Thursday, May 12, 2005

A Slow Reading of The Introduction to "The Path of the Just" (Part 4)

"This is not so because these matters (i.e., serving G-d excellently; loving, revering, and attaching on to Him; and achieving piety) are not of the utmost importance to (those who concentrate on Torah study). For were you to ask, they would each surely say that these were the essentials, and that there could never be found a true sage who would not concentrate upon these matters."

-- Everyone realizes that true Torah excellence is determined by the sort of *person* one who learns it is, not just the sort of scholar. But we tend to forget that and get overwhelmed by data and citations, and to admire erudition over ehrlichkeit.

"But as a result of their not delving into them -- as they are so 'obvious' and 'simple' -- they see no need to reflect upon them at great length. Consequently, the studying of such matters, and the reading of the holy books concerning them would be left in the hands of those of a less subtle mind, those tending to be more coarse. It would be this sort of person who would tend to be diligent in these matters, not ever abandoning them."

"It has reached the point where when one sees someone attempting to make himself pious, one cannot help but assume that he is of a coarser nature. The results of such assumptions are detrimental to both the sage and the non-sage. It results in neither attempting true piety, which comes to be a rare and precious thing in the world."

-- In contemporary terms, we term people studying Mussar farfrumpt, farshvartst and "not normal". And it thus becomes outlandish to even consider learning it. So the whole notion of drawing close to G-d goes by the wayside to everyone's detriment.

Translation of text (c) 1996 Rabbi Yaakov Feldman
Original comments (c) 2005 Rabbi Yaakov Feldman