Tanya Chapter 25: Using one’s willingness of Mesirus Nefesh as a catalyst to serve G-d and not sin

Chapter 25: Using one’s willingness of Mesirus Nefesh as a catalyst to serve G-d and not sin

17th Shevat/(LY)25th Shevat

1. A person can arouse inner love and fear for G-d at any moment:

  • Banishing the spirit of folly and arousing the hidden love for G-d: After all that was explained in the previous chapters, we can now properly understand that which it states in the verse that it is very close to man to serve G-d with his mouth and heart, as a person always retains the ability, and right of decision, to banish the spirit of folly from himself and remember and arouse his love for the one G-d that is certainly hidden within his heart without any doubt. This applies at all times and all moments.
  • In your heart: This then is the inner meaning behind the word in the verse “and in your heart,” as indeed arousing the feeling of love and fear for G-d is very easily attainable being that it already exists and is simply in a state of concealment within the heart which requires arousal.
  • The fear is included within the love: Within this hidden love for G-d is included also a fear for G-d which is a fear and trepidation from being separated in any way from the unity of G-d, to the point of actually giving up one’s life on His behalf without any reason or logic behind it but rather simply due to the G-dly nature that is embedded within the Jew.

2. A constant ability to control one’s lusts and not sin:

  • Certainly, if one is even able to give up his life for G-d then one is able to control his lusts, which is something much less severe than the suffering of death. Accordingly, it is very easily attainable for a person to conquer his inclination both in the aspect of not doing evil, and in the performance of positive commands.
  • Controlling oneself from transgressing even rabbinical sins: With this in mind, one is able to control himself from transgressing even a light rabbinical sin, being that even such as sin is considered to be transgressing the will of G-d and causes one during the time of the sin to become separated from G-d’s unity just as occurs during actual idol worship.

3. The ability to repent is not an argument to be lenient in sinning:

  • One cannot argue to himself and say that sinning a regular said is not similar to idolatry being that by idolatry the sin causes the G-dly soul to be cut off from its source even after the sin is transgressed, in contrast to the lighter sins which only cut the soul off during the time of the sin itself.
  • The reason this argument is invalid is because even by idolatry it is possible for one to repent and hence regain the connection of the soul to G-d, and even so a Jew is willing to give up his life rather than do this sin of idolatry. [Hence, we see that the Jews willingness to give up his life is applicable to prevent even a temporary separation from G-d, in which even light sins are similar to idolatry in this respect, and hence just as one would give up his life to not commit idolatry so too he should control himself not to commit the light sins.]

(LY)26th Shevat

4. Teshuvah is always possible, even after committing a sin on the basis of repenting afterwards:

  • No divine assistance for sins committed on the basis of repenting afterwards: Although a person who sins on the basis that he can then later repent, is not given a chance to repent [and hence one can argue that the above mentioned argument that one can also serve idolatry having in mind to repent afterwards and reconnected his soul, is invalid], in truth even such a person can repent if he chooses and it is simply that he is not given an auspicious opportunity from above which assists him in his repentance.
  • Repentance helps even by sins that were committed on the basis of repenting afterwards: However, even such a person who sinned on the basis of then later repenting, if he pushes himself and does teshuvah, then even his repentance is accepted as nothing stands in the face of repentance.

5. A Jew is not willing to serve idolatry even though he can later repent:

  • Now that we have established that even by the sin of idolatry it helps for one to later repent and reconnect his soul even if he served the idolatry on the basis of this later ability of repentance, the argument stated earlier returns to its place. As it remains true that even though a Jew is able to repent even after committing the sin of idolatry, he still remains ready and prepared to give up his life for the holiness of G-d and not prostrate himself to idolatry even momentarily on the basis of repenting afterwards.
  • The inner revelation of G-d in one’s soul prevents one from serving idolatry: What prevents a Jew from prostrating himself to idolatry even momentarily is the light of G-d that is invested within his soul as explained in the previous chapters.
  • An eternal separation: Now this divine light is not within the concept of time and is rather above time and actually rules and has control over it as is known. [Hence, from its perspective, a temporary separation from G-d is viewed as if it is permanent, being that past present and future do not exist from its perspective, and every moment of time is eternal.]

18h Shevat/(LY)27th Shevat

6. Asei Tov-Actively serving G-d through fulfilling the commands as a result of the inner love:

  • Above we stated that certainly if one is even able to give up his life for G-d then one is able to control his lusts, to conquer his inclination in the aspect of not doing evil. Below we will explain how this likewise applies towards the performance of positive commands and how likewise this is very easily attainable for a person to fulfill.
  • Overcoming laziness: One can use the above hidden love to help him strengthen himself like a lion with bravery and courage to fight the evil inclination which weighs itself down of the body and impresses laziness upon it. This laziness derives from the element of earth that is found in animal souls.
  • Laziness in Torah study: The laziness prevents the body from placing effort and energy in the various toils involved in the service of G-d, such as the assiduous study of Torah and studying it in its proper depth and verbalizing it in one’s mouth constantly so that his mouth does not stop for one moment from learning. Regarding Torah study the sages state that a person should always dedicate himself to Torah study similar to an ox who has a yoke on his neck and a donkey who is carrying a load on its back. [Hence, we see that proper Torah study involves much toil and effort of the mind and body, and the laziness of the body attempts to prevent one from doing so.]
  • Laziness in prayer: The same applies regarding prayer, that the laziness of the body attempts to prevent the person from praying with proper concentration and with literally all of his full energy.
  • Stinginess in charity: Likewise, those matters of service of G-d involving money, such as the giving of charity, the laziness of the body tries to prevent the person from doing so on a level that is much more than his natural tendency of giving.

(LY)28th Shevat

  • In addition, the evil inclination comes up with various battles and arguments to cool a person from performing a mitzvah, such as to not give up so much of his money to charity or for the performance of another mitzvah.
  • Health arguments: Likewise, the inclination tells the person not to exert too much energy in mitzvahs and service of G-d in order not to ruin his health.
  • It is very easily attainable to overcome these arguments: Regarding all of these various arguments of the evil inclination which prevent a person from serving G-d properly, it is very easily attainable for a person to overcome them through contemplating the fact that to overcome the inclination in this matter and in even more difficult matters, and to do their exact opposite, is much larger of a suffering than the suffering of death, may G-d save us. Now, a Jew is happily willing to suffer the pains of death, may G-d save us, in order not to be separated from the unity of G-d for even one moment, such as to prostrate oneself to idolatry heaven forbid. Certainly then a Jew should willingly accept with love the overcoming of his inclination for laziness, in order to push himself to serve G-d with all his might, in order to eternally attach to G-d.
  • Serving G-d, attaches one to Him: When a person performs the will of G-d through his divine service, the inner and supernal will of G-d becomes revealed within him in an internal and conscious manner without any concealment at all. Now, when there is no concealment on the supernal will of G-d, then there is nothing that is separate from G-d at all to be considered a separate entity. Accordingly, this revelation of the inner will of G-d causes the G-dly soul and animal soul and all of its garments to become complete united in the ultimate unity with the supernal will and infinite light of G-d [and there is hence no longer anything separating at all between the person and G-d, and he is no longer considered a separate entity from G-d, and has hence reached the ultimate unity with Hashem].

(LY)29th Shevat

7. The unity with G-d is eternal:

  • Although a Jew is only temporarily involved in the performance of a command, above in heaven the unity that is affected is eternal, as G-d and His supernal will is above the concept of time.
  • Likewise, the revelation of G-d’s will within his speech, which is his Torah, is also eternal. [Hence when a Jew studies Torah or does a mitzvah he creates an eternal conscious unity with G-d. Accordingly, if one is willing to give up his life for the sake of not separating from G-d for even a moment, then certainly he should be willing to overcome his inclination in order to serve G-d and become eternally connected to Him.]

19th Shevat

8. Below in this world the unity is only temporary:

  • The unity lasts only so long as one is still performing the mitzvah: Although in heaven the unity achieved through service of G-d is eternal, below in this world it is merely temporary, and one only retains a unity with G-d during the actual time that he is involved in learning Torah or performing a mitzvah. However, afterwards, when he performs another action then here below, he becomes separated from the supernal unity with G-d.
  • Mundane matters done for the sake of heaven don’t break the unity: This, however, only applies if one does matters that are considered of no usefulness for service of G-d. However, if one performs matters that contain a use and intent for service of G-d, that even if they are mundane in nature, they do not break the unity that was achieved through performing the mitzvah.

9. Regaining the ability to experience the unity after committing a sin and transgression:

  • The unity returns upon one’s return to serving G-d: Even in the event that one stopped his service of G-d and involved himself with purposeless mundane matters, nonetheless when he returns to his service of G-d, such as the study of Torah or prayer, then he once again becomes a receptacle for the unity with G-d.
  • Asking for forgiveness for breaking the unity: The above however only holds true on condition that he asks and requests forgiveness from G-d for the fact that he was able to study Torah and did not do so, in which case G-d will forgive him right away [and remove the blockage caused by the sin of nullifying Torah study from preventing the soul from feeling the unity upon the persons return to his study]. [However, prior to asking and receiving forgiveness, his soul is no longer a receptacle for feeling the unity with G-d even when he returns to his Torah study, being that he has committed a sin of nullifying Torah study which prevents the soul from attaching to G-d.]
  • G-d forgives right away: This receiving of immediate forgiveness upon asking follows the saying of the sages which state that one who transgressed a positive command and repents, G-d does not move from him until he forgives him.
  • Selach Lanu is said thrice a day due to the sin of Torah nullification: It is in fact due to the above reason that the sages established the blessing of Selach Lanu to be said three times a day, as in it we are requesting forgiveness for the sin of nullifying Torah study, which is a sin that no one is saved from, and is transgressed daily. [Without asking for forgiveness for the sin of nullifying Torah study, we would not be able to experience the unity with G-d during our Torah study, and hence we are constantly asking for forgiveness for this sin in order to be able to always feel the unity with G-d when we return to studying Torah.]
  • Prayer is like a sacrifice which atones for not fulfilling positive commands: In this respect, the daily prayer is like the Tamid sacrifice which was brought daily on the altar for the sake of atoning for transgressions of positive commands [and hence so too our prayer today which was established corresponding to the sacrifices, helps account for the transgression of positive commands].
  • Is not considered like one who sins on the basis of repenting: Although it ends up that one is constantly asking for forgiveness for the sin of nullifying Torah study, nonetheless, this is not considered like one who sins with intent to repent [on which we stated earlier that G-d does not assist him in his repentance]. The reason for this is because is only considered that one has sinned with intent to repent if at the actual time that he commits the sin he thinks about his ability to repent, and thereby commits the sin due to this ability. [However, if he does not sin having this in mind and he just happens to be addicted to the sin, then he is not considered like one who sins with intent to repent, and hence G-d will assist him in his repentance.]

(LY)29th Shevat

10. The power and purpose of the daily Shema:

  • Based on all the above we can understand why Moshe commanded us in Mishneh Torah to the generation which entered the land of Israel to read the Shema prayer twice a day. This was done in order, so we accept upon ourselves twice daily the kingdom of heaven with absolute Mesirus Nefesh.
  • Why the need for giving up one’s life in battle if we were promised victory: Although we were already promised by G-d that fear and trepidation will be placed upon the enemy nations [and hence the need for self-sacrifice during the war is seemingly superfluous] nonetheless we were instructed by Moshe to accept upon ourselves this self-sacrifice not for the sake of the battle, but rather for the sake of fulfilling the Torah and mitzvot.
  • Self-sacrifice is the catalyst for one’s observance and service of G-d: As stated above, one’s fulfillment of Torah and mitzvot is dependent on him constantly remembering his willingness to give up his life for the unity of G-d, and in order for this message to be constantly embedded within one’s heart and memory, day and night, Moshe instructed us for say the Shema twice daily, so we be constantly able to overcome our evil inclination at any time or moment.

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