Chapter 31: 4-7
Intentions for the Sake of Heaven
This week's learning through Project Genesis has been sponsored for
the speedy and complete healing of Golda Nutta bas Sima
by Gail and Arthur Morgenstern - please learn for her speedy healing.
4. How does this apply with regard to lying down? It is necessary to say
that it is not fitting to lie down when one has the opportunity to study
Torah and observe mitzvos, although one is tempted to go to sleep for
pleasure. Rather, even when one is tired and must sleep to rest from one's
weariness, this is not praiseworthy. One should have the intention of
granting one's eyes and body rest for the sake of one's health, in order
that lack of sleep will not cause one's mind to become confused in the
midst of Torah study.
5. How does this apply with regard to sexual relations? It is unnecessary
to say that one should not transgress. Rather, even when fulfilling one's
conjugal duties as prescribed by the Torah, a person who does so for the
sake of physical pleasure or to satisfy his desire is considered to be
coarse. Even if one's intentions are to father children who will assist him
and inherit his position, this is not praiseworthy. Rather, one should have
the intention of fathering children to serve G-d; alternatively, for one's
physical well-being and to fulfill one's conjugal duties, as a person who
pays a debt.
6. How does this apply with regard to conversation? It is unnecessary to
say that one should not slander, gossip, jest, or use coarse expressions
and the like. Rather, even when one talks about words or wisdom, one's
intention should be the service of G-d, or things which lead to that service.
7. Similarly, when involved in commerce or work to earn money, one's intent
should be not to amass money alone. Rather, it should be to sustain one's
family, to give charity, and to enable one's sons to study Torah.
In general, a person should think about his behavior and weigh all of his
deeds with his intellect. If he sees that a particular thing leads to the
service of G-d, he should do it; if not, he should refrain from doing so.
A person who follows this course of behavior will serve G-d throughout his
entire life, even when sitting, getting up, walking and while involved in
business; even when eating, drinking, and in sexual relations; while
involved in all his needs.
With regard to this, [Ovos 2:17] teaches: "All deeds should be for the sake
of heaven." In this context, at the time of his passing, the saintly Rabbi
Yehudah Hanosi raised hid fingers upward and declared: "[G-d], it is known
and revealed before you that I have not received pleasure from them except
for the sake of Heaven" ( Kesuvos 104a).