Torah.org Home Subscribe Services Support Us
 
Print Version

Email this article to a friend

Ohr Yisrael: R’ Salanter’s Innovations (7)

People who strive for excellence of one sort or another sometimes despair or even lose hope. After all, they have their ideals of how things should be done, they strive for that, and (being the sort of people they are) they often succeed. But because they too have their limitations, they sometimes fail to a degree. When that happens more than they think it should, the light in their eyes and heart starts to dim, possibilities seem to wane, and they become dejected. That’s all the more so true of those who strive for spiritual excellence who have the loftiest of expectations and the most clear-cut vision of right and wrong.

R’ Salanter recognized all that and took pains to prevent it. He encouraged us all to indeed strive for spiritual excellence and to be idealistic, but he adjured us to remember that losing one’s perspective could be fatal for one’s basic spiritual well-being. So he offered the following,

We’re to know that change and achievement happens by degrees. As such, even if we’d have failed to make a particular trait a veritable, permanent part of our being, we’re to nevertheless know that something of that trait has already imprinted itself onto our soul in the process. Each concentrated effort to focus on a trait we’d like to adopt, and every attempt to focus on a detail of it and take it to heart, embeds itself into the heart and plants seeds (albeit slow growing seeds sometimes, the truth be known).

His further point is that in fact the effort is cumulative: each success builds on the ones before it, and the lot of them form a firm basis for change. And while the trait we want to assimilate may not yet have come to fruition, its opposite which we’d want to eradicate, would more likely than not have been undone (and so, for example, while I may not become the charitable person I want to be, I may very well be less and less harsh when asked for a contribution).


 

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 MASEI AND THE THREE WEEKS:

View Complete List

Vows: The Power of Speech
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5773

On the Road Again (to Repentance)
Shlomo Katz - 5762

On the Road of Life
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5761

Frumster - Orthodox Jewish Dating

Ramban: Why was Parshas Nedarim given over specifically to
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5771

Perceptions on the Parsha - Parshas Masei
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5765

To My Very Last Breath
Rabbi Label Lam - 5772

> Marriage Vows
Rabbi Yochanan Zweig - 5770

Personal Judge
Rabbi Yaakov Menken - 5762

Collateral Damage
Rabbi Mordechai Kamenetzky - 5762

Looking for a Chavrusah?

Forgotten Oaths
Rabbi Aron Tendler - 5764

How?
Rabbi Yisroel Ciner - 5761

The Age Of Experience
Rabbi Naftali Reich - 5772

ArtScroll

Rebuilding the Temple with Devotion
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5757

Events of the Past
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5772

9th of Av: Reasons for Fasting - Part 2
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5758

9th of Av: Reasons for Fasting - Part 1
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5758



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