Iggeres HaRamban in Memory of Rochel Bas Aryeh

The following entry is Zecher Nishmas (in memory of) Rochel Bas Aryeh. She was a friend of Beyond BT commentor Jaded Topaz (JT). JT relates that she was a very caring, thoughtful, altruistic, brilliant and modest person – and an awesome listener. Even when she was very sick she continued with the same level of altruism, caring and concern for others. Her Yahrzeit is today and she always used to say over the Iggeres Ramban.

Here is a the Iggeres HaRamban for anybody who would like to carry it in their wallet and read it regularly.

JT relates:
“They gave the letter out at her shloshim which is why I started saying it many moons ago. I think it is a very good doctrine to base ones personal spiritual life space on because it gives you a framework to be in control of your emotions. I love how it breaks down respect for others , humility, pride, haughtiness, anger. I love the think before you speak sentiment. Also I think it has a cumulative effect. I’ve gotten less emotional and more logical and rational over the months I started saying it every morning. I used to say it once a week. Sometimes it was the only religious thing I did. It helps me stay focused not angry, pride free, and haughty less. That’s why I love it. ”

Here is the Iggeres HaRamban. Perhaps you can read through it in memory of Rochel Bas Aryeh:

Listen my son to the admonitions of your father, and do not disregard the teachings of your mother. Attempt to constantly speak softly to every person, at all times, and through this you will avoid anger, which is a terrible trait, and (which) causes people to sin. The Rabbis have taught us that whoever gets angry, all forms of purgatory are visited upon him, as it says, “Remove anger from your heart and evil from your flesh.” This “evil” refers to purgatory, as it says, “Also wicked on the day of evil.” When one saves himself from anger he begins to reflect on the trait of humility, which is the best of all the wonderful traits, as it says, “The heel of humility is the fear of Hashem.”

As a result of humility you will reflect on the trait of fear, as you constantly think: from where did you come, and to where are you going? In life you are an insect and worm, and also in death. And before whom are you destined to give an accounting? Before His Honor, the King, as it says, “Behold, the Skies and heavenly skies cannot sustain you, certainly not the heart of men.” It also says, “Is it not so that I occupy the heavens and earth, says Hashem.”

When you will think of all this, you will fear your Creator and guard against sin, and with these traits you will be happy with your lot. When you will act with humility, to be ashamed before all men, and to fear from them and from sin, then, the spirit of Hashem will descend upon you, together with a halo of glory and life in the world to come.

Now, my son, know and observe, that one who is arrogant, is rebellious against the Heavenly Kingdom, as it says, “Hashem rules, dressed in arrogance, etc.” With what should man be arrogant? If with wealth – Hashem impoverishes and gives wealth; if with honor – this belongs to Hashem, as it says, “Wealth and honor are from you,” and thus how can one flaunt with the honor of his creator? If he flaunts with his wisdom, “He uncovers the lips of the trusted ones and removes sanity from the elderly.”

Since everyone is equal before Hashem – who, when angry, cuts down the arrogant and with His will lifts up the downtrodden – therefore lower yourself, and Hashem will uplift you. I will therefore explain to you how to constantly act with humility; all your words should be said softly, your head should be bent, your eyes should look down to the ground and your heart should be up; do not stare at a person when talking to him; every person should, in your eyes, be greater than you. If he is wise or wealthy you must honor him; if he is lacking and you are wealthier and wiser than he, think in your heart that you are the guiltier, and he is the more innocent – since if he sins it is unintentional, while your sins are intentional.

With all your words, actions and thoughts, and at all times, think in your heart that you are standing before Hashem, and His countenance is upon you, since His glory fills the world. Your words should be with fear and trepidation like a servant before his master. Be shy before every man; if a man calls you, don’t reply in a loud voice, but rather softly, like in the presence of your master.

Be careful to constantly read the Torah so that you will observe it, and when you finish your study, search out what you have learned to see if there is something you can now observe. Review your actions in the morning and in the evening, and in this way all your days will contain repentance. Remove all your worldly issues from your heart during prayers, and prepare your heart before Hashem. Purify your thoughts and think before you speak; do this all the days of your mundane life in every area, and you won’t sin. In this way your words, actions and thoughts will be straight, your prayers will be pure, clean, well-intentioned and acceptable to Hashem, as it says, “Prepare their hearts – your ears will pay attention.”

Read this once a week, and not less, to observe and constantly go in the way of Hashem, so that you will succeed in all your endeavors and you will merit the World to Come that’s hidden for the righteous. Every day that you read it they will answer you from Heaven, whatever you will decide to request, forever – may it be so eternally.

4 comments on “Iggeres HaRamban in Memory of Rochel Bas Aryeh

  1. In Brisk, Jaded, they used to say in opposition to the mussar movement, “Learn mussar! Learn it all day long, so long as you never open your gemara!” Mussar does have the annoying tendency of inducing paralysis over questions such as, “Shall I respond to Jaded’s phenomenal omnibus 4 AM neuro-spiritual challenge to my comments, or is it merely gaavah to do so?”

    Just kidding. Of course it’s gaavah! What am I, R’ Yisroel Salanter? OK, here I go:

    Where Hashem is “not found,”
    Where He deems “not to be” —
    Does He make a God vacuum?
    Can you take him from me?

    Or I, Him, from you
    By my towering pride?
    Can I chase Him and make Him
    Abandon your side?

    You must perish the though, Jaded!
    Our God would not do
    Such a face-hiding hester
    To a God-seeking Jew!

    For a shul can contain both full vessels,
    And bare
    But the empty ones will not
    Chase God out of there.

    For in every bais medrash, we learn
    And each shul,
    The Divine presence hovers
    Near each wise man, each fool;

    So we speak not of places —
    Rooms of brick, wood or stone —
    But of places within us
    Yet not flesh, blood or bone.

    Rather, chambers within
    To which none hold the key
    Save the Builder Himself
    And He gives it up free

    To each flesh and blood resident —
    No copy’s in stock!
    Only we can invite Him back in,
    Past the lock

    That we fasten ourselves.
    And we bar the door, too
    To the ones He sends over
    To warm, share and renew

    Our connection to Him.
    For there cannot be pride
    If we let any quantum of love
    Sneak inside

    Through the mail slot, chimney flue
    Or neuron so jaded
    Or on blogs like Beyond BT
    Where truth’s debated!

    When we open our eyes,
    Raise the blinds in the morn,
    And see what and whom is ours
    Each day aborn,

    And feel every small kindness
    And admit every ray
    Of bright iridescence
    That Hashem sends our way,

    Then even the one who sees
    With unique eyes
    Or whose neuronal circuitry’s
    Full of surprise —

    And even the “genius”
    Who is burdened with grace
    Will find way to make room for Hashem
    In his place.

    He will open that window!
    Let in more than just light.
    He will unlatch the door and
    His neighbors invite.

    And his faith won’t abscond,
    Nor his reason depart;
    For by bright’ning and opening
    His “room,” so his heart

    Will let in all God’s kindness!
    And the more he “admits”
    The less space himself
    He takes up, with those wits

    They remain with him, still
    Those in which he took pride —
    But by letting his fellow man
    Join him “inside,”

    If he sees they’re mere tools
    Of his Neighbor from “next door”
    And the once-lonesome, lonely man
    Sees what they’re for.

    And he’s never alone now
    Not from God, not from man,
    No one flees from his makom
    No one runs, though they can.

    And though life ebbs and flows
    And brains age and confound
    In his room full of friends
    God is always around.

  2. Ron,

    That gemara is difficult to understand (but sort of explains Avos 4:21- jealousy/lust/honor drive one out of this world) ,in that it would probably be a large problem in a house of worship or learning among other things.Forget about living together in a “world” close quarters like “houses of worship” where G-d supposedly is always resting are filled up and down to the brim with haughtier than thou individuals sometimes.
    One proud n preachy fellow is all you really need to displace G-d straight away from the house of worship I guess.Does he rest there anyway ?
    The minimum minyan requirement notwithstanding or sitting.(Lets not forget that gemarah in brochos about learning and praying in the same cubic feet between two pillars).
    So it’s not only the prayer group, this pridefully praying fellow is affecting, its the morning learning seder too.( if he does the early minyan).
    Also, for the life of me I have never understood that Iyov 12:20 reference when discussing individuals that flaunt their wisdom, specifically the “removing reasoning/understanding/sanity from the elders/sages” and what about the lips/speech of the trusted ones, opening up/letting secrets run loose ?
    Its not clear who is getting punished , is it the individual flaunting his wisdom, who also happens to function as a trusted sage, or just an ordinary sage the wisdom flaunter trusted.
    Or just a reference to natural causes, nearing end of life happenings like Alzheimer’s and non lucid/coherent speech/ thought/secret sharing.
    And some kind of alluding to brain deficiencies and neuronal circuitry short circuitings and sparkings, that may come about when certain negative character traits are exhibited too often. As in Neuroscience decides to start dating hardcore Mussar seriously, for mind bending and marriage minded assumptions,conclusions and preventions.
    I guess It kind of is a G-d’s way or the no-mans land highway towards the out of the world, if one chooses observant Judaism.
    And for everyone else there is the create your own (blank inside) hallmark card. (Mastercard is so last season, do you even see any masters around nowadays ?) Please advise at your earliest convenience if you do.
    I thank my lucky stars/snowflakes/raindrops every morning that the Iggeres Haramban letter has not been rendered a mythical forgery or Pippi Longstocking pirates n gold coins message in a wine bottle daydream).

    Just remember one thing on that roadtrip of a lifetime, Toyota “you asked for it you got it” in way more ways than none. (except when the answer is : no/I don’t know/you should have gone to seminary/jewish adult learning/go now/you don’t know anything/not enough. But no worries mate,for the rest of us there are always the : the right teacher is out there you are not looking hard enough in the boring simple simon loves simpletons places/there are disadvantaged women in other worlds that would give up everything to be you for a month/go bake a babka for new mothers/there are daf yomi’s for women everywhere from the LIRR to Riverdale/you have to want to travel and learn for the right reasons/six versions of the definition for tiflis/Other interesting Talumudic suggestions to contend with etc…. but other than that it’s not that difficult if you work hard enough , forever.

  3. I actually had a related thought over yomtov. I am sure it is not a novel one, but it is this: God says, regarding the arrogant person, in Sotah 5a, “He and I cannot live together in the world.”
    I used to think this mean that Hashem cannot stand the arrogant person as “company.” But it is really the opposite. The arrogant person has no room for Hashem in his world, and therefore, where Hashem is not welcome, He typically is not found.

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