Page:Eight chapters of Maimonides on ethics.djvu/54

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The author, Rabbi Moses (may God preserve him!) said:[1] We have already explained in the introduction to this work (i. e. the Commentary on the Mishnah) the reason the author of the Mishnah had for putting this treatise (Abot) in this Order (Neziḳin)[2]. We have also mentioned the great benefit that is to be derived from this treatise, and have promised many times in preceding passages to discuss certain important points at some length in commenting upon it. For, although the contents of the treatise seem clear and easy to understand, yet to carry out all that it contains is not a simple matter for everybody. Moreover, not all of its contents is intelligible without ample comment, withal that it leads to great perfection and true happiness. For these reasons, I have deemed it advisable here to go into a more lengthy discussion. Besides, our Rabbis of blessed memory have said, “He who wishes to be saintly, let him practise the teachings of Abot[3]. Now, there is nothing that ranks so high with us as saintliness, unless it be prophecy, and it is saintliness that paves the way to prophecy; as our Rabbis of blessed memory said, “Saintliness leads to holy inspiration.”[4] Thus, their words make it clear

  1. See Hebrew text p. 5, n. 2. The introductory words are by ibn Tibbon.
  2. See Goldschmidt, Der Babylonische Talmud, I, Berlin, 1897, Einleitung in die Mišnah von Moses Maimonides, p. XXX; and Hebrew Review, vol. I, p. 191.
  3. Baba Ḳamma, 30a: אמר רבי יהודה האי מאן דבעי למהוי חסידא לקיים מילי דנזיקין רבא אמר מילי דאבות ואמרי לה מילי דברכות.
  4. Abodah Zarah, 20b: חסידות מביאה לידי ענוה ענוה מביאה לידי יראת חטא יראת חטא מביאה לידי קדושה.