Introduction to Sefer Hasidim


This is called “Book of the Pious.” Its contents are sweet and most desirable. It is written for those who fear God and revere His name. There is a Hasid whose heart desires the love of His Creator, to do His will completely. But he does not know which matters to assume, which matters to avoid, or how to immerse himself thoroughly to do his Creator’s will. The reason is that hearts have become deficient. There is a Hasid who undertakes a great deal and there is one who does little, but if he knew and understood matters of piety he would do a great deal more than those who do much. It is for this reason that the “Book of the Pious” was written, so that all who fear God and those returning to their Creator with a sincere heart may see, know and understand all that they must do and all that they must avoid. This book was not written for the wicked, for if they read it much of its contents would strike them as nonsense. And if communicated to them, they would ridicule it. Concerning them Solomon in his wisdom said, “Speak not in the ear of a fool; for he will despise the wisdom of thy words” (Prov. 23:8). Similarly when Solomon wrote Proverbs, it was not intended for the wicked for even if he were to confront them with all his wisdom, it would not have availed either to better their hearts or to encourage their return (to God). He spoke only to the righteous who long for God’s word; he spoke to them that they might see, understand and become wise, as it is written, “For the ways of the Lord are right, and the just do walk in them; but transgressors do stumble therein” (Hos. 14:10). This demonstrates that the path of piety, humility and fear of the Lord is a snare unto the wicked but an ascent for the righteous.

Excerpted from Sefaria, Medieval Jewish mysticism, translated by Sholom Alchanan Singer. Northbrook, Ill. Whitehall Co., 1971.

What do you want to know?

Ask our AI widget and get answers from this website