Three Obstacles to Spirituality

The Mesilat Yesharim is very practical in its effort to get its readers to desire establishing a closer relationship with G-d. Its author, the Ramchal, recognized many of the obstacles created by man’s nature. In particular, he mentions three such obstacles in our quest to achieve spirituality.

The first problem we encounter, comes from simply being too busy with our day to day schedule. Our day is filled with so many mundane activities, that we literally, have no time to think.

If we were to force ourselves to take breaks, and analyze how we are living, it would help a great deal. An obvious remedy, would be to set up definite time periods for Torah study. This would place us more in a spiritual mode.

The second obstacle mentioned by the Ramchal, is overcoming a tendency to be cynical, and to make a mockery of religious teachings. This creates a block between us and holiness. Once a rabbi gave a very inspiring class on character development. He told a student that his class could be ruined by three words, “Ha ha ha.” We need to overcome our doubts, and be open to let in holy, lofty ideas.

The final obstacle comes from our association with bad company. We tend to be influenced by the people we let into our lives. It is difficult to grow spiritually, when we are ridiculed by our friends and family. We must put ourselves in the best possible setting, to allow for our achieving closeness to G-d.

A simple lesson from the Ramchal has great depth. We must free up time in our schedules for self analysis. We must learn to overcome cynicism. And we must stay away from bad company and bad influences. If we can do this, we are ready to begin climbing the ladder of spirituality.

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