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The Path of the Just

Ch. 5 (Part 2)

The truth be known, the world is delicious and compelling. We’re never asked to close ourselves off from it altogether as Jews, or to deny its allure -- only to keep it in perspective and to separate the good from the bad, the kosher from the un-kosher. And we’re warned not to become “bound by (its) fetters”, as Ramchal puts it, which is to say, to not get entangled in its countless strings. Because if you do, you’ll be forever waylaid and it will become “impossible (for you) to reflect upon your actions” since you’ll invariably become gripped by this and that.

We all have to be concerned with the world enough to earn a living and to get through the day, to be sure, “but over-concern (with it) to the point where it looms so large that it leaves no room=2 0for Divine service” is deadly.

The best solution of all, Ramchal counsels, is “to set aside specific time for Torah study” in the course of the day (as Rabbi Pinchas Ben Yair suggested in the beraita that forms the basis of “The Path of the Just”). It puts things into perspective and grants us the wherewithal to separate the chaff from the wheat.

But don’t assume that this is simply a good and logical piece of adv ice, given that when we delve into Torah we leave the everyday world behind and touch the heavens, because it goes far deeper than that and works on more arcane levels than we can imagine.

For, we’re told that G-d Himself let it be known that Torah study is the remedy par excellence for the yetzer harah (see Kiddushin 30b). And so, in Ramchal’s words, since “the Creator fashioned this cure for this specific ailment, it would be impossible to thoroughly cure a person from it any other way”.

He adds that anyone who thinks there’s another way to purify himself other than through Torah study would be like some poor, hapless patient who went to all sorts of doctors for a solution to his problems and rather than take what they suggested, he took whatever occurred to him -- and failed.

For as Ramchal points out in another work, “perfection is beyond human capacities” (Vichuach HaChacham V’haChasssid, pp. 77-79) and doesn’t come upon us by our efforts alone but through the interventions of G-d. And since, as G-d Himself pointed out, “My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, says the L-rd. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8-9), it follows then that we’d have to use the beyond-human-capacities means that G-d alone could provide us with to attain it, Torah study.

So, we’re counseled to access it to come upon caution, and in the end we’ll find that “a fresh urge to follow the good path will be kindled within” (Vichuach HaChacham V’haChasssid, ibid.).

Text Copyright © 2007 by Rabbi Yaakov Feldman and



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