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Mesillat Yesharim
( Path of the Just )

CHAPTER VIII

CONCERNING THE MANNER OF ACQUIRING ZEAL

THE MEANS by which Zeal is acquired are the same as those by which Watchfulness is acquired, and their levels, too, are similar as I have written above; for their functions are very closely related and there is no distinct difference between them, except that one deals with positive, and the other with negative commandments. When a man realizes as a truth the great value of the mitzvoth and the greatness of his responsibility in relation to them, his heart will certainly awaken to the service of God and will not weaken in it. What may, however, strengthen this awakening is looking into all of the good things that the Holy One Blessed be He does with a man at all periods and times, and into the great wonders that He does with him from the time of his birth until his last day. The more one looks into and considers these things, the more will he recognize his great debt to God, who bestows good upon him, and he will be impelled not to grow lax or to weaken in His service. For since he cannot repay the Blessed One, he will feel that the least he can do is to exalt His Name and fulfill His mitzvoth.

There is no man in any circumstances, poor or rich, healthy or ill, who cannot see wonders and many benefits in his condition. The rich and the healthy are indebted to the Blessed One for their riches and health respectively. The poor man is indebted to Him; for even in his poverty, God miraculously and wondrously sustains him and does not permit him to die of hunger. The sick man is indebted to God because He strengthens him under the very weight of his illness and his wounds, and does not permit him to descend to the pit. And so with all other conditions. There is no man, then, who will not find himself indebted to the Creator. And when one regards the good things that he receives from God, he will surely be awakened to Zealousness in His service, as I have written above, much more so if he considers the fact that all of his good depends upon the Blessed One and that his needs and necessities stem from Him, the Blessed One, and from no other - in which case he will certainly not be lax in his Divine service, in order not to lack what is essential to him.

You will note that I have embodied in my words the three categories which I discussed in relation to Watchfulness; for Zeal and Watchfulness are virtually the same, and what applies to one may be applied to the other. So that again, those with wholeness of understanding will be motivated by their sense of duty and by their appreciation of the value and worthiness of the deeds in question; those on a lower level, by their anxiety over the apportionment of honor in the World to Come and over the possibility of their being shamed on the day of reward by seeing what they could have had. but lost; and the populace in general, by their concern with this world and its needs, as heretofore explained.

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