The Path of the Just
Chapter 12 (Part 1)
“The best way to actually acquire innocence” -- to really take to heart the
trait we’ve spent so much time on till now, which touches on so many of our
most fundamental human needs and spiritual aspirations -- Ramchal asserts,
“is to constantly study the teachings of our sages in matters of halacha and
That’s to say, we’d need to read and re-read these basic religious texts
with the end in mind of digesting their wisdom and committing ourselves to
their instruction. And we’d need both halacha and mussar because while
halachic works lay out just what we’re to actually do to be free of all
error, books of mussar (i.e., of traditional Jewish ethics and spiritual
motivation) lay out the attitudes and traits we’d need to instill if we’re
to follow the halacha wholeheartedly.
Do that sincerely, thoroughly, dedicatedly, and regularly, Ramchal avers,
and “nothing will keep you back from (acquiring) innocence”.
The truth of the matter, though, is that you’d need to review halachic works
again and again in order to refresh your memory. Since it’s easy enough to
forget some of the more subtle things cited. And you’d also need to review
mussar works since “even after a person will have established in his heart
that he wants to be exacting when it comes to matters of innocence, it’s
still possible that he can be guilty of a minor infraction simply because he
never got to grasp it” on the sort of emotional, inspirational level that
mussar books allow us to.
Ramchal makes the point in several of his other works, though, that we’re
not to concentrate on halacha and mussar alone. We’re to broaden our Torah
tastes and allow ourselves to swim in the breathtaking array of realms open
to the true student of Torah.
He reminds us at one point that since we’re bidden to repair the world that
is so broken, we’d obviously need to delve into each of the corners of the
Torah that teach us how to do just that (see Derech Hashem 4:2:4), much the
way we’d need to delve into and master each chapter of a repair manual if
we’re to complete the task at hand.
In fact, he points out elsewhere, that we should especially concentrate on
the more esoteric aspects of Torah, not only because of the inherent worth
in doing that, but also because our doing it leads to human growth and
perfection (see Derech Chochma).
Text Copyright © 2007 by Rabbi Yaakov Feldman and Torah.org