Near the end of this chapter Ramchal remarks that “one who doesn’t cling
onto G-d with true love will find this process … a great burden” -- the
process of acquiring our next lofty trait, “purity”. And why would it be a
“great burden”? Because it requires a lot from us both inside and out, as
The other point though is that just as worldly love overcomes all sorts of
impediments, your love of G-d and yearning to cling to Him closely will
surmount a lot of resistance here, too. Let’s see now just what’s required
to be “pure”.
It comes down to “correcting all your emotions and thoughts” and in “not
allowing your yetzer harah to interfere with your actions”, but “acting
(instead) through wisdom and reverence, rather than through sin and desire”
as a result. But all that calls for an explanation.
The idea of having to “correct” our emotions and thoughts -- which is to
say, our inner beings -- is rooted in the idea that each one of us has run
off-course to a degree and have to be set aright. It’s Ramchal’s contention
in fact that it’s our having run off-course that has had us “act … through
sin and desire” rather than “through wisdom and reverence”. He’s asking us
then to review our hearts and tinker with them till they’re true, honest,
He goes on to say that this even touches upon things “you might involve
yourself in after you’d have become accustomed to be abstinent”, not the
clearly excessive or unholy. Even then “you’ll need to purify your emotions
and thoughts” to an even higher degree.
You’d want to be sure that “even that small bit of pleasure you’d take from
the world wouldn’t be taken with the intent of (merely) deriving (personal)
pleasure”, but rather “with the intent of doing it for the good that will
result from it” for others or for your soul’s station.
It needs to be said again that those of us who aren’t yet equipped to be
pious aren’t being told here to do without wholesome pleasures (any more
than the righteous are). Both we and they are asked, though, to temper our
appetites and to keep our relationship to G-d in mind. As King Solomon put
it, "Know Him in all of your ways and He will right your paths" (Proverbs
3:6) meaning, if you allow G-d’s presence to hover somewhere within the
things you do you’ll make better choices, you’ll love what you’ve chosen,
and you’ll tend to be more altruistic.