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The Path of the Just

Chapter 26 (Part 2)

Here’s why holiness would have to be a gift to you, rather than something you work towards and can be expected to achieve: simply because "it's impossible for a human being to place himself in this state which -- because he’s in truth physical, and flesh and blood -- is so difficult for him", Ramchal explains.

After all, think about what it took to become righteous, which the earlier chapters of this work touched on (which few of us so very flesh-and-blood individuals would have become, though we'd improved here and there in the process), and to then become pious which most of the other chapters focused on (and that very, very few become). And extrapolate out from there to what it would take for us to become holy!

For holiness is identified with the transcendent, angelic and other-worldly; and those who achieve it are driven by Heaven-based determinations and incentives rather than worldly ones.

Given that, Ramchal continues, “all you can do is make the effort of seeking the true knowledge (you’d need to have to attain holiness), and try to constantly give thought to the sanctification of your actions”, and nothing more. For “ultimately, G-d alone can direct you in this … and can have His holiness dwell upon you”; indeed, “only then can you succeed”.

Then Ramchal adds this very telling element: “and only then will you be able to constantly attach yourself to G-d”. His point here is that attaching oneself to G-d constantly -- dwelling on Him, consciously living in His presence, directing all of your thoughts, hopes, and intentions to Him alone -- is also an element of holiness, and is also only possible with G-d’s own help.

Make that effort selflessly, earnestly, and deeply, he concludes, and “G-d will help you and see to it that you get what your native being (i.e., your humanity) would (otherwise) detain from you”.


Text Copyright © 2010 by Rabbi Yaakov Feldman and

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



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