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As Divided for a Regular Year
Tanya for 2 Adar
The reason [that humbling the spirit of the sitra achra is effective in crushing it] is that in truth there is no substance whatever in the sitra achra.
That is why it is compared to darkness, which has no substance whatsoever, and is automatically banished by the presence of light.
Similarly with the sitra achra. Indeed, it possesses abundant vitality with which to animate all the impure animals and the souls of the nations of the world, and also the animal soul of the Jew, as has been explained. 
Yet this vitality is not its own, G-d forbid, but stems from the realm of holiness, [for the realm of holiness is the source of all life, including even the life-force of the sitra achra], as has been explained above. 
Therefore it is completely nullified in the presence of holiness, as darkness is nullified in the presence of physical light.
[Its power lies only in the fact that] in regard to the holiness of man's divine soul, G-d has given it - [the sitra achra] - permission and ability to raise itself against it - [the divine soul] -, in order that man should be roused to overpower it and to humble it by means of the humility and submission of his spirit, and by being abhorrent and despised in his own eyes - [for through this he humbles the sitra achra and abhors it].
The arousal of man below [to crush the sitra achra] causes an arousal above, to fulfill what is written:  "From there will I bring you down, says G-d" [to the sitra achra, which seeks to rise against G-dliness and to obscure it].
This means that He deprives it of its dominion and power, and withdraws from it the strength and authority which had been given it to rise up against the light of the holiness of the divine soul.
Thereupon it automatically becomes nullified and is banished, just as darkness is nullified before physical light.
Indeed, we find this explicitly stated in the Torah in connection with the Spies [sent by Moses to scout out the Holy Land].
At the outset they declared:  "For he [the enemy] is stronger than we," [and, interpreting the word Mee-menu, the Sages say:  "Read not `than we,' but `than He,'" meaning that they had no faith in G-d's ability [to lead them into the Holy Land].
But afterwards they reversed themselves and announced:  "We will readily go up [to conquer the Land]."
Whence did their faith in G-d's ability return to them?
Our teacher Moses, peace unto him, had not shown them in the interim any sign or miracle concerning this, which would restore their faith. He had merely told them that G-d was angry with them and had sworn not to allow them to enter the Land. 
What value did this [Divine anger and oath] have to them, if in any case they did not believe in G-d's ability to subdue the thirty-one kings  [who reigned in the Land at that time], for which reason they had had no desire whatever to enter the Land?
Surely, then, the explanation is [as follows]:
Israelites themselves are "believers, [being] the descendants of believers."
[Even while they stated, "The enemy is stronger than He," their divine soul still believed in G-d.
They professed a lack of faith in His ability] only because the sitra achra clothed in their body [in the person of their animal soul] had risen against the light of the holiness of the divine soul, with its [characteristic] impudent arrogance and haughtiness, without sense or reason.
Therefore as soon as G-d became angry with them, and thundered angrily:  "How long shall I bear with this evil congregation .... Your carcasses shall fall in this wilderness...., I G-d, have spoken: I will surely do it unto all this evil congregation ...., " - their heart was humbled and broken within them when they heard these stern words, as it is written,  "And the people mourned greatly."
Consequently, the sitra achra toppled from its dominion, from its haughtiness and arrogance.
But the Israelites themselves [i.e., as far as their divine soul was concerned] had believed in G-d all along.
[Therefore, as soon as they were released from the dominion of the sitra achra, they proclaimed, "We will readily go up ...." There was no need of a miracle to convince them of G-d's ability. All that was necessary was to divest the sitra achra of its arrogance, and this was accomplished by G-d's "raging" at them.
Similarly with every Jew: When the light of his soul does not penetrate his heart, it is merely due to the arrogance of the sitra achra, which will vanish as soon as he rages at it].
Every person in whose mind there occur doubts concerning faith in G-d can deduce from this episode of the Spies that these doubts are nothing but the empty words of the sitra achra which raises itself against his [divine] soul. But Israelites themselves are believers....
Furthermore, the sitra achra itself entertains no doubts at all concerning faith.
[As explained in chapter 22, the kelipah in its spiritual state (i.e., when not clothed in the human body) does not deny G-d's sovereignty].
It has merely been granted permission to confuse man with false and deceitful words, in order that he may be more richly rewarded [for mastering it].
In this it is similar to the harlot who attempts to seduce the king's son through falsehood and deceit, with the king's approval, as in the parable narrated in the holy Zohar. 
A king hires a harlot to seduce his son, so that the prince will reveal his wisdom in resisting her wiles.
The harlot herself, knowing the king's intention, does not want the prince to submit to temptation.
Similarly with the sitra achra: it is merely fulfilling its G-d-given task in attempting to lure man away from G-d, but actually desires that man resist it, thereby earning a greater reward.
However, this is true only of the *spiritual* kelipah which is the *source* of the animal soul.
The animal soul and evil impulse as clothed within man, on the other hand, are *truly* evil, and their unequivocal aim is to entice man to do evil.
In the context of the parable, this may be described as follows:
The harlot originally commissioned by the king subcontracts a second harlot, and the second a third, and so on.
As the actual executor of the mission becomes successively further removed from the king, the original intention is lost, and finally the prince is approached by a harlot who has her own intentions in mind, not those of the king, as she attempts to seduce the prince.
In any event, we see that any doubts one may have concerning faith in G-d, are merely the empty words of the sitra achra. The soul within every Jew, however, believes in G-d with a perfect faith.
- (Back to text) Chs. 6, 7.
- (Back to text) Chs. 6, 22.
- (Back to text) Ovadiah 1:4.
- (Back to text) Bamidbar 13:31.
- (Back to text) Sotah 35a; Menachot 53b.
- (Back to text) Bamidbar 14:40.
- (Back to text) Ibid., v. 39.
- (Back to text) Enumerated in Yehoshua 12.
- (Back to text) Bamidbar 14:27, 29, 35.
- (Back to text) Ibid., v. 39.
- (Back to text) II, 163a. See above, end of ch. 9.
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