Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The middle of the road

Today is the 7th day of Shebat , 5771

Maimonides explains that when we detect in our personalities an inclination toward one extreme, we should aspire to correct it, bringing ourselves to the center. Sometimes we should force ourselves and 'act' for a while on the opposite equidistant side. In this way, with time we will attain the desired balanced 'golden' way.

In De'ot Chapter 1, 4 haRambam brings some examples:

"A man should not be wrathful and easily angered, and from the other side he should not be cold as a corpse, having no feelings and being moved by no thing. A man should adopt a middle-of-the-road-way, displaying anger only for a very serious matter and only in order to prevent that matter from happening again".

In other words, Maimonides prescribes to practice a 'controlled anger' and display it just for practical purposes. Anger should 'never' come as an impulsive blind reaction.

"Similarly" -Maimonides continues- "a man should not desire more than what he needs for his body and for whatever necessary to live. Like the Pasuk says: a righteous man eats to satisfy his soul(=body)".

haRambam is giving us an illustration in the area of overeating or with being obsessed about 'what' one is going to eat next. He is definitely not referring to poor people who have nothing to eat but to those who are wealthy and are permanently thinking 'what' (or in which restaurant) are they going to eat next.

A righteous person does not think too much about food and eats what and when he or she needs.

For previous Halakhot on this matter see here the section 'Kosher Habits'

Rabbi Yosef Bitton. YMJC 130 Steamboat Rd. Great Neck NY 11024