Friday, June 08, 2007


When reading the advice of people greater than me
I wonder...

Why bother?
Is he talking to me?
I am so far removed from that, it isn't even practical!

Then I remember...
We are all on a journey
to the same place.

We may not be at the same point
but if I make sure to stay on the same road
as those who are where I'd like to be
then I'm going in the right direction.

The actual examples in the mussar books don't relate to me so well, but if I read and learn from them I can make sure to take steps that will put me on that path.

Bon voyage!


socialworker/frustrated mom said...

Nice, I agree, great to be able to take from a message even if it's not talking directly from you.

The Dreamer said...

true,, if only i can learn to actually take the advice of others...

David_on_the_Lake said...

so true..
O also say..its not where you are right now..its what direction are you travelling in..and thats where the mussar books come in..they show you the right direction..and if the coordinates are right..youll make it there at your pace..

Mel said...

This is actually a very interesting topic.

Rav Chaim Kanievsky writes in the introduction to his sefer Orchos Yoshar (my favorite sefer of all time.), " mussar constantly changes with the times, and each generation has new challenges and needs different mussar. However since he is not worthy of giving mussar to our generation, he instead compiled different divrei chazal on various mussar topics which serves as the source of all mussar and is intended to be understood by each generation as they relate to it. "

There is a psak which states that learning mussar is considered bitul torah. However, it is necessary to encourage future learnings.
I asked a rebbi of mine what this was refering to and he told me that back in the day, several hundred years ago, prior to Rav Moshe Chaim Luzzatto, the mussar sefarim talked of fire and brimstone, this type of mussar was considered bitul torah.

However, today the mussar sefarim are mostly compilations of divrei chazal and would therefore be considered learning torah.

My point is that mussar is constantly adapting to the times, and if you cant relate to something, that is a natural occurence, and you should try to find mussar which you do relate to., or try to understand the mussar as it would relate to you.

Mussar can become obsolete, and that is ok. Because the source (the torah) remains constant.

My personal theory on mussar is that it doesnt matter what you learn, and how relevant it is to you. Just the action of investing time into yourself and personal development makes you more aware of your every action, leading you to be a better person.

Like the Mesilas Yesharim writes in his introduction, " Most of these concepts are not novel, they just need reminders." you know most of things you need to know, it is just a matter of actively being aware of it.

In Rab Chaim Kanievsky's introduction he mentions that four things need constant reminders and chizzuk. Torah, Tefila, Derech Eretz, and Gemilas Chasadim." He I believe was quoting a mishna or a gemara somewhere.

Either way, all the best, and keep on shteiging that is the key.

Like Rav Leizer ginsburg used to say, " Life is liking climbing a down escalater. So long as you move up you are ok. The moment you stop climbing upwards though, you begin to fall." you are either growing, or falling.

Bas~Melech said...

SWFM -- Thanks for agreeing; I love validation :)

Dreamer -- I just couldn't help noticing... In almost every comment you make on other people's blogs, you end with an "if only" or "I wish" type of statement. I'm not sure whether this is a good thing, because you have an eye on reaching higher, or a negative thing, because you indicate that you're not good enough yet. When I read it, I tend to think it's not a healthy thing, but I could be wrong. Just noticing.

DOT -- That's exactly what I was trying to say.

Mel -- Thank you for adding to my point. You also reminded me that my point was made also in the introduction to Mesilat Yesharim (Path of the Just), which I had forgotten about because I haven't read it in so long: Ramcha"l says that he takes the sefer all the way up to the level of ruach hakodesh, even though this is nearly impossible to attain, but nevertheless a person should keep reading it even if he gets to a step that he hasn't mastered yet, and keep reading the whole book over and over again, to keep him focused on what he can still become, to keep him aiming higher.