Rabbi Abraham ben HaRaMBaM

Abraham, son of Maimonides

(1186-1237, Egypt)

From the chapter: On Contemplation/Seclusion

Hitbodedut is one of the most honourable of the exalted qualities, and is the path of the greatest of the righteous and the means by which the prophets attained revelation. It may be subdivided into external and internal hitbodedut. The purpose of external hitbodedut is the attainment of internal hitbodedut, which is the highest rung on the ladder of revelation; in fact, it is nothing less than revelation itself. And here we will tell [you] that internal hitbodedut--which is full trust, from the depths of the heart, about which David prayed 'A pure heart create in me, O God' (Psalm 51:12) and which Asaph attained in his saying 'My flesh fails, and my heart; but God is the strength of my heart and my portion' (Psalm 73:26)--is the cleansing of the heart and its purification from everything except for [God]--may [God] be exalted--[God's] penetration of them, and [God's] dwelling in their midst. This level may be attained by the annihilation of the activity of that part of the soul which senses, (entirely) or mostly, and distancing oneself from that part that drives [one] in other worldly matters, inclining towards [God]--may [God] be exalted, the employment of the intellectual part in divine matters--may [God] be exalted, and the use of the imaginative part in so far as it assists the logical part by means of concentration (hitbonenut) on [God's] creatures--may [God] be exalted, majestic creatures that inform us of their Creator, like concentration on the greatness of the sea, the awe of it, and the amazing creatures that dwell within it, or concentration on the revolving sphere of the world in fulfilment of its splendour, or the nature of the stars, or the like.

R. Abraham ben HaRaMBaM (1186-1237), HaMaspiq Le'Ovdei HaShem ('All That is Necessary for Those Who Serve God') (translation from Arabic Kifayat al-'Abidin by Yosef ben Salah Duri) (Jerusalem, 1984), p.177.

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