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t is now necessary to explain the place of deliberation in saintliness—a most important subject. It is, indeed, well to know that in the cultivation of saintliness this is the most difficult task. It is a very delicate task which may even serve as an entering wedge to the evil Yezer. There are many good deeds which the Yezer might frustrate by representing them as evil, and many evil deeds which he might encourage by representing them as great Mizvot. In truth, a man cannot weigh his actions properly unless he fulfills the following three requirements: His heart must be most upright so that he is actuated by no motive other than that of pleasing God, blessed be He; secondly, he must scrutinize his deeds and strive to bring them into conformity with this purpose; and finally, he must cast his burden upon the Lord, so that it may be said of him, “Happy is the man whose strength is in Thee … no good thing will be withheld from them that walk uprightly” (Ps. 84.6,12). The failure to meet any one of these requirements prevents a man from attaining perfection, and he is even liable to fall into sin. If his motive is not absolutely pure, or if he is too indolent to give much thought to what he does, or if he trusts not implicitly in the Creator, he cannot avoid falling into sin. But if he reckons with the three requirements of purity of motive, self-scrutiny, and faith, he will walk securely and no evil will befall him. This is what Hannah said when she was divinely inspired, “He will keep the feet of His holy ones” (I Sam. 2.9). Similarly David, “He forsaketh not His saints; they are preserved forever” (Ps. 37.28). Although weighing one’s deeds in relation to hasidut is an extension of the already well-established Mussar practice of heshbon ha-nefesh that Ramchal discussed at the end of chapter four, the level of self-scrutiny required of a hasid is much higher. Three steps characterize this level of heshbon, or “weighing”: purity of thought, analysis, and trust. We will discuss each of these levels. When Ramchal describes a person who possesses purity of thought, “His heart must be most upright so that he is actuated by no motive other than that Chapter 20 h Concerning the Weighing of Hasidut 230 T 231 of pleasing God, blessed be He,” we understand that in the language we have been using this refers to the actualization of tzedek, doing that which is good and equitable for another with no thought of self-satisfaction. We act only out of the pleasure that accrues to another based on our actions, and we understand these actions to have an infinite horizon that reaches toward the Infinite Beloved. Ramchal describes the second requirement of self-analysis as, “… he must scrutinize his deeds and strive to bring them into conformity with this purpose.” The step of self-scrutiny reminds us that the transformation from tzadik to hasid centers not only on one’s actions but also on the remnants of self-aggrandizement that sometimes adhere to those actions. The second step of heshbon ha-nefesh requires the hasid to evaluate his deeds in this radical light, making sure that all actions are distanced from any remaining sense of self; the goal of heshbon ha-nefesh is a positive one, to experience the joy that overwhelms when it flows infinitely from the pleasure of the other. The third step is the most difficult but the most important. As the hasid tries to accomplish the first two steps, he or she will discover the hyperbolic nature of these requirements. They cannot be met! They can only lead a person through penitence to a place of trust in the infinite goodness of the Infinite Other. This trust is a crucial part of heshbon, trust that the experience of joy is accessible even as the acts of love required for it remain incomplete. This trust is both the essence of penitence and the power of the hasid. It should be borne in mind that from the standpoint of saintliness an act should not be judged by the first impression that it makes upon the mind. It should be considered carefully in the light of the consequences to which it may lead. An act considered by itself often appears good, yet it may result in evil consequences and, therefore, must...


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