The Path of the Just
Ch. 4 (Part 2)
Even when we’re earnest and honest about striving for betterment, most of
us are feisty when it comes to criticism. We cringe, blink hard, rummage
through a catalog of excuses, and lash out at it no matter how valid the
But there are some rare individuals who for the most part only need to be
tapped on the shoulder when they go off the mark, told something
like, “I’m sorry, but that’s just not right”, and they immediately stop.
For, while we all know that, “there is not a righteous man on earth who
does (only) good and never sins” (Ecclesiastes 7:20), these souls -- whom
Ramchal referred to above as “those who fully understand (what matters
most)” -- react quickly and succinctly to their slip-ups while we somehow
turn our backs on ours.
At bottom, such individuals would only need to be reminded that “wholeness
alone is what should be longed for, nothing else”, which they had
apparently forgotten for the moment; and they’d only need to be gently
told once again that “nothing is worse than the lack of wholeness and what
keeps it back from us”.
That’s to say, they’re to be tenderly set on course again -- the only path
they care to follow in the end, anyway -- and once redirected they’ll stay
the course. They might need to be reminded that “the means to wholeness
are good deeds and good personality traits”, in order to specify just
which right direction they’re to head, but that would be enough. For their
having strayed off-course for the while “would be a great sorrow and
misfortune for them”.
These are very precious souls, and are among the greatest among us.
They’re as human as we and thus imperfect; but unlike us, they’re just
naturally drawn toward piety and utter goodness rather than toward this
and that, and they’re simply flabbergasted and undone when they slip.
The very greatest among them (for there are degrees on those lofty
heights, too, you understand) quite literally fear sin rather than frown
upon it. Such people will always be cautious, but the rest of us would
have to be motivated to caution in other ways.
Text Copyright © 2007 by Rabbi Yaakov Feldman and Torah.org