The Trait of Cleanliness

Path of the Just
Chapter Ten

THE IDEA behind the trait of Cleanliness is that a person be completely clean of bad traits and of sins, not only those which are recognized as such, but also those which are rationalized, which, when we look into them honestly, we find to be sanctioned only because of the heart’s being still partially afflicted by lust and not entirely free of it, so as to incline us towards a relaxation of standards. The man who is entirely free of this affliction and clean of any trace of evil which lust leaves behind it will come to possess perfectly clean vision and pure discrimination, and will not be swayed in any direction by desire, but will recognize as evil, and withdraw from every sin that he had committed, though it were the slightest of the slight. Accordingly, our Sages of blessed memory referred to those individuals who so purified their deeds as to leave in them not even a stirring of evil as “the clean-minded men of Jerusalem” (Sanhedrin 23a).

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