In the Mesilat Yesharim ch.2

"contemplating and watching over his deeds and ways whether they are good or evil; not abandoning his soul to the danger of Avadon"

מתבונן ומפקח על מעשיו ודרכיו, הטובים הם אם לא, לבלתי עזוב נפשו לסכנת האבדון

what is this Avadon the author is referring to? Is this a reference to Gehinom? Or is it a general term for failure?

  • Vagrancy, consequently to disorientation
    – kouty
    Commented Nov 19, 2016 at 21:34
  • @kouty he compares it to a blind man walking on a riverbank. so in context it sounds quite serious
    – ray
    Commented Nov 19, 2016 at 21:47
  • What sort of evidence are you looking for in an answer?
    – mevaqesh
    Commented Nov 19, 2016 at 23:49
  • @mevaqesh anything which convincingly explains what is his intent here
    – ray
    Commented Nov 20, 2016 at 7:14
  • @ray So if I found someone who assumed one way, or assumed someone who assumed one way, would that not qualify, since it doesn't bring evidence?
    – mevaqesh
    Commented Nov 20, 2016 at 15:00

3 Answers 3


Sefer HaAruch defines אבדן as a composite of two words, אבא and דן. It means the source of all judgement, the highest and supreme level of judgement. In context, it would mean while you have the opportunity to mitigate judgement by reviewing your deeds and improving them, do so. Do not be apathetic, complacent or callous. Rather strive to improve.


The Ramchal writes elsewhere that Gehinom is a just a temporary cleansing process for the vast majority of souls, so it would seem to be inaccurate to describe it as "destruction". I believe that he also writes elsewhere (and also touches on it in the previous chapter) that a person's deeds in this world determine the wholeness of his soul and spiritual level in the next world, and that while the spiritual damage of misdeeds can be corrected through the cleansing of Gehinom, a lack of positive action/spiritual progress leads to a permanent lacking, for one can only actively improve his soul in this world. For example, if someone is tempted to transgress but he resists, it's not only that he avoids staining his soul; he actually elevates his soul. If he fails the test and transgresses, he has lost his opportunity to attain the higher level that was made available to him.

I would suggest that in this sense, lack of Zehirut leads to destruction: he hasn't become what he could have, his soul will always be 'missing' the part/level that could have been achieved, even after being cleansed in Gehinom.


found this in chapter 19

שאין הקב"ה חפץ באבדן הרשעים, אלא מצוה מוטלת על החסידים להשתדל לזכותם ולכפר עליהם

almost the same word. so perhaps its a reference to that.

also found the word with a vuv in mishlei which the vilna gaon says refers to the 7th level of Gehinom which is a one way ticket

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