Duties of the Heart

Duties of the Heart 
Chovos Halevavos – Duties of the Heart
by Rabeinu Bahya ibn Paquda zt’l
The Chovos Halevavos is the crown jewel of all the post-talmudic ethical works. It was originally translated from Arabic by Chacham Yehuda ibn Tibon zt’l. The commentaries wrote that Chacham Tibon was a singular, master translator who was able to translate the book in such a way that the full depth and all the allusions to different facets and multiple interpretations were preserved, as Maimonides (who knew Arabic) wrote: “I recognized in your words that your heart plumbed the depths of the matter and uncovered the hidden secrets” (Masoret edition pg.58). As is known, the torah way is to condense volumes of information in very few words, carefully crafting ambiguities to allow for different allusions and interpretations for the one who contemplates them, as the talmud expounds (Sanhedrin 34a) “Is not My word like fire, and like a hammer that shatters a rock into pieces?” (Jer.23:29) – As the rock splits into many fragments, so one verse may convey many meanings. For this reason, the hebrew is difficult to understand and was studied mainly by high-level torah scholars.

Shaar HaYichud – Gate of Unity of G-d


Shaar HaBechina – Gate of Reflection


Shaar Avodas HaElokim – Gate of Service of G-d


Gate of Trust – Shaar Habitachon


Shaar Yichud HaMaase – Gate of Devotion to G-d Alone


Shaar HaKnia – Gate of Submission


Shaar HaTeshuva – Gate of Repentance


Shaar Cheshbon HaNefesh – Gate of Spiritual Accounting


Shaar Ha-Perishus – the Gate of Abstinence


Shaar Ahavas Ha-Shem – Gate of Love of G-d