Torah.org Home Subscribe Services Support Us
 
Print Version

Email this article to a friend

The Path of the Just

Chapter 24 (Part 2)

The sort of fear most of us typically experience is termed “the fear of punishment” in classical Jewish sources. We’d liken it to the natural sort of fear or anxiety we’d have about some unexpected harmful consequences of our actions. It’s something we all experience when we worry about a decision or a choice we made, for example, which might prove to be detrimental.

That sort of anxiety and fear, Ramchal offers, “is certainly very easy to come to, because everybody has an instinct for self-preservation and is concerned for his well-being, and because there’s nothing that’s more likely to keep you away from doing something harmful to yourself than the fear of its (detrimental) consequences”. But “that sort of fear is only fitting for illiterates” and the like, Ramchal says -- not for anyone in search of spiritual excellence.

That’s because it’s a primitive sort of fear, in fact, that’s rooted in illusions of personal control, in misconceptions about the nature of reality, and in a lack of faith in G-d’s place in the universe and in His very real role in the give-and-take of each and every moment.

True and spiritually consequential “fear of punishment” comes down to being “afraid to transgress G-d’s dictates because of the punishments … that transgressors will have to suffer”. That’s to say that given that there are many specific things that G-d notified us that we’d need to do in order to draw close to Him, it would do us well to experience a certain discomfort about our standing in G-d’s eyes if we don’t heed His advice.

Ramchal’s clear implication (since he contrasts this with the easier form of fear above, and because it’s offered so late in the course of the conversation as we pointed out earlier on), is that it’s actually quite difficult to arrive at this sort of fear.

That’s undoubtedly due to the fact that it calls for a deep and stunning realization of G-d’s presence in one’s own life, and in a heart-felt willingness to set one’s own will aside when it collides with G-d’s. For as every sensitive soul knows, the pumping human heart always wants to assert itself in the face of this and that -- even G-d’s own will.

So, we will need to see what Ramchal offers in light of that.


 

Text Copyright © 2010 by Rabbi Yaakov Feldman and Torah.org

Rabbi Feldman's new book, Bachya Ibn Pakuda's The Duties of the Heart, is now available! Order Now


 






ARTICLES ON NOACH:

View Complete List

The Rainmaker
Rabbi Mordechai Kamenetzky - 5759

People In Stone Houses Shouldn
Rabbi Yochanan Zweig - 5773

Compliments -- In The Presence And Outside The Presence Of A Person
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5774

ArtScroll

Nourishment for the Soul
Shlomo Katz - 5760

Language Barrier
Rabbi Mordechai Kamenetzky - 5760

The World is a Symphony
Rabbi Dovid Green - 5757

Frumster - Orthodox Jewish Dating

Flooded With Real Ecstasy
Rabbi Naftali Reich - 5774

Saved From a Rainy Day
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5758

Understanding the Faith of Noach
Rabbi Yosef Kalatsky - 5763

Looking for a Chavrusah?

Never Underestimate the Power of Prayer
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5771

Beyond Youth
Rabbi Label Lam - 5764

Go the Distance!
Rabbi Yisroel Ciner - 5762

> Who By Fire, Who By Water
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5766

Noach Did Not Become Wicked, He Just Became Plain
- 5768

A World is Built!
Rabbi Label Lam - 5762

Communication Brings Unity
Rabbi Yaakov Menken - 5763



Project Genesis

Torah.org Home


Torah Portion

Jewish Law

Ethics

Texts

Learn the Basics

Seasons

Features

TORAHAUDIO

Ask The Rabbi

Knowledge Base




Help

About Us

Contact Us



Free Book on Geulah!




Torah.org Home
Torah.org HomeCapalon.com Copyright Information