(1) The particulars of the trait of Cleanliness are very numerous. They are as all the particulars of all the 365 negative commandments. For I already mentioned that the matter of cleanliness is to be clean of all branches of the various sins.
(2) Even though the Yetzer HaRah (evil inclination) strives to cause one to sin on every sin, nevertheless there are certain ones which a person's nature desires more. In those the Evil Inclination presents to him more rationalizations why it is permitted. Therefore one needs to especially strengthen himself in these to a greater extent in order to vanquish his evil inclination and cleanse himself from sin. On this our sages said: "theft and forbidden relations are sins which a person's soul desires and lusts for"(Chagigah 11b).
(3) CLEANLINESS FROM THEFT: We can observe that even though most people are not blatant thieves, literally taking with their hands the possession of their fellow and putting it in their own possessions, nevertheless, most people experience a taste of theft in their business dealings by rationalizing permission to profit through their fellow's loss. They may tell themselves: "Business is different".
(4) Many negative commandments refer to theft such as "you shall not steal" (Shemot 20:13, "you shall not rob" Vayikra (19:13), "you shall not oppress" (ibid); "nor deny nor lie one to another" (Vayikra 19:11), "you shall not oppress one another" (Vayikra 25:14), "You shall not push back your neighbor's boundary" (Devarim 19:14). All these are divisions of the laws of theft which apply to many common business transactions and each one includes many prohibitions under it.
(5) For it is not only the explicit and well known deed of theft or oppression which is forbidden but rather anything which may eventually lead to such a deed and cause it is included in the prohibition. On this our sages of blessed memory said (Sanhedrin 81a): "'he did not defile the wife of his fellow' (Yechezkel 18:6) - that he did not encroach upon his fellow's trade".
(6) Rabbi Yehuda forbade a shopkeeper to distribute roasted grain and nuts to children in order to accustom them to frequent his shop. The other Sages only permitted it because his competitors could do likewise (Bava Metzia 60a).
(7) Our Sages of blessed memory also said: "stealing from another person is worse than stealing from Temple property, for in the former, the word 'sin' precedes the word 'betrayal' [and the opposite in the latter]..."
(8) They likewise exempted hired workers from reciting the (Hamotzi) blessing over bread and from the last blessing of the grace after meals (Birkat Hamazon). And even in the case of reciting the Shema, they required them to pause from their work only for the first chapter (Berachoth 16b). How much more so for things that are optional. And if he transgresses this, he is considered a thief.
(9) Aba Chilkiya did not even return the greetings of Torah scholars in order to not be idle from the work he was doing for another (Taanit 23b). Yaakov, our forefather, peace be unto him, states explicitly, "in the day heat consumed me, and the frost by night, and my sleep departed from my eyes" (Bereishis 31:40).
(10) What will they answer then, those who occupied themselves in their own pleasures and idled from work during the time they were hired out? Or if they occupied themselves with their own affairs, each person to his own gain?
(11) The summary of the matter: one who is hired out to his fellow for any kind of work, behold, all of his hours are sold to his employer for the workday as the Sages stated: "to hire oneself out is to sell oneself for the day" (Bava Metzia 56b). Whatever time he takes for his own pleasure, whatever it may be, is completely guilty of stealing. And if his employer does not forgive him, he is not forgiven. For the Sages already stated: "sins between man and his fellow are not atoned for on Yom Kippur until he has pacified his fellow"(Yoma 85b).
(12) Not only that but even if one does a Mitzva (good deed) during the time of his work, it will not be considered a merit but rather a sin in his hand. For a sin cannot be considered a Mitzva. And scripture states: "[I am G-d who loves justice and] hates theft in an offering" (Isaiah 61:8). In relation to this, our Sages of blessed memory said: "one who steals a measure of wheat, mills it, bakes and recites a blessing over it, is not blessing but rather blaspheming as written 'and the robber who blesses blasphemes G-d' (Tehilim 10:3)".
(13) Similarly, it was said: "woe to this person whose defense attorney has become his prosecutor" (Vayikra Raba 30). And like our sages of blessed memory said regarding a stolen Lulav.
(14) This is logical for stealing an object is theft and stealing time is theft. Just like when one steals an object and does a mitzva with it, his defense attorney becomes his prosecutor. So too he who steals time and does a mitzva with it, his defense attorney also becomes his prosecutor.
(15) The Holy One blessed be He desires only faithfulness (honesty). In regard to this scripture states: "G-d guards those who are faithful" (Tehilim 31:24), and "Open the gates and let the righteous people that keep faith enter in" (Isaiah 26:2), and "My eyes shall be on the faithful of the land so that they may dwell with Me" (Tehilim 101:6), and "are Your eyes not to faithfulness?" (Jeremiah 5:3).
(16) Even Job testified on himself: "if my step has turned aside from the path and my heart has gone after my eyes, and if any speck has stuck to my palms" (Job 31:7). Consider this beautiful analogy in which he compared unseen theft to something which tends to stick to a person's hand (ex. flour when kneading) for even though one does not intend to go and take it and by itself it sticks to his hands, nevertheless, it remains in his hands. So too here, even though one does not go out to actually steal, it is difficult for his hands to be completely empty of theft.
(17) In truth, all this is due to his eyes drawing his heart instead of his heart ruling over his eyes thereby not allowing them to see as pleasing the things belonging to other people. Thus the eyes draw the heart to seek to rationalize permits (heterim) for what seems attractive and desirable to them. Therefore Job said he did not do so. His heart did not go after his eyes. Therefore, no speck had stuck to his hands.
(18) Consider the prohibition of Onaah (fraud/deceit). How easy it is for a person to be enticed (to find permits - SP) and to stumble in it (actual sin - SP). For it appears to him proper to strive to make his merchandise appear appealing to the eyes of people in order to make a profit from the toil of his hands; to try to speak to the prospective customer's heart in order to convince him (salesman talk). He will justify himself on all this citing: "some are industrious and profit" (Pesachim 50b) or "the hand of the diligent prospers" (Mishlei 10:4).
(19) But if he does not meticulously examine his deeds very carefully, thorns will sprout instead of wheat. For he will transgress and stumble in the sin of Onaah (fraud) which we were warned against: "And you shall not oppress one another" (Vayikra 25:17) and our sages of blessed memory said: "even to deceive a non-Jew is forbidden" (Chulin 94a). And scripture states: "the remnant of Israel shall not do iniquity nor speak lies, neither shall a deceitful tongue be found in their mouth" (Tzefania 3:13).
(20) Similarly the sages said: "one may not embellish old merchandise so that it appears new" (Bava Metzia 60b).
(21) And in (Sifri Devarim 25:16): "It is forbidden to mix fruits from another field, even if the latter are just as fresh as the former, and even if it is sold at a price of one Seah per Dinar and the mixture is worth a Dinar and a Tarsit. Even so, it is forbidden to mix them and sell the mixture for a Seah per Dinar. 'Anyone who does all these things, who commits iniquity' (Devarim 25:16) - five designations have been attributed to such people, 'unjust', 'hated', 'abominable' ('disgusting'), 'condemned', 'abhorrent'".
(22) The Sages also stated: "if one steals from his fellow even the worth of a peruta (small coin), it is as if he takes his life from him" (Bava Kama 119a). This teaching reveals to us, the graveness of this sin even for a small amount. They further said: "the rains are withheld only because of the sin of theft" (Taanit 7b). And "for a basketful of sins, which sin prosecutes at the head of all of them? - theft" (Vayikra Raba 33:3). And "the generation of the flood had their fate sealed only because of the sin of theft" (Sanhedrin 108a).
(23) If you ask yourself, "how is it possible for us in our business dealings to not try to convince a prospective buyer towards purchasing the merchandise and its value?"
(24) There is a great distinction in the matter. For whatever is in order to show the prospective buyer the true value and quality of the merchandise is good and upright. But anything which is to conceal its defects is fraud (Onaah) and forbidden. This is a general principle in faithful business dealings.
(25) I will not speak with respect to deception in the area of measurements for scripture explicitly states: "the abomination of the L-rd your G-d are all who do these" (Devarim 25:16). They further stated: "the punishment for dishonest weights and measures is worse than the punishment for illicit relations" (Bava Basra 88b) and "a wholesale dealer must wipe his measures clean once in thirty days..." (ibid 88a). Why all this? So that they do not unknowingly diminish in measure and he is not punished [for stealing from his customers due to negligence].
(26) How much more so for the sin of taking interest, which is considered as great as denying the G-d of Israel, G-d forbid. Our sages of blessed memory commented on the verse: "he has loaned on interest; and has taken increase; shall he then live? He shall not live! [He has done all these abominations; he shall surely die; his blood shall be on him]" (Yechezkel 18:13) - '"he shall not live" refers to living in the time of the resurrection of the dead for he and his dust are abominable and detestable in the eyes of G-d' (Shemot Raba 31:6). I do not see a need to elaborate on this for its dread is already imprinted on every man of Israel.
(27) The general principle of what has been said - just like desire for money is very great so too its stumbling blocks are very numerous. Great analysis and meticulous investigation is required in order for a person to be truly clean from them. If he has cleansed himself of them, he should know that he has already reached a high level.
(28) For many have reached piety in various branches of piety but in the matter of hating bribes (i.e. dishonest gains), they are unable to reach the place of Shelemut (wholeness/perfection). This is what Tzofar HaNaamati told Job: "if iniquity be in your hand, put it far away, and do not permit injustice to dwell in your tents; surely then you shall lift up your face without a blemish; you shall be steadfast and shall not fear;" (Job 11:14-15).
(29) I have spoken up to now on some of the details of one of the Mitzvot. There is no doubt that each and every mitzva also has divisions and details in a similar way. However, I will discuss only those that the majority of people habitually stumble in.
(30) FORBIDDEN RELATIONS: Let us now discuss the topic of forbidden relations. They are also among the sins people crave and are ranked second to theft as our sages, of blessed memory, said "the majority of people are guilty of theft and a minority of illicit relations" (Bava Basra 165a).
(31) He who wants to become completely clean of this sin will also require a laboring which is not small. For included in the prohibition is not only the act itself but even all that draws one close to it. This is explicitly stated in scripture: "do not draw near to uncover nakedness" (Vayikra 18:6).
(32) And our Sages said: "Says the Holy One, blessed be He, 'do not say since it is forbidden for me to have intercourse with a woman, I will embrace her and be free of sin, I will caress her and be free of sin, I will kiss her and be free of sin'. Says the Holy One, blessed be He, - 'just like when a Nazir makes a vow not to drink wine, he is also forbidden to eat grapes or raisins, diluted grape juice, or anything derived from the grape vine, so too, for a woman who is not your wife, you are forbidden to touch her in any way. Anyone who touches a woman other than his wife brings death to himself...' " (Shemot Raba 16:2).
(33) Consider how wondrous are the words of this Midrash. For it likens this prohibition with that of the Nazir which even though the primary prohibition of Nazir is only on wine, nevertheless, the Torah forbids him all that is connected to wine. This was a lesson the Torah taught to the Sages how they should "make a fence around the Torah" so that they may use the authority granted to them to enact protections to the Torah.
(34) For they could learn from the Nazir to prohibit all that is connected to the primary prohibition. Thus, the Torah did for this prohibition of Nazir an example of what it authorized the Sages to do for all the other Mitzvot in order to teach that this is G-d's will. So that when G-d prohibits for us some matter, we can deduce the unexplained from the explained (Nazir) to also prohibit all that draws close to the specified prohibition.
(35) In this manner, the Sages prohibited on the matter of forbidden relations all that resembles and draws a person close to forbidden relations, however way that may be, namely, whether it be in deed, in sight, in speech, in hearing or even in thought. I will now bring you some proofs on all this from the words of the Sages of blessed memory.
(36) In deed: namely, touching, hugging, or the like, we have already explained this earlier in the statement we brought (from Shemot Raba 16:2). There is no need to further elaborate.
(37) In sight: Our sages, of blessed memory, said: "'from hand to hand he shall not escape from evil' (Mishlei 11:21), [this teaches] whoever counts out money from his hand to the hand of a woman in order to gaze at her, [even if he possesses Torah and good deeds like Moses our teacher,] shall not escape the punishment of Gehinom" (Berachot 61a). And: "why did the Jews of that generation require atonement? Because they fed their eyes with lewdness (Erva)" (Shab. 64b) and "Rabbi Sheshes said: 'Why does scripture enumerate the outward ornaments with the inner ones? To teach you: Whoever looks upon a woman's little finger is as though he gazed upon her private parts" (ibid).
(38) They further taught: "'you shall keep yourself from every evil thing' (Devarim 23:10) [this teaches] that one should not look intently at a beautiful woman, even if she be unmarried, or at a married woman even if she be ugly" (Avodah Zara 20b).
(39) In speech: it was taught explicitly: "one who speaks excessively to a woman brings evil upon himself" (Avot 2:5).
(40) In hearing: it was taught: "a woman's voice is Erva (sexual incitement)" (Berachot 24a).
(41) Furthermore, regarding the matter of lewdness of the mouth and the ear, namely, speaking words of lewdness or listening to them, our sages already "screamed like cranes" saying (on the verse): "'there shall not be any indecent (Erva) thing among you' (Devarim 23:15) - this refers to lewdness of speech" (Yerushalmi Teruma 1:6).
(42) They further said (Shabbat 33a): "Due to the sin of obscene speech, new troubles arise and the young men of Israel die" (Isaiah 9:16)
(43) And "whoever utters obscene language, Gehinom is made deep for him [as it is said, A deep pit is for the mouth that speaks perversity] (Mishlei 22:14)
(44) And further: "All know for what purpose a bride enters the bridal canopy, yet against whoever speaks obscenely thereof, even if a decree of seventy years of good had been sealed for him, it is reversed for evil" (Shabbat 33a).
(45) They further said: "Even the light talk between a man and his wife is declared to a person in the time of his Judgment" (Chagigah 5b).
(46) And regarding listening to obscenities it is likewise taught: "even one who listens and remains silent, as written '[The mouth of strange women is like a deep pit;] the one abhorred by G-d will fall therein'" (Shabbat 33a).
(47) This demonstrates to you that all the senses must be be clean of lewdness and anything related to it.
(48) If a man will foolishly claim to you: "that which the sages said regarding obscene language is only in order to frighten and distance a person from sin, and it is meant only for those whose blood is boiling, namely, when he speaks of these things, he becomes aroused to lust. But one who just says it in a joking manner, it is not significant and of no concern."
(49) Answer him that his words are those of the evil inclination. For the Sages brought their proofs from an explicit verse in scripture: "As a punishment for obscenity, troubles multiply, cruel decrees are proclaimed afresh, the youths of Israel die... for every one is a flatterer and slanderer, and every mouth speaks obscenities" (Isaiah 9:16). This verse mentions neither idol worship nor illicit relations nor murder but flattery, slander, and obscene speech. All of which are sins of the mouth in speech. And on these the decree went forth: "the youths of Israel die and the fatherless and widows cry out and are not answered... neither shall He have compassion."
(50) Rather, the truth is as the words of our sages, of blessed memory, that uttering obscene words is in fact lewdness of speech. It is an aspect of lewdness and falls under the same prohibition as all other matters of lewdness except for the actual act of illicit relations. Even though it does not incur the heavenly punishment of Karet (cutting off of the soul) or death by Beit Din (like the act of illicit relations), they are nevertheless prohibited in and of themselves. This is besides being things which lead to and draw one to the primary prohibition itself, similar to the case of the Nazir in the Midrash we brought earlier.
(51) Regarding "thought" our Sages already mentioned in the beginning of our Beraitha: "'you shall keep yourself from every evil thing' (Devarim 23:10) - From here R. Pinchas b. Yair said that a person should not have [impure] thoughts in his heart, and thus bring himself to have impurity at night" (Ketubot 46a). They further said: "thoughts of sin are worse than the sin itself" (Yoma 29a) and scripture says explicitly: "evil thoughts are an abomination to G-d" (Mishlei 15:26).
(52) We have spoken on two severe sins which people are near to stumble in their branches due to the multitude of these branches and due to the great inclination of a man's heart towards them owing to lusting for them.
(53) FORBIDDEN FOODS: The sin which ranks third after theft and forbidden relations in respect to desire is that of forbidden foods, whether in unkosher meat itself, mixtures of it, meat and milk, blood, food cooked by gentiles, utensils used by gentiles, their wine libations and plain wine. For all these, cleanliness in them requires great meticulousness and strengthening oneself. For there is lust in the heart for good foods and there is financial loss incurred in the prohibitions of mixtures or the like.
(54) Their details are numerous, all being familiar laws which are explained in the books of halachic rulings. One who is lenient in them when the sages ruled that one must be stringent is only destroying his soul as the sages said in the Sifra (parsha Shmini): "'do not defile yourselves, becoming Tamei (spiritual contaminated) with them' (Vayikra 11:43) if you defile yourself in them you will in the end become Tamei in them".
(55) This is because the forbidden foods bring in Tuma (spiritual contamination) in a person's heart and soul so that the holiness of G-d, blessed be He, departs and withdraws from him. This is also what they stated (Yoma 39a): "'becoming defiled with them' (Vayikra 11:43) - read not ve-nitmetem [that you will be defiled], but ve-nitamtem [that you will become dull-hearted]".
(56) For sin dulls a man's heart, causing to depart from him true knowledge and the spirit of wisdom which the Holy One, blessed be He, bestows to the pious, as written "for G-d grants wisdom" (Mishlei 2:6). Thus he is left animal-like and material, sunk in the coarseness of this world.
(57) The forbidden foods are worse in this regard than all other sins since they literally enter a person's body and become flesh of his flesh. And in order to teach us that it is not only the unkosher animals and creatures that contain this Tuma (spiritual contamination) but rather even the disqualified Kosher animals themselves (Treifot) also. Scripture says: "to distinguish between the impure (Tamei) and the pure (Tahor)" (Vayikra 11:47), and the explanation received by our Rabbis of blessed memory:
(58) "It is not necessary to teach us about the distinction between a donkey and a cow. Why then does scripture state: 'between the impure and the pure'? [Answer:] Rather it is referring to between impure to you and pure to you, namely, between a kosher animal whose majority of the windpipe was cut to one where only half of its windpipe was cut. And how much difference is there between a majority and a half? - one hair's breadth" (Sifra Shemini ch.12).
(59) The reason they concluded their teaching with the words "and how much difference between a majority, etc." is in order to demonstrate how wondrous is the power of the Mitzva whereby a mere hair's breadth separates between Tuma (impure) and Tahara (pure).
(60) Behold, any person with a brain in his head will consider forbidden food as poison or like food which has been mixed with poison. For behold if such a case would present itself would he be lenient on himself and eat from such food?
(61) If there were reason to suspect, even the slightest one, would he be lenient? Certainly he would not. And if he were lenient, people would consider him to be a complete fool!
(62) The prohibition in the food, as we explained, is literally a poison to the heart and soul. If so, then who among the sensible will be lenient in a situation where there is suspicion of prohibition in the food? On this it is written "and put a knife into your mouth, if you are a person given to appetite" (Mishlei 23:2).
(63) Let us now speak on the common sins which arise from interaction with people and being among them such as oppression of speech, shaming, misleading the blind through [bad] advice, tale-bearing, hating, taking revenge, taking oaths, lying and desecrating G-d's Name. For who can say: "I am clean of them. I have become pure from sinning in them"? For their branches are exceedingly numerous and fine so that guarding from them requires great effort.
(64) WORDS THAT HURT: Included in the sin of oppression of speech (Ona'as Devarim) is to say to someone, in private, something [implicit] which may cause him shame. All the more so, to say something explicit which causes him shame or to do to him an act which causes him shame.
(65) This is what our sages said: "if he were a Baal Teshuva (penitent), do not say to him 'remember your former deeds...' if sickness befalls him do not say to him in the way the friends of Job said: "Remember, please, who ever perished, being innocent?" (Job 4:7). If traveling merchants ask you for grain, do not tell them 'go to such and such who sells grain', and you know that he never sold grain in his life" (Bava Metzia 58b).
(66) Our sages of blessed memory already said "verbal oppression is more severe than monetary oppression..." (ibid). This is even more so, if the shaming is done in public as we learned explicitly: "one who whitens his neighbor's face (shames him) publicly has no portion in the World to Come" (Avot 5:11), and Rabbi Chisda taught (Bava Metzia 59a): "all the gates [of prayer] were locked except the gates of [the cries of] verbal oppression". Rabbi Eliezer taught "for every sin, the Holy One, blessed be He, exacts payment through a messenger except for the sin of verbal oppression".
(67) And they taught "for three sins the Pargud (heavenly curtain) is never closed..", and one of those is verbal oppression. Even for the sake of performing a mitzva whereby scripture says: "you shall surely rebuke your neighbor" (Vayikra 19:14), and our sages, of blessed memory, said: "One might assume [this to be obligatory] even to the extent that his face whitened, therefore the verse continues: 'but do not bear sin because of him' " (Erchin 16b).
(68) From all these statements, you can see just how far the branches of this sin spread out and just how severe is its punishment.
(69) GIVING MISLEADING ADVICE: Regarding giving [misleading] advice, we were taught in Torat Kohanim (2:14): "'you shall not put a stumbling block before the blind' (Vayikra 19:14), i.e. before one who is blind in some matter. [For example,] if one asks you: 'is the daughter of so and so permitted to marry a Kohen?' Do not answer him 'she is permitted' when she is not. If he consulted you for advice, do not give him an advice which is not suitable to him... Do not say to him 'sell your house and buy a donkey', while in truth you intend to circumvent him and buy it from him. Perhaps you will say: "I am giving him a good advice" - this is a [hidden] matter given over to thought, thus the verse warns "you shall fear your G-d" (who knows your thoughts).
(70) Hence we learn that whether in a matter where one may possibly have a vested interest or none at all, he is obligated to establish the person coming to him for advice on the pure and clear truth.
(71) You can observe that the Torah had a full grasp of the deceivers' thinking. For we are not speaking here of fools whose evil advice is apparent and noticeable. But rather with wise deceivers, who give advice to their neighbor which on the surface appears to truly be beneficial to his neighbor, but in the end of the matter it is not to his benefit but rather to his detriment, benefiting only the advisor. Therefore, they said: "perhaps you will say: 'I am giving him a good advice'... this is a hidden matter of thought... ['you shall fear your G-d']".
(72) Oh, to what extent do people stumble in these sins every day, called and impelled by the force of desire for profit! The severity of their punishment has already been revealed in scripture: "cursed be he who misleads a blind man on the road" (Devarim 27:18).
(73) The obligation of the upright man when someone comes to him for advice is to counsel him what he himself would have done in a similar situation, without looking at any purpose whatsoever, distant or immediate, other than the benefit of the person asking advice.
(74) And if it occurs that he anticipates some loss to himself as a result of this advice, then if he is able to admonish the advisee directly, he should do so. Otherwise, he should withdraw from the matter and not give any advice. In any case, he must not give an advice whose purpose is other than the benefit of the advisee, unless the intent of the advisee is evil, in which case it is certainly a mitzva to deceive him. And scripture already said: "but with a crooked one, You deal crookedly" (Tehilim 18:27), and the story of Chushai the Archite demonstrates it.
(75) SLANDER AND EVIL SPEECH: Tale-bearing and slander - it's severity is already known, as are its great branches for they are exceedingly numerous. Their extent are such that our Sages of blessed memory said, as I quoted earlier, "all stumble in the dust of slander" (Bava Basra 165a).
(76) They taught (Erchin 15b): "What is [the dust of] slander? [Answer:] For instance to say 'where else should there be fire if not in the house of so-and-so?' (implying that there is always meat and fish there)". Or to praise a person before one who hates him. Likewise for all similar cases, even though they may appear like insignificant words, far removed from tale-bearing, behold, in truth, they are of the "dust" of slander.
(77) The general principle is that the evil inclination has many ways. But any words which could potentially lead to damage or shame to one's fellow whether the words are uttered in his presence or not is included in the sin of evil speech, which is hated and despised before G-d, and which the sages said "whoever speaks evil speech is as if he denied G-d" (Erchin 15b) and scripture says: "He who slanders his neighbor in secret, I will cut him down" (Tehilim 101:5).
(78) HATRED AND VENGEANCE: Hatred and vengeance are likewise exceedingly difficult for the mocked heart of human beings to escape from. For a human being strongly feels insults and he experiences great pain therein. Revenge is then sweeter to him than honey for it alone is his peace.
(79) Therefore for one to have the strength to relinquish what his nature impels him to and to overlook the wronging, not hating the one who ignited hatred in his heart, not exacting vengeance when he has the opportunity to do so nor bearing a grudge against him, but rather to forget the whole incident and remove it from his heart as if it had never happened - he is mighty and courageous.
(80) Such forbearance is easy only to the ministering angels who do not have among them these traits, but not to human beings "who dwell in houses of clay, whose foundation is in the dust" (Job 4:19). But it is a decree of the King, and the scriptural verses state in explicit and clear language, requiring no explanation: "you shall not hate your brother in your heart" (Vayikra 19:17), "you shall not take vengeance nor bear a grudge against the members of your people" (Vayikra 19:18).
(81) The explanation of taking vengeance and bearing a grudge is known.
(82) Vengeance is to refrain from doing good to someone who kept good from him or who committed wrong to him.
(83) Bearing a grudge is to remind the wrongdoer some reminder of the wrong he committed to him while he is doing good to him.
(84) But the Yetzer (evil inclination) advances and stokes the heart, seeking constantly to leave at least some trace or remembrance of the wrong. If he is unsuccessful in leaving a large remembrance he will attempt to leave a small remembrance. For instance, he will say to a person: "if you want to give this person that which he did not want to give you when you were in need, at least do not give it with a pleasant facial expression". Or "if you do not want to hurt him at least do not do to him a great favor or help him greatly." Or "even if you want to help him greatly, at least do not do so in his presence or do not resume associating with him and continuing your friendship with him. If you forgave him and do not show yourself as an enemy, this is enough". Or, "even if you want to continue being his friend, at least do not show him so much affection as before".
(85) All such arguments are among the diligent efforts of the Yetzer with which he strives to entice the hearts of people. The Torah therefore came and stated a general principle which includes everything: "you shall love your neighbor as yourself" (Vayikra 19:18) - "as yourself", with no difference whatsoever, "as yourself" without any distinction, without strategies and ploys, literally "as yourself".
(86) OATHS: Regarding Oaths, even though normally anyone who is not of the boorish type, guards himself from uttering G-d's Name in vain, and surely more so for Oaths, nevertheless there are some small offshoots of this sin which although they are not among the most severe sins, nevertheless, it is proper for one who wants to be Clean to guard himself from them.
(87) This is what the sages said in the Talmud (Shavuot 36a):"R. Eleazar said: 'No' is an oath; 'Yes' is an oath... Said Raba: But only if he said, 'No! No!' twice; or he said, 'Yes! Yes!' twice".
(88) Similarly, they said (Bava Metzia 49a): "[What is taught by the verse (Vayikra 19:36):] 'A just Hin [shall you have', surely 'Hin' is included in 'Ephah'?] [Answer] it is to teach you that your 'yes' [hen] should be just and your 'no' should be just! [Abaye said: That means that one must not speak one thing with the mouth and another with the heart]".
(89) LYING: Lying is also an evil disease that has spread out far among people. There are various levels therein.
(90) There are some people whose profession is lying. Namely, those people who go around and make up complete lies in order to increase social conversation or to be considered among the intelligent and knowledgeable. On this type it is written "lying lips are an abomination to G-d" (Mishlei 12:22). And also "your lips speak lies, your tongue mutters perverseness" (Isaiah 59:3). Our sages, of blessed memory, have already pronounced their judgment: "four classes of people do not receive the divine presence" (Sanhedrin 103a, Sota 42a), and one of these is the class of liars.
(91) There are other liars close to the first group in level [of lying] but not exactly like them. Namely, those who lie in their reports and statements. These peoples' profession is not to go around and make up stories and deeds that never were nor will be. But when they come to tell over something, they mix in whatever lies they happen to think of. They habituate in this until it becomes part of their nature. These are the liars whose word is impossible to believe. This is as what our sages, of blessed memory, said: "it is the penalty of a liar, that even when he tells the truth, he is not listened to" (Sanhedrin 89b). For this evil has ingrained itself in their nature such that their words are unable to leave their mouths free of falsehood. It is about this that the prophet grieved and said: "they have taught their tongue to speak lies, they weary themselves to commit iniquity" (Yirmiya 9:4).
(92) There are others still whose illness is milder than that of the first [two]. Namely, those who are not so entrenched in falsehood, but are not concerned to distance from it. They will lie when the opportunity presents itself, often in a joking manner or the like without evil intent.
(93) But the wisest of men (Shlomo) has taught us that all of this is contrary to the will of the Creator, blessed be He, and the attributes of His pious ones as written: "the righteous man hates a false word" (Mishlei 13:5). This is also what the Torah commands us: "keep far from a false matter" (Shemot 23:7). Notice that the verse did not say "guard against falsehood" but rather "keep far from a false matter", to rouse us on the great extent one must distance and flee far away from falsehood, as scripture says: "The remnant of Israel shall not do iniquity nor speak lies, and a deceitful tongue shall not be found in their mouths" (Tzefania 3:13).
(94) And our sages, of blessed memory, said: "the seal of the Holy One, blessed be He, is truth" (Shab.55a). If "truth" is what the Holy One, blessed be He, selected as His seal, then undoubtedly, how great of an abomination must its opposite be to Him!
(95) The Holy One blessed be He exhorted us greatly on speaking the truth, such as: "let each man speak the truth to his neighbor" (Zech.8:16). And "in mercy the throne shall be established; and he shall sit upon it in Truth" (Isaiah 16:5). And "for He said, surely they are My people, sons that will not lie" (Isaiah 63:8) - which teaches you that the one depends on the other.
(96) And "[I have returned to Zion, and will dwell in the midst of Jerusalem:] and Jerusalem shall be called the City of Truth" (Zecharia 8:3) - to magnify its importance. And our sages of blessed memory said (Makot 24a): "'who speaks truth in his heart' (Tehilim 15:2), like Rav Safra..." To teach you just how far-reaching the obligation of truth extends.
(97) The sages forbade a Torah scholar to alter his word except for three things.
(98) Truth is one of the pillars upon which the world stands (Avot 1:18). Therefore, one who speaks falsehood is as if he removes the foundation of the world, and conversely, one who is scrupulous on the truth, it is as if he upholds the foundation of the world.
(99) Our sages of blessed memory reported (Sanhedrin 97a) of a certain town whose inhabitants were so heedful of truth that the angel of death had no dominion over them. But because the wife of a certain Rabbi changed her word, even though her intention was good, the angel of death began to prevail over them. They expelled her from there due to this and their former tranquility was restored.
(100) There is no need to elaborate further on this topic for reason dictates this and knowledge forces it.
(101) PROFANATION OF G-D's NAME (Chilul Ha-shem): The Branches of the sin of "profanation of [G-d's] Name" (Chillul Ha-shem) are also numerous and great. For a person must be exceedingly concerned of his Master's honor. In everything he does, he must look and contemplate exceedingly that there will not come out of this something which may cause a profanation of the honor of Heaven, G-d forbid.
(102) We have learned: "whether one has acted in error or whether he has acted deliberately it is all one and the same where the result is the desecration of G-d's Name" (Avot 4:4).
(103) Our sages, of blessed memory, taught: "What constitutes profanation of the Name? Rav said: If, for example, I were to take meat from the butcher and not pay him at once... Rabbi Yochanan said: In my case [it is a profanation if] I walk four cubits without Torah and Tefillin." (Yoma 86a).
(104) The explanation of the matter is that every person according to his level and according to what he is considered in the eyes of his generation, must be mindful to not do something which is not befitting of someone like him. The greater his importance and wisdom, the greater he needs to increase watchfulness and meticulousness in the divine service. If he fails to do so, behold, the Name of Heaven will be profaned through him, G-d forbid. For it is an honor to the Torah, that one who increases study in it, should also increase uprightness and refinement of character traits. Any lacking in this among those who increase study in the Torah brings disgrace to the study itself. This is, G-d forbid, a profanation of G-d's Name, blessed be He, who gave us His holy Torah and commanded us to toil in it order to achieve our perfection through it.
(105) SABBATH AND HOLIDAY OBSERVANCE: Guarding of the Sabbath and Holiday observance is also severe for the laws are very numerous. Thus our sages said: "this is a great law of the Sabbath" (Shab.12a).
(106) Even matters of Shevut (Resting), despite that they are Rabbinical, are nevertheless important principles as the Sages said: "Never let [the principle] of Shevut (Rest) be light in your eyes. For the laying on of the hands [on a sacrifice for a Festival-day] is [prohibited] only on account of Shevut, yet the greatest men of the age debated therein" (Chagigah 16b).
(107) The details of these laws according to their differences are explained by the Halachic deciders (Poskim) in their books. All of these details are equal for all us with respect to their obligation and requisite watchfulness. That which is difficult on the masses to guard is abstaining from business occupation and conversation. This prohibition is stated in the words of the prophet (Isaiah 58:13): "if you honor it, abstaining from your own ways, not pursuing your affairs and speaking words about them". The general principle is that whatever is forbidden to do on the Sabbath is forbidden to strive after or mention verbally.
(108) Hence, our Sages forbade one to examine his property to see what is needed for tomorrow (Shab.150a) or to walk to the border of the province in order to leave quickly after nightfall for the bathhouse (Eruvin 39a). And the sages forbid one to say "I will do such and such tomorrow", "or such and such merchandise I will buy tomorrow" (ibid), or the like.
(109) Thus far I have spoken on some of the mitzvot which we see most people stumble in. From these we can apply what we learned to all other negative precepts. For there is no Torah prohibition which does not contain branches and details, some more severe, some less. One who aspires to Cleanliness must be clean and pure in all of them.
(110) Our sages already stated (Shir HaShirim Raba 6:6): "'your teeth are like a flock of ewes [not one among them has lost its young]' - just as an ewe is modest [so too were the Israelites modest and virtuous in the war with Midian], Rav Huna said in the name of Rav Acha: 'not one of them put on the head Tefilin before the arm Tefilin. For if one among them had done so, Moshe would not have praised them and they would not have come out of that war in peace".
(111) As stated: "one who speaks between 'Yishtabach' and 'Yotzer' has a sin on his hand, and he leaves from the battlefield on account of this" (Shulchan Aruch O.C. 51:4).
(112) So you see just how far the meticulousness and Cleanliness must be truly attained in one's deeds.
(113) CLEANLINESS IN CHARACTER TRAITS: Just like Cleanliness is needed [to acquire] for the deeds, so too cleanliness is needed for the character traits. One can almost say that Cleanliness in character traits is more difficult to acquire than in the deeds. For human nature influences the traits more than it does in the deeds and one's natural temperament and disposition can either greatly aid or greatly impede in this area. Thus any war waged against one's nature becomes a raging battle. This is what our sages referred to saying: "who is mighty? He who conquers his inclination (Yetzer)" (Avot 4:1).
(114) The character traits are very numerous. Just like there are many different actions that a man can do in the world, so too there are [many] character traits, for a man's actions are drawn after them.
(115) However, just like we discussed only those Mitzvot which were most necessary, namely, those which people habitually stumble in, so too regarding the character traits, we will discuss the primary traits in greater detail because of our habituation in them. These are arrogance, anger, jealousy, and lust.
(116) These are all evil traits whose evil is recognized and well-known. No proof is necessary to demonstrate this, for they are both evil in themselves and evil in their consequences. They are all outside the realm of intellect and wisdom and each one of them is sufficient by itself to lead a person to severe sins.
(117) On arrogance, scripture explicitly warns saying: "then your heart will grow haughty, and you will forget the L-rd, your G-d" (Devarim 8:14).
(118) On anger, our sages of blessed memory said (Shab.105b, Zohar 3:179): "anyone who becomes angry should be regarded in your eyes as one who worships idols".
(119) On jealousy and lust we learned explicitly: "jealousy, lust, and honor remove a person out of the world" (Avot 4:21).
(120) The in-depth study necessary in relation to them must be such that one escapes from them and all of their branches for they are one and all as "degenerate branches of a strange vine"(Yirmiyahu 2:21). Let us speak on each of them one at a time.
(121) ARROGANCE: Generally, the matter of arrogance is that a man ascribes importance to himself on himself and imagines that he is worthy of praise.
(122) This could grow out of many different reasons. Some people consider themselves of high intelligence. Some consider themselves handsome. Some consider themselves important or great or wise. The general principle of the matter: if a person thinks he possesses any of the good things of the world, he is in immediate danger of falling in this pit of arrogance.
(123) But, after a person has fixed in his heart that he is important and praiseworthy, the consequences of this thought will not be only one thing. Rather, many different outgrowths will result out of this, some even contradictory to each other. But they all stem from one cause and direct to the same end.
(124) Behold, there is one type of arrogant person who will convince himself that since he is praiseworthy and uniquely distinguished due to his qualities, as he imagines, it is thus proper that he conduct himself also in a uniquely distinguished and slow manner. Whether in his walking or sitting down or getting up, or whether in his speech or gestures or whether in all of his deeds, he will walk only in a very slow manner, toe touching heel. He will sit only in a reclining manner. He will get up only slowly, like a snake.
(125) He will not speak to everyone but rather only to the honorable people, and even with them, he will utter only short phrases like the Terafim. In all the rest of his actions, in his movements, his deeds, his eating and drinking, his clothing, and in all of his other actions – he will conduct himself with great heaviness as if all of his flesh were lead and his bones were made of stone or sand.
(126) There is another type of arrogant person who thinks that since he is worthy of praise and possesses many superior virtues, therefore he must quake the earth, so that everyone will tremble before him. He will not consent that people should penetrate through to speak to him nor ask from him something. And if they dare ascend up to him, he will confound them with his voice, and baffle them with the breath of his lips by answering them harshly. His face appears grumpy at all times.
(127) There is another arrogant person who thinks in his heart that he is already so great and distinguished that honor is inseparable from him and he has no need for it whatsoever. To show this to others, he performs deeds like the humble all the while announcing his traits, trying to appear exceedingly lowly and absolutely humble. But his heart swells up within him saying: "I am so exalted and so honorable that I no longer have any need for honor. I may as well forego it for it is already abundant within me".
(128) One may find another arrogant person who wants to be very renowned for his qualities and unique in his ways to the point where it is not enough for him to be praised by the whole world for the virtues he thinks he has. Rather he wants that they praise him even more for being the humblest of the humble. Hence, this person prides himself on his humility and desires honor for appearing to flee from it. This arrogant person will set his place among those of much lower status than himself or among the disgraceful men thinking that through this he displays absolute humility. He does not wish for any titles of greatness and refuses all praise, all the while saying to himself: "there is no wiser and humbler person than me in the whole world".
(129) Such arrogant people although they may appear to be humble, nevertheless there are no lack of stumbling blocks which, without their knowledge, reveal their arrogance like the flame which bursts forth between shards. Our sages of blessed memory have already made an analogy on this: "this is like a house full of straw. The walls had cracks through which the straw entered. After some days, the straw inside the cracks began to emerge outside. Thus everyone realized that the house was full of straw" (Bamidbar Rabba 18:17).
(130) So too here, these arrogant men are unable to hide themselves at all times. Their evil thoughts will show through their acts. Their ways are of false humility and deceitful lowliness.
(131) One may find other arrogant people whose arrogance remains buried in their hearts. They will not express it in deed but they will think in their hearts that they are already great sages, who know things to their true depth and that not many will ever attain wisdom like them. Therefore they will not pay heed to the words of others thinking that whatever is difficult for them to understand will not be easy for others. Likewise, they will think that what their mind dictates is so clear and evident to them that there is no need to consider the views of those who disagree with them, neither the views of the early sages or the later ones. They have no doubt on their reasoning.
(132) All these aforementioned cases stem from arrogance, which backtracks the wise, rendering them foolish, depraving the hearts of the highest in wisdom.
(133) How much more so for the disciples [of the sages] who did not sufficiently study from the wise such that their eyes are almost open and they already deem themselves equal to the wisest of the wise.
(134) On all of them it is written "a proud heart is an abomination to G-d" (Mishlei 16:5). One who wants to reach the trait of Cleanliness must cleanse himself of all of them. He must know and understand that arrogance is literally blindness whereby a man's intellect fails to see his own deficiencies and recognize his own lowliness.
(135) For if a man were capable of seeing and perceiving the truth, he would withdraw and distance far away from all these evil and crooked ways. We will discuss this more, with G-d's help, when we arrive at the trait of Humility, which, due to the great difficulty in attaining it, was placed among the last of the traits in the ladder of Rabbi Pinchas ben Yair.
(136) ANGER: Let us now discuss anger. There is an anger-prone person about which our sages said: "whoever gets angry is as if he worships idols" (Zohar Korach daf 179, Rambam Deos 2:3, Shab.105b). This person gets angry on anything that is done against his will. He becomes filled with wrath till his heart is no longer with him and his judgment is lost.
(137) A man like this would suffice to destroy the whole world if he had the ability. For the intellect does not rule over him in the least. He has literally lost his reason just like all the predatory beasts. On him it is written: "you who tears his soul in his anger; shall the earth become forsaken because of you?" (Job 18:4). Certainly, he can easily transgress any sort of sin in the world to which his rage leads him, for he has no other power moving him other than his anger and will go wherever it takes him.
(138) There is another angry type far from this. This person's wrath is not kindled for every thing, small or big, which does not happen according to his will. But when his threshold of anger is reached, he will erupt in great fury. This is what our sages, of blessed memory, said: "difficult to anger and difficult to appease" (Avot 5:11). This type is also certainly very evil, for great damage may happen through him during his [eruption] of anger, and he will no longer be able to straighten what he has made crooked.
(139) There is another angry type less severe than the previous. He does not come to anger easily, and even if his anger is triggered, it will only be a small anger and he will not stray out of the ways of reason. But he still harbors his angry feeling. This man is less likely to cause harm than the previous types but nevertheless he certainly has not reached Cleanliness, for even Watchfulness he has not yet reached since as long as anger marks an impression over him, he has not gone out of the category of "a person of anger".
(140) There is another type even less than this. This person is difficult to anger and his anger does not damage and destroy. Rather, it is a small anger. How long does his anger last? It lasts only an instant and not more. From the time his anger's natural stirring is roused till the time his understanding rises up against it. This is what our sages, of blessed memory, referred to saying: "difficult to anger and easy to appease". Behold, certainly this is a good portion, for it is human nature to be roused to anger and if one overpowers it so that even at the moment of anger itself, it will not ignite much and he overcomes it so that even this small amount of anger does not linger within him for a long time, rather it quickly passes and goes away - he is certainly worthy of praise.
(141) Our sages of blessed memory said (Chullin 89a):"'who hangs the earth on nothing (belima)' (Iyov 26:7) - [the earth endures on the merit of] one who restrains (bolem) his mouth during a dispute". Namely, his nature has roused him to anger and through strengthening himself over it, he restrains his tongue.
(142) The level of Hillel the Elder, however, was above all of these for he was not upset for anything whatsoever and not even a stirring of anger roused within him. This is certainly one who is absolutely Clean of anger.
(143) Our sages of blessed memory warned us to not get angry even for the sake of a mitzva (see Shab.34a, 105b), not even a teacher with his student or a father with his son. This is not to say he should not chastise them, rather he should surely chastise them, just not out of anger, but rather, with no other purpose than guiding them along the right path. Any anger that he shows to them should be only of the face not anger of the heart. Shlomo said: "Be not quick in your spirit to be angry [for anger rests in the heart of fools]" (Kohelet 7:9) and it is written "For anger slays the fool" (Iyov 5:2), and our sages of blessed memory said: "in three ways a man is recognized: through his cup, through his wallet and through his anger" (Eruvin 65b).
(144) JEALOUSY: Jealousy also is nothing but lack of understanding and foolishness. For the jealous person gains nothing for himself nor does he cause any loss to the person he is jealous of. He only causes loss to himself as the verse we mentioned states "jealousy slays the foolish" (Iyov 5:2).
(145) There are those whose folly has grown so great that if he sees some good by his fellow, he will rot inside. He worries and suffers so much that even the good things he has do not give him any enjoyment due to the pain of what he sees in his fellow's hands. This is what the wise man said: "jealousy is the rot of the bones"(Mishlei 14:30).
(146) There are other types who do not suffer and pain so much by jealousy. But nevertheless, feel some suffering or at least some cooling of spirit when seeing someone rising to some higher position unless it is one of their beloved and closest friends. All the more so will he feel [suffering] if he is not so fond of the person, and further still if it is some stranger from a foreign land.
(147) It is possible that you will see them say things as if they were happy and thankful for his good fortune but their hearts feel bad inside them. This is something that happens commonly to most people. For even though they may not be overcome by jealousy (like the first group), nevertheless they are still not completely Clean of it. This especially happens if it is someone in his own trade which succeeds for "every craftsman hates his fellow [craftsman]" (Bereishis Raba 19:2), and all the more so still if that fellow is more successful than himself.
(148) But if they would know and understand that "no man can touch what is designated for his fellow even a hair's breadth" (Yoma 38b), and that everything is from G-d according to His wondrous judgment and unfathomable wisdom, they would have no reason whatsoever to feel pained by the good fortune of their neighbors.
(149) This is what the prophet foretells to us on the future era, that the Holy One, blessed be He, will first remove this ugly trait from our hearts in order for the good of Israel to be perfect. At that time no one will feel pain in the good of another and also there will be no need for a successful person to conceal himself and his matters due to the jealousy of others.
(150) This is what the prophet says: "And the envy of Ephraim shall cease, and the adversaries of Judah shall be cut off; Ephraim shall not envy Judah..." (Isaiah 11:13). This is the peace and contentment among the ministering angels who all rejoice in their service, each in his place, no one feeling any jealousy whatsoever on the other, for they all know the full truth, delighting on the good in their hands and happy with their lot.
(151) LUST FOR WEALTH AND HONOR: You will observe that the sisters of jealousy are desire and lust. This is what wearies a man's heart until the day of his death as our sages said: "no man dies with half of his lusts attained"(Kohelet Raba 1:13).
(152) The root of Lust splits to two main branches. The first is lust for money and the second is lust for honor, both are very evil and bring on a man many evil consequences.
(153) LUST FOR MONEY: It is the lust for money which binds a man in the shackles of this world, harnessing thick ropes of labor and preoccupation upon his arms, as scripture says "one who loves money will never be satiated with money" (Kohelet 5:9).
(154) It is what takes a person away from the service of G-d, for so many prayers are lost and so many mitzvot are neglected due to excessive preoccupation and much laboring after profit. How much more so regarding Torah study as our sages said (Eruvin 55a): "'it is not over the sea' (Devarim 30:13) - with those who travel over the seas for business".
(155) Likewise we learned: "nor do all who engage in much business become wise" (Avot 2:5). The lust for money exposes him to many dangers and weakens his strength with many worries, even after he has attained a great amount as we learned: "one who increases possessions, increases worry" (Avot 2:7). It is lust for money which leads him many times to transgress the mitzvot of the Torah and even the natural precepts of reason.
(156) LUST FOR HONOR: Greater than this is the lust for honor. For it was already possible for a man to conquer his Yetzer (evil inclination) for money and the other pleasures, but honor is the [ultimate] difficulty. For it is impossible for him to bear and to see himself inferior to his peers. On this many have stumbled and been lost.
(157) Behold, Yerovam ben Nevat lost his portion in the World to Come only due to honor. This is what our sages said: "the Holy One blessed be He seized him by his garment and said to him: 'repent and you and I and the son of Yishai (David) will stroll together in the Garden of Eden'. Yeravam asked: 'who will be at the head?' G-d replied: 'the son of Yishai will be at the head'. Yeravam replied: 'if so, I don't want'."
(158) What caused the destruction of Korach and his assembly? Only honor as scripture states explicitly: "do you also seek the priesthood?" (Bamidbar 16:10). Our sages told us that all this grew out of Korach's seeing Elitzafan ben Uziel promoted to head of the tribe, and he wanted to be head in his place (Bamidbar Rabbah 18:2).
(159) And according to our sages of blessed memory, what caused the spies to utter evil speech on the land leading to their death and the death of an entire generation. They feared that others will take over their position when they enter Israel thereby diminishing their honor, namely that they will no longer be chiefs over Israel (Zohar Bamidbar 158a).
(160) What caused Shaul to begin to ambush David? Only honor as written: "And the women sang to one another as they celebrated: 'Saul has struck down his thousands, and David his tens of thousands'... And Saul eyed David from that day on" (Shmuel 18:7-9).
(161) What caused Yoav to kill Amasa? Only honor. For David said to him: "you will be commander of the army before me all the days [instead of Yoav]" (Shmuel II 19:14).
(162) The general principle: honor is what pushes a man's heart more powerfully than every other lust and desire in the world. Without this, a man would suffice to eat whatever he could, to wear whatever cover his nakedness, and to dwell in a house which shelters him from harm. His livelihood would be easy on him and he would not feel any need whatsoever to strain himself to attain wealth.
(163) But since he cannot bear to see himself lower and lesser than his peers, he puts himself squarely under the thickness of the beam. Thus there is no end to all his labor. Therefore, our Teachers, of blessed memory, taught us "jealousy, lust, and honor remove a person from the world" (Avot 4:21), and warned us: "do not seek greatness for yourself, and do not lust for honor" (Avot 6:5).
(164) How many people starve themselves? How many people stoop themselves low to take their sustenance from charity rather than engage in a livelihood which is not honorable in their eyes fearing diminishing of their honor?! Is there no greater folly than this?!
(165) They prefer idleness which brings to mental illness, to immorality (Kesuvos 59b), to theft (Shab.33a) and to all root sins, rather than lower their stature and detract their imaginary honor.
(166) However, our sages of blessed memory, who always instructed us and guided us on the paths of truth said: "love work and hate Rabanut" (Avot 1:10), and further "flay carcasses in the marketplace and earn wages and do not say, 'I am an important man, I am a Kohen, [and it is beneath my dignity]'." (Pesachim 113a), and further "one should always hire himself out to work which is strange to him rather than be dependent [on the help] of others" (Bava Basra 110a).
(167) FINAL WORDS: The general principle: the desire for honor is one of the biggest stumbling blocks before a man and it is impossible to be a faithful servant to his Master all the time that he is concerned for his own honor. For then he will need to detract from the honor of heaven due to this foolishness. This is what King David, peace be unto him, said: "I shall be even less than this still and be low in my own sight" (Shmuel II 6:22).
(168) True honor is nothing but true knowledge of the Torah. And likewise our sages of blessed memory said "there is no honor but Torah as is stated (Proverbs 3:35) 'The sages shall inherit honor'" (Pirkei Avot 6:3).
(169) Anything other than this is nothing but imaginary and false honor, worthlessness in which there is nothing of avail [Yirmiyahu 16:19]. It is proper for he who aspires to Cleanliness to cleanse and purify himself of this completely. Then he will be successful.
(170) Behold, up till now I have encompassed many details of the particulars of Cleanliness. What has been stated should serve as an example to all of the other Mitzvot and Traits, "let the wise man hear and increase in learning, and the one who understands obtain counsel" (Mishlei 1:5).
(171) I cannot deny that reaching Cleanliness requires a little exertion. Even so, I will say that it does not need as much exertion as it appears. It is more difficult in the thought than in the doing. If a person puts to heart, and fixes constantly in his will to become among those who possess this good trait, behold with a little habituating himself in this, it will come much easier than he could ever imagine. This is something experience can testify to its truth.