Proper Outlook on Life and Religious Cognizance

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Involvement in the Physical World

  1. Even within the permissible activities that could be pleasurable, a person should not intend to get benefit and pleasure physically from this world, but rather do everything they do in order to serve Hashem. As it says “BeChol Darchecha DaEhu” – “In all your ways you shall know Him”. All man’s endeavors should be for the sake of Heaven. [1]
  2. Even the permissible actions such as eating, drinking, walking, sitting, standing, relations, speech, and all of a person’s needs should be done and satisfied for the service of Hashem or for something that causes the service of Hashem. [2]
  3. A man who is hungry and thirsty and eats and drinks for his own benefit is not praised, rather one who thinks that he is eating and drinking to maintain his health in order for him to be able to serve Hashem. [3]
  4. Some pious people used to say before they ate, that they were eating in order to be healthy and strong to serve Hashem Yitbarach. [4]
  5. Similarly, one who sits amongst upright people, stands with Tzaddikim, or follows advice of the pure, if one does so for one’s pleasure and in order to fulfill one’s desires it is not praiseworthy, one should rather do it for the sake of Heaven, then one is praised. [5]
  6. Similarly, regarding sleep, it is needless to say that at a time when one could learn or do מצות that a person should not indulge in sleep for pleasure, but even at a time when one is tired and needs to sleep in order to rest, if one does so for pleasure one is not praised, one purpose to sleep and rest should be to be healthy so that one’s mind is not unsettled and one is not unable to study Torah because of one’s tiredness. [6]
  7. Similarly, relations mentioned in Torah, if done with intent to fulfill one’s desire and have pleasure, it is considered disgraceful, if one intends to have children so that they serve one and fill one's place, one is not praiseworthy, rather one should intend to have children that will serve Hashem or intend to fulfill the mitzvah of having children just like repaying a debt. [7]
  8. Similarly in speech, even speech of wisdom one must have intent for serving Hashem or something that leads to His service.
  9. The general rule is that a person is obligated to pay attention to their ways and to weigh one's actions with the scales of intellect. When one sees something that leads to the service of Hashem, one should do it, and if it does not help and lead one to being able to serve Hashem in the best possible way one can, then one should not do it. Someone who practices these guidelines serves Hashem all the time as they are meant to.[8]

Cognizance of the Creator

  1. One should think “שויתי ה' לנגדי תמיד” meaning, "Hashem is before me always" and it should remind one to act in the proper way (with fear of Heaven) at all times and places (even in private). [9]

Fulfilling the 6 Constant Mitzvot

  1. There are 6 mitzvot which one is constantly obligated in to fulfill by thinking about them at all times:

1)Belief in Hashem

2)Believing there is no other god

3)Hashem is one

4)Love of Hashem

5)Fear of Hashem

6)Not straying after the sights of one's eyes (inappropriate sights) and the thoughts of one's heart (which contradict Torah values). [10]

Some explain that this does not obligate us to actually think about fulfilling these mitzvot all the time, but rather that whenever one does think about these mitzvot one is fulfilling a mitzvah or alternatively, by acting in the proper way with a sense of fear of Heaven and faith (as above) one fulfills these constant mitzvot. [11]

Believing Everything Is for the Best

  1. A person should make a habit of saying כל מה דעביד רחמנא לטב עביד “everything that Hashem does is good". [12]

Fulfilling Mitzvot in Public

  1. One should fulfill mitzvot and not be embarrassed even if there are scoffers and detractors watching. [13] Nonetheless one should not do so if this will cause a fight because the Middah of brazenness is a disgraceful quality to have. [14] This limitation only applies when performing mitzvot in front of scoffers, however if one is performing mitzvot before Apikorsim who seek to subvert a true Torah way of life and one has tried to speak peacefully but was rejected, it is a mitzvah to stand up for Torah and perform mitzvot even if it will lead to a fight. [15]
  2. If one is in the company of pious and righteous individuals one should not be embarrassed to perform the mitzvot there, however it is preferable to perform one's mitzvot privately. [16]
  3. If one is in the company of average individuals one is encouraged to perform the mitzvot publicly to teach others about these mitzvot. [17]

Sources

  1. Shulchan Aruch 231
  2. Shulchan Aruch 231
  3. Shulchan Aruch 231
  4. Mishna Brurah 231:5
  5. Shulchan Aruch 231
  6. Shulchan Aruch 231
  7. Shulchan Aruch 231
  8. Shulchan Aruch 231
  9. This is the Rama's (1:1) first comment on Shulchan Aruch.
  10. Beiur Halacha 1:1 s.v. Hu quoting from Sefer HaChinuch's introduction.
  11. Piskei Teshuvot 1:3
  12. S”A 230:5
  13. Rama 1:1
  14. Mishna Brurah 1:5 quoting the Bet Yosef
  15. Beiur Halacha 1:1 s.v. VeLo Yitbayesh. See also Piskei Teshuvot 1:4 who says that nowadays one may perform mitzvot and not be concerned for haughtiness in performing mitzvot (Yuhara) as long as one has pure intent.
  16. Mishna Brurah 1:6
  17. Mishna Brurah 1:6