June 12, 2009


From Rabbi Tal Zwecker’s work-in-progress, Sefer HaHisbodedus, a collection of essays and translations on what the author describes as “the forgotten path of self-perfection and character development through seclusion and meditation.” Rabbi Zwecker is seeking sponsors for this important project. He may be reached through his website. We thank Rabbi Zwecker for permitting us to post several of his translations here.

Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzatto (“Ramchal”): On Hisbodedus

From “Mesilas Yesharim/The Path of the Just”

Separation as practiced in custom is hisbodedus– seclusion and separation from society, in order to free the heart to the service [of G-d] and to reflect upon it properly." (Chap. 14, “The Elements of Separation”)


The most valuable of all [means] is seclusion—hisbodedus— because just as one removes from his eyes the subjects of this world, he also removes the desire for them from his heart. King David has already praised hisbodedus when he said (Tehilim 55, 7-8): "Who would give me the wings of a dove so that I could fly and dwell far off and lie in the desert forever, selah." And we find the prophets Eliyahu and Elisha choosing their place in the mountains because of their practice of seclusion and hisbodedus. And our wise sages, the earlier ones, of blessed memory, walked in their footsteps, because they found this medium to be the most proper means to acquire perfection and separation, in order to prevent themselves from being influenced by the inanity of their fellow man (Chap. 15, “The Means to Acquire Separation”).


That which helps acquire this trait [of holiness] is hisbodedus and a lot of self-discipline and separation. This is done to get rid of distractions; then his soul can grow in strength, and he can cleave, bonding with the Creator (Chap. 26, “The Trait of Holiness”).