The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Tanya

Chapter 1.

One man two souls

There are five categories in which all people can be categorized:

1. A Completely Righteous Person (Tzaddik Vtoiv Loi)

2. A Righteous Person with some Bad Left In Him (Tzaddik Vra Loi)

3. A Bad Person With Good in Him (Rasha Vitoiv Loi)

4. A Bad Person With No Remorse (Rasha Vrah Loi)

5. An In-Between Person (Benoinie)

In other words, Rabbi Chaim Vital Explains (he was the chief disciple and writer of the wisdom of the Holy Ar’’i): every Jew, be it a Tzaddik or a Rasha, has TWO SOULS – as the verse state “I created Souls (within man”.) These are two souls within each Jew – one derives from the Kelipah – the side of unholiness (though God is the source of all, nonetheless, there are different substratum of energy, hence evil and its lusts come from Kelipah – mainly angels who create these desires within man, hence this soul is packed with these desires – see the original Chapter 1. for more detail on this.)

This soul enclothes itself in the blood of man and creates man into a living creature – the four elements of evil in it, create four distinct evil drives (pleasures of this world, arrogance and anger, laziness and sadness, frivolity, boasting, scoffing etc.)

However as this soul comes from a “neutral” energy source in heaven, hence, it also contains good desires which are naturally innate in Jews i.e. compassion and charitableness!

Chapter 2.

The Divine Soul

Within the Jew is a second soul called The Divine Soul, which is actually, a flame of God.

As the Jewish people are God’s “firstborn” hence their soul – like the DNA of a child being the fathers’ – is literally the father, in their body!

Chapter 3.

The Ten Soul Faculties

Every soul has ten faculties which are subdivided into three intellectual faculties (inspiration/insight, details/comprehension, and bonding/feeling, the intellectual concept emotionally; which comes from “connecting” emotionally to it, through heating up the passion towards it, by meditating on it long enough to transform a cold intellectual insight into a passionate emotional feeling; which give birth to the seven emotions:) The seven emotions are, love (for the idea) fear (to not fulfill the idea,) Tiferes – the combination of love and fear, Netzach to preserve against all obstacles (in attainment of the idea’s aim,) Hoid (to withhold from all behavior that may relegate the idea to the scrapyard) Yesoid – the combination of Netzach and Hoid, and Malchus communication (of the idea to both one’s own mind or to others.)

Chapter 4.

Every Soul Has Three Clothes

The three clothes of the Divine Soul are, the 1. Thoughts 2. Speech 3. Deeds, that come from Judaism – Torah and Mitzvos.

The Three Intellectual Faculties (see previous chapter) engage in the understanding of Judaism – Torah and her Mitzvos.

The Seven Emotional Faculties engage in the fulfillment of the Mitzvos – the commandments of the Torah – both in speech (e.g. prayer) and in deed (e.g. charity.)

This is because, it is love that leads one to fulfill the commandments, for when one loves God, the resultant emotional direction is to unite, for we desire unity with our beloved and the mechanism to unite with God on earth is through fulfilling his will enclothed in the fulfillment of the Mitzvos – commandments of the Torah.

Conversely, fear of not separating from God – resulting from the love of God – results in not transgressing any of the prohibitions of the Torah, for as fulfilling God’s will unites man and God, so to, disregarding his will, separates man and God!

Chapter 5.

The Amazing Unity Between Man and God Through Torah Study

When one studies Torah, a dual union of man placing his mind/soul into God (for God’s wisdom is God, not something God learnt, rather part and parcel of God himself!) as well, as “ingesting,” so to say God in him! Hence as reward for Torah study on earth (if it is done to unite with God out of love – see previous chapter) the soul has “food” in heaven, while the reward for doing Mitzvos – the commandants of Judaism (Torah) the soul has clothing – as the soul enclothes itself in the garments of the good deeds.

Hence as Torah study contains the additional element of not only enclothing oneself in Divinity but actually “ingesting” Divinity, it is said to be as great as performing all the Mitzvos combined.

Chapter 6.

The Faculties of The Animal Soul From Kelipah

God made the world of Kelipah as an inverted mirror of the world of Godliness.

Hence, like the Godly Soul has Ten Faculties so to the animal soul from Kelipah:

They are emotional drives to fulfill its passions, lusts etc. (see chapter 1.)

These emotional lusts, passions, drives, then go to the mind to contemplate how to actually fulfill them.

Chapter 7.

World Energies

Just as there is a soul from Kelipah, similarly, all things in this world are part of one of two Kelipahs, one lower than the other.

Kelipah effectively means, God is not revealed, nay, concealed within the matter of its being! Hence, unlike Holiness which through its subservience to God reveals God, Kelipah represents an arrogant self “contained” existence!

So all things that can be elevated into Godliness, say Kosher food, when eaten for a Godly reason, as Rava would eat fine meat in order to expand his mindset in order to study Torah better, hence, the motive of subservice to God, creates that this Kelipah then gets elevated into Godliness!

However, if the meat is not Kosher, it is part of the three wholly impure Kelipois that are always Kelipah, unless one was motivated through remorse (of say, eating the non-kosher meat) to return to God, hence as it becomes a catalyst for Teshuvah it then also becomes holiness.

Chapter 8.

The Cleansing/Punishments For Bad Thoughts Speech and Deeds

If someone ate non-Kosher food (and this person didn’t become a Baal Teshuvah, someone whose feeling of distance from God spurred them to return to God) hence in order to remove the stain/denigration of the Kelpah from his body, the body is eaten by worms after death.

Someone who speaks frivolous talk (if his time could be better spent in study of Torah, or saying words of Tehhilim, or doing good) then this person undergoes Kaf Hakelah (a purification process whereby the soul is experiencing the bliss of Heavenly union, arising from the good deeds and words said, and then made to feel the pain of regret, by seeing all the stupidity and foolish words uttered, thus having wasted all these precious moments to earn this reward.)

However, someone whose words were evil – God-forbid harming another through slander etc. then the fires of hell cause a deep deep regret, hence the person is cleansed and can come into heaven as a good person.

Chapter 9.

The Battle Between The Two Opposing Souls Over The Thoughts Speech and Deeds of The Body They Inhabit

The Divine Soul resides in the mind (for it is effectively an intellectually based love and reverence for God which then travels into the right side of the heart, producing this emotion, hence the desire, that man’s thought speech and action be to fulfill it’s love; to unite with God through fulfilling the commandments of the Torah and conversely to not transgress the prohibitions of the Torah.)

The Animal Soul from Kelipah resides in the left part of the heart (for it is instincts, and those desires then travel to the mind to contemplate how to get them in actuality.)

Hence, what we have is, a war between two “kings,” each desires that the inhabitants of the city (the body: the thoughts, speech and actions) should follow her will.

Chapter 10.

Understanding The Level Of The Tzaddikim

When a person’s love for God banishes the Animal Soul’s Love for Physical Pleasures etc. (the four drives mentioned in chapter 1.) this person is called a Tzaddik Vra Loi – a righteous person who has some bad left in him.

When a person transforms the animal soul into a love for God (for ultimately the animal soul is a desire for delight, and the greatest delight is spiritual, hence it can be transformed into a drive for spiritual, as we see mainly by Baal Teshuvahs, people who return to Judaism, having rejected the “pleasures” of the physical, so their sole delight is in spirituality, as it states “the level of the Baal Teshuvah is greater than that of a Tzaddik Gamur;) So when the Tzaddik Gamur – the completely righteous person transform this animal soul’s love into the Divine soul’s love, he is called a Tzaddik Gamur.

Chapter 11.

The Two Levels Of Rasha

When a person doesn’t have complete control over his animal’s souls desires, lusts, passions, drives, and they overpower his Divine soul, whether in thought, speech, or action, doing something motivated by the animal soul’s loves or fears (anger etc.) this person is called a Rasha Vtoiv Loi, A bad person with good in him, for the fact that he feels remorse shows that his Divine Soul still plays a role, and there are tens of thousands of divisions, for, some people sin only occasionally, only thinking about intercourse, while others, sin in speech or deed, but the common denominator is, they lack the self control to overcome the animal soul and they have regret from their Divine soul.

However, a person who sins frequently and never feels bad either, is called a Rasha Vra Loi, A completely bad person, because his Divine Soul is like in a coma, though through proper repentance, if he truly wishes to (the path of repentance is explained in the third book of Tanya) he too can reawaken his Divine Soul!

Chapter 12.

The Benenoei – The In-Between Person

The Benoinie is someone who has both a strong animal and Godly soul, one having not banished the other, however exercising self-discipline, as soon as he becomes aware, that he is thinking negatively (say, negatively about someone which is forbidden, or about intercourse etc.) he then uses the God given ability that the mind has to control, through choice, what man thinks, says, or does! (so just because “I want to think about, say intercourse, or revenge, doesn’t mean I have to, for I can switch the station playing in my head, and the same applies to speech and action!”)

Chapter 13.

The Third Judge – God

In the Benoinie – The In-Between Man, because he has both a strong animal and Godly soul how does his Godly soul beat the animal soul all the time – so apart from his exercising self-control, as his desire is to do the right thing, hence like in a Jewish court, where there are three Judges for all cases, similarly, the majority opinion wins; hence, the animal soul’s loves are rejected by the Divine soul’s choices and then God shines Divinity within the person’s mind, giving him the wisdom to ignore the foolish (premises of the animal soul, that pretend you can get away with sins, and additionally they don’t separate you from God, or you need not make your life meaningful,) and it is due to the third judge God – that the Benoinie can always win.

Chapter 14.

All People Can and Should Become Benoinim

The goal of mankind / man is to become a Benoinie, for the Benoinie is not one in whom the animal soul’s loves and fear are not present, rather as all people can and should exercise self-discipline, hence all people, can and should become Benoinies!

A simple mechanism to exercise the self-discipline, is, when one finds themselves under attack from the animal’s soul’s lusts, passions, drives loves, wants, which contradict ones morality, one should say to oneself “I do not desire to tear myself away from God, and though some people sin, it is only because they foolishly assume sins don’t separate man – for just like two people in an embrace, get separated, if one pushes the other away, similarly, sins push God away from his embrace through the good I do.”

Chapter 15.

Two Levels In Benoinim

Only one actively engaged in vanquishing his animal souls desire is called a fighter for God, while for example, the Tzaddik having vanquished his animal soul is called God’s servant – as the term fighter, a term, describing current service, doesn’t apply to him, as he has vanquished his animal soul, hence is not in a state of battle with it.

Similarly, there can be a Benoinie whose frigid nature and studious temperament make him one in which is intrinsic love for God is enough to have his thoughts, speech and actions doing the good thing.

However most Benoinim, are in a constant struggle, hence, the term “fighters for God,” constantly needing to subsume their animal soul’s urges.

In Conclusion – Though the Tanya continues until chapter 53, as it gets quite complex, and I want to keep things fairly easy, I wish to sum the subsequent chapters (somewhat) up, in the following three ideas:

1. We all intrinsically have an inherited love and reverence from God passed though the souls of our ancestors Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, Sarah, Rivkah, Rochel and Leah, whose whole being was serving God; hence this trait is within us, though perhaps latent (subconscious,) so we merely need to reawaken this trait by reminding ourselves how many millions of Jews gave their lives to not even for a second pretend to separate from God! (literally, as the crusaders marched through Europe offering Jews to kiss the cross or get murdered, entire communities were annihilated due to not even pretending for a moment to give up their love for God) hence, to awaken our powerful love for God, all we need to do is say, “All good deeds will attach me like a loving embrace to God, and all sins push God away from my embrace, hence though I may not be in the mood, nonetheless, if I would be even ready to give up my life to remain united with God, how much more so should I work extra hard to achieve greater unity or overcome my animal desires to not be separated.”

2. Ultimately the whole point of Judaism is to fulfill the commandment to “love your fellow Jew as much as you love yourself,” which is mainly achieved through, as the Tanya teaches, we should despise the animal souls desires, lusts, passions, whoreness for all that gives it pleasure, which is the source of all the bad we have done and particularly, by recalling all of our evil, we will despise the animal soul tremendously; similarly, we should take great delight in the Godly souls unity with God, and the subsequent joy this gives GOD, whose sole desire is to unite with us through the Divine soul’s good thoughts, deeds and speech on this planet, in our physical bodies! and the more we identify with our soul’s joy, the more we feel close to our soul, the more we feel love for our fellow Jews whom all contain this Godly flame, their soul, and as God is one, hence in actual fact we are merely like many limbs in different bodies and if nothing else, we are like brothers and sisters, having the same father.

3. Last but not least, in effect, the mechanism of the Tanya, based on the verse “it is very easy to do all of the Torah and Mitzvos, all of the Divine commandments” is, to use the time of prayer in the morning, afternoon and night to contemplate about the Greatness of God (the main theme of our prayers) for in so doing a love to unite with God (as we all desire unity with something we adore, in addition considering all the favors God has given us, another main theme in our prayers – and emotions – such as love – are reflections – so by realizing how much God loves us, we in turn begin to love him!) hence the power of these emotions towards God, done repetitiously! keep the embers of the Divine soul’s love and awe of God burning! Which, though we need to go out and make a living etc. etc., in the end of the day, if the coals are stoked often enough, the heat remains and we have the passion, love, desire to do the right thing during the remainder of the mundane day and through exercising self-discipline as well as the two meditations to overcome the animal souls passions when they hit, we can all become Beinoinim!!!


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