"The Duties of the Heart"
Introduction to Gate Six: "Surrendering to G-d"
Nothing sets the spiritually gifted apart from the rest of us more than
their utter lack of hubris and arrogance. For indeed nothing wreaks more
spiritual havoc than the sort of loud and brusk assertions of self we're
accustomed to voicing.
So if we're ever to achieve true spiritual excellence we'd need to learn
how important it is to abide by the decisions of and surrender to forces
greater than ourselves, and most especially to G-d Almighty. That is, not
only to be humble of person and less than self-assertive, but to actually
set self aside and surrender to the other's will.
(G-d only knows, though, how unmodern and backward that sounds to us! But
it's nonetheless a basic and immortal truism that's emphatically
propounded by people whose spiritual accomplishments we most admire. And
it implies neither naivete about the harm others can do to you when you
act that way, nor the healthy need to assert self at times; but this will
all be touched on later in this gate.)
Ibn Pakudah explains that he'd decided to elaborate on this trait now,
right after having discussed dedicating our deeds to Gd, simply because n
"hampers your progress and more seriously inhibits your deeds" than
arrogance. And nothing "prevents all that" better than surrender, which is
the antithesis of arrogance and "the very root of Divine service".
So we'll offer the following in the course of this gate: a definition of
just what "surrender" is, the various instances in which we practice it,
what causes a person to surrender himself to another's will, when it's
propitious to practice it and when not, how to acquire the trait for
yourself, practices to be followed by those who surrender, when surrender
is possible and when it's not, whether it follows on the heels of other
good traits or vice versa, whether it's possible to be self-assured and to
surrender at the same time, and a list of the material and spiritual
benefits to surrendering.
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
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