Torah.org Home Subscribe Services Support Us
 
Print Version

Email this article to a friend

Ohr Yisrael: R’ Salanter’s Innovations (5)

There’s simply no comparison between regular, lengthy, in-depth study and the occasional, quick, superficial kind. Of course, sometimes we don’t have a choice, as reality always beckons and we often have to settle for the less-than-ideal. Nevertheless, R’ Salanter emphasized that we would have to set aside a specific amount of time to delve seriously into Mussar works if we’re to really benefit from it.

Many of us set aside specific times -- early in the morning, perhaps, before the day begins, in the course of the day here and there, or at the end of day -- to delve into Talmud, Halacha, Tanach, Jewish Thought, and more. R’ Salanter’s innovation was to suggest that we set aside regular times for serious and prolonged Mussar study, too.

That hadn’t been done until his time: some who’d be inclined would pick up a Mussar work at random when they were unable to study anything else, others would delve into favorite Mussar books in the course of the month of Elul or the Days of Atonement, others would be moved to delve into them when approaching milestones in their lives (like marriage, childbirth, or the like), or just on a whim. But R’ Salanter’s point was that if we’re ever to grow we’d need to delve into such works regularly, seriously, and at length.

There are a couple instances when we’re resistant to Mussar study, R’ Blazer pointed out, citing R’ Salanter’s teaching. Sometimes we lapse into certain sins so often and with such abandon that the sins themselves “numb the heart and turn it to stone”. That’s to say that our growing blasé about the sin on one level, but also knowing only too well how wrong it is in our hearts, throws us into such a state of inner conflict that we just close ourselves off to what we’re doing in self-defense.

Here’s what someone in that state would have to do even before approaching the Mussar works that would help, R’ Salanter points out. He’d have to delve into regular Torah study beforehand and pray to G-d for help “in a spirit of humility and submission”. That will “soften one’s heart and enable him to be touched” by what the Mussar works he’d then delve into would teach him, R’ Salanter assures us.

The other instance in which we’d be resistant to serious Mussar study would be when we’re so consumed by business or professional interests that we’d imagine we simply haven’t the time to study Mussar. Such a person should set aside time on Shabbos for Mussar study, R’ Salanter suggests, when he’d already be away from the pressures of work. And he should take some time -- even not a lot of it -- in the course of the week to review what he’d concentrated on the previous Shabbos. That would solidify the ideas he’d dwelt on already and implant them in his heart.


 

Text Copyright © 2010 by Rabbi Yaakov Feldman and Torah.org

Rabbi Feldman's new book, Bachya Ibn Pakuda's The Duties of the Heart, is now available! Order Now


 






ARTICLES ON SHOFTIM AND ELUL / ROSH HASHANAH:

View Complete List

Everything Depends on Our Teshuvah
Rabbi Label Lam - 5773

Beware Of Your Own Motives
Rabbi Aron Tendler - 5763

Playing Fair
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5761

Looking for a Chavrusah?

Self Cancellation
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5763

Tuff Trust Tuff Love
Rabbi Aron Tendler - 5765

Seeing G-d's Imprint on Creation
Rabbi Yosef Kalatzky - 5762

> Mankind's Song
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5764

To Crown a King
Shlomo Katz - 5767

Sound of the Unheard Shofar
Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffmann - 5764

Frumster - Orthodox Jewish Dating

The Law and Beyond
Shlomo Katz - 5765

A Page Out of Tanach
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5766

Rosh Hashana and the Kiss of Life
Rabbi Naftali Reich - 5772

ArtScroll

A Time of Introspection
Rabbi Dovid Green - 5759

Spiritual Climates
Shlomo Katz - 5773

Justice or Fancy?
Rabbi Aron Tendler - 5759

That Ancient Memory
Rabbi Label Lam - 5771



Project Genesis

Torah.org Home


Torah Portion

Jewish Law

Ethics

Texts

Learn the Basics

Seasons

Features

TORAHAUDIO

Ask The Rabbi

Knowledge Base




Help

About Us

Contact Us



Free Book on Geulah!




Torah.org Home
Torah.org HomeCapalon.com Copyright Information