Next comes the third (even more developed) “animal” stage. The ratzon l’kabel is very potent by then and it engenders a sense of self-will and uniqueness for each and every detail.
If the previous stage was organic, this one is out-and-out agile, brisk, and alive. It’s depicted as the “animal” stage because aside from the same freedom of movement we humans have, animals likewise have nearly the same broad sense of self and freedom that we do. Thus they too know what they need and want over-all, and take pains to get it, detail by detail.
But those details don’t yet sense the existence of others, and they haven’t the means to commiserate with another’s pains or to share in its joys.
It’s just that animals can’t transcend their selves as we humans can or identify and empathize with others other than momentarily and specifically. But identifying with others is a complex of reactions, in that it enables one to be selflessly generous to others, or to selfishly envy them, as we’ll see.
(c) 2011 Rabbi Yaakov Feldman
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Rabbi Yaakov Feldman has also translated and commented upon “The Path of the Just” and “The Duties of the Heart” (Jason Aronson Publishers).