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.
- Important Foreword
- Chapter 1 – definition of the wholehearted acceptance of G-d’s unity
- Chapter 2 – how many divisions does the subject of unity divide into?
- Chapter 3 – whether or not it is our duty to intellectually investigate the matter
- Chapter 4 – which premises must we know before we investigate the unity?
- Chapter 5 – To clarify the premises which demonstrate that the world has a Creator who created it from nothing
- Chapter 6 – how we apply them to establish the existence of the Creator
- Chapter 7 – to bring proofs that He is one
- Chapter 8 – the distinction between true (absolute) unity and passing (relative) unity
- Chapter 9 – demonstration that G-d alone is truly one and nothing else is truly one
- Chapter 10 – the Divine attributes ascribed to G-d or denied to Him