The Path of the Just
Ch. 1 (Part 5)
Now that we understand “the preciousness of the Divine service granted
us”, Ramchal emphasizes, as well as the fact that it alone is “the means
to bring us to true wholeness” and that without it “we would attain
nothing” spiritually, we can appreciate just how important it is to take
the mitzvah-system seriously.
After all, “a goal is only reached by the combined power of the means used
to reach it” -- that’s to say, our spiritual goal depends on the number
and quality of mitzvot we fulfill. So it only makes sense for us to do our
best, since each notch downward or upward would matter a great deal.
Thanks to the mitzvah-system, “all worlds (can) be thoroughly rectified” --
both our inner worlds and the world at large, as Ramchal indicates
elsewhere. For that could only come about when “all 613 roots of (our)
soul are perfected through the 613 … mitzvot”, since our souls, the
mitzvot, and the world at large are all bound together. And everything we
do here affects both ourselves and everything else (Adir Bamarom, pp. 186-
Hence it’s clear that “we must fulfill the mitzvot and our service to G-d
in a most precise manner -- in as precise a manner as we would weigh gold
or pearls if we were jewelers, because of their great value”. Since “they
result in true wholeness and in the eternal, incomparable preciousness”
that is closeness to G-d.
Ramchal concludes this first chapter with the statement that since it
has “become clear to us that the main purpose of our having been placed in
this world was to observe mitzvot, serve G-d, and to withstand (the)
spiritual trials” we’re faced with all the time, it’s imperative that we
direct everything we do to G-d, and that “that there be no goal … other
than getting closer to Him and eradicating the barriers that separate (us)
from Him” (also see Derech Hashem 1:4).
Indeed, haven’t we been told that “if you obey Me fully and keep My
covenant, then out of all the nations you will be My treasured possession.
For though the whole earth is Mine, you will be for Me a kingdom of
priests and a holy nation.” (Exodus 19:5-6)? Weren’t we enjoined
to “acknowledge Him in all (our) ways” (Proverbs 3:6), through everything
we do? And haven’t we ourselves declared that “I am my Beloved's and my
Beloved is mine” (Song of Songs 6:3) in our declarations of loyalty to G-d?
But in order to achieve all that we’d need to follow a clear and well-
structured plan that would take us through the steps, define each
objective, warn us about what to watch out for, and grant us insight into
the hazards to avoid.
The plan Ramchal uses is based on Rabbi Pinchas Ben Yaer’s penetrating
statement cited in the introduction to the effect that “Torah study leads
to caution, caution leads to enthusiasm, enthusiasm leads to innocence,
innocence leads to abstinence, abstinence leads to purity, purity leads to
piety, piety leads to modesty, modesty leads to fear of sin, fear of sin
leads to holiness, holiness leads to Divine inspiration, and Divine
inspiration leads to the resurrection of the dead” (Avoda Zarah 20B),
which we’ll follow step by step. It will prove to be enlightening, and to
be rooted in wisdom and profound insight into human capacity.
Text Copyright © 2007 by Rabbi Yaakov Feldman and Torah.org