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The Duties of the Heart, by Rabbi Bachye, tr. by Edwin Collins, [1909], at

Keeping Account with the Soul

The keeping account with one's own soul is when a man busies himself in silent discussion between himself and his reason with the concerns of his religious and his worldly life, so that he may ascertain

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what are his spiritual and mental possessions, and what his obligations.

Every human being is bound, in proportion to his mental gifts, to keep account with his soul, and to calculate what service of heart and mind he owes the Creator. And more is required of those gifted with clearer perception, or who have been specially blessed, than from others; because both their debt of gratitude and their power of fulfilment are greater.

Among the many subjects of such contemplation, are the origin of one's own life, and the wonder of emergence from non-existence to existence, from nothingness to being, not on account of any superiority anticipated in man, but only by the kindness of God, and His goodness, and His free generosity. Thence it will be obvious to his reason that he has been considered more than all the animal and vegetable world, and raised in degree above all the rest of the material creation, and appointed to a more exalted destiny, and he will be conscious of his great obligation.

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Such contemplation concerning the Deity and man's relation to the Creator, will show the duty of concentrating the heart on God's unity and spirituality, and on his service; so that there is no other thought or intention in all that one does, except to do it for the sake of God alone, with no thought of human praise or of the fear of man, or of advantages or of the removal of dangers, in this world or in a future state.

The service of God is of three kinds only:—Duties

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of the heart, such as are explained in this book; duties of the members and the heart together, such as prayer, the teaching of Scripture, and the teaching of Ethics [lit., the teaching of wisdom, and commands of goodness, and prohibitions of evil]; and duties of the bodily members alone, such as the ceremonies of religion and the giving of charity. With these last the heart has nothing to do, except in so far as their intention and motive are concerned.

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