You know how our minds work. We often enough “rationalize that certain things are permissible, when they’re (really) not” (as Ramchal puts it) and so we partake of them, then brush aside nagging doubts and guilty feelings. But the truth be known, those may be the self-same things that will come back to bite us in the end. For, as our sages taught, “The ve ry sins that people dash under their heels (i.e., walk past without a thought) are the ones that surround them at the time of judgment” (Avodah Zara 18a).
So we’d all do well to be careful.
But it’s frankly very, very hard being so meticulous. For, while “obvious and well-known sins are easy enou gh to avoid” when you’re honest with yourself, still and all “the kind of meticulous scrutiny required for ‘innocence’ is hard to come by” Ramchal points out, and it challenges even the greatest souls.
For, there are some very subtle things at work here which touch on the day to day conflict we’re all embroiled in having to do with our wish on one hand to grow in our beings, and our concurrent fantasies about getting our hands on everything we can in the world at the same time.
Ramchal concludes this chapter by acknowledging, “in truth, it’s very difficult to foster this trait” since “our natures are weak, our hearts are easily swayed”. So, the sort of person who actual achieves “innocence” will have “proven himself to have withstood temptation and to have been victorious in a mighty war”.
And he then leads us on to the next and longest chapter in The Path of the Just, which touches on some very important, practical dilemmas.