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Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzatto was not only a first rate genius, but also a truly holy person. When he was yet a very young man, before his twentieth birthday, he already had a reputation in northern Italy as a great master of Kabbalah. In the early 1700s, he authored one of the premier works in all of rabbinic literature, Mesillas Yesharim (“The Path of the Righteous”). The book is based on a passage of the Talmud attributed to Rabbi Pinchas Ben Yair (Phinehas ben Jair), one of the great holy men of the Talmud. He was such a holy man, the Talmud says, that even his donkey was able to discern whether the hay it was given had been tithed or not.
In the Talmud (Avodah Zarah 20b), Rabbi Pinchas ben Yair is quoted as describing a series of ethical steps by which one can achieve the apex of saintliness: Ruach Hakodesh, “Divine Inspiration.” Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzatto’s book, Mesillas Yesharim, is based on that statement. In it, he expounds each of those steps.
Within each step, Rabbi Luzzatto explains the step itself, its elements, how it can be acquired, and what might distract from its acquisition. For example: Watchfulness can be acquired by setting aside time for introspection. Acquiring watchfulness can be impaired by excessive mundane responsibilities, wrong company or a cynical stance in life. The same pattern is used for each of the traits mentioned. click here to read more