Therefore the Alter Rebbe says of the rasha "his heart is not under his control at all," emphasizing that he is unable to influence his heart even by means of his mind.

The author previously stated that the ability of the mind to master the heart is natural and inherent in the mind. Why, then, do the wicked (resha'im) lack this capacity? He answers]:

This is a punishment for the enormity and potency of their sinfulness.

[However, this raises another question: If they have in fact lost the ability to master their heart, how can it be "very near" to them to observe the mitzvot "with their heart" ? In answer, the author states]:

The Torah does not speak of the dead, that is, those wicked ones who are considered dead [10] even during their lifetime. [11]

Indeed, it is impossible for the wicked to begin to serve G-d, [that is, to observe the mitzvot out of a feeling of love and fear of G-d], without first repenting for their past, in order to shatter the kelipot [that were created by their sins], which form a sundering curtain and an "iron wall" that interposes between them and their Father in Heaven. [12]

[How are these kelipot shattered]? - By means of contriteness of heart and bitterness of soul over one's sins.

As the Zohar interprets the verse, [13] "The sacrifices to the Almighty (Elokim) are a broken spirit, a broken and contrite heart ..., " to mean that through one's breaking his heart the unclean spirit of the sitra achra [the kelipot] is broken, [and this is the sacrifice that we offer to the Divine Name, Elokim].

[When speaking of the sacrifices and the laws pertaining to them, the Torah mentions only the Divine Name Havayeh (as in the oft-repeated phrase describing the sacrifices: "an appealing fragrance to G-d (Havayeh)"). No mention is made of a sacrifice to the Divine Name, Elokim. What, asks the Zohar, does constitute a sacrifice to that Name? The Zohar interprets the previously quoted verse as answering this question. "The sacrifice to Elokim is a broken spirit" (i.e., breaking the spirit of the sitra achra; and this is accomplished by means of) "a broken and contrite heart]."

([2] See Zohar on Parshat Pinchas, p. 240, and on Parshat Vayikra, p. 8 and p. 5a, and the commentary of Rabbi Moshe Zacuto thereon.)



  1. (Back to text) Parenthesis in the original text.

  2. (Back to text) Bereishit Rabbah 34:10; 67:8.

  3. (Back to text) Kohelet 12:13.

  4. (Back to text) Devarim 7:11.

  5. (Back to text) Eruvin 22a.

  6. (Back to text) Berachot 18b.

  7. (Back to text) The Rebbe Shlita notes that in the following sentences the Alter Rebbe addresses a difficulty which arises from his previous statement concerning the rasha: If indeed, the mind of the rasha is under the control of his heart, and if the heart is naturally inclined, not toward love and fear of G-d (in any form, not even a love which remains hidden in the mind) but toward material pleasures, then

    1. It is not only "far", but in fact impossible for him to acquire a love or fear of G-d;

    2. It will remain impossible for him forever, G-d forbid, for what will arouse him to love and fear once he has lost control over his mind, which is the medium of influence on the heart?

    Indeed, answers the Alter Rebbe; in his present state, it is in fact impossible for the rasha to attain a love or fear of G-d. But it is in his hands to change this state of affairs - through repentance, which destroys the evil in his heart.

    In this way, the rasha tackles the problem at its source. Once his heart rules him no longer, his mind is free to influence it, and to arouse a love and fear of G-d.

  8. (Back to text) Cf. Yeshayahu 59:2.

  9. (Back to text) Tehillim 51:19; Zohar II, 116b.

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