Monthly Archive: כ״ד בשבט תשס״ח – January 31, 2008

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What is Mussar?

Rav Yisrael Salanter’s 125th yahrzeit begins tonight (25 Shevat), and while searching for grist for that mill for an appropriate entry, some Avodah discussion sparked some thoughts. Foundation Stories There are two foundation stories about the birth of the Mussar Movement (which should not be confused with mussar as a whole). The first is where a young Yisrael Lipkin used...

0

Why I’m a Man

My son Shuby said something interesting to me over lunch today. Shuby is a very cute nine-year-old little boy with Downs. His ability to actually articulate the words isn’t caught up with his ability to decide what to say, so our conversations involve some checking what he was trying to say, some signing, etc… After I gave him his food,...

0

Perishus

It is difficult to understand the exact limits of perishus (restraint) by looking at the relevent chapters of Mesilas Yesharim. (In all of the following, I am using quotes from the on-line copy of the translation by R’ Aryeh Kaplan.) In the third sentence or so of chapter 13: The rationale of Separation is epitomized in the words of our...

5

Prayers and Requests

Yaaqov avinu lying on his deathbed, tells his son Yoseif: וַֽאֲנִ֞י נָתַ֧תִּֽי לְךָ֛ שְׁכֶ֥ם אַחַ֖ד עַל־אַחֶ֑יךָ אֲשֶׁ֤ר לָקַ֨חְתִּי֙ מִיַּ֣ד הָֽאֱמֹרִ֔י בְּחַרְבִּ֖י וּבְקַשְׁתִּֽי׃ Also, I gave you one portion (or perhaps, “one thing, [the city of] Shechem”) beyond that of your brothers, which I took from the control of the Emori — becharbi uvqashti — with my sword and with my...

2

Neither Random nor Predetermined

Free Will is difficult to define. We’re saying that people make choices that are neither predetermined by outside causes, and yet non-random. Moshe Koppel, in his book “Metahalakhah” proves that such a domain exists, but without showing us what that domain might contain. A random sequence is one whose next element is not predictable given the sequence’s history so far....

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Rav Dessler: 25 Teves

Today (25 Teves 5714, 1964CE) is Rav Eliyahu Eliezer Dessler’s yahrzeit. Rav Dessler (or REED, as he is called on Avodah) was a paragon of Kelm Mussar, who was willing to merge that worldview with Chassidus and the philosophy of his era. In particular from Qabbalah-influenced paths, we see the influence of the Maharal and the Tanya. Rav Dessler himself...