Italian Jewish Rabbi, Childhood Genius, Ethical Author, Kabbalist and Philosopher
Moshe Chayim Luzzatto, also Moses Hayyim Luzzato, known by Hebrew acronym RaMCHal
Italian Jewish Rabbi, Childhood Genius, Ethical Author, Kabbalist and Philosopher
A person does not have in the next world only what he brought into his mind in this world. Whoever knows the inside of Torah will enjoy the inner light. Whoever does not, will not get to enjoy it at all.
Purity refers to the perfection of one's heart and thoughts, as indicated in David's statement (Psalms 51:12), "Create in me, God, a pure heart." The intent of this trait is that a man leave no room in his deeds for the evil inclination, but conduct himself in accordance with intelligence and fear of God, uninfluenced by sin and lust. This applies even to physical, earthy actions; for even after one has accustomed himself to Separation so that he takes from the world only what is essential, he must still purify his heart and thoughts so that, even in taking the little that he does, he is motivated not by desire for enjoyment and lust, but by thought for the good which proceeds from his actions in respect to wisdom and Divine service, as was said of R. Eliezer (Nedarim 20b), "He would expose one hand-breadth and conceal two handbreadths and imagine that he was being compelled by a demon." He derived no pleasure whatosever, but performed the act only with a thought to the mitzvah and Divine service. Along these lines Solomon said (Proverbs 3:6), "In all your ways know Him and He will straighten your paths."
What pleasure does G-D have in all the big calculations and many conclusions, while there is not one person who strengthens himself to stand in the mysteries of G-D and to reveal the light of his Glory.
A principle that experience has shown to be of central importance to the work of Separation is that whatever tends to lighten one's burden must be examined carefully. For although such alleviation is sometimes justified and reasonable, it is most often a deceitful prescription of the evil inclination, and must, therefore, be subjected to much analysis and investigation. If, after such an examination, it still seems justified, then it is certainly acceptable.
Saintliness, then, is a comprehensive performance of all the mitzvoth, embracing all of the relevant areas and conditions within the realm of possibility. It is to be seen that Saintliness is of the same nature as Separation, differing from it only in the respect that it concerns the positive commandments whereas Separation deals with the negative ones, but corresponding to it in terms of general function, which is adding to what has been explicitly stated that which we may deduce from the explicit commandment as giving pleasure to the Blessed One. This is the delimitation of true Saintliness. I shall now explain its chief divisions.
When one knows a number of things, and understands how they are categorized and systematically interrelated, then he has a great advantage over one who has the same knowledge without such distinction.
External movements have the ability to awaken internal feelings and emotions. Though feelings often seem to be out of our control, by consciously acting in a certain way, we can gain mastery over our feelings
The abomination occurring in our times, that most of the wise men of Yisroel have already strayed far from the truth and the sweet light, the glory of G-D our master. They go after calculations of nothingness. They lean after power and honor.
Who ever has a sharp mind should analyze at the most for only an hour or two in Halacha. Whoever is not sharp should not study it at all, rather he should spend his time with Midrashim and Kabbalah, the inside of the Torah.
Fear of God denotes fear of the Majesty of the Blessed One, fearing Him as one would a great and mighty king, and being ashamed at one's every movement in consequence of His greatness, especially when speaking before Him in prayer or engaging in the study of His Torah.
The entire Wisdom of Truth (i.e. The Kabbalah) comes only to demonstrate the truth of faith.
Why would one leave the main learning [Kabbalah] and go to the side issues [Pshat].
He satisfies his lofty soul only with the grass of the field, which is the Pshat level of Torah. He makes his life bitter with Kal Vechomer and Gezarah Shavah, on which it is written "they made their life miserable with hard work".
The essence of Humility is in a person's not attaching importance to himself for any reason whatsoever. This trait is the very opposite of pride and its results are the very opposite of the results of pride. Analysis will reveal that Humility is dependent upon thought and deed. Before a man conducts himself in the way of the Humble, he must first be Humble in thought. One who attempts to be Humble in deeds without first having cultivated an attitude of Humility belongs to that class of wicked, deceitful, "humble" men which we mentioned previously, that class of hypocrites, than which there is nothing more evil in the world.
You have already heard that the entire wisdom of the Kabbalah is only to understand the government of the Supreme Will and for what purpose He created all these different creatures, what He wants from them, what will come at the end of all the cycles of the universe, and how all these strange cycles are to be explained. For the Supreme Will Himself already calculated the entire cycle of government ending with complete perfection. These calculations and measures are what we are explaining when we speak about the Sefirot and the worlds.
Holiness consists in one's clinging so closely to his God that in any deed he might perform he does not depart or move from the Blessed One, until the physical objects of which he makes use become more elevated because of his having used them, than he descends from his communion and from his high plane because of his having occupied himself with them. This obtains, however, only in relation to one whose mind and intelligence cling so closely to the greatness, majesty and Holiness of the Blessed One that it is as if he is united with the celestial angels while yet in this world. I have already indicated that one cannot accomplish this by himself, but must awaken himself to it and strive for it. But first, he must have attained all of the noble traits previously mentioned - from the beginning of Watchfulness until the Fear of Sin. Only in this way will he arrive at Holiness and succeed in it; for if he lacks the preceding traits, he is akin to an outsider, the bearer of an imperfection, about whom it is said (Numbers 18:4), "An outsider shall not come near." But if, after having undergone all these preparations, he steadfastly pursues with strong love and great fear, the contemplation of the greatness of the Blessed One and the might of His majesty, he will separate himself little by little from earthy considerations and in all his actions and movements will direct his heart to the intimacies of true communion until there is conferred upon him a spirit from on high and the Blessed One causes His Name to dwell with him as He does with all of His Holy ones. He will then be in actuality like an angel of God, and all of his actions, even the lowly, physical ones, will be accounted as sacrifices and Divine service.
The idea behind the trait of Cleanliness is that a person be completely clean of bad traits and of sins, not only those which are recognized as such, but also those which are rationalized, which, when we look into them honestly, we find to be sanctioned only because of the heart's being still partially afflicted by lust and not entirely free of it, so as to incline us towards a relaxation of standards. The man who is entirely free of this affliction and clean of any trace of evil which lust leaves behind it will come to possess perfectly clean vision and pure discrimination, and will not be swayed in any direction by desire, but will recognize as evil, and withdraw from every sin that he had committed, though it were the slightest of the slight.
Holiness is two-fold. Its beginning is labor and its end reward; its beginning, exertion and its end, a gift. That is, it begins with one's sanctifying himself and ends with his being sanctified. As our Sages of blessed memory have said (Yoma 39a), "If one sanctifies himself a little, he is sanctified a great deal; if he sanctifies himself below, he is sanctified from above." Exertion in this respect consists in one's completely separating and removing himself from earthiness and clinging always, at all periods and times, to his God. It was because of the possession of this trait that the Prophets were called "angels," as stated in relation to Aaron (Malachi 2:7), "For the lips of the Priest will guard knowledge, and Torah will be sought from his mouth for he is an angel of the Lord of Hosts." And (II Chronicles 36:16), "And they disparaged the angels of God.. . " Even when one is engaged in the physical activities required by his body, his soul must not deviate from its elevated intimacy, as it is stated (Psalms 63:9), "My soul clings to You; Your right arm sustains me ."However, because it is beyond a person's ability to place himself in this situation, since, in the last analysis, he is a creature of flesh and blood, I have stated that the end of Holiness is a gift. What one can do is to persevere in the pursuit of true understanding and constantly give thought to the sanctification of deeds.
The idea of watchfulness is for a man to exercise caution in his actions and his undertakings; that is, to deliberate and watch over his actions and his accustomed ways to determine whether or not they are good, so as not to abandon his soul to the danger of destruction, God forbid, and not to walk according to the promptings of habit as a blind man in pitch darkness. This is demanded by one's intelligence. For considering the fact that a man possesses the knowledge and the reasoning ability to save himself and to flee from the destruction of his soul, is it conceivable that he would willingly blind himself to his own salvation? There is certainly no degradation and foolishness worse than this. One who does this is lower than beasts and wild animals, whose nature it is to protect themselves, to flee and to run away from anything that seems to endanger them. One who walks this world without considering whether his way of life is good or bad is like a blind man walking along the seashore, who is in very great danger, and whose chances of being lost are far greater than those of his being saved. For there is no difference between natural blindness and self-inflicted blindness, the shutting of one's eyes as an act of will and desire.
I cannot deny that it will take hard work to free yourself from negative traits. Nevertheless, I can honestly tell you that not as much effort is needed as might at first appear. What you need appears more difficult than it will actually be in practice. When you are sincerely motivated to work consistently to free yourself from your faults, the positive habits you begin to establish will render the entire process much easier than you originally thought. Experience confirms this to be true.
The one stone on which the entire building rests is the concept that God wants each person to complete himself, body and soul.
I did not write this book to teach people information they had not known previously. My intention was to remind them of knowledge they already possessed. As a matter of fact, you will find that most people already know the information that I have written. But to the degree that this knowledge is well-known and its truth self-evident, is the degree that people forget about these matters and are not consciously aware of them in their daily lives. Therefore, the benefit of reading such a book does not come from reading it just one time. You might find only a few bits of new information. You will derive benefit, however, from constant review. Keep reviewing ideas for self-improvement - even though on a certain level you already know them. When you constantly review important ideas, they will be at the forefront of your consciousness and you will thereby be able to apply them. [Regularly review what you know that is important and valuable for life and work, for example in the form of quotes and axioms, after-all 'repetition is the mother of skill and insight':]
The truth, then, is that a man should separate himself from anything which is not essential to him in relation to the affairs of the world; if he separates himself from anything which is essential to him, regardless of the reason for its being so, he is a sinner. This principle is a consistent on.-. Its application to particular instances, however, is a matter of individual judgment (and "A man will be praised according to his understanding"). For it is impossible to discuss all the particulars of Separation; they are so numerous that the mind cannot encompass them. One must deal with them each in its own time.
Identify the mental states that you want and then act externally as if you were already in that state. This includes your total being: posture, facial expression, and even your tone of voice. ['Fake it till you make it!' and 'Act it till it's a fact!'] This method will give you increased joy, enthusiasm, confidence and serenity. With practice, you will gain true self-mastery. [Feeling Follows Action:]
The world was created for man's use. In truth, man is the center of a great balance. For if he is pulled after the world and is drawn further from his Creator, he is damaged, and he damages the world with him. And if he rules over himself and unites himself with his Creator, and uses the world only to aid him in the service of his Creator, he is uplifted and the world itself is uplifted with him. For all creatures are greatly uplifted when they serve the "Whole Man," who is sanctified with the holiness of the Blessed One.