"The Duties of the Heart"
Gate Five: "Dedicating Our Actions to G-d"
Dedicating our actions to G-d comes down to making sure that everything we
do is done in the service of G-d (see 5:1), including what we think.
So we'll explore the implications of that fact then end this chapter with
Ibn Pakudah's final points.
First off let it be said outright that all our actions are first
cut-to-size, mixed together, stirred, cooked, seasoned, then served-out by
our minds beforehand. Not a single thing we do is raw or roughcast. So it
behooves us to pay close attention to our thoughts, assumptions, and
expectations; for everything we do and say, everything we become, and the
very station of our souls depends on them.
But few of us know what we're thinking at any given moment. We may know
what we tend to thing about one thing or another, or under certain
circumstances; but we're often not aware what we're thinking right now.
Indeed, all sorts of ideas -- high and low -- slosh about in our minds all
the time, and an array of words spill out of our mouths again and again,
without a thought given to what lies behind it all. But if we're ever to
achieve true spiritual excellence we'd need to know what we're thinking
(and feeling) to determine if it resonates with our spiritual goals or not.
It follows then that we'd first need to learn to "read our own minds", so
to speak. Then once we do that and uncover the impetus behind what we do,
we'd need to learn how to nourish all that with the kinds of thoughts,
aspirations, and dreams that will lead to spiritual excellence.
Ibn Pakudah ends this lengthy chapter (and gate) with the following sage
advice: "Don't overlook what I've encouraged you in" here in this
chapter, "for while I have gathered together most of the things
likely to prevent you from dedicating your actions to G-d, a nearly endless
number of offshoots from them. So be as cautious as you can to wholly
dedicate your actions to G-d".
"Try as hard as possible to purify your actions ... and see to it that
when it comes to Divine service you don't act like the bird who laid an
egg, set it down to warm on the ground without paying attention to it, and
then saw other animals destroy it before it had a chance to hatch" --
which is to say, do your best but take care not to abandon your efforts in
midcourse as so many do.
Ibn Pakudah then ends with the following prayer: "May G-d in His mer
us among those He considers upright, who act for the sake of His great
Copyright © by Rabbi Yaakov Feldman and Torah.org
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