Torah.org Home Subscribe Services Support Us
 
Print Version

Email this article to a friend

"Eight Chapters"

Chapter Four (Part 8)

There have always been some who are willing to do whatever it takes to dedicate their lives and immortal souls to G-d Almighty. They seem to live in a dimension apart from our own where ordinary things are tinged with uncommon color, where events are typical enough but invariably breathtaking, and where G-d is always the subject under discussion. They're the pious; and other than prophets, they're the greatest among us since they're so dedicated and have honed their minds and personalities so well.

Now, wanting to dedicate their beings that way but not wanting to throw their systems off-kilter, as we'd been warned not to, these pious souls would go *somewhat* beyond the norm and be a little too-much of this, or too-little of that. But they were careful not to go too far, despite their extreme desire to dedicate themselves to a life of piety.

So as Rambam depicts it, "they’d tend to be somewhat more ascetic than temperate; somewhat more daring than courageous; somewhat more earnest than boastful; somewhat more humble than meek" and the like. Acting that way was termed by our sages as “(going) beyond the letter of the law“ (Babba Metziah 30B) -- what we'd term, "going the extra mile".

"Once in a while, though" Rambam indicates, "some pious individuals would tend toward an extreme". They'd perhaps fast when they weren't otherwise required to; they might "stay awake all night (in prayer and supplication); do without meat and wine; separate from women; wear coarse wool and sackcloth (in mourning for the destruction of the Holy Temple, or in order deny their bodies come modicum of comfort); and dwell on mountainsides or withdraw to the desert (to meditate in seclusion)".

After all, it's hard living in society as the great preponderance of us do; to eat and drink this and that, time after time; and to commune with others the way we all do day after day and keep your mind on lofty goals.

Nonetheless, as Rambam makes clear, "the *only* reason they did any of those things was to heal themselves" that is, to offset harmful material tendencies, "or because everyone around them was becoming corrupt, and they perceived that they’d also become corrupt by staying in contact with them". In other words, some of them would indeed go to extremes once in a rare while -- but never from then on, with only the best of intentions, and always meaning to get back on course.

But some others misunderstood what they were doing (as so many do when it comes to striving for lofty goals that they themselves aren't suited for -- but that's beyond the subject at hand).


Text Copyright © 2006 by Rabbi Yaakov Feldman and Torah.org


 






ARTICLES ON KI SEITZEI AND ELUL / ROSH HASHANAH:

View Complete List

Our Own Akeidah
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5766

High Holidays & Sound Investments
Jon Erlbaum - 0

Passion For Progress
Rabbi Pinchas Avruch - 5766

Frumster - Orthodox Jewish Dating

Parshas Ki Seitzei
Shlomo Katz - 5769

The Distance
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5758

Ideas for Inspiration
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5760

Looking for a Chavrusah?

The Sound of True Devotion
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5763

Possessions Belong to People
Rabbi Dovid Green - 5757

Repentance and Changing History
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5759

ArtScroll

Parshas Ki Seitzei
Shlomo Katz - 5770

Prayer is of the Essence
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5769

Close Only Counts
Rabbi Yochanan Zweig - 5770

> Yefas Toar: The Exception Proves The Rule
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5770

To Do The Impossible
Rabbi Label Lam - 5767

Helps Those Who Help Themselves
Rabbi Pinchas Avruch - 5765

The Mystical Tug of the Shofar
Rabbi Naftali Reich - 5766



Project Genesis

Torah.org Home


Torah Portion

Jewish Law

Ethics

Texts

Learn the Basics

Seasons

Features

TORAHAUDIO

Ask The Rabbi

Knowledge Base




Help

About Us

Contact Us



Free Book on Geulah!




Torah.org Home
Torah.org HomeCapalon.com Copyright Information