The Mesilat Yesharim starts off:

יסוד החסידות ושרש העבודה התמימה הוא שיתברר ויתאמת אצל האדם מה חובתו

(Translation: The foundation of saintliness and the root of perfection in the service of God lies in a man's coming to see clearly and to recognize as a truth the nature of his duty in the world and the end towards which he should direct his vision and his aspiration in all of his labors all the days of his life.)

the words שיתברר ויתאמת are translated here as "coming to see clearly and to recognize as a truth".

what does it mean to come to "recognize as a truth"?

does this mean to go into chakira (rational inquiry/logical proofs) to try to arrive at the truth as to the existence of God and the divine origin of the torah?

if no, how else can something be recognized as a truth?

you can't say he means belief because it would not be accurate to say "recognize as a truth", and we assume that each word of this book was carefully chosen (as is the way of the torah sages).

  • 1
    Even if he means to provide logical proofs, it wouldn't refer to God/Torah, it would refer to "what man's obligation is in this world", the continuation of this statement. Commented May 15, 2014 at 5:54
  • @Matt wouldn't that depend on proving God/torah FIRST? since if that is not true, then obviously the subsequent conclusions you draw as to your obligation in this world are false. Hence, you have not reached the level of "recognize as truth".
    – ray
    Commented May 15, 2014 at 6:03
  • I was afraid you'd respond as such. If you fully believe that something is true, than you can use it as a basis, regardless of why you believe in it. That just begs the (your) question, though... The truth is I just don't think we should be imposing our own epistemology on the Ramchal - by 'truth' he means full confidence in something that it is true. If for you, full confidence requires logical proof, well then... you can't really prove anything other than tautologies Commented May 15, 2014 at 6:18
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    @Matt how can you have full confidence that something is true if you are not sure it is true. that's a contradiction. if you take his words literally it seems to mean chakira, and in fact he goes into chakira in his book Daas Tevunos
    – ray
    Commented May 15, 2014 at 6:27
  • he does? I must have missed it... And you can be sure that something is true without it being a logical necessity - most things that I'm confident in their truth are not things that I can justify as a rational necessity. Commented May 15, 2014 at 6:34

3 Answers 3


In אור יחזקאל, R' Yechezkel Levenstein explains שיתברר ויתאמת to be a two step process.

שיתברר means to clarify, which is an intellectual exercise - you go through all of the possibilities and their merits and aspects, and select the truth which comes out of that.

ויתאמת means that once you have the intellectual awareness of that truth, you make it consistent with your own feelings and belief, you internalize it so that your mind and heart are in sync.

(This is taking the word אמת to mean something is consistent the whole way through, and is genuine/authentic. Yaakov was Emes (תתן אמת ליעקב) and he was כלבו כן פיו (Rashi to ויעקב איש תם, that his words and thoughts were aligned), and Eisav was his opposite, compared to a pig that rolls on its back to show off its Kosher sign while its internal sign is lacking (Bereishis Rabba 65:1) - Eisav "trapped" his father with false displays of piety (Bereishis Rabba 63:15) - Yaakov was consistent internally and externally, while Eisav was the opposite.)

  • does this mean chakira for yitbarer?
    – ray
    Commented May 15, 2014 at 21:10
  • @ray assuming we would use that word to mean the same thing, yes. It's an intellectual assessment of the facts. Commented May 15, 2014 at 21:16
  • aha, so not necessarily 100% clarity, just picking the best choice available
    – ray
    Commented May 15, 2014 at 21:18
  • @ray I don't know. He refers to knowing not being enough, I don't know what his definition of knowing is. Commented May 15, 2014 at 21:20

This link essentially asks the same question and gives a detailed answer.

I don't have time to translate it, so I'm making this a community wiki in the hope that everybody will help translate it.

  • seems like that link is saying 2 things: 1. hammer in your head what you believe (that the purpose is the next world, etc.) so that it is always in front of your eyes. 2. examine yourself all the time to make sure you are going in that direction. END. interesting but it doesn't fit the word "yitamet", which implies that you verify the truth of something not that you repeat your beliefs constantly to hammer it in the subconcious. I think Rav Yisrael Salanter zt'l prescribed this latter approach.
    – ray
    Commented May 15, 2014 at 9:37
  • @DannySchoemann if I may ask, are those your personal notes from R. Stav's shiur? Commented May 15, 2014 at 19:56
  • @Matt - these are not my notes; I found them doing a web search while trying to answer the question. Commented May 18, 2014 at 7:27

I noticed recently the ramchal uses the same term in his book Derech Hashem (1:1) regarding chakira:

ואולם דברים אלה ידענום בקבלה מן האבות ומן הנביאים, והשיגום כל ישראל במעמד הר סיני ועמדו על אמיתותם בבירור, ולמדום לבניהם דור אחר דור כיום הזה, שכן ציום משה רבנו ע"ה מפי הגבורה, "פן תשכח את הדברים אשר ראו עיניך וגו' והודעתם לבניך ולבני בניך" (דברים ד ט). אמנם גם מצד החקירה במופתים הלימודיים יאמתו כל העניינים האלה, ויוכרח היותם כן, מכוח הנמצאות ומשיגיהם אשר אנחנו רואים בעינינו על פי חכמת הטבע, ההנדסה, התכונה ושאר החכמות, שמהם תילקחנה הקדמות אמיתיות אשר יולד מהן בירור העניינים האמיתיים האלה. ואמנם לא נאריך עתה בזה, אלא נציע ההקדמות לאמיתם, ונסדר הדברים על בורים, כפי המסורת שבידינו והמפורסם בכל אומתנו

(translation of bold: also through logical proofs, the truth of all these things can be verified.)

hence it seems to me that this is the intent of the ramchal.

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