1

Our Rabbis of blessed memory said,1 "Upon which short verse are all the principles of the Torah" predicated? [It is] "In all your ways acknowledge Him."2 It means that even in those things that you do for your personal needs, you should acknowledge God, and do those things for the sake of His Name, blessed is He. For example, eating, drinking, walking, sitting, lying down, getting up, sexual intercourse, and talking—all these physical needs should be done for the sake of serving your Creator, or for the sake of [doing] something that will be conducive to the service of Him.

א

אָמְרוּ רַבּוֹתֵינוּ זִכְרוֹנָם לִבְרָכָה אֵיזוֹהִי פָּרָשָׁה קְטַנָּה שֶׁכָּל גּוּפֵי תּוֹרָה תְּלוּיִין בָּהּ. בְּכָל דְּרָכֶיךָ דָּעֵהוּ. פֵּרוּשׁ שֶׁאֲפִלּוּ בִּדְרָכֶיךָ שֶׁאַתָּה עוֹשֶׂה לְצֹרֶךְ גּוּפְךָ, דַּע אֵת ה', וַעֲשֵׂה אֵת הַדְּבָרִים לִשְׁמוֹ יִתְבָּרַךְ. כְּגוֹן, הָאֲכִילָה, וְהַשְּׁתִיָּה וְהַהֲלִיכָה, וְהַיְשִׁיבָה, וְהַשְּׁכִיבָה, הַקִּימָה, וְהַתַּשְׁמִישׁ וְהַשִּׂיחָה, כָּל צָרְכֵי גּוּפְךָ, יִהְיוּ כֻּלָּם לַעֲבוֹדַת בּוֹרַאֲךָ, אוֹ לְדָבָר הַגּוֹרֵם לַעֲבוֹדָתוֹ.

2

How can you serve God by "eating and drinking?" Needless to say that you may not eat or drink, things that are forbidden, God forbid. But even regarding foods that are permitted, if you are thirsty and hungry, and you eat and drink [just] to satisfy your desires, that is not a praiseworthy [attitude]. But you should have in mind that you are eating and drinking, to have strength to serve the Creator. Therefore, you should not eat all that appeals to your palate, like a dog or a donkey, but you should eat only things that are helpful and beneficial to the health of your body. There are some very devout people who say before partaking of food: "I am about to eat and drink in order to be healthy and strong to serve the Creator, blessed is His Name."

ב

אֲכִילָה וּשְׁתִיָּה, כֵּיצַד. אֵין צָרִיךְ לוֹמַר שֶׁלֹּא יֹאכַל וְיִשְׁתֶּה דְּבָרִים הָאֲסוּרִים, חַס וְשָׁלוֹם אֶלָּא גַּם בִּדְבָרִים הַמֻּתָּרִים, וְהָיָה צָמֵא וְרָעֵב, אִם וְאָכַל וְשָׁתָה לַהֲנָאָתוֹ, אֵינוֹ מְשֻׁבָּח, אֶלָּא יִתְכַּוֵּן בַּאֲכִילָתוֹ וּשְׁתִיָּתוֹ, שֶׁיִּהְיֶה לוֹ כֹּחַ לַעֲבוֹדַת הַבּוֹרֵא. לְפִיכָךְ לֹא יֹאכַל כָּל שֶׁהַחֵךְ מִתְאַוֶּה לוֹ, כְּכֶלֶב וַחֲמוֹר אֶלָּא יֹאכַל דְּבָרִים הַמּוֹעִילִים וְטוֹבִים לִבְרִיאוּת הַגּוּף. וְיֵשׁ אַנְשֵׁי מַעֲשֶׂה, שֶׁקֹּדֶם אֲכִילָה אוֹמְרִים: הִנְנִי רוֹצֶה לֶאֱכֹל וְלִשְׁתֹּת, כְּדֵי שֶׁאֶהֱיֶה בָּרִיא וְחָזָק לַעֲבוֹדַת הַבּוֹרֵא יִתְבָּרַךְ שְׁמוֹ.

3

How [can you serve God by] sitting, getting up and walking? Needless to say, you should not sit in the company of scoffers, nor stand in the way of sinners, nor walk in the counsel of the wicked.3 But even if you sit in a meeting of honest men, and stand in the place of the righteous, and walk in the counsel of the perfect, but you do this to satisfy your own desires, to gratify your ambitions and cravings, that is not a praisworthy [attitude]. You should do [these things] for the sake of Heaven. Nevertheless, if you are unable to direct your thoughts to act exclusively for the sake of Heaven, you should not abstain from doing these things, for by doing good for ulterior motives you will eventually do them for the sake of Heaven.

ג

הַיְשִׁיבָה וְהַקִּימָה וְהַהֲלִיכָה כֵּיצַד. אֵין צָרִיךְ לוֹמַר שֶׁלֹּא יֵשֵׁב בְּמוֹשַׁב לֵצִים, וְשֶׁלֹּא לַעֲמֹד בְּדֶרֶךְ חַטָּאִים, וְשֶׁלֹּא לֵילֵךְ בַּעֲצַת רְשָׁעִים. אֶלָּא אֲפִלּוּ לֵישֵׁב בְּסוֹד יְשָׁרִים, וְלַעֲמֹד בִּמְקוֹם צַדִּיקִים, וְלֵילֵךְ בַּעֲצַת תְּמִימִים, אִם עָשָׂה לַהֲנָאַת עַצְמוֹ, לְהַשְׁלִים חֶפְצוֹ וְתַאֲוָתוֹ, אֵין זֶה מְשֻׁבָּח, אֶלָּא יַעֲשֶׂה לְשֵׁם שָׁמַיִם. וּמִכָּל מָקוֹם, גַּם אִם אִי אֶפְשָׁר לוֹ לְכַוֵּן לְשֵׁם שָׁמַיִם דַּוְקָא, אַל יִמְנַע אֵת עַצְמוֹ מִדְּבָרִים אֵלּוּ, כִּי מִתּוֹךְ שֶׁלֹּא לִשְׁמָהּ יָבֹא לִשְׁמָהּ.

4

How [can you serve God by] lying down? Needless to say, at a time when you are able to occupy yourself with [the study of] Torah and mitzvos, and you yield to [the urge] to sleep for your own gratification, that this is not the proper thing to do. However when you are tired and you must sleep in order to rest from your hard work, if you do so [just] for pleasure, it is not a praiseworthy [attitude]. But you should have in mind [that you are] giving sleep to your eyes and rest to your body in order to be healthy, so that your mind is not distracted by sleepiness when you study the Torah.

ד

שְׁכִיבָה, כֵּיצַד. אֵין צָרִיךְ לוֹמַר בִּזְמַן שֶׁיָּכוֹל לַעֲסֹק בַּתּוֹרָה וּבְמִצְוֹת, אִם מִתְגָּרֶה בְּשֵׁינָה לְעַנֵּג אֵת עַצְמוֹ, שֶׁאֵינוֹ רָאוּי לַעֲשׂוֹת כֵּן, אֶלָּא אֲפִלּוּ בִּזְמַן שֶׁהוּא יָגֵעַ, וְצָרִיךְ לִישֹׁן כְּדֵי לָנוּח מִיגִיעָתוֹ, אִם עָשָׂה לַהֲנָאַת גּוּפוֹ אֵינוֹ מְשֻׁבָּח, אֶלָּא יִתְכַּוֵּן לָתֵת שֵׁנָה לְעִינָיו, וּלְגוּפוֹ מְנוּחָה לְצֹרֶךְ בְּרִיאַת גּוּפוֹ, וְשֶׁלֹּא תִּטָּרֵף דַּעְתּוֹ בַּתּוֹרָה, מֵחֲמַת מְנִיעַת הַשֵּׁנָה.

5

How can [sexual] intercourse be a service to God? Needless to say, that you should not commit a sin, God forbid. Rather even when exercising the conjugal rights that are spoken of in the Torah, if you do so for your own gratification or to satisfy your lust, it would be reprehensible. And even if you have in mind [during intercourse] to have sons to assist you and take your place, it is not a praiseworthy [attitude]. Rather you should have in mind to have children who will serve the Creator, or have in mind to strengthen your body, and to fulfill the conjugal mitzvah as a man who fulfills an obligation.

ה

תַּשְׁמִישׁ, כֵּיצַד. אֵין צָרִיךְ לוֹמַר שֶׁלֹּא יַעֲבֹר עֲבֵרָה, חַס וְשָׁלוֹם, אֶלָּא אֲפִלּוּ בָּעוֹנָה הָאֲמוּרָה בַּתּוֹרָה, אִם עָשָׂה לַהֲנָאַת גּוּפוֹ, אוֹ לְהַשְׁלִים תַּאֲוָתוֹ, הֲרֵי זֶה מְגֻנֶּה. וַאֲפִלּוּ אִם נִתְכַּוֵּן כְּדֵי שֶׁיִּהְיוּ לוֹ בָּנִים, שֶׁיְשַׁמְּשׁוּ אוֹתוֹ וִימַלְּאוּ מְקוֹמוֹ, אֵינוֹ מְשֻׁבָּח. אֶלָּא יִתְכַּוֵּן שֶׁיִּהְיוּ לוֹ בָּנִים לַעֲבוֹדַת בּוֹרְאוֹ אוֹ שֶׁיִּתְכַּוֵּן לְהַבְרוֹת אֵת גּוּפוֹ, וּלְקַיֵּם מִצְוַת עוֹנָה כְּאָדָם הַפּוֹרֵעַ אֵת חוֹבוֹ.

6

How [can you serve God] by talking? Needless to say, that you should not engage in lashon hara,4 or talebearing and scoffing, or in talking obscenities, God forbid. But even when telling anecdotes from [the life of] our Sages, you should have the intention to serve the Creator, or to inspire [others] to serve Him.

ו

הַשִּׂיחָה כֵּיצַד. אֵין צָרִיךְ לוֹמַר לְסַפֵּר לָשׁוֹן הָרַע אוֹ רְכִילוּת וְלֵיצָנוּת וְסִכְלוּת פֶּה, חַס וְשָׁלוֹם, אֶלָּא אֲפִלּוּ לְסַפֵּר בְּדִבְרֵי חֲכָמִים, צָרִיךְ שֶׁתְּהֵא כַּוָּנָתוֹ לַעֲבוֹדַת הַבּוֹרֵא, לְדָבָר הַמֵּבִיא לַעֲבוֹדָתוֹ.

7

Similarly, when you are engaged in business or in a trade [or profession] to earn a livelihood, you should not aspire merely to accumulate wealth, but pursue your work in order to support your family,5 to give charity, and to raise your children to study the Torah. The general principle [that should guide all your actions] is: It is the duty of every person to consider his ways judiciously,6 and to weigh his deeds on the scales of reason; and if he sees something that is conducive to the service of the Creator, on high, he should do it, otherwise, he should not do it. If you lead [your life according to] this rule, you will be serving God all your days, even when sitting, getting up, walking, and doing business, even when eating and drinking, yes, even when having marital relations and performing all your bodily functions. With regard to this way of thinking our Rabbis of blessed memory said:7 "Let all your deeds be for the sake of Heaven." And in the same manner Rabbeinu Hakodesh raised his fingers heavenward when he was dying, and said:8 "It is obvious and known to You that I derived no [personal] benefit from them.9 [All I have done was] only for the sake of Heaven.

ז

וְכֵן כְּשֶׁהוּא עוֹסֵק בְּמַשָּׂא וּמַתָּן, אוֹ בִּמְלָאכָה לְהִשְׁתַּכֵּר בָּהּ, לֹא יְהֵא בְּלִבּוֹ לִקְבֹּץ מָמוֹן בִּלְבַד, אֶלָּא יַעֲשֶׂה כְּדֵי שֶׁיִּהְיֶה לוֹ לְפַרְנֵס בְּנֵי בֵּיתוֹ, וְלָתֵת צְדָקָה וּלְגַדֵּל בָּנָיו לְתַלְמוּד תּוֹרָה. כְּלָלוֹ שֶׁל דָּבָר, חַיָּב אָדָם לָשׂוּם עֵינָיו וְלִבּוֹ עַל דְּרָכָיו, וְלִשְׁקֹל כָּל מַעֲשָׂיו בְּמָאזְנֵי שִׂכְלוֹ. וּכְשֶׁרוֹאֶה דָּבָר שֶׁיָּבֹא לִידֵי עֲבוֹדַת הַבּוֹרֵא יִתְעַלֶּה יַעֲשֵׂהוּ, וְאִם לָאו לֹא יַעֲשֵׂהוּ. וּמִי שֶׁנּוֹהֵג כֵּן, נִמְצָא עוֹבֵד אֵת בּוֹרְאוֹ כָּל יָמָיו, אֲפִלּוּ בִּשְׁעַת שִׁבְתּוֹ וְקוּמוֹ וְהִלוּכוֹ וּבִשְעַת מַשָּׂאוֹ וּמַתָּנוֹ, וַאֲפִלּוּ בַּאֲכִילָתוֹ וּשְׁתִיָּתוֹ אֲפִלּוּ בְּתַשְׁמִישׁוֹ וּבְכָל צְרָכָיו. וְעַל עִנְיָן זֶה צִוּוּ רַבּוֹתֵינוּ זִכְרוֹנָם לִבְרָכָה וְאָמְרוּ וְכָל מַעֲשֶׂיךָ יִהְיוּ לְשֵׁם שָׁמָּיִם. וּבַדֶּרֶךְ הַזֶּה זָקֵף רַבֵּנוּ הַקָּדוֹשׁ אֶצְבְּעוֹתָיו לְמַעְלָה בִּשְׁעַת מִיתָתוֹ וְאָמַר, גָּלוּי וְיָדוּעַ לְפָנֶיךָ שֶׁלֹּא נֶהֱנֵיתִי מֵהֵם אֶלָּא לְשֵׁם שָׁמָיִם (אוֹרַח חַיִּים סִימָן רל"א ורמב"ם פרק ג).