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The Duties of the Heart, by Rabbi Bachye, tr. by Edwin Collins, [1909], at

Contemplation Leading to Communion with God

If the believer will constantly meditate on the fact that the Creator sees all his thoughts and deeds, and will think it over with his own soul, the Creator will be constantly with him, and he will see Him with his mind's eye, and be in constant awe and reverence of Him; and he will examine all his conduct. And when this has become a constant habit of his mind, he will, helped by God, have reached the highest degree of the pious ones, and the most exalted rank of the righteous. He will not lack anything; nor will he choose anything more than the Creator has chosen for him. His will depends upon the will of the Creator, and his love on the love of the Creator; and that is loved by him which He loves, and that is contemned by him which is contemned by the Creator.

A man should commune with himself in reference to the desires of his heart and his worldly

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tastes; and a careful consideration of the ends they serve will lead him to look with contempt on ephemeral possessions; and his thoughts and desires will be fixed on the highest good, and on what is of eternal value to his mind and soul; and he will learn to strive only for what is barely necessary of the things of this world. He will desire to be kept from both poverty and riches, so that he may have enough for simple healthy life; and he will yearn after wisdom and spiritual possessions, of which no one can rob him.

Another subject for self-communing is the question as to whether we have made proper provision for the journey we must one day make, to another world, just as a traveller does not wait till he is on a journey before making provision for his necessities while travelling.

Another subject that should not be neglected, in the communing with one's own soul, is the inclination of the soul to seek the fellowship of the sons of men and the advantages of solitude and of separation from men, and the evil of associating ourselves with their follies when we are not forced to do so. Too much talking is calculated to lead to the talking of slander and the telling of lies, and even to the taking of false oaths. One of the Chassideem said to his disciples: "The Torah permits our swearing by the name of the Creator to what is true, but I counsel you not to take an oath by the holy name of God, whether to the truth or to a lie. Say simply 'Yes,' or 'No.' Too much social intercourse also leads to boasting and displaying one's knowledge.

The pure of heart will always love solitude. But

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here again the temptation to complete solitude must also be guarded against. For the society of philosophers, the pious, and of great men, is of great advantage.

One should also consider well, in communing with his soul, whether he has made the best use of any wealth that he may possess, doing good with it. And he should meditate also on the many ways in which one man can help another; and consider that he should love for others what he loves for himself, and hate for others what he hates for himself, rejoicing in their joy and grieving at their sorrow. And he should be full of compassion for them, and ward off from them, to the utmost of his power, anything that may injure them; as it is said (Levit. xix.), "And thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself."

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