"The first thing to do to ensure service to G-d", Ibn Pakudah informs
us, "is to free yourself of the need to be in control". How pithy a
statement, yet how overwhelming its implications for us! After all, isn't
the whole thrust of modern thought, science, and technology to give us as
much control over as many things as possible! So are we doomed to lapse
into spiritual mediocrity? Is there anything we can do to ensure our own
service to G-d?
The long answer is for us to apply all we've learned so far with the full
knowledge that we're bucking the tide, and yet we're doing that with G-d's
help, His blessings, and His full, merciful knowledge of what we have to
face. But the short answer is based on our surrendering to G-d's dominion
over us from now on, and on "allowing" Him to be in control of everything.
After all, otherwise we simply slip into egoism and the like all over
But Ibn Pakudah also cautions us that learning to surrender to G-d's will
isn't only important unto itself -- it's actually fundamental to achieving
all other good and lofty traits. In fact his point is that we'll never
reach our spiritual potential if we don't learn how to surrender our will
to G-d's will. For as we're told, "*you can't even be said to truly
believe in G-d unless you take the service of Him upon yourself ... in
Thus we're expected to reiterate again and again to ourselves how vitally
important it is to be humble rather than haughty, simple rather than
sensational, acquiescent rather than assuming.
In fact, Ibn Pakudah adds, the sort of humility and acquiescence we're
addressing here also happen to be the beginnings of repentance, a process
of renewal and transformation which we'd all do well to learn about (and
which is also the thrust of the Gate after this one).