“Up to now” Ramchal inserts here, “I have addressed those mitzvot that I
perceive are most people's downfalls”-- that is, the mitzvot we need to
concentrate on most of all because they’re the ones whose mark we most
often miss. So we delved into dishonesty, deception, promiscuity, verbal
abuse, fraud, disparagement, revenge, profaning G-d’s name, Shabbos
observance, and more.
But there are other, more inward phenomena we’d need to improve, too, if
we’re to perfect our beings and achieve “innocence”.
These are decidedly more difficult, as they touch the core of our beings,
and they don’t just depend on changing our actions so much as altering our
perspective on things and resetting the inner “dials and valves”, if you
will, that affect our inner climate. They’re also difficult
because “anytime you struggle to do something beyond your nature” and to
bend the soul past its outer reaches, which is what growth is all about in
the end, “you are then engaged in a great battle” which you just might not
(In fact, the story is told in “The Duties of the Heart” [5:5] of a
battalion of soldiers who were returning from war and bemoaning the
difficulties of combat, who then came upon an old sage who chided
them. “You've just come back from ..
. a minor battle” he said, “but you're about to fight a great one”. “What
great battle is that?' they asked, and he replied, 'The battle against the
yetzer harah” which would do its best to have us fall into meanness and
Here then is a list of the more “common and problematic personality
traits” that we’ll be concentrating on for the rest of the chapter:
arrogance, anger, jealousy and untoward desires.