Monday, 3 April 2017

Book Review and Recommendation: Duties of the Heart "Chovot HaLevavot" by Rabbi Bachya ibn Pakuda

The "Chovot HaLevavot" - "Duties of the Heart" was written by Rabbi Bachya ibn Pekuda, known simply as Rabbeinu Bachya (our Rabbi Bachya) - a giant in Torah who lived in the 11th century.

His work can probably be considered the first serious text dealing with Jewish ethics. The work speaks well to anybody interested in understanding the beautiful benefits involved in refining one's character. He knew only too well that observance of the commandments by habit is not at all what true Torah is about. Lip service is not an acceptable way of serving G-d. Neither does it do anybody much good!

What counts - in addition to the actual observance - are the feelings behind the actions being done. This is not far from the approach taken by the kabbalists (mystics) throughout the years who stress the "Kavanah" - the intention - when performing a Mitzvah (commandment). Indeed, of what use is a body (the external) if not for the soul (the internal) - the heart? Duties of the Heart. Bodies get buried... but souls live on forever...

Rabbeinu Bachya takes us through such "Gates" as serving G-d, trusting in G-d (probably the most authoritative work ever compiled detailing the most essential parts of the theme of trust,) repentance, spiritual accounting and love of G-d - to name just a few.

It most likely fits in to the category of Mussar (Jewish ethics) though the themes included could well fit into other aspects of spirituality, meditation, and even perhaps a hint of Chassidic thought. Indeed Rabbeinu Bachya was very much of the mystic school of thinking - even though his book shares his concepts in a rational way.

If you've wanted to learn this book in further depth, together with an opportunity to discuss the topics and subjects covered, book a time to learn with me online using Skype and webcam.

For more about learning opportunities with me see my main pages about learning together:


By learning with me - supporting me - you take an active part in allowing me to continue this path - as much as you take an active part in supporting the study of Torah.

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