Rambam stresses in the fifth chapter of Shemoneh Perakim that one should always be focused on the goal of contemplating God to the best of human ability, directing all of one’s pursuits towards that goal.
On one hand, this single-mindedness might imply a sparse, minimalist existence, cutting out any type of physical enjoyment. On the other hand, Rambam goes on to explain that physical pleasures do have their uses.
For instance, he writes that a person with the right focus will not be inclined towards luxuries such as decorating his house or garments with gold trimmings *unless* the goal is to offer the soul a rest from intellectual complexity.
Beautiful things, Rambam says, might be shallow and meaningless – but not always. Appreciating beauty has the capacity (within reason) to broaden and nourish the soul, helping achieve clarity and the ability to engage in the pursuit of wisdom.
A Tuesday TorahTutors Tidbit: Real Torah, from real TorahTutors sessions.