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SCHAR V'ONESH-----tzadik vs baal teshuva

You’re incorrect about the Tzadik. What you are assuming seems to be a mistaken perception of something written in the Tanya.

First, regarding being a Tzadik, the Rambam (Teshuva 5:2) writes:

"Do not allow it to cross your mind, this that the idiots among the Goyim and most dummies among the Jews think - that G-d decrees from a person's creation if he will be a Tzadik or Rasha. This is not so. Rather, anybody can be a Tzadik like unto Moshe Rabbeinu or a Rasha like unto Yeravam [ben Nevat]...there is nobody that forces him, nobody that decrees on him, and nobody that pulls him in one way or the other. Rather, he on his own, willingly goes in which ever direction he chooses."

To be sure, there are people who are born on higher levels than others, and people born with different level "missions", and even "tzadikim" who above and beyond the generation that they are born in, but are specifically "displaced" from their appropriate generation as an emergency measure in order to save the generation that they are displaced into. All this and more it says in many places. However, every single one of these Tzadikim still have full fledged bechirah - free will - and nisyonos that they need to pass. They can still fail their nisyonos like anyone else, although their nisyonos may be on a much higher level.

As a simple example, a frum-from-birth, average chareidi Jew living in an average chareidi neighborhood may not have a nisayon to go into McDonalds and buy a cheeseburger. But a Jew who is becoming a baal teshuva and struggling with his frumkeit may indeed have such a yetzer horah.

Still, (a) the FFB still has free will to go into McDonalds and eat the cheeseburger if he chooses (a Malach would not be able to do that), and (b) the FFB will have other nisyonos that entail on his part the same amount of effort that the on-the-way Jew needs to employ in resisting the cheeseburger. Those nisyonos may include not missing zman krias shema, for argument's sake, or not talking about business on Shabbos, or not cheating in business.

The amount of reward you receive - and the level of "Tzadik" you are according to the Rambam - depends on how you respond to your own nisyonos, how much effort you put into them and how hard you try. The reward you get does NOT depend on how successful you are - for in the end the Jew out of Russia may succeed at being a bigger Tzadik than the Chareidi-born Jew, because he put in greater effort and passed his nisyonos better.

Your "level" depends on how you respond to nisyonos. Its like 2 people lifting weights. One person may lift 400 pounds, and the other 200 pounds, and still another 65 pounds. But if each of them puts in the same amount of effort into their lift, then their muscles will show an equal amount of gain. And even though the 400 pound guy lifts more, if he doesn’t put in the same amount of effort as the 65 pound guy, he will not see as much progress. And if its easy for him to lift the 400 pounds, he will gain nothing by lifting.

So too Hashem looks at the amount of effort we put in to something, and that determines how much of a Tzadik we are.

So someone can be "born" a tzadik and still be obliged to put in his greatest effort to go even higher - and if he doesn’t put in that effort, if he fails in his nisyonos - then he may not be doing many aveiros, and his aveiros may not be as sever as those of the average Joe, but he is less of a "tzadik" than someone who puts in more effort. He may be a greater Talmid Chacham, and in many ways he may have a higher status, but as far as his being a Tzadik goes, meaning, his own personal merit, he is not as great.

The lesser Tzadik may even accomplish more for Klall Yisroel than the first one - maybe he will give lots of charity, pasken lots of shailos, teach many talmidim, and even save klall yisroel. But he will still receive less reward, if all that was easier for him than keeping shabbos is for his neighbor. To receive the same amount of reward, you have to put in the same amount of effort. And no matter how great you are, the opportunity to make yourself even greater is there.

In the back of one of the volumes of "A Thought For The Week" (a collection of Torahs from the Lubavitcher Rebbe) there is a story something to the effect of the Lubavitcher Rebbe refusing to accept a brachah from a Tzadik because the brachah was for him to go higher spiritually, and he wanted to do that by his own efforts, not through a brachah. It says that later, he regretted not taking the Brachah because he realized that he could have reached whatever level the Brachah would have taken him to, and from there exerted his own efforts to go even higher.

He was correct in his regret. No matter what level we are gifted with, we can still always go higher.

Please bear in mind also, that the word "tzadik" is used in many places in different ways. Here I am talking about a Tzadik in terms of a person's reward for his actions.

What it says in the Tanya about a Tzadik not having a Yetzer Horah, such as Dovid Hamelech ("libi cholol b'kirbi"), is referring to someone like Dovid who obliterated his Yetzer Horah through hard work, and therefore, the easiness with which he subsequently resists sin is considered as if he did it by his own free will, since his inability to be tempted by Olam Hazeh was his own doing. It does not mean that some people are born without the ability to sin. They have to work to reach that level, then they get credit for it.

Chazal say many times that a person can change his Yetzer Horah to a Yetzer Tov, or destroy his Yetzer Horah, and that is what happened with such greats as Avrohom Avinu and Dovid Hamelech.

As far as which is better: "Afshi" or "i afshi", there are seemingly conflicting statements in Chazal about this, that are reconciled in several different ways.

Some say it is simply a Machlokes. The Rambam says that regarding certain sins it is definitely better if you are not interested in them, such as stealing and other "logical" sins. In such cases, a person who understands that stealing is wrong and therefore has no desire to do it is on a higher level than someone who wants to steal but controls himself.

Others say that it depends at what point in your "spiritual career" you are at. To be born without a temptation for something is NOT as great as having and resisting that temptation. But if you obliterated your temptation and no longer have it, you are then greater than someone who still has it but resists. Eventually, the person who manages to becomes a "tazdik", in the Tanya's sense, is higher, but only because he did it through his own efforts.

The Rambam, please note, is not arguing with that. The Rambam is merely saying that a person can intellectually bring himself to a level of understanding where he will no longer have certain temptations. If a person understands, for instance, that G-d gave you what he wants you to have, and if you don’t have it then its not good for you, he will no longer be tempted to steal, nor will he be jealous. If a person understands that everything that someone else does to him was decreed by G-d then he will understand the revenge is silly. So the Rambam is saying that if a person is on that level of understanding where he "intellectualizes away" his Yezter Horah for something, he is on a higher level than someone who does not have that understanding, and needs to resist temptation. This would be because the "thinker" has obliterated this Yetzer Horah on his own, and thus gets credit for not following it.

Re: "b'makom she'baalei teshuva omdim", the Rambam does indeed say that the reason is because he has to resist temptation more than someone who is not habituated into doing the sin.

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