Kenneth Cohen

The Maze

The Mesilat Yesharim uses a “maze,” to teach an important life lesson. Its author, Ramchal describes a specific type of maze.

He asks his readers to picture a number of bushes that are grown in such a way, that they set a path to a particular desired destination. Because it’s a maze, there are many dead ends, where the traveler must go back to the beginning and start over.
It is possible that there could be someone with an aerial view of the maze. If he sees his friend going in a direction that leads to nowhere, he could shout and warn him, to take a different path. He knows this maze very well, and he is no longer held back by the various obstacles.

The maze refers to our lives and the path we choose to take. We might learn by trial and error, the mistakes we made, that led us nowhere. We were forced to backtrack and take a different course. If we would only listen to those who are older, wiser, and more experienced, they would help us avoid making mistakes in the future.
The Ramchal felt that anyone who succeeds in overcoming the enticement of the Yeitzer Hara, will have the wisdom to lead and help others. He has worked sufficiently in reaching the desired destination of closeness to G-d.

This message has real significance today, when the younger generation genuinely believes that they are smarter, and better problem solvers, than the older generation. How sad this is, when so much can be gleaned from those who have gone through life, and had to learn things the hard way. If they would only listen, they would not hit the dead ends of the maze, and be forced to start over again.

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