Ch. 25, Class # 2

Middle of Chapter 25

והן בבחינת ועשה טוב, להתגבר כארי בגבורה ואומץ הלב

Likewise in the category of “doing good” one can employ the power of his “hidden love,” to strengthen himself like a lion with might and determination of heart,

נגד היצר המכביד את גופו ומפיל עליו עצלה, מבחינת יסוד העפר שבנפש הבהמית

against the evil nature which weighs down his body and casts over him a sloth, which stems from the element of Earth that is in his animal soul. 8

מלהטריח גופו בזריזות בכל מיני טורח ועבודת משא בעבודת ה‘ שיש בה טורח ועמל

This laziness prevents him from exerting his body energetically with every type of effort and strain, in the service of G‑d that entails effort and toil.

כגון לעמול בתורה בעיון, ובפה: לא פסיק פומיה מגירסא

For example, to labor in the Torah with deep concentration, and also orally, so that “his mouth will never cease from Torah study”;

וכמאמר רז״ל: לעולם ישים אדם עצמו על דברי תורה כשור לעול וכחמור למשאוי

as our Sages have said: 9 “A man should always submit to the words of Torah like the ox to the yoke, and the ass to the load.”

וכן לתפלה בכונה, בכל כחו ממש

Similarly with regard to devout prayer, he should exert himself with all the strength he can muster.

וכן בעבודת ה’ שהיא בדבר שבממון, כמו עבודת הצדקה

So too with regard to serving G‑d in monetary matters, such as the duty of charity, 10

וכיוצא באלו ממלחמות היצר ותחבולותיו, לקרר נפש האדם, שלא להפקיר ממונו ובריאות גופו

and in similar matters that entail great effort where one must struggle with the evil inclination and its wiles which seek to cool the ardor of a man’s soul, claiming that he ought not dissipate his money in the case of charity or his health in matters requiring physical exertion.

שלעמוד נגדו ולכבשו קרוב מאד אל האדם, כשישים אל לבו שלנצח היצר בכל זה ויותר מזה, ולעשות הפכו ממש, קל מאד מיסורי מיתה, ה‘ ישמרנו

It is very easy for a person to resist and subjugate his nature when he considers deeply that to conquer his nature in all the above and more, and in fact to do the very opposite, i.e., to exert himself strenuously, both bodily and financially, is much lighter suffering than death (May G‑d preserve us!).

ויסורי מיתה, ה’ ישמרנו, היה מקבל באהבה וברצון, שלא ליפרד מיחודו ואחדותו יתברך אפילו לפי שעה, להשתחוות לעבודה זרה, חס ושלום

Yet he would lovingly and willingly have accepted the pain of death (G‑d preserve us!) so as not to be separated from G‑d’s unity and oneness even for a moment by an act of idolatry, G‑d forbid.

For, as mentioned earlier, every Jew would sacrifice his life rather than practice idolatry, since he knows that it represents separation from G‑d.

וכל שכן שיש לו לקבל באהבה וברצון כדי לדבקה בו לעולם ועד

Certainly, then, he ought to accept lovingly and willingly the comparatively minor pain of exerting himself in the performance of the mitzvot in order to bind himself to G‑d with an eternal bond.

There is a twofold a fortiori argument here. Firstly, performing a mitzvahactively binds man to G‑d, as opposed to refraining from idolatry, which merely prevents separation from Him. Secondly, the bond effected by the mitzvah is an eternal one, as opposed to the temporary separation from G‑d caused by idolatry. Now if one would sacrifice his life to refrain from idolatry, how much more so ought he accept whatever hardships are entailed by fulfilling themitzvot, since their performance has both these gains that are not found in the rejection of idolatry.

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FOOTNOTES
8. See ch. 1.
9. Avodah Zarah 5b.
10. The three examples given here correspond to the three “pillars” of Torah, avodah, and gemilut chassadim.
11. Yeshayahu 40:8.

 

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