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he means whereby we may acquire the trait of zeal are the same as those whereby we may acquire the trait of watchfulness. Zeal and watchfulness are very much alike; they differ only in that the former pertains to the positive commandments, while the latter pertains to the negative commandments. When a man becomes aware of the great value of the Mizvot, and to what extent it is his duty to perform them, he is certain to become eager to worship God; he will be anything but remiss. What is apt to confirm this eagerness is the realization of the many favors which the Holy One, blessed be He, bestows upon him at all times and the great miracles which God performs for him from the moment of his birth until the day of his death. The more a man reflects upon these things, the more will he recognize the great debt he owes to God who confers favors upon him. That awareness in itself should act as a preventive of sloth and indolence. Since a man is unable to make return to God for His beneficence, he may at least be grateful to Him and obey His commandments. Every man, whatever his circumstances, whether he be poor or rich, healthy or sick, has occasion to perceive many a miracle and many an act of mercy by virtue of the very circumstances in which he is placed. If he is well-to-do and enjoys health, he should surely feel indebted to God both for his wealth and for his health. On the other hand, if he is poor, he should feel indebted to God for miraculously supplying him with the necessities of life, and for not allowing him to starve to death. If he is sick, he should feel indebted to God for sustaining him in his serious ailments and not allowing him to perish; and, likewise, all who are afflicted . There is no one who may not consider himself indebted to his Creator. If a man appreciated the kindnesses which he receives, he would surely be eager to worship God. All the more, if he would realize that his happiness depends upon God, and that whatever he needs and whatever is indispensable to him comes from God and from none other, he would undoubtedly not serve the Holy One, blessed be He, with indolence, nor be remiss in the performance of his duties. You thus see that I have here taken into account three types of zeal, corre95 h The Manner of Acquiring Zeal Chapter 8 T 96 Mesillat Yesharim h sponding to those into which I have divided the trait of watchfulness. Since the two traits are alike, what is true of the one is true of the other. With men of high intelligence, the incentive to zeal comes from a sense of duty and from a realization of the inherent worth of the good deed itself. The intelligent are actuated by the glory which they expect to obtain in the world to come, and by the desire not to suffer disgrace when the day of reward comes, through beholding themselves without the good which might have been theirs. The average person reckons, as we have seen, only with this world and its needs. Ramchal begins his commentary on chapter 8 by referring us back to chapter 4. Zeal and watchfulness are understood as two sides of the same proverbial coin, one positive and the other negative. Therefore, we must apply the principles taught here in chapter 4, although Ramchal does not expand on or even mention them. Instead, and almost by way of contradicting what he wrote in chapter 4, he concentrates this chapter explicitly on something not mentioned there at all: the manner in which alacrity is acquired through gratitude. But his implicit subject, drawn from chapter 4, is Torah study. He focuses there on Torah study through the very midrash that structures the whole of Mesillat Yesharim, the baraita of Rabbi Phinehas: “Torah brings one to watchfulness … etc.” By extension, we should be able to say with equal confidence that Torah study brings one to alacrity, yet Ramchal does not deal with this here at all. Additionally in chapter 4, Ramchal introduces three classifications of people in regard to watchfulness: those with wholeness of understanding, those of lesser understanding, and the general populace. In regard to these, Ramchal expounds at great length on the role of reward and punishment as well as on the...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9780827611221
Related ISBN
9780827608566
MARC Record
OCLC
794925430
Launched on MUSE
2012-01-01
Language
English
Open Access
No
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