Chapter 14: Achieving the state of a Beinoni and becoming like a tzadik
21st Teves/(LY)26th Teves1. Everyone can become a Beinoni and should strive to do so:
- The level of a Beinoni is reachable and achievable by each and every individual, and every individual should strive to reach this level, as indeed every individual can become a Beinoni at any time and at any moment.
- The reason-Beinoni does not abhor evil: The reason for this is because a Beinoni does not despise evil, which is a matter of emotion handed to the heart and fluctuates [with one’s mood which changes] with time [as well as there exists different time periods of auspiciousness for conquering the emotions such as during prayer.] He is only required to avoid committing practical evil and to perform practical good in action speech and thought.
2. The power and freedom of choice to do good, avoid bad, and overcome one’s lusts:
- Every individual has the freedom of choice, and hence the power and capability, to perform actions, speak, and think of matters that oppose the emotions in his heart, and are the exact opposite of his lusts.
- Freedom of choice to overcome and ignore one’s lusts of the heart: Even when one’s heart is lusting and desiring after a certain physical pleasure, whether it be a permitted pleasure or a forbidden pleasure G-d forbid, the person holds the ability, power, and freedom of choice to overcome this lust by completely removing his mind from it.
3. The message the Beinoni tells himself to overcome the lusts of his heart and avoid sin:
- Don’t want to be separated from G-d through sin: The above can be accomplished by one telling himself the following message: I do not desire to be considered a Rasha for even one moment, as I do not want to be separated and detached from the one G-d heaven forbid in any which way, as Scripture states that sin separate from G-d.
- I want to attach to G-d: Rather, I desire to attach all the parts of my soul to G-d through investing it within the three holy garments of action, speech, and thought which relates to G-d and his Torah and mitzvah’s.
- I contain a hidden love for G-d: This is due to the love that I have for G-d which is hidden and concealed within my heart just as it exists within the hearts of all the general souls of Israel who are referred to as those who love your name.
- Willing to even give up my life for G-d: Even the lowliest of Jews are willing to give up their lives for the sake of the sanctity of G-d, and I am certainly no worse than Them.
- Why a Jew sins if he is even willing to give up his life for G-d’s sanctity: The only reason that a person nonetheless sins is because a spirit of foolishness enters into him, and convinces him to falsely believe that he retains his state of Jewishness despite the sin and that his soul does not become separated from the G-d of Israel as a result of the sin [which in truth is incorrect as one’s soul does become separated from the G-d of Israel at the time of the sin, and hence it is as if he has lost his state of Jewishness at that time]. Likewise, a Jew sins because he forgets of the love for G-d that he has hidden away within his heart.
- I refuse to be foolish: However, I do not wish to be a fool like this individual and deny the truth.
4. Only Tzadikim merit to change their lusts and desires, hate evil, and love G-d with Taanug:
- A Beinoni cannot abhor evil: The above is in contrast to matters of emotion that is seated within the heart. A Beinoni does not have control over the emotions that are within his heart and hence he is not able to achieve a real hate and abhorrence for evil within his heart whether in a complete manner or even in an incomplete manner.
- Must experience love of pleasure of world to come to abhor evil: This hatred and abhorrence for evil can only be truthfully achieved through experiencing a great intense and powerful love for G-d on the level of Ahava Betaanugim. This love is a love of pleasure in which one actually experiences the pleasure of being with G-d and is similar to the experience of the world to come. It is regarding this type of love that our sages state that one experiences a glimmer of the reward of the next world while still alive in this world.
- This love is given only to Tzaddikim: However, not every person merits to receive a glimmer of his reward in this world and to experience this form of love, as Scripture states that this type of love is given by G-d only as a present [and is not given indiscriminately to all individuals]. It is for this reason that Iyov stated that G-d created Tzaddikim [as G-d must give the individual this love of pleasure as a present in order for him to become a tzaddik].
- The different types of souls: Likewise, it states in the Zohar that there are many different levels and types of souls within the souls of Israel. For example there exists souls which are defined as Chassidim, Giborim who are defined as warriors who overcome their inclination, Mareiy Torah [which are souls that are giants in Torah study], prophets, and Tzaddikim.
22nd Teves/(LY)28th Teves5. Understanding the swear of being a Tzadik and not a Rasha:
- Why redundancy in the oath: Based on all the above we can understand the reason for why every soul prior to its departure to this world is sworn into being a tzaddik and not being a Rasha. Seemingly, once the soul is sworn to being a tzaddik it no longer needs to be sworn to not be a Rasha.
- Not everyone can be a Tzadik: Rather, the explanation is as follows: since not every individual merits to become a tzaddik, and a person does not have much of a freedom of choice in this matter, to receive true pleasure from G-d [in this world] and hence truly repulse evil, therefore, the souls also sworn into a second oath to at the very least not be a Rasha.
- Everyone can abstain from being a Rasha: Every person is given the freedom of choice and power to fulfill the second part of the oath to not be a Rasha, as he is given the capability to control the lusts of his heart and to conquer his inclination, and thereby not be a Rasha for even one moment his entire life, both in the realm of avoiding evil and the realm of performing good. In this respect “good” refers to Torah study as the study of Torah corresponds to all mitzvahs.
6. Attempting to despise evil and abhor physical pleasures even as a Beinoni:
- Despite the above inability for a Beinoni to truly abhor evil, nonetheless he must exert effort to achieve this on some level. Thus, he must also set aside time for coming up with advice and ideas that can help him abhor evil.
- Abhorring one’s feeling of lust for women: For example, the sages teach us that a woman is like a barrel that is filled with feces [and her mouth is filled with blood, and hence if not due to the decree of G-d, man should truly have no lust for her]. [A person can contemplate this matter to help him diminish his lust after women and come to naturally do away with the lust.]
- Abhorring one’s feeling of lust for tasty foods and sugary treats: Likewise, one can use the above idea of the sages to likewise diminish his lust for delicious foods and sugary treats, by telling himself that they will all become rotten feces when he is done eating them.
- Abhorring one’s lusts for all pleasures: The above tactics can be used against all pleasures of this world to assist one in diminishing his lust after these pleasures, as the wise man sees the future that they lead to, as in the end they will become spoiled and rotten and turn into garbage [and hence what seems now as a delicious pleasure is in truth something that will become repulsive and abhorrent, and through contemplating this end result of the pleasure he can diminish his lust for this pleasure even now].
- Not only can the Beinoni achieve a slight hatred for the physical pleasures through the above contemplations but furthermore he can actually achieve a pleasure and joy in G-d [similar to that experienced by Tzaddikim] through contemplating the greatness of the infinite G-d to the best of his ability.
- A mere fantasy that fulfills the first part of the oath to be a tzaddik: Now, although he is aware that his soul will never truly be able to reach this state of a tzaddik to truly receive pleasure from G-d in this world, and hence his pleasure love is a mere fantasy and product of his creative imagination, nonetheless he must do his part in fulfilling the first part of the vow and at least try to be a tzaddik and G-d will do as is fit in his eyes.
- Furthermore, in addition to the intrinsic value in trying to be like a tzaddik by trying to abhor evil and have a fantasy pleasure love for G-d, it is possible that he will indeed achieve this to some level.
- The habit to abhor the lusts for pleasure and evil can become one’s second nature: The habit to exert control over a pleasure and lust and inclination eventually becomes a second nature for the person. Hence, when a person accustoms himself to despise evil, then he will truly despise evil at least slightly.
- The habit to have a fantasy pleasure love for G-d can make it actually happen: Likewise, when a person accustoms himself to rejoice his soul with G-d through contemplating G-d’s greatness, then as a result of this arousal from below from the person may come an arousal from above to help him achieve this in actuality as will be explained next.
- Being impregnated with the soul of a tzaddik to achieve true love: Perhaps G-d will send the person a high spirit from the root of a certain tzaddik which will become impregnated within him and help him achieve a service of G-d that experiences the true joy which is reserved only for Tzaddikim.
- Achieving the first part of the oath to be a tzaddik: As a result of the above, the oath that he was sworn into becoming a tzaddik will truly be fulfilled within him.