9. Reflection


4 Tamuz 5781

We begin now with paragraph five of chapter two of Mesillas Yesharim by R. Moshe Chaim Luzzatto, of blessed memory. In this paragraph, the author compares the advice of the evil inclination (to make oneself busy and consequently avoid thinking about one’s actions) to the order of the wicked Pharaoh that work should be made hard so that men would spend their day working and be unable to avoid reflection on their deeds.

This is a common trait of totalitarian governments and cults: the victims are made to overwork, stay hungry and kept too tired so that they will have no time to think. Additionally, this makes them more vulnerable to brain-washing. In fact, there are even modern corporations that try to eliminate “free time” from their workers’ day, claiming that if the company has paid for – say – eight hours, it should get eight hours straight.

True, as we have read here, somebody who does not give the buyer of his time the amount of time that he has sold is compared to a thief. Yet there are those – such as Pharaoh – that enforce this idea in order to avoid discussion of unfairness. One must take heed as always and even here apply the teaching of R. Luzzatto and remember to keep time to look at one’s actions.

The time for reflection is very precious and – going back to a previous text – we have seen that many – even with no outside coercive force – deny it to themselves without realising its importance.

In paragraph six R. Luzzatto states that the evil inclination, as to this point, is very cunning and one can escape it only with great wisdom and foresight, quoting Moed Katan 5a: “whoever evaluates his pathways in this world will gain the reward of seeing the redemption wrought by the Holy One, blessed is he”. Words of wisdom as always from R. Luzzatto.

opinions expressed in the text belong solely to the author, and not to the author’s employer, organization, committee or other group or individual.

Dr. D Cohen