Monthly Archives: October 2014

Derech Hashem 1:4:7

The class can be found here.

1:4:7

There are two sorts of activities over-all [1]: the ones you do because God Himself rules that you must, which encompasses all of His mitzvahs; and the ones you do for one personal reason or another, which are the things you do for your own material benefit [2].

As we’d already explained, you engage in the mitzvahs in order to follow G-d’s charges and fulfill His will. You do that, incidentally, on two levels at the same time when you fulfill a mitzvah: first, by doing the specific thing He asked you to do just then [3]; and secondly, by perfecting yourself in the process in the way that only that mitzvah can enable you to [4] as G-d wants you to so as to benefit from His benevolence [5].

When it comes to the sorts of things you do for personal reasons, you’d need to be sure that they accord with G-d’s will and don’t involve anything forbidden. And they should be motivated by the need to maintain your health and well-being rather than to just satisfy your urges. You’d also do best to intend to serve G-d well and energetically when you do them [6].

Doing that will lead toward personal perfection, it will allow you to achieve the high standing that mitzvah-performance allows for [7], and it will enable you to ennoble all of creation in the process [8] since it will have been used to serve G-d [9].

Footnotes:

[1]       … that we’re to “apply … to this end without ever wavering from it”, as cited at the end of 1:4:6. That’s why sinful activities aren’t mentioned here though they comprise a large percentage of our activities as well, sad to say.

[2]       This is based on the following dilemma: we learned in the previous segment that we were to “constantly engage with G-d”, “attach ourselves onto Him”, and to “apply all of our activities to that end.” But the truth be known, we engage in many, many things that seem to have nothing to do with G-d. For while we may in fact do what we can to fulfill His mitzvot and thus draw close to Him, as well as to avoid the sorts of  things that would alienate us from Him, much of what we do can best be termed “discretionary” or mundane, and seems to have nothing to do with Him. So how can we ever hope to draw close to Him given that fact? Fortunately there’s a way. And it’s based on the metaphysical phenomenon depicted below.

[3]       By praying just then, celebrating a particular Holy Day at the time, giving charity to a particular cause being solicited, etc.

[4]       That’s to say that my donating to a particular worthy cause just then not only helps the cause and does good in the world, it also helps me on a very deep level and rectifies errors I might have made along the way touching on not being charitable. For in fact, G-d wants both to happen — both the inherent good, and the repair.

See Da’at Tevunot 160.

[5]       See 1:2:1 above as well as Klallei Pitchei Chochma v’Da’at 1.

But, again, those situations only come up once in a while. So what are we to do the rest of the time to better the world and ourselves? We’re thus told that we can grant the same potency and possibility to nearly all the more ancillary things we occupy ourselves with in the course of the day (“nearly all” because what’s about to be said can’t be applied to illegal, immoral, or inconsiderate items or acts).

[6]       That is, you should have in mind that your engaged in them since no one can do much to draw close to G-d when he or she is ill or debilitated (rather than to simply be in “tip-top shape”). See Messilat Yesharim Ch’s 9, 13 as well as Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 231, Berachot 63a, and Pirke Avot 2:12, and Hilchot Dei’ot 3:3.

[7]       See Messilat Yesharim Ch. 26.

[8]       See Messilat Yesharim Ch. 1.

So, follow this regimen and even the more mundane sorts of things become infused with a mitzvah-quality that’s nearly on par with more clear-cut mitzvahs! And they become expressions of acquiescence to G-d’s will, and means of perfection. The very food we munch, exercise we do, shoreline we walk, etc. thus serves to fulfill G-d’s will in this world.

[9]       See 4:9:2 below.

(c) 2014 Rabbi Yaakov Feldman

 

Feel free to contact me at feldman@torah.org

———————————————————-

AT LONG LAST! Rabbi Feldman’s translation of Maimonides’ “Eight Chapters” is available here at a discount.

You can still purchase a copy of Rabbi Feldman’s translation of “The Gates of Repentance” here at a discount as well.

Rabbi Yaakov Feldman has also translated and commented upon “The Path of the Just” and “The Duties of the Heart” (Jason Aronson Publishers).

Rabbi Feldman also offers two free e-mail classes on www.torah.org entitled “Spiritual Excellence” and “Ramchal”.

Preview of 1:4:7

There are two sorts of actions: mitzvahs and personal matters. As we’d said, you’re to engage in mitzvahs in order to fulfill G-d’s will (which you do, incidentally, by doing the specific thing He asked you to do and by perfecting yourself in the process as G-d wants you to).

When it comes to personal matters, you’d need to be sure they don’t involve doing anything forbidden, and they be motivated by the need to maintain your well-being rather than to just satisfy your urges.

 

ז. אך ההנהגה הזאת מתחלק לשני חלקים, הא’, הוא במה שיעשה מפני שצוה בו, והב’, במה שיעשה מפני שהוא מוכרח בו וצריך, פירוש – הא’ הוא כלל מעשה המצות, והב’ כלל מה שהאדם משתמש מן העולם לצורכו.

מעשה המצות, הנה תכלית בו לאדם שיעשהו מבואר הוא, שהוא לקיים מצות בוראו ולעשות חפצו, והנה הוא מקיים חפצו ית’ בזה, בשני דרכים נמשכים זה מזה, והיינו כי הוא מקיים חפצו במה שצוהו שיעשה המעשה ההוא והוא עושהו. והשנית, כי הנה במעשה ההוא הנה הוא משתלם באחת ממדריגות השלימות שהיא תולדת המצוה ההיא וכמ”ש, והנה מתקיים חפצו ית’, שהוא חפץ שיהיה האדם משתלם ומגיע ליהנות בטובו ית’.

אכן מה שהאדם משתמש מן העולם לצרכו, הנה צריך תחלה שיהיה מוגבל בגבול רצונו ית’, דהיינו שלא יהיה בו דבר ממה שמנעו ואסרו האל ית’. ושלא יהיה אלא הראוי לבריאות הגוף וקיום חיותו על הצד היותר טוב, ולא כפי נטית החומר ותשוקתו למותרות. ויהיה הכונה בו, להיות הגוף מוכן ומזומן לשתשתמש ממנו הנשמה לצורך עבודה בוראו, שלא תמצא לה עיכוב בהעדר הכנתו וחולשתו. וכשיהיה האדם משתמש מן העולם על הדרך הזה, הנה ימצא התשמיש ההוא בעצמו פועל השלימות כמ”ש, ויקנה בו מעלה אמיתית כמו שיקנה במעשה כל המצות כלן, כי גם זה מצוה עלינו, לשמור את גופנו בהכנה הגונה לשיוכל לעבוד בו את בוראנו, ונשתמש מהעולם לכונה זו ולתכלית זה כפי המצטרך לנו, ונמצינו אנחנו מתעלים במעשה הזה, והעולם עצמו מתעלה בזה בהיותו עוזר לאדם לשיעבוד את בוראו:

 

(c) 2014 Rabbi Yaakov Feldman

 

Feel free to contact me at feldman@torah.org

———————————————————-

AT LONG LAST! Rabbi Feldman’s translation of Maimonides’ “Eight Chapters” is available here at a discount.

You can still purchase a copy of Rabbi Feldman’s translation of “The Gates of Repentance” here at a discount as well.

Rabbi Yaakov Feldman has also translated and commented upon “The Path of the Just” and “The Duties of the Heart” (Jason Aronson Publishers).

Rabbi Feldman also offers two free e-mail classes on www.torah.org entitled “Spiritual Excellence” and “Ramchal”.