Torah.org Home Subscribe Services Support Us
 
Print Version

Email this article to a friend

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

By Rabbi Yaakov Feldman

“Everything in this world is a product of cause and effect”, R’ Salanter points out in this letter (“all the way back” of course “to the original Cause, G-d Almighty”, he adds). We all know how true that is when it comes to the natural world, but we’d more likely succeed if we’d remember it when it comes to our spiritual growth, too, as we’ll see.

We know, for example, that we’re often personally motivated (i.e., caused) to succeed materially by some external prods, and that the more momentous the motivation, the greater the effect. So, let’s see how to take advantage of that spiritually.

R’ Salanter then returns here to the themes of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur that he’d addressed in his previous letter (since this one was also written at that time of the year). He says that the classical impetus and cause of change in that season has been the blowing of the Shofar. But since “our hearts are (so) unfeeling and as hard as stone”, in our day, that’s hardly enough to move us to Teshuvah. So, we’d do well to also make regular trips to a Mussar House and to study there assiduously in order to be prompted to repent. Doing that, “will yield significant and vital” results, as it would more likely touch the core and act as a strong motivation.

And he encourages us to especially study Mussar before Rosh Hashanah arrives and when we’re most especially advised to humble ourselves. His point is that it’s easy enough to become humble (as well as motivated to change) at that time when we consider that many people are apparently sentenced to die (G-d forbid) in the year ahead on Rosh Hashanah itself, since they die in the course of that year.

So, we should at least resolve to improve ourselves on some minimal level before approaching Yom Kippur by determining to study Mussar regularly and reflecting on where we need to improve ourselves at the very least.

Now, all of that’s true, but it might seem off-putting, the truth be known, and discouraging. Understanding that, R’ Salanter encourages us to never give up hope as “there’s no affliction as serious as despair” he underscores. So, in order to salvage our pride and sense of optimism about our spiritual stature “let’s try to to (at least) fulfill the mitzvos that are easy to, and avoid the sins that are easy to avoid”. And we will have succeeded on many levels that way.


 

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 VAYIGASH AND CHANUKAH:

View Complete List

O Chanukah, O Chanukah . . .
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5765

Royal Conflict
Rabbi Aron Tendler - 5760

Jewish Renewal and Resilience
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5773

ArtScroll

Analyzing The Imagery of A Familiar Chanukah Poem
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5765

Be Patient!
Shlomo Katz - 5761

Ruble Trouble
Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffmann - 5760

Looking for a Chavrusah?

The Real Story
Rabbi Yaakov Menken - 5763

Missing Persons
Rabbi Naftali Reich - 5767

The Hasmoneans Take a Stand: A History of Chanukah, Part II
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5774

> The Wagons That Yosef Sent
Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffmann - 5766

A Dialog That Got To The Heart of The Matter
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5762

From the Mouth of a "Turned Off" Student
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5759

Frumster - Orthodox Jewish Dating

Thanks for What?
Shlomo Katz - 5774

Straightening Out The Cause And The Effect
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5773

To Fergin or Forget
Rabbi Yochanan Zweig - 5774

Connecting with the Avos - One Foot in the Grave
Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffmann - 5765



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