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3.14 Why Do the Righteous Suffer and the Wicked Prosper?
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Shaar HaBitachon Chapter 3, part II One’s burgeoning trust in God might be shaken by the troubling phenomenon we observe that there are righteous people who work hard to earn a living and who endure suffering while many wicked people prosper and enjoy tranquility. Various prophets addressed this phenomenon; Jeremiah asked directly, “Why does the way […]
Text for Bitachon and Ahava
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Shaar HaBitachon  Ways in Which We Rely Upon God (Chapter 4) There are seven areas in which a person must rely upon God. These are: In matters of one’s own body; Regarding his ability to earn a living; In interpersonal relationships with family, friends, enemies, and others; Regarding duties of the heart and limbs that […]
3.13 – Acquiring Trust in God
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Chovos HaLevavos, Shaar HaBitachon Chapter 3, part I ***************************** If a person wants to acquire true trust in God, there are certain prerequisites that he must first understand and internalize. The first of these is that he must recognize seven principles vis-à-vis God, namely: God is more merciful towards man than anyone or anything else, as per […]
3.12 – Using All Our Traits in the Service of God
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Chovos HaLevavos, Shaar HaAvodah chapter 10  ************************************ Humans have traits that we consider to be “positive,” like mercy, humility, love and generosity. These have reciprocals that we consider “negative” – in these cases, harshness, pride, hatred and stinginess. All of a person’s traits should be used in the service of God. It’s easy to understand that […]
3.11 – An Illustrative Parable
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Chovos HaLevavos, Shaar HaAvodah chapter 9  ************************************ To illustrate the dynamic between predestination on one hand and reward and punishment on the other, the Chovos HaLevavos presents a parable: Imagine an island with a very unusual law: each year they would appoint a stranger to serve as their ruler. At the end of the year, the […]
3.10 – Predestination vs. Free Will
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Chovos HaLevavos, Shaar HaAvodah chapter 8  ************************************ There are numerous verses that address the issue of God’s control of the world and predestination. Among these: Whatever God desired, He performed, in Heaven and on Earth (Psalms 135:6); God causes death and causes life, He brings down to the grave and raises up. God causes poverty […]
3.9 Impediments to Perceiving God
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Chovos HaLevavos, Shaar HaBechinah chapter 6  ************************************ The contemplation of God through observing creation can be impeded by numerous things. In Shaar HaYichud chapter 10, Rabbeinu Bachaye lists several things that impede recognizing God’s unity. Among these are polytheism, idolatry, attributing a physical form to God, and following one’s lowly physical urges. (This is not […]
3.8 Learning to Perceive God
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Sources refer to Rabbi Bachaye ibn Pakuda’s Chovos HaLevavos (Duties of the Heart)  ************************************ Seven Different Types of Signs (Chapter 4) There are seven different types of signs of wisdom in creation that we may observe and contemplate: The signs of wisdom inherent in the basic elements of the world. Regarding these, King David said, […]
3.7 – Examining Creation to Perceive God
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Sources refer to Rabbi Bachaye ibn Pakuda’s Chovos HaLevavos (Duties of the Heart)  ************************************ The Essence of Examination (Chapter 1) The essence of examination is to contemplate the signs of God’s wisdom that can be observed in creation and to appreciate them to the extent one can perceive them. This wisdom varies in appearance through […]
3.6 – Introduction to Shaar HaBechinah (The Gate of Examination)
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Sources refer to Rabbi Bachaye ibn Pakuda’s Chovos HaLevavos (Duties of the Heart)  ************************************ God’s kindnesses are universal as Psalms 145:9 tells us, “God is good to all.” Nevertheless, many people are unable to see this for themselves. There are three reasons why people fail to recognize God’s goodness: (1) People are too wrapped up […]