Kenneth Cohen

Self Awareness

The Ramchal in Messillat Yesharim, emphasizes the importance of self awareness. The way for an individual to get his life in order, is to begin by focusing on the consequences of one’s action.

A big problem that exists with people, is that they never take a step back to analyze their activities. If they would only think before they went about living their lives, they would be much better off.

They need to ask themselves as to whether their associating with a particular individual will be beneficial to them. Will a particular business venture, lead to potential disappointment by not carefully looking at its drawbacks. Will a particular lifestyle make me happy for the long term, or is it something that gives gratification for the moment.

The Ramchal makes his point rather boldly, when he writes that people who do not carefully assess their actions, are lower than animals. He makes this analogy, because animals have inborn instincts for self preservation.

If man, who is given the gift of a great intellect, and does not use it, has sunk to a lower level than animals. He is not looking at what is good for his own self preservation, and often self destructs.

How foolish is that when it could have easily been avoided, had he only analyzed what he was doing, before acting foolishly. He could have sought out experienced people to advise him. Instead, he acted impulsively, without thinking, and the results could be catastrophic.

It only shows man’s great potential. He has the ability to rise higher than the angels. Or, he can fall to a level lower than animals. This is the beginning of Teshuva. Think, make the right choices, and anticipate their income. If we do this, we will certainly see great blessings.

About the Author
Rabbi Cohen has been a Torah instructor at Machon Meir, Jerusalem, for over twenty years while also teaching a Talmud class in the Shtieblach of Old Katamon. Before coming to Israel, he was the founding rabbi of Young Israel of Century City, Los Angeles. He recently published a series of Hebrew language-learning apps, which are available at