Classic Jewish Mysticism [A summary of the Tanya]

 

 The Gateway To Belief and Unity

The first part of the Tanya to learn is Shaar Hayichud Vehe-emunah, this unlocks the gateway to your belief in G-d and understanding how the world continually receives G-dly energy.

 

A Story

A group of people were once listening, as the great and scholarly Lubavitcher Rebbe was teaching in his Synagogue. They had a plane to catch so they were a bit anxious. The Rebbe sensed their anxiety so he said the following: “During the terrible Communist persecutions against my father in law (the Rebbe prior to the Rebbe telling the story,) my father-in-law, the Rebbe, needed to catch a train to escape from a city, as the KGB wanted to arrest him for spreading Judaism all over Russia. He had few minutes to get to the train station which was a couple of minutes away and yet there he was composing a letter calmly and peacefully at his desk. I was astounded at seeing this. I asked, “How can a person have such incredible self-control?” My father in law the Rebbe replied, that he learned from his father the Rebbe before him, that as we cannot add another hour in the day we should be completely immersed in what we are doing, which gives us success with time.”

 

[After great miracles the Rebbe’s Father-in-Law managed to leave Russia and rebuild Judaism in America.] The Rebbe continued, “I don’t expect such levels of self control from everyone and additionally according to Chassidus, Jewish Mysticism, G-d recreates reality every moment, so technically speaking, the plane that you need to catch needs to be created anew, so you have nothing to worry about; however I will cut my speech short to give you ample time to catch your flight.”

 

The Main Point

The second comment of the Rebbe sums up the teaching of Shaar Hayichud Vehe-emunah. I will explain it in scientific terms which hopefully won’t complicate it too much.

 

E=mc2 means among other things that matter and energy are one. Energy = Matter. Now what would happen if you were to stop the flow of energy that lights up your light bulb; as soon as you switch off the switch the electrons stop flowing and the light goes out. All of us know that energy is intangible. How is there this massive power, that when you split an atom, presto, you release enough energy to light up a city? And according to Einstein the splitting of an atom is in fact only a tiny release of energy within the atom, sort of like a wealthy man who gives away a thousand dollars – he will still have many millions left; so within everything, there is almost unlimited energy.

 

The Talmud teaches that through ten sentences found in Breishis, the first book of the Torah / Bible, G-d created the world.

 

I am sure you have heard of Abra Cdabra. Abra Cdabra comes from two Hebrew words Aborah Cdabra, “I will create through speech”. We use speech to communicate. G-d uses speech to create. G-d is infinite. G-d’s speech can literally create anything.

 

When G-d created, G-d’s ten sentences contain almost limitless energy. So the first ten sentences would be like ten power plants that have the ability to produce limitless energy; then the energy goes through wires until it reaches all the households in the world and provides them with limitless energy.

 

First the energy was given that created the prime creatures: time, space and matter. Remember, before creation, time and space and atoms did not exist at all. Then energy comes to create the details within time space and matter, like the sun, moon, stars, etc.

 

Everything has an energy code which keeps it alive and that is its Hebrew name. In fact if a person faints you should call them by their Hebrew name as the Hebrew name is in fact their souls energy and by calling it, we can awaken them.

 

The Six Souls that Inhabit Earth

There are actually six souls in this world: three belong to the human specie which we will discuss in another part of our booklet. However we will briefly discuss the first three types of souls in this universe. The first is the soul of matter. Every atom contains energy, although energy is not its soul; but for example’s sake, let us imagine it is; so every atom contains a soul and that soul is the energy that makes the matter exist. In other words, imagine the atom as a living thing and it has a soul that keeps it living. Obviously this soul comes from G-d.

In this way we realize how G-d is aware of everything. Just as your soul is aware of everything that is going on with you, say you know that you have a toothache and you have a bill to pay and you cant wait for your children to come and visit all at once, so to G-d, from which these souls all come from is aware internally of everything. When a leaf turns over G-d knows about it, as without his energy that leaf, at least the atoms in it, wouldn’t exist.

 

The second soul is the soul which exists in the vegetative world. The great and scholarly Rebbe, Rabbi Sholom Dovber of Lubavitch was once walking with his young son and they were learning this concept. Absentmindedly his son picked off a leaf from a bush. He said to his son, “You’re missing the lesson my son, we just discussed that everything has a soul and so by tearing off that leaf you are destroying that vegetative soul.”

 

Our Sages teach us that before grass or anything in the vegetable kingdom grows an angel strikes it and commands it to grow. In other words, there is nothing normal about the ability of a dead seed which may be around for a thousand years to suddenly grow when put it into the ground, it takes a miracle and the miracle is the vegetative world’s soul that the angel infuses within that seed.

 

A Bit About Miracles

Just a general thing about miracles which I should comment on. Everything is a miracle. The Holy Baal Shem Tov the founder of Chassidus / modern Jewish mysticism explains that the first time we see a miracle in nature we call it a miracle, the second time we call it nature. Let me give you an example. I am sure you are familiar with the air fern. The first time I saw the air fern hanging over a tree I was amazed that here is something that looks totally different to the tree, growing over a branch of the tree. I thought it must be some kind of fungus, as I had never seen anything that could grow without being attached to the ground or in water. However my aunt – whose home I was at when I saw it – explained to me that this grows in the air. I was amazed; it was truly a miracle to see a plant that has no roots and simply absorbs the necessary water and nutrients from the air! If you have never seen an air fern I am sure you are amazed at just hearing about it. It’s a miracle but slowly but surely you get used to the miracle. How about the first time you saw your child/baby? It’s a miracle! However slowly but surely you take the miracle for granted and now it’s your child. Perhaps when you met your spouse for the first time you felt such powerful love that it was a miracle to have this person in your life but slowly but surely it became your spouse; so everything is really a miracle however they are so reliable that we simply take them for granted.

 

The Hebrew word for nature is Teva, the word Teva comes from TUBU BIYOM which means drowned or concealed in the sea. So a miracle is concealed through its consistency. Imagine if the sun came up once in a blue moon, it would be the greatest miracle ever; however its consistency and predictability give it the name, nature.

 

Is there anything natural about the precise movements of the celestial spheres? How the moon circles the globe exactly to the millisecond every month, how the earth turns by some magical clock precisely? Remember, each celestial being has its own clock, a different time to rotate. How about the difference between summer and winter? Summer is caused by a tilting of the globe on its axis toward the sun 33 degrees. Imagine if it tilted fifty in either direction G-d forbid? We would all burn or freeze! Do you know the moon gets to hundreds of degrees above and below Fahrenheit by day and night respectively, simply because it lacks an ozone layer? How is it that as far as the eye can see with the most powerful telescopes there are no conditions for life anywhere else in the universe?! All of these point to an amazing miracle, however because it is so consistent and reliable it becomes concealed.

 

Supernatural Miracles

When we say something is a miracle normally we mean it is amazing, it is supernatural! it never happens. And it is true, those kind of miracles happen also.

 

There are actually thousands of such stories. I grew up with these miracles, so many have happened through the Rebbe’s blessings to my family, to people I know, that I can keep you entertained for days on these miracles. However many books have been written with these amazing stories and additionally amongst Chassidim we have a saying that “by the Rebbes there are miracles under the table – meaning all over, even lying on the floor – but who has the time to pick them up.” This is because we are more into studying Chassidus – Jewish Mysticism – then collecting miracle stories.

 

How To Make a Miracle

That being said, due to what we have learned I will teach you how to make miracles.

 

I was the Rabbi in a resort town and this one individual from a farm on the outskirts was really interested in Judaism. Once I told him the following. Because every second G-d recreates the world – as we discussed before – therefore our thoughts have the potential to create a new reality. If we truly believe that a miracle will occur, a miracle will occur.

 

This is what I know; I can give you many personal stories to prove it but I will suffice with the following. I once wanted to watch a video however my video machine was broken. I decided to believe that the video would work and stick it in. I tried that but it didn’t work, so I tried it another three times, each time trying to believe more that it would work, however it didn’t work, then I believed it would work, not that I hoped for it to work, I knew it would work; I knew it in my heart and sure enough it worked. I took the video out after watching it, and of course being a natural skeptic I decided, “well somehow it got fixed” and I put that video back in, not really believing a hundred percent that I witnessed a miracle and it didn’t work.

 

The Talmud tells the following story. The Jewish people in Israel once instituted a fast day to pray for rain, which was a common practice. A farmer unaware of the fast day came to town and wondered where everyone was. He went to the Synagogue and found everyone crying in prayer. “Why are crying?” “Don’t you know we have a fast day, we are praying for rain?” “What?! A fast day praying for rain? Why do you do that?!” “Well what do you do when you need rain?” “Why I go to the corner of my room, I look heavenward and I say, ‘G-d your children need rain’ and it immediately starts raining.” “Could you do that for us?” “Of course” replied the unbelieving man, and sure enough as soon as he finished praying it started raining.

 

The reason this man’s prayers were successful was because he believed they would be successful; this man knew, that G-d, his father, who loves his children and has complete control over nature would listen to him, so G-d did listen to him.

 

In my own life I went through a similar period where my belief in G-d’s kindness to us, his children was so great, that nature would conform with what I needed and the rain would stop when I needed it to.

 

I do not write this to make you think that I am someone special for I am not; rather, we are all special, we just don’t realize it. We don’t realize that G-d created the universe for us, for his children. Imagine a parent that builds a home for his child, the child would realize the love that the parent has for them, however normally a child thinks, “I am living in my parents home.” The child is unaware of the great love that the parent possesses for them. Knowing that G-d really loves us and is capable of doing anything, will cause that this becomes the reality.

 

Scientist have discovered this too. A famous rule amongst physicists is Heisenberg’s “Principle of Uncertainty.” Unbelievably we cannot predict what atoms will do because our observation of atoms literally change the way they behave. When Einstein was told about Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle called quantum physics he said, “G-d doesn’t play dice with the universe.” But what Einstein didn’t know and what you know now is that G-d set up certain systems in the universe and our beliefs create realities.

 

I am sure that you know that it has been proven by scientific studies that prayer works. People praying for people who were sick and the sick person was unaware about the prayers healed quicker than people who did not receive prayers.

 

I was sitting on a plane next to a Doctor who had done a lot of the research on this. It wasn’t a time of my life when I was believing strongly in G-d and so I told him “That’s amazing!” He looked at me rationally and said, “That’s why people have been praying for thousands of years.”

 

So beyond hope, there is belief, trust, and knowledge. Someone, in fact anyone who really trusts that G-d will help them and they are not at the mercy of nature, change reality to their liking.

Intention Changes Reality

According to the first part of Tanya, human intention changes the Divine energy that energizes matter. If we mean good then the energy within us and the items we are using become good, if we mean evil then the item and our own energy comes from Kelipot which have a negative energy set up by G-d to sustain evil (until the Moshiach / Messiah comes when all evil will be destroyed.) And then there is a neutral energy zone, neither good nor bad. For example, if I eat an apple to give me energy so I can study Torah / The Bible and be a nice person then it gets a positive energy; if I eat the apple simply because I am hungry, however I am not doing anything meaningful with my time, it has a neutral energy; if however I eat an apple and then insult someone G-d forbid, then it has a negative energy.

 

Amazingly, scientists have taken pictures of this concept, showing the crystals of the atoms lined up in positive, negative, and neutral intentions put into items; and you can see how what is blessed has beautiful aligned crystals and what is cursed has twisted maligned crystals.

 

G-dcidence

There is another kind of miracle and that is coincidences, or as my friend Mr. Price from Port Elizabeth classes them G-dcidence. Just to give you an example of a G-dcidence which happen between us. I was once in the office of the General Manager of the Beacon Island Hotel who was a friend of Mr. Price. The General Manager gets a phone call from Mr. Price for my e-mail address. So he gives the phone to me so I can tell Mr. Price my e-mail address. We can ignore the facts, which are the chances of this happening were very close to zero, or say that Hashem / G-d wanted Mr. Price to get my e-mail address and arranged that I should be in the General Manager’s office at the moment Mr. Price decided to call.

 

There are great books called Small Miracles which should probably be called “big miracles” written by two religious women who have collected about sixty G-dcidences stories in each book.

 

One of the stories was written by a writer who explains how his plane, an ancient model crashed in an airfield and needed a part to fix it. Now there were only seven of his planes ever made. A guy comes over to him and wants to help. So in a joke the author said, “Sure you can help me, if you have this specific part from this specific plane.” Sure enough the guy comes back with the part and he fixes his airplane. Now think about the amount of coincidences that need to take place for this to happen. He crashes in the right airfield. The other guy happened to be there, he happened to offer assistance, he happened to have this one of seven parts in the world spare. When we reduce the coincidences we realize it is a miracle.

 

Science Has Discovered Miracles

Dr. Paul Wildman would come to my classes; he comes from Switzerland where he sits on the board which decides what all University students in Switzerland will learn as the government sponsors the universities. His board sent him around the world to study the latest scientific theories and discoveries and when he got back he gave a lecture on the limit of human intelligence.

 

What Dr. Paul Wildman discovered was that scientists have discovered the E factor; E stands for infinity, a place where we simply cannot understand and in every field the limit of human intelligence has become evident.

 

So in other words, miracles exist; it’s just that they are usually so frequent that we stop calling them miracles.

 

The Third Soul

I mentioned before that we will discuss three souls. We have discussed so far two souls: the soul of inanimate matter, and the soul of the vegetative world. The next soul is far more complex, it is the animal soul. The animal soul is unique in that it has an independent desire to live. While the first two souls exist, they do not have an independent desire to live, and as we said, the vegetative world has an angel that strikes the seed and commands it to grow. In the animal world the primary desire of the animal soul is for its existence, as the sages state, every living thing desires its own existence.

 

Special Protection

My aunt was held up and the carjacker wanted her to give him the keys to her car, which she said she would do, if she could take her kid out. He did not want to allow this so he cocked his gun and at point blank shot at her but the gun malfunctioned and did not work; he checked his gun and tried it a second time but it didn’t work, then she took her keys, threw them over the fence and took her kid and went into her home.

 

This brings out that when we are in a time of danger if we have Zchusim / special merits then we have extra protection. We can ask the following question; does man have the freedom to choose his or her actions or is everything predetermined. The answer to this is, that whether we are good or bad is completely in our own control, whether we are skinny or fat, rich or poor, have a long healthy life or short sickly life has been predetermined; however two things change our destiny, one is Zchusim / special merits like placing a mezuzah. The mezuzah acts like a shield/helmet that if there was something negative in our destiny the helmet will take the bullet and leave us protected. There are hundreds of thousands of stories, how putting on a Kosher Mezuzah immediately rectified medical problems. The Rebbe explained that it wasn’t a punishment that caused the problems rather much like a soldier going into battle will be saved from the expected bullets by wearing a helmet, so to the Mezuzah and all Mitzvos / good deeds commanded in the Bible offer us protection from any negative  bullets. So having good deeds behind you, protects you.

 

The second way you improve your destiny is as mentioned through believing that Hashem / G-d loves you so much, that Hashem / G-d will cause things to go your way; interestingly, my aunt told my mother that because she had a Chitas, a book containing the Chumash [Bible] Tehillim [Psalms] and Tanya in the car with her she wasn’t afraid; so perhaps her lack of fear caused the miracle.

 

So to sum up the first part of Tanya, everything is constantly being created every moment of the day. This energy is called Rotzu Vshuv, which means, it emanates and returns; however it happens so quickly that we don’t see it.

 

The ramifications of this belief are a hundredfold.

  1. That G-d knows everything
  2. G-d controls everything
  3. Through trusting in G-d you cause a new reality
  4. By knowing that G-d will help, you will cause G-d’s help.
  5. Nothing is hidden from G-d, even your thoughts which are also composed of physical matter like the neurons in your brain.
  6. Not only does G-d know about everything G-d cares about everything.
  7. G-d causes G-dcidences, so there is no such thing as a coincidence, rather it is a G-dcidence.

 

 

  1. Fixing Broken Connections [AKA repentance]

Before we study all about ourselves and how to connect closely with G-d, our fellow man and our own souls, in the next part of the Tanya, we need to understand how we break and fix broken connections.

 

Once upon a time, two friends loved each other very much; they went places together, they ate together, they slept over at each others homes and told each other everything. Then one day, one of the friends ignored the other, focusing on his own ambitions and ignoring the friendship. The other friend was offended. How does one repair this relationship? The answer is simply to say, “I am sorry.” When the friend forgives, then the relationship is ready for a fresh start. However the relationship is only ready for a fresh start. If one really wants the relationship to resume to its former intense love, then a present is necessary after one says “I am sorry.” The present rekindles the love and shows the friend that the offender really wishes for the same levels that the previous relationship had.

 

All of this applies to our relationship with G-d, which is very much like the relationship between people.

 

We all know what G-d wants from us; so if we transgress and do something that ignores G-d, before we resume our relationship we need to say, “I am sorry.” Effectively there are three steps to forgiveness: The first is regretting the negative behavior. The second is resolving for only positive behavior in the future and then saying, “I am sorry” for the offending behavior.

 

In the olden days, if we were sorry for something that we did, we would also bring a sacrifice to the Beis Hamikdosh / the Holy Temple, however this gift was not the essence of the restoration of the relationship rather it was after the relationship was repaired through the previous three steps that the gift of the sacrifice was brought to restore the former intensity of love.

 

These days we can substitute charity instead of a sacrifice.

 

  1. The Book For Benoinim – The main part of Tanya

 

In the main part of the Tanya we learn human potential as well as what is considered not rising to our potential.

We get a clear understanding of who we are and more importantly what we are capable of achieving. Furthermore we learn what G-d expects from us.

 

G-d’s Expectations

You may think, “Well this is a liability, why should I learn what G-d expects from me, for then I will be knowledgeable, and knowledge brings responsibility. Am I not better off without the knowledge and responsibility?” The answer is no; as the following story illustrates.

 

Once upon a time a Roman Emperor who was close with a Rabbi asked this very question, the Rabbi asked to answer the Emperor on the palace rooftop. The Emperor happily obliged proud to show off the view of Rome from his palace rooftop. The palace roof was flat and the Rabbi was shown the view of Rome. Then the Rabbi asked to see what was directly under the rooftop. As the Emperor did not wish to fall off he could not show the Rabbi what was at the bottom of the very edge. The Rabbi then explained to the Emperor why he wanted to answer him on the rooftop. “You see,” said the Rabbi, “in the Torah there is a mitzvah / commandment to put up a fence around your roof so people don’t accidentally fall. If this railing had been set up, then we could have held onto the railing and looked over and seen what was directly under the rooftop.”

 

After reading and internalizing the main part of Tanya I actually removed a lot of unnecessary guilt which is caused by people not properly understanding the difference between right and wrong; right and wrong thoughts, speech, and actions. Getting to know what G-d expects from us is not only not a liability, it is a great benefit, for G-d’s standards are achievable.

 

I was very surprised when I read that according to one religion if one even is attracted to a married woman it is considered as if one has committed adultery. Attraction is not up to a person, that is like saying “if you like pork it is considered as if you ate pork.” The fact that you like something is not in your control, so only if you actually eat pork or actually commit adultery is it actually considered by G-d as a sin. So by keeping Mitzvos, G-d’s laws, you have practical easy standards by which to judge yourself.

 

Man’s Mission Statement

The Tanya begins with the statement, that G-d administers an oath to all souls prior to coming into this world: “Be good and not bad and even if the entire world tells you that you are good, consider yourself as you are bad.”

 

The first part of this statement makes sense, however the second part seems a bit strange for two reasons: elsewhere it says that one should not consider oneself as bad, secondly we know there is an important principle in Judaism that G-d wants us to be happy giving people. He wants us to do Mitzvos / the commandments happily, because we want to do them, and because we believe in them, not because we fear G-d or other people; if this is the case, then if a person considers themselves as a bad person, they will immediately feel down and this lack of energy or depression will certainly contradict the principle to be happy.

 

Conversely, if a person does not care if they are bad this could lead to what is called irreverence whereby they are not bothered by the wrong they do. So we all agree a person must be good and not bad, however how should a person consider themselves, as a good person or a bad person?

 

Five Categories of People

In order to explain this, the author of the Tanya quotes from the Talmud that there are three kinds of people with two subcategories: The first is a Tzadik / Righteous or pious person, the second is a wicked or evil person, the third is a Benoini / Intermediate. The first level and the second level have subcategories, as there is a completely righteous person and an incompletely righteous person; the second category has a subcategory as there is an evil person [i.e. completely wicked] and a wicked person [i.e. still has good in him] as will soon be explained.

 

A New Question

Then a new question is asked, how can we even say there are righteous and wicked people as G-d does not determine if a person will be good or wicked; this is a personal choice. If this is the case how can we even designate some people as righteous and some people as wicked?

 

The Common Definition of Righteous, Wicked, and Benoinie

In order to explain these levels we need to differentiate between what we commonly refer to as righteous, wicked, and Benoini. In general, we think of this similar to how a person who wins a court case is called righteous or cleared of the crime, while someone who loses is considered wicked or guilty, and a person who has equal merits and demerits / hung-jury, is a Benoini.

 

(Incidentally this is how G-d in his great kindness judges us. We know that the symbol for Yom Kippur [the Day of Judgment for all Mankind] is a scale, and more merits is righteous, less merits than demerits is wicked, while a perfect balance would be Benoini.)

 

The True Definition of Righteous

However in truth, righteous means something completely different, but in order to understand this, we must first understand that each of us were given two angels one called the Yetzer Tov and one called the Yetzer Hara. The job of the Yetzer Tov is to get us to do good (Tov means good,) and the job of the Yetzer Hara is to get us to do bad (Ra means bad.) In essence, life is about trying to be good, so we have two angels, one who puts good thoughts, of doing good things, in our minds; while the other tries to make us depressed and sad in order that we should not have the willpower and energy to be good.

 

(We see empirically the Yetzer Hara when we start to concentrate during prayer. We immediately are flooded with foolish and strange ideas all perhaps for our material benefit but when we really look into it, they are all silly ideas at best. This is because as soon as we are doing something good the Yetzer Hara springs into action, trying to get us to stop doing the good thing. In fact, often the Yetzer Hara will simply tell us to do a different good thing because his job is to distract us from the good that we are currently doing. One only needs to be aware of their thoughts to see this empirically.)

 

So the Tzadik is an individual like King David who through forty years of fasting daily, eating only at night, managed to kill his Yetzer Hara. In other words, King David reached a point where he never even thought of doing something wrong; he wasn’t jealous, angry, or anything evil – he had complete trust in G-d.

 

This is an extremely unique level which is virtually out of the reach of the average person.

 

For this reason, G-d realizing how few Tzaddikim / righteous people there would be, spread them throughout the generations, so in every generation there would be a few to inspire everyone else to live a G-dly life.

 

The True Definition of Wicked

A wicked person in reality is anyone who does a wicked thing.

 

What is the Benoinie?

So if a wicked person is someone who does something wrong prior to repenting, and in reality a righteous person refers to someone who has killed his Yetzer Hara, then what is the reality of a Benoini?

 

To understand this we need to understand that we are actually comprised of two souls. The first soul is what we call the animal soul (similar to what we discussed when we spoke about the animal soul in the first section which has two main instincts: the instinct and desire to live and survive, and the desire for pleasure and no pain.)

 

This soul basically has four pleasures corresponding to the four elements of earth, fire, air, and water. Earth is heavy and refers to our desire to be lazy and slothful, not to work hard and occasionally to get sad and depressed when things don’t go our way. Fire rises and this is our desire to be egotistical and more important than other people, as well as what causes us to get angry when we feel slighted. Air is our desire for frivolous and meaningless activities like comedy or what we commonly refer to as fun in the western world. The fourth element is water, water causes delicious fruits and vegetables to grow and it represents our natural instincts for pleasure such as good food, intercourse, etc.

The Jewish Animal Soul

All souls come from families and the Jewish family animal-soul, has a unique characteristic incorporating compassion and mercy as part of its inherent instincts. (Perhaps this is why the Jewish people as a group give more charity and create more merciful institutions than any other group. Furthermore most of this comes from individuals feeling merciful or compassionate towards the less fortunate as opposed to being compelled by a group mentality. This is why many Jewish people, far removed from Judaism, perform tremendous acts of goodness and kindness towards others as it is an instinct found within the Jewish animal soul.)

 

However, most Soul groups lack this compassion gene and thus sometimes when people do good there is an ulterior motive such as recognition.

 

 

Chapter 2

The G-dly Soul

The second soul is a G-dly Soul which is a spark from G-d, this soul comes from a very high place, almost G-d’s essence and constantly strives to unite with G-d and be like G-d – its source – like a child constantly seeking to unite with his or her parents.

 

We find that when G-d created Adam, the Torah / Bible tells us, that G-d formed his body from the ground and then blew in him a soul of life. The difference between speaking and blowing is that a person can speak for a very long time, however a person very quickly tires when a person blows. For blowing comes from a person’s inside and this is what the Torah teaches us when it says that G-d blew a soul of life into Adam, indicating that the G-dly Soul comes from G-d’s essence, a very unified place with G-d.

 

Although we may be walking on earth, this soul remains united with G-d. This is similar to how a child walks around outside of his or her parents, yet it is completely the DNA of the parents that forms the child. So although we walk on earth and perhaps do not feel attached to G-d, a part of us is so united, just as we are effectively the DNA of our parents!

 

The Jewish Leader Revitalizes This Soul

This soul receives constant G-dly energy through the leader of the Jewish people in every generation.

 

“Holy Intercourse”

This does not contradict what it says in the Zohar that the main thing is one should perform holy (selfless) intercourse (in order to draw down a high soul for one’s child.) As the Zohar is referring to the child’s increased ability to connect to G-d through his or her natural talents and abilities once the child is born; in other words being clever, however regarding the essential G-dly soul, sometimes a very high soul (one that naturally feels and knows G-d) comes through parents who are far removed from G-d. (This is because we are all challenged in life to seek G-d and to connect to G-d; thus by being born to parents far from G-d and Judaism, this high soul has received his or her special challenge to seek G-d, despite the difficulties involved.)

 

Chapter 3

The Makeup Of A Soul

In order to understand the G-dly soul we first need to understand what a soul is.

 

 

 

 

ESSENTIAL SOUL:

Keter / Crown:

Pleasure

Desire

 

SOUL POWERS:

  1. Intellectual
1. Chochmah (Brain)                                  Wisdom, Insight
2. Binah (Heart)                          Comprehension, Understanding
3. Daas                                        Knowledge, Conviction
  1. Emotional

 

 

1. Chesed             -Love –                    Kindness, Giving
2. Gevurah            -Fear –             Severity, Withdrawing
3. Tiferes    -Mercy-    Balance of Giving and Withdrawing

 

4. Netzach               -Power –                 Victory, Winning
5. Hod                    -Unity –                  Beauty, Harmony
6. Yesod        – Bonding –    Balance between Winning and Harmony
7. Malchus             – Humility –                     Dignity/Communication

 

 

This is a subject that can be studied almost indefinitely so my brief explanations will need to be understood in this light. The accuracy of this division and the insights into the human personality have been confirmed by the greatest psychiatrists and scholars of our time.

 

The prime motivator of all souls is desire. As the instinctual soul is what we relate to best, I will begin with simply the instinct to survive. There must be some kind of pleasure in knowing that you exist, which motivates you to desire to want to exist. So pleasure precedes desire and desire is to have the pleasure which precedes it, in other words, we desire what we enjoy.

 

Say you see a snake, your instinct tells you to run but your mind (intellect) reminds you that the vibrations caused by your running will alert the snake and will thus put you in greater danger (this is only an example, not a fact.) Your insight that reminds you of this information is your Wisdom. Wisdom is the eureka moment – a burst of information or inspiration – sort of like a bolt of lightning – it makes you aware of a higher or more important reality.

 

Then comes integration. To fully appreciate this idea you need to cogitate on it for some time. You need to focus your thoughts on the ramifications of the idea. (Say you wanted to build a home, your inspiration as to how the home looks is wisdom, but your blueprint and your detailed plans reflecting where the plugs will go is the next stage called, Understanding. You now understand the details of your idea.)

 

We often have good ideas and we may even understand exactly how to implement them but we rarely act on them. This is for one reason, that we lack the necessary conviction to persevere in our desires. The only way to get that conviction is to constantly and perpetually excite oneself about what it is that we want. I recall reading that Scott Adams, a former cubicle employee would write fifteen times a day, “I will become a great cartoonist.” This daily reminder of his life’s goal helped actualize it.

 

G-d has given us a brain that comes up with ideas (wisdom) and methods (understanding) of how to obtain our desires. Let us look at the human ingenuity in planting, threshing etc. and the creation of probably thousands of different types of food products available throughout the western world. All things considered, people have done a great job using their brains.

 

Now if a person uses their head, they have the greatest tool in the world, but if a person merely reacts to life – if their emotions and passions control their thoughts, then they lose this tool (the intellect) and become merely like a clever animal.

 

There are two main emotions, love and fear. Imagine a seesaw; on one side is love, on the other side fear; on the side of love, include pleasure and on the side of fear, include pain. This is the instinctive state of man and animal. If I love the pleasure more then I fear the pain then I am drawn towards it (like someone eating great chocolate cake on diet.) If however I fear the pain more then I love the pleasure, I withdraw from it (like the fear of making a mistake in public speaking, which prevents people from speaking in public.) The problem for humans with this system becomes apparent in narcotics. Tens of millions of people do great damage to themselves by smoking but because they have not felt a fear or pain greater than the pleasure of smoking they do not give it up. Often smokers diagnosed with lung cancer find the ability to give up smoking immediately! What is the difference in one day? How come yesterday he couldn’t give up smoking and today he can? The fact that he can after the diagnosis is proof that he did not truly want to before the diagnosis. When the Lubavitcher Rebbe heard that smoking is bad for one’s health, he put out his cigarette and never touched another one in his entire life! That is mind over heart/emotions.

 

Lab mice were given a button to press that would have the same stimulant as opiates and they did this until the point before death. Only the self-preservation instinct in an animal is greater than the pleasure instinct.

 

So if we use our minds we can conceive of anything and do everything but if we are slaves to our passions and instincts, then in fact we are dumber than the animal that has no ability to use its head for anything but what they naturally crave.

 

Love and Fear also translate as giving and withdrawing, as the natural instinct is to give to whom you love and withdraw from whom you fear. I may be arrogant in presupposing the following idea which runs contrary to scientific thought but perhaps observation may prove me correct. I think that we do not contain a fight or flight instinct. Fear causes a flight instinct. I am sure if there is no alternative and say one animal attacks another, the attacked will fight, but only as a means of ESCAPE not as an aggressive means.

 

This brings me to a very interesting anomaly that humans have which is significantly absent in animals.  Humans love power. Animals only use power for their own objective. One often sees movies of some crazed human desiring to take over the world but not of a crazed animal desiring the same. How come?

 

Obviously, the desire for world domination which is instinctive in man does not come from the G-dly soul nor the intellectual soul, for it is definitely a far greater headache than having a nine to five job. G-d has implanted within the human’s instinctive soul this desire. We naturally enjoy supremacy over others. This desire is at the heart of all evil.

 

The story is told of a man who came to his Rabbi. “Rabbi, in Synagogue everyone walks all over me,” he complained. Knowing the person in question, that Rabbi responded, “Perhaps if you do not spread yourself out over the entire Synagogue, people will not be forced to step on you wherever they walk.” In other words, this man’s incessant desire for attention made him into a nuisance whom no one could tolerate.

 

Our desire for recognition is very real indeed. People do crazy things to get their names in the Guinness Book of World Records, on TV etc. In truth there is only way of creating the true desire of permanence that we so desperately want and that is through goodness and kindness to others.

 

The other day I thought about the following idea. Can I name ten good people and ten bad people with equal speed? (Perhaps you would like to try it out. I was referring to world famous people.) What I noticed was that to find ten good people was very easy but after about seven bad people I started racking my brain.

 

In other words, we are more likely to remember the compassionate saints of this world, then the evil tyrants of this world.

 

So the true way to receive acclaim is by becoming a selfless saint.

 

Someone who gives to others begins to feel proud of themselves and spiritually content, while someone who just wants to get more will never have enough.

 

Now what we want is instinctive, as explained before, however our knowledge and our wisdom inform us of what is good and important.

 

For example, a child lacking great wisdom becomes very emotional over a candy, they will cry for one, and cry if it is taken away. An adult may cry if he loses his job, however both are crying over instinctual desires or needs. The difference is that the adult knows that a candy is not so important in the bigger scheme of things, while a child whom does not have the awareness about the importance of income, would probably not be concerned at all if their parents say, “Daddy lost his job today.” (In an unemotional tone of voice.)

 

So our intelligence plays a very strong part in influencing our emotions.

 

When the G-dly soul contemplates on the greatness and kindnesses of G-d, then the intellectual amazement and appreciation for G-d causes an emotional love for G-d – and fear to not be separated from G-d – to be born in one’s heart.

 

Chapter 4

Conscious Thoughts

As mentioned, the soul possesses “Soul Powers”, which are primarily Intellectual and Emotional. Your intellect and emotions are your subconscious and become revealed to you in your conscious thoughts. Just as you communicate through speech to others, you communicate to yourself through thoughts. When you speak to another you reveal your thoughts to them. If you were all alone on an island, speech would be basically useless.

 

Speech

Following our thoughts, comes speech. Again, based on the subconscious loves and fears that we either innately have or we have created, our thoughts become produced. Then we use speech to actualize these desires. [For example, “Pass the coke”; prayer, as expression of gratitude to G-d etc.]

 

Actions

Actions are how you actualize your desires. [You go to the fridge to pour yourself a cup of coke.]

 

The Benefit – Spiritually – To Torah Study

This leads us to a very interesting teaching. When we are studying Torah we are using our thoughts in a good way. Now the Zohar, the primary book of Kabbalah teaches that G-d and his Torah are one. Remember, G-d is not a soul, we have no understanding of what G-d is (in fact we only know what G-d isn’t, such as mortal, finite, like us, limited etc.) So when you study Torah you are internalizing G-d in your mind. G-d becomes part of your mind. In this way there is a profound spiritual benefit to Torah study over all other Mitzvos. For example, if you put on Teffilin, your arm is wrapped in a mitzvah, however when you study Torah not only are you putting your thoughts into the Torah subject but the Torah subject becomes absorbed in your mind, so not only is G-d externally wrapped around you and surrounding you, but also enters you internally.

 

Chapter 5

Energy

There are three Divine energies that sustain the world (for a better understanding of this please refer to the first section.) The first is holiness, holiness or positive energy comes directly from G-d, this energy sustains the atoms in everything that is a Mitzvah. For example, when you are eating Kosher food with the intention of using the energy from the food for a Mitzvah, like praying, studying, or helping someone, then the atoms in the apple eaten which become part of your flesh and blood are energized by positive holy energy. If a person eats something kosher however just to survive, with no great meaning or purpose in his or her existence, then the atoms are energized by a neutral energy from G-d. The purpose of this neutral energy is that it comes from the spiritual source called the Eitz Hadas which is a mixture of good and evil. As it is a mixture, if a person later uses the energy received from eating this food for a mitzvah, then it immediately rises upwards and receives G-dly positive energy.

 

If however a person ate something not Kosher, then the source of the atoms that exist in the pig are from negative energy and as such are stuck in the Kelipos, the name for the negative energy source until the times of Moshiach when the Kelipos will disappear, or unless someone performs such a high level of repentance, that the sin which causes the remorse, are turned into Mitzvos.

 

G-d’s Desire

Everything of course comes from G-d, so the fundamental difference between the energy source of these three levels refers to G-d’s essential and inner desire for sustaining and creating those particular things.

 

In order for there to be freedom of choice, there needs to be an energy source that sustains evil. If evil would not exist, man would have no choice between good and evil. However, G-d’s essential desire is not for evil to exist, but for goodness and kindness to exist.

 

This can be compared with someone who travels on business to earn money for his family. His essential desire is at home, his secondary desire is to travel away from home to make money for his home.

 

In a similar sense, when G-d energizes good things and people it is done with his essential will, however, when G-d gives energy to the Kelipos to sustain evil it is done as a secondary desire which is that man will distinguish between good and evil and choose good over evil.

 

Chapter 6

The War

Getting back to the G-dly Soul, the G-dly soul wants only goodness and kindness, Judaism and G-d, for this reason, its sole desire is that mans uses his intellect and emotions, his thoughts speech and action in goodness and kindness, Judaism and G-d.

 

In other words, when a person has spare time it should be used productively and spiritually.

 

On the other hand, the animal soul wants that your intellect and emotions, your thoughts, speech and actions to be solely dedicated to its desires mentioned earlier.

 

Chapter 7

The War

The body can be compared to a small city which two kings are warring over; obviously the kings want the city and the people intact, so what are they really fighting over? The fight is, who will be the ruler, the boss of the city. Each king desires sole control and power in the city. Similarly, your body, consisting of your three abilities for thoughts, speech and action is the small city over which the two kings, the G-dly soul and the Animal soul are constantly fighting over in order to control your thoughts, speech and actions in accordance with their desires exclusively.

 

Chapter 8

Self Control

Humans are unique among all the animals in this world in that they can have self-control. An animal can only react to life. This reaction is set by the animal’s soul’s instincts, and they are compelled to act out a pre-described programmed instinctual code. This is why all animals in the same specie share the same behavior patterns which have never changed, they all have the same instincts and they can never rise above them. Sure a dolphin can perform tricks but remember it is only for the fish. So man is manipulating his instinctual need to eat in a way that gets him to perform tricks however he will never perform a trick for a human’s entertainment without the reward of fish. A human of-course can scale mountains, do incredible acts of selflessness and kindness just because the human wants to, or believes s/he should.

 

This of course goes against their instincts. Their instincts do not include scaling mountains or goodness and kindness, however we all have the ability to self-control, to self-regulate if we choose to. This is called the mind ruling the emotions. Truthfully, we actually have an intellectual soul lacking in animals – this soul is intellectual by nature and much like a computer, can tell us independent of our instincts what is good or bad for us. Dieting is the perfect example. Your instincts propel you to eat sweet foods, your intellectual soul tells you that it is not good for you. Now if a person has self-control, if they have their mind controlling their emotions, then they can control what they eat. The way to gain self-control is to order your body around. If you are trying to diet you must tell yourself, “Do not eat the chocolate cake on the table.” If you do that, you will automatically turn on this natural ability to have self-control.

 

Chapter 9

The Benoinie

We now get to the Benoinie whom we have intentionally left out from describing whom s/he is. The Benoinie is the ultimate goal of every man and woman; the Benoinie is the direction we all need to be heading, the Benoinie is what we can achieve and what G-d wants us to achieve.

 

Unlike the Tzadik, the Benoinie has not conquered his or her Yetzer Hara (see chapter 1 for more on this.) The Benoinie has an animal soul that has all of its instincts just like everyone else, however, due to his self-control he has mastered his instincts; he is not a slave to his instincts, he does what he wants; He does not merely react in life, he acts in life; He is not a slave to his passions, he controls his passion; He is not at the whim of his desires, he creates his desires; He is master not a slave; A ruler not a servant; A prince of G-d not a serf of an animal soul.

 

The Benoinie knows the difference between right and wrong, and with self-control does what is right. (It must be mentioned, that without studying the Torah, the Bible and the Mitzvos therein, it is impossible for a person to actually know the difference between right and wrong, and consequently do the right thing. So it is necessary to study a book detailing the Mitzvos, so we can know the difference between right and wrong in order to choose right over wrong.)

 

The Benoinie’s Meditation

Now there are two ways the Benoinie can self motivate this self-control, the first is through a meditation on G-d’s greatness and power. When a person thinks that G-d is the energy source for the entire universe; every plant, every animal, every molecule, every cell; everything has been created and continues to be created by G-d, and that all of it is not even like a speck of dust compared to G-d, one will develop a deep love for and attachment to G-d and a fear of separation from G-d.

 

In order to understand how everything is not even like a speck of dust compared to G-d the author gives the following example. In a person there are five levels consisting of whom they are. The first is their intellect which comes up with methods of how to achieve their essential desires. The intellect is constantly producing ideas as we see that the thought process is constantly active like a rushing river. Then there are the emotions which is the love for an idea which has already been decided, so say I have chosen a house to live in, and thus I have created a love for that house, to live in it. Then there are the thoughts that man will think about, to actually get the house; like getting a mortgage etc. Then there is the speech – communication, going to the bank and requesting a mortgage. Then there are the actions, such as the going to the bank, the putting up of a fence etc. Now if you were to compare one sentence, like “can I please have the mortgage papers” relative to all the sentences you will ever say in your lifetime, it will be minute, if you would compare this sentence relative to all the thoughts you will ever have in a lifetime, it will be even more minute; if you compare one sentence to all the emotions you will feel in a lifetime, it will be even more minute; if you will compare one sentence relative to all the ideas you will have in a lifetime it will be even more minute! So one sentence is not even like a speck of dust relative to all the sentences, thoughts, emotions, and ideas a person will speak, think, feel, and come up with in a lifetime. Now we know, that the entire universe was created through ten sentences of G-d’s “speech”. It was a little bit of talking and relative to G-d’s infinite capacity to speak, think, feel, come up with new ideas it is literally nothing in relation. You may know that 1 compared to 1,000,000,000,000,000,000 has a comparison, however minute; but 1 relative to infinity has no comparison whatsoever! Now you can understand how relative to G-d, all of creation is not even like a speck of dust. (This does not mean that G-d doesn’t care about you or creation, of course he does, the proof is that he created it and communicated through the Torah and the Prophets to us; rather, it means that relative to G-d it is has not intrinsic value, it is only because G-d chooses to make it valuable that it becomes valuable. This may be similar to a child choosing a pebble and really caring about it. In truth it is the child’s choice that created the value in the pebble in the first place.)

 

So by constantly meditating on G-d’s greatness as explained before, we develop an emotional love of attachment and fear of separation from G-d. This is the prime-motivator for keeping the Mitzvos and not doing Aveiros / sins. (By the way, there are 248 Mitzvos that we do and 365 Mitzvos that we refrain from doing, keeping Shabbos is a “do” mitzvah and don’t eat pork, is a “refrain from doing” mitzvah.)

 

Why Attachment to G-d can only be caused by doing His Commandments

The reason (love and fear of God) is the prime motivator (to do the Mitzvah’s) is because naturally G-d is so far removed and exalted above man that there is nothing that man can do that will move G-d intrinsically.

 

(The example for this is given, that a brilliant professor has little in common with a small child incapable of such great and brilliant ideas, however if the professor asks the child to bring him a cup of water and the child does so, there is a great bond that develops, a bond of love through this act of kindness.)

 

Similarly, when we do a Mitzvah, we perform an act of kindness to G-d by doing what he has requested from us. (As the sages tell us that G-d says, “It gives me Nachas / joy that I have requested and my children fulfill my desire.”) So by giving G-d joy, we attach ourselves to G-d much like a child who fulfills the wish of his or her parents, creates a closer bond between them. Conversely by not doing what G-d wants, like a child deliberately disobeying their parents, a separation is created between their preexisting powerful bonds.

 

Chapter 10

Awaking Ones Innate love and Respect for G-d

The second way for a Benoinie to self motivate is to awaken from within, his or her dormant but exceptionally powerful love for G-d inherited from our forefathers Avraham, Yitzchak and Yaakov [Abraham Isaac and Jacob] who were completely devoted to G-d to the extent that they had no separate will at all.

 

Because our forefathers had such an incredible love and devotion for G-d, all of us have inherited this gene, however it lies dormant in our hearts. Unfortunately, we know it to exist by the millions of Jews who have willingly given up their lives rather than be separated from G-d. You may not be aware of this, but the holocaust was one of many such persecutions to murder a third of our people. In the times of the crusaders they marched through towns offering Jews the choice of death or kissing the cross. All they had to do was kiss a cross in a fleeting moment and pretend that they were ready to forgo Judaism for Christianity, but hundreds of thousands of Jews willingly preferred to give their lives than to do this. Now these were not great scholars, most were simple farmers, workmen, and housewives, however their love for G-d was so great that even the thought of pretending to be separate from him for but a moment, was enough that their G-dly soul should dominate their hearts and minds and willingly give up life itself, so as not to be separated from G-d for a moment. This same scene repeated itself millions of times in many different countries, where unfortunately our ancestors were bitterly persecuted only for being Jewish.

 

Now the reason a Jew has such amazing potential of self sacrifice, over being Jewish when challenged, is because the very act of conversion or pretending to convert is so abhorrent and clearly un-Jewish that the Jew immediately realizes that this is contrary to his or her very essence. However, if a Jew would contemplate, that any Avaira / prohibition from the Torah and conversely every Mitzvah causes a separation or closeness to or from G-d as explained before, there would never be a single Jew who ever sinned.

 

Our sages teach us that, no Jew commits a sin without a foolish preposition.

 

What is the foolish preposition? That “I can sin yet remain a complete Jew exactly as before I sinned.” A sin is a stain on the soul. This would be like saying “I can roll in mud but I will be as clean as I was before.” Remembering that we have a Yetzer Hara whose job it is to get us to sin makes us realize why we come up with such rationalizations e.g. “why a sin isn’t really a sin etc.” The proof that it is a rationalization is that later we feel bad about it.

 

Chapter 11

Awaking Ones Innate Love and Respect for G-d

Now we have an incredible trick to awaken the dormant but powerful love for G-d in our souls and never to sin and always to do good. All we need to do prior to committing a sin is to think, “if this was a choice between giving up my life for G-d or sinning in conversion out of faith, I would definitely prefer death than separation to G-d; if this is the case shouldn’t I be clever and realize that all sins cause a separation between man and G-d, and I cannot roll in mud without getting dirty; this being the case ‘I will not be foolish, and if I can give up my life for G-d, I can certainly withhold some little temptation for G-d.’”

 

Chapter 12

Beating Stress

After understanding what we have previously learned, we realize that the Benoinie is a person who has never sinned ever. (Obviously this does not mean that he has never sinned, rather that he is currently in a state where s/he has such love for G-d and such self control as to preclude any possibility of sinning.) However, a few important principles now need to be clarified as to how to maintain this exalted and desired state.

 

  1. In order for a person to be in the state of a Benoinie, always ready to do the right thing and refrain from the wrong thing, a person must be free from anxiety and worry. If a person feels anxious or is worried, this anxiety or worry takes over the person’s mind and saps them of the energy needed to fight the Yetzer Hara to do the right thing always.

 

Now there are two primary causes of stress. The first is physical concerns such as income, health, and children; in order to be able to free oneself from these concerns one needs to contemplate that G-d is good. Although what is taking place feels bad, it is only that a person does not have G-d’s twenty/twenty vision to realize the hidden goodness in what is going on. (They say hindsight is 20/20 which is true, because in a crises it is difficult to see the good, only after it is resolved do we realize how the crises was part of a greater good.)

 

This of course requires great faith and trust in G-d. However, this faith and trust is warranted, because G-d is only good, and only desires to do good. At the same time, a person should know that G-d is looking for reasons to bestow them with his bountiful blessings, so a person should seek out good deeds that will be the catalyst for revealed blessings and successes in their lives.

 

  1. Often the cause of anxiety is that we are worried that we are doing the wrong thing. We should know that this anxiety remarkably comes from the Yetzer Hara not the Yetzer Tov. The Yetzer Hara firstly seeks to stress us out by constantly telling us that we are doing the wrong thing as there is no better way to get someone not to do the right thing than have them constantly sad and depressed which saps them of the necessary energy needed to fight the Yetzer Hara and do the right thing. For in addition to now being unable to put up a fight for your convictions, additionally our natural desire is to not feel bad but good, hence, we become susceptible to temporary instinctive highs (be they drugs, illicit relationships etc.)

 

The story is told about a Rabbi who was once given three hundred rubles with which to distribute to charity. Amazingly, a little while later a man walks into his office and tells the Rabbi he needs money as his daughter is getting married and in response to the Rabbis question as to how much he needs, the man replied “300 ruble”. The Rabbi immediately realized that this was designed from G-d to give him the money, and was about to give him the money when a sudden thought came into his head. “Why should I give one man so much money?” he thought; “Wouldn’t it be better to divide the money into six parts, then I can give 50 ruble to Nechemia the tailor, and 50 ruble to Chaim the shoemaker, and 50 ruble to this man, and 50 ruble to Yankel the butcher, and 50 ruble to Chana the widow, and in fact use 50 ruble for my own organization.” Immediately the Rabbi gave all the money to the man who needed to marry off his daughter and pay for the wedding. You see, the Rabbi realized that his first thought was a noble and virtuous one and as soon as he was about to do a noble and virtuous deed, his Yetzer Hara tested him by immediately implanting a new thought which would distract him from his original pure and holy intention. So as soon as we are doing good, the Yetzer Hara will immediately try to give us alternative distracting things to think about. (I must say, in my own life it has taken years to pick up which thoughts come from the Yetzer Hara, as the Yezter Hara is exceptionally deceptive, giving us thoughts that seem noble. Our Sages teach us that the one way we can immediately know if the thought comes from the Yetzer Hara or not is to determine the outcome of the thoughts. In the previous story, the bottom line outcome would have been that he would have not given all that money to the poor man in front of him thus not alleviating that man’s problem of not being able to afford a wedding for his daughter. Furthermore, the fact that he gave this money to the poor man did not preclude him giving at another time the money to all the other people, including himself.)

 

  1. Another cause of anxiety is having disturbing thoughts during prayers, being unable to focus on and pray to G-d without receiving thoughts about other subjects. As mentioned before, this is because as soon as we are doing something good, the Yetzer Hara wants to stop us, so immediately we receive thoughts of other seemingly important matters that need attending to (although we did not need to think about these things prior to, and won’t feel the need to think of these things after, praying.)

In fact, says the author, this is a great sign! The very fact that these thoughts are entering your mind is because you are winning the war against the Yetzer Hara; had you not have been doing something good the Yetzer Hara would not feel the need to put disturbing thoughts in your mind in the first place.

 

Practically speaking, what you need to do is to simply ignore these thoughts. Imagine an insane person was standing next to you, coming up with insane ideas, would you ignore them or start thinking about all these ideas? Obviously, the best thing would be to ignore them and simply carry on with the good things that you are doing.

 

Chapter 13

The Benoinie’s Comfort

However this is a mighty battle to constantly fight against one’s Yeztzer Hara; it takes constant vigilance and is tiring as one needs always to be alert and fight off the negative thoughts the Yetzer Hara puts into our mind.

 

The author offers the following incentive to comfort the Benoini who is constantly waging war against his Yetzer Hara but can never vanquish it.

 

In foods there are two kinds of foods that particularly taste good. The first is sweet foods and the second is spicy or tangy foods. Similarly, before G-d there are two great joys, the first is the service of the Tzadik who manages to transform his animal soul into a G-dly soul, who manages to take darkness and turn it into light. This is obviously a great joy before G-d and thus it is considered like sweet food. However there is another kind of joy and that is when you take something bland and your add delicious aromatic and tasty spices to it (think of oregano on a pizza.) The Benoini, by taking his animal soul, but spicing it up, filled with goodness and kindness, love for G-d, love for fellowman, love for Torah and the Mitzvos, creates the best tasting dish before G-d.

 

So we should know that our actions below, every single time we subdue the Yetzer Hara and do a good deed, whether through Torah study, Prayer or acts of goodness and kindness, we cause G-d great great joy; an unbelievable joy! And can there be a greater privilege than a humble person on this material and physical world causing G-d, the Creator of Heaven and all that one sees, a great indescribable joy?!

 

Chapter 14

A Summary

Though all of the above contains great insights, it doesn’t begin to scratch the surface of the depths of the Tanya – you can study it from its original, additionally, I have written “The English Tanya” which is a paraphrased translation.

 

Ultimately for us to be healthy, wholesome and good, we need to merge two contradictory emotions, blending, like fire and water, hot and cold, creating a warm, but not irrational heart.

 

The first emotion is the emotion of joy – the privilege of doing G-d’s will – the only truly meaningful reality which will create a permanent bond between you and God and be your everlasting legacy.

 

But coupled with this we must be humble, always bearing in mind the evil we have done.

 

The two contradictory emotions – the first of great hope and the second of an element of sadness, balances us and it is precisely in a balanced stage that we become rational and can exercise the self discipline necessary to do what is right.

 

 

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