The Duties of the Heart
Gate Eight: "The Gate of Introspection"
Ch. 3 (Part 1)
It's become clear that introspection at bottom is the act of taking stock
of what we've been granted and thanking the Supplier. But just imagine all
the instances in life we could dwell on to do that! So since we couldn't
possibly feature all of them we'll focus on thirty of the most fundamental
of all. This too will obviously take us quite a while but it will prove to
be very helpful and enlightening -- if we take each one to heart.
The first instance to consider, obviously, is our birth. Ibn Pakudah asks
us to reflect upon the fact that we each came from out of nowhere to life
itself "not as a result of our merits, but simply because of G-d's
generosity, goodness, and kindness". How true. For each one of us could
simply have never been, and nothing we'd done beforehand would have
guaranteed us existence or deemed us indispensable. G-d's love and
generosity alone allowed for us to be, and we have a lot to be thankful
for, for that alone.
So we're charged to thank G-d outright for that privilege by reflecting
upon the following. "Just imagine you were thrown out into the street by
your mother as an infant" Ibn Pakudah offers, "and a passing stranger took
pity on you, brought you home, and took it upon himself to raise you.
Imagine how obliged you'd be to him ... !" That's all the more so true
when it comes to G-d. We'd do well to use that as a model for how freely
we should be giving our thanks to Him.
Text Copyright © 2004 by Rabbi Yaakov Feldman and Torah.org