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"Eight Chapters"

Chapter Five (Part 6)

But if we're to be honest with ourselves we'd have to admit that none of this is easy.

After all, this chapter is entitled "Using *all* your personal capacities to one end alone" -- to the end of drawing close to G-d; and that's very, very demanding. Because we're so easily distracted by this and that, so easily dazzled by all sorts of shiny new things that we find ourselves forgetting G-d for weeks at a time (perhaps years).

In fact, though, Rambam recognizes that. He terms it "a very high and formidable level that few attain", he acknowledges that even those few who come to it only do so "after a great deal of preparation", and he even concedes that "anyone who proved to be like that (would be) on par with the prophets"!

So why would he recommend it for each one us? Wouldn't we be setting ourselves up for failure -- and for a failure of cosmic proportions?

Nonetheless, as Rambam points out, that's exactly "what G-d meant for us all to set as our goal". After all, didn't He Himself charge us to love Him "with all your heart, with your entire being, and with all your means" (Deuteronomy 6:5)? Weren't we told to “Know Him in all your ways“ (Proverbs 3:6)? And we're we advised to do “all (we) do for the sake of Heaven“ (Pirkei Avot 2:15), which has all sorts of implications?

Apparently then G-d has a great deal of faith in us. And though He knows that such a goal might discourage us and throw us off once in a while, He likewise knows our hearts and capacities better than we ourselves do, and He extends us the offer to strive for the sort of spiritual excellence we're indeed capable of.

Text Copyright © 2006 by Rabbi Yaakov Feldman and



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