The matter of holiness is dual. Its beginning is service [of G-d] while its end is reward; its beginning is exertion while its end is a [divine] gift. That is, its beginning is that which a man sanctifies himself, while its end is his being sanctified. This is what our sages, of blessed memory, said: "if a man sanctifies himself a little, he becomes much sanctified. If he sanctifies himself below, he becomes sanctified from above" (Yomah 39a).
The exertion is that which a man completely detaches and removes himself from the physical, and clings always, at all periods and times to his G-d. In this manner, the prophets were called "angels", as said of Aharon: "For a priest's lips shall guard knowledge, and Torah shall be sought from his mouth; for he is an angel of the L-rd of Hosts" (Malachi 2:7), and it is said: "but they mocked the angels (prophets) of G-d" (Divrei Hayamim II 36:16). Even when he is engaged in physical actions required for his bodily side, his soul will not budge from its clinging on high. This is as written: "my soul clings after You; Your right hand supports me"(Tehilim 63:9).
However, it is impossible for a man to place himself in such a state. For it is beyond his ability. He is after all a physical creature, of flesh and blood. Thus I said that the end of Holiness is a gift. For that which is in man's ability to do is the initial exertion, pursuing true knowledge and continual thought on the sanctification of deed.
But the end is that the Holy One, blessed be He, will guide him on this path he desires to follow and imbue His holiness upon him, and sanctify him. Then this matter will succeed and he will be able to achieve this clinging with the blessed G-d constantly.
For that which his nature hinders this, the blessed G-d will help him and give him assistance. This is as the verse states: "G-d will not withhold good from those who walk wholeheartedly" (Tehilim 84:12).
Therefore our sages said in the statement I brought: "a man sanctifies himself a little", which refers to that which a man can acquire through his own exertion. Then "he is sanctified much", which refers to the divine help which the Creator, blessed be He, aids him as I wrote.
Behold, for the man sanctified with the holiness of his Creator, even his physical deeds become actual matters of holiness. A sign of this is in "the eating of temple offerings", which our sages of blessed memory said: "the priests eat and the owners obtain atonement" (Pesachim 59b).
You can now see the difference between the Pure man and the Holy man. The physical actions of the pure man are only to him as necessity. His only intent in doing them is on their necessary aspect. Through this, his actions escape the evil side of the physical and remain pure. But they do not enter the domain of Holiness, for if it were possible to do without them, it would already have been better for him.
But for the Holy man who constantly clings to his G-d, whose soul treads freely among true thoughts in love of his Creator and fear of Him, behold, it is considered as if he is walking before G-d in the Land of the Living, while still here in this world.
Such a man is himself considered as a tabernacle, a temple and an altar. This is as our sages said (Gen. Rabba 62:6): "'and G-d went up from him' (Gen.35:13) - the forefathers are the divine chariot". Likewise, they said: "the righteous are the divine chariot".
For the Shechina (divine presence) dwells within them just as it dwelled in the Temple. Due to this, the food they eat is like a sacrifice offered upon the fire of the altar, for certainly it was a great elevation for those things to be offered on the altar, since they were offered before the Shechina.
The elevation was to such an extent that its kind, all over the world, was blessed, as our sages stated in a Midrash. So too, the food and drink which the holy man eats elevates that food or drink as if it had actually been offered on the altar. This is similar to what our sages, of blessed memory, said: "one who brings a gift to a Torah scholar is as if he had offered first-fruits (Bikurim)" (Ketuvot 105b), and "[if a man wishes to offer a wine libation upon the altar], let him fill the throat of the Torah scholars with wine" (Yomah 71a).
This does not mean that Torah scholars were craving for food and drink, G-d forbid, that one fills their throats like one stuffs a glutton. Rather, the matter is according to the intent I explained. That Torah scholars who are holy in their ways and in all their deeds are actually just like the Temple and the altar, for the Shechina (divine presence) literally dwells upon them as it did in the Temple. Thus, what is offered to them is as offered on the altar, and the filling of their throat is as the filling of the basins.
In this way was all use they made of the things of this world. Since they were clinging to G-d's holiness, blessed be He, behold, it was an elevation and an enhancement for that thing which merited to be of use to a Tzadik (righteous person). Our sages already referred to the matter of the "stones at the place" which Yaakov took and put under his head: "Rabbi Yitzchak said: This tells us that all the stones gathered themselves together into one place and each one said: 'Upon me shall the righteous man rest his head'" (Chulin 91b).
The general principle of the matter: Holiness consists of one's clinging so much to his G-d that for any action he does, he will not separate nor budge from G-d, blessed be He, so that the physical things he uses will attain greater elevation than that which he diminishes in his clinging and level due to his using physical things.
However this refers only to one whose mind and intellect is always fixed on G-d's greatness, blessed be He, and His exalted holiness, such that it is as if he is actually among the lofty angels while still in this world.
I already mentioned that a man is unable to do this on his own. He can only rouse himself in the matter and strive towards it. And this is after he has already acquired all of the previous virtuous traits we mentioned, from the beginning of Watchfulness until the Fear of Sin. Only with this will he approach the Holy and succeed. For if he lacks the previous traits, he will be like an outsider or a blemished [Kohen] of which it is stated: "an outsider (non-Kohen) shall not come near" (Bamidbar 18:4).
But if after he has prepared himself with all these preparations, he persistently clings with powerful love and intense fear in pondering G-d's greatness and infinite exaltedness, he will separate himself from physical matters little by little and will direct his heart in all his actions and movements to the true inner clinging, until, a spirit from on high will pour upon him and the Creator will cause His Name to rest upon him, as He does with all of His holy ones.
He will then actually be like an angel of G-d, and all his actions, even the lowly and the physical ones, will be like Temple sacrifices and services.
Behold, you can see that the way to acquire this trait is through much Separation, intense study of the secrets of divine providence, the hidden matters of the creation, and knowledge of His exaltedness, blessed be He, and His praises, until one clings greatly to Him, and knows how to have intent in his thoughts, as was proper for the Kohen to have intents while slaughtering the offering, receiving its blood, and sprinkling it, until he would draw down the blessing from G-d of life and peace.
Without this, it is impossible for him to reach this level, and he will remain physical and corporeal like all other human beings.
That which helps to attain this trait is much solitude and Separation, so that in the absence of distractions, one's soul will be able to strengthen more and cling to its Creator.
The detriments to this trait [of Holiness] are lack of true knowledge and much association with other people. For the physical meets its kind, awakens and strengthens, and the soul remains trapped in it and will not escape its prison.
But when one separates himself from others, remaining in solitude, and preparing himself for the receiving of His holiness, behold, in the way he wishes to go, he will be led, and with the divine help G-d will give him, his soul will strengthen within him and defeat the corporeal, cling to His holiness, blessed be He, and be rendered whole (perfect) through Him.
From there, he may ascend to a higher level, namely, Holy Spirit (Ruach HaKodesh), then his thinking will ascend beyond the bounds of human limits.
His clinging may reach such high levels that the key to revival of the dead will be given to him, as it was given to Eliyahu and Elisha. This will reveal how intensely is his clinging to G-d, blessed be He. For in His being the source of life, who bestows life to all living things, as our sages of blessed memory, said: "three keys the Holy One, blessed be He, has retained in His own hands and not entrusted into the hand of any emissary (angel): the Key of the Revival of the Dead..." (Taanit 2a). Behold, one who clings to the blessed G-d completely will be able to draw down even the flow of life itself from Him, which is, what is attributed to G-d more than anything else as I wrote. This is what the Beraitha concludes: "Holiness brings to the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit brings to the Revival of the Dead".
I know, dear reader, that you realize just as I do, that I have not completed in this book all the principles of piety, nor did I say all there is to say on this area. For it has no end and its study is without limit.
But I spoke a bit on each of the particulars of the Beraitha which I based this book on. This may serve as a start and beginning to expand study in these matters. For their ways have been revealed and their paths opened to our eyes so that we may walk in them on the straight path. On such matters it is written: "Let the wise man hear and increase learning. The understanding man shall acquire wise counsels" (Mishlei 1:5), and "if one comes to purify himself, he is helped" (Shabbat 104a), and "for the L-rd gives wisdom; from His mouth comes knowledge and understanding" (Mishlei 2:6), so that every man may straighten his ways before his Creator.
It is evident, that each individual needs correction and guidance according to his particular trade and occupation. For the way of Piety appropriate for one whose occupation is Torah study is not the way of Piety for one who needs to hire himself out to work for his fellow. Nor are these two the way of Piety appropriate for one occupied in business. Similarly for all other various affairs of human beings in the world. Each person according to who he is, will be the ways of piety suitable for him. This is not because Piety varies, for it is certainly equal for everyone, since piety is nothing more than doing what is pleasing to one's Maker.
But since the subjects vary, it is impossible for the means which bring to this goal to not vary accordingly with each individual. Thus one can be a complete Chasid if he is a man whose mouth does not interrupt from Torah study, just like one who, due to necessity, is a lowly laborer. And it is written: "G-d has made everything for His sake" (Mishlei 16:4), and "in all your ways know Him, and He will straighten your paths" (Mishlei 3:6).
May the blessed G-d, in His mercy, open our eyes in His Torah, teach us His ways, guide us in His paths, so that we may merit to give honor to His Name and bring gratification to Him. "The glory of G-d will be forever; G-d will rejoice with His works" (Tehilim 104:21), "Israel will rejoice with its Maker; the children of Zion will exult with their King" (Tehilim 149:2), amen, amen, amen!