Torah.org Home Subscribe Services Support Us
 
Print Version

Email this article to a friend

The Duties of the Heart

Gate Five: "Dedicating Our Actions to God"

Chapter 5 (Part 5)

"Nothing good in the world is without its blemishes" we're told, which goes for our good character traits and deeds as well. And -- unfortunately -- nothing amuses the yetzer harah quite as much as confounding us with ethical shades of gray. So we're often in a bind about what to do. After all, what seems to be good might really be bad (and vice versa).

So it's vitally important for us to know ourselves and our motivations, and to discern when the time is ripe for this ... or for that ... if we're ever to achieve spiritual excellence. Because "if you're aware of the blemishes affecting your actions, you'll know how to be on guard against them, while if you only know of the good, you can't help but lose it" -- that is, you can't help but lose the opportunity to do the right thing.

For as a pious man once told his disciples, Ibn Pakudah records, "You must first learn about evil (i.e., the evil within you) to separate yourself from it. For only then can you learn about the good (within you) and follow it."

So we're going to be presented with ways to do good things badly, if you will; and be shown how the yetzer harah tries to persuade us to take something good that we do and spin it on its axis just a bit until it becomes bad.

Now, the sensitive reader will easily catch sight of his or her own inner dialogue in the chapters to follow, and will surely blush; while the less sensitive reader will be quick to deny his or her own chicaneries, and will in fact pick up a trick or two. So the question might be asked -- why lay this out in full sight if it could trip up some people?

But as Ibn Pakudah points out, quoting Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakkai, "Woe is me if I say anything, and woe is me if I say nothing! For if I say anything, dishonest people will learn how to cheat from it; and if I say nothing, cheaters will think the sages aren't aware of what they do" (Babba Battra 89b).

That's to say that while the bind is real, it has been determined that revealing the darker side of light is better than keeping us all in the dark.


This series is dedicated to the memory of Yitzchak Hehrsh ben Daniel z"l, and Sara Rivka bas Yaakov Dovid, z"l.

Copyright © 2004 by Rabbi Yaakov Feldman and Torah.org

Subscribe to Spiritual Excellence and receive the class via e-mail.


 

ARTICLES ON VAESCHANAN AND TU BEAV:

View Complete List

Mi Casa Es Su Casa
Rabbi Yochanan Zweig - 5772

The Basis for Moshe Being Denied Entry into the Land
Rabbi Yosef Kalatzky - 5771

Mi Casa Es Su Casa
Rabbi Yochanan Zweig - 5774

> YomTov, vol. XIII # 4
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5767

The Best Kept Secret
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5764

For Your Sake
Rabbi Yaakov Menken - 5756

Frumster - Orthodox Jewish Dating

Addressing Concerns Part 1
Rabbi Aron Tendler - 5762

How Wise We Would Be
Rabbi Label Lam - 5763

Where Torah Resides
Rabbi Label Lam - 5768

Looking for a Chavrusah?

Opposites Are Equal (or: Of Parents and Eggs)
Rabbi Naftali Reich - 5771

Heaven and Earth
Rabbi Naftali Reich - 5766

Serving and Deserving
Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffmann - 5761

ArtScroll

At Peace With Itself
Rabbi Aron Tendler - 5765

Irreplaceable
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5767

Cause Hashem to Be Loved By Others
Rabbi Yisroel Ciner - 5759

They Go Together
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5766



Project Genesis

Torah.org Home


Torah Portion

Jewish Law

Ethics

Texts

Learn the Basics

Seasons

Features

TORAHAUDIO

Ask The Rabbi

Knowledge Base




Help

About Us

Contact Us



Free Book on Geulah!




Torah.org Home
Torah.org HomeCapalon.com Copyright Information