"Man is basically a creature of zoology, but he is also created from a Divine mold.
These two sides of humanity are clashing constantly over the question of identity:
Who am I, and how can I be defined?
The Tanya (by Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi) seeks to clarify for its readers the distinction between the animal and Divine parts of man and to explain why they are in intrinsic – and unending – disagreement with one another.
In this book, the animal soul does not have the base definition that often comes to mind.
TheTanya does not view the animal as the domain of the so-called carnal desires or physical needs.
Rather, it speaks about the self – that level of man that views itself as the beginning of everything.
No creature of zoology can really think about anything without using itself as a starting point:
I exist, I am the center of everything, I am the purpose of everything, and from here I go on.
The essence of man’s purpose is this struggle to get out of the self, to break free of his animalistic confines in order to connect with the Divine."
--Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz
From the essay “Man of War” by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz in Kosher Spirit, March 2006