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Preview: A Crisp Elul Morning

A Crisp Elul Morning

Hashkafa, Mussar, Kabbalah as set down first thing in the morning, with tea and low music.

Updated: 2014-03-19T17:35:07.192-04:00


Unaccustomed As I Am to Public Blogging …


I've been waiting a very long time to use that title; it seemed so appropriate for this blog which is isn't at all personal and bloggish. It's a shame it had to wait so long, and to make it into what's very likely my final entry here.The crisp Elul morning has turned old and cloudy, and it's now winter. The truth is that very few people read it (some regularly -- and you both know who you are …)

Messilas Yesharim (Yom Kippur, Sept. 22nd)


CHAPTER TWENTY-SIX (Continued):So you see, the way you obtain this trait is with a lot of abstention, with serious reflection upon the mysteries of G-d's great involvement in the world and the secrets of creation, and with the sure knowledge of G-d's exaltedness and praise. Only then will you have become attached to Him strongly and know how to concentrate your thoughts while moving through the

Messilas Yesharim (Fri., Sept. 21st)


CHAPTER TWENTY-SIX:Holiness is a two-fold matter: it begins in effort, and ends in recompense; and it begins in striving, and ends in being given as a gift. That is to say, its beginnings are your sanctifying yourself, and its conclusions are your being sanctified. Our sages referred to this when they said, "A person only has to sanctify himself a little and he is sanctified a lot-- he need only

Messilas Yesharim (Thurs., Sept. 20th)


CHAPTER TWENTY-FOUR (Continued):There are two subdivisions of this sort of fear: the first is in regard to the present moment and the future, and the second is in regard to the past. In regard to the present it implies that you should fear and worry about what you are doing or are about to, lest there be or come to be something in it that is not fitting for G-d's honor, as we have explained above

Messilas Yesharim (Wed., Sept. 19th)


CHAPTER TWENTY-THREE (Continued):Another deterrent to humility is the association with flatterers who steal your heart away with their praise. They will praise and exalt you for their own ulterior motives by expanding upon the good points you possess to the hilt, and then praise you unjustifiably in addition. And sometimes the very thing you are being praised for is what you should not be praised

"Eight Chapters" (Chapter Eight, Part 6)


“Spiritual Excellence” with Rabbi Yaakov FeldmanOur Current Text: Moshe Maimonides's (Rambam's) “Eight Chapters”-- Rabbi Feldman's ongoing series for**********************************************************"Eight Chapters"Chapter Eight (Part 6)Some believe that G-d compels each and every step we take; that “our rising up, our sitting down, and all our movements are dependent on G-d’s

Messilas Yesharim (Tues., Sept. 18th)


CHAPTER TWENTY-TWO (Continued):We have thus explicated the general aspects of modesty, but their particulars are so numerous that you must use your own judgment about them as the situation would indicate. (Proverbs 1:5) "Let the wise listen and take more." One thing is sure-- modesty removes many stumbling-blocks along the way, and brings you closer to the great good. The modest person is little

Messilas Yesharim (Mon., Sept. 17th)


CHAPTER TWENTY-TWO (Continued):To this point we have spoken about humility in our thoughts. We will now concentrate upon humility in our actions, which can be divided into four subsections: conducting oneself in a humble manner; enduring insults; detesting power and avoiding honor; and attributing honor to others.The first-- conducting oneself in a humble manner-- should show in your speech, the

Petach 2 (Part 3)


Klach Pitchei Chochma -- 138 Openings to WisdomBy Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzattoas adapted by Rabbi Yaakov Feldman----------------------------------------------------------------------------Petach One (Part 3)3.Now on to the role of wrong and injustice in the grand scheme of things.We’re liable to reason that since G-d is said to be utterly beneficent, and given that there’s nonetheless wrong and

Messilas Yesharim (Sun., Sept. 16th)


CHAPTER TWENTY-TWO:We have already spoken of the disgrace of arrogance, from which you can infer the praiseworthiness of humility. We will now focus more on humility itself and will, as a result, come to understand arrogance. The general rule in regard to humility is that you should not consider yourself important for whatever reason whatsoever. That is the very opposite of arrogance. What

Messilas Yesharim (Shabbos., Sept.15th)


CHAPTER TWENTY (Continued):You are duty-bound to follow the mitzvot as strictly as possible, no matter who is watching you as you do, and are to neither be afraid nor embarrassed. This is what the Torah means when it says, "I will speak of Your ordinances (even) before kings and will not be ashamed" (Psalms 119:46), and "Be as strong as a lion..." (Pirke Avot 5:23). But even this requires

Messilas Yesharim (2nd Day of Rosh Hashanna Fri., Sept.14th)


CHAPTER NINETEEN (Continued):Our sages said about the verse, "And I have come because of your words" (Daniel 10:12), that Gabriel did not go through the curtain again until he acted as an intercedant for Israel (Ain Yaakov, Yomah, Ch. 8). It is said that Gideon was allowed to "Go with this, your strength" (Judges 6:14) because he had acted as an intercedant for Israel (Yalkut Shimoni).G-d only

Messilas Yesharim (1st Day of Rosh Hashanna Thurs., Sept.13)


CHAPTER NINETEEN (Continued):The reason for this is obvious. One who loves his friend could never endure seeing him attacked or abused. He would certainly come to his aid. Likewise, one who truly loves G-d could never endure seeing His name being profaned, G-d forbid, or His commandments being overrun. Solomon was referring to this when he said, "Those who abandon Torah would praise the wicked,

Messilas Yesharim (Wed., Sept.12)


CHAPTER NINETEEN (Continued):One thing is certain: the love of G-d should not be the sort that is dependent upon something. It should not be that you love G-d because He has done good for you, given you wealth, or made you successful. It must be the kind of love a son has for his father-- a visceral love that just naturally overtakes you. The Torah refers to it when this when it says, "Is He not

Messilas Yesharim (Tues., Sept.11)


CHAPTER NINETEEN (Continued):Since it is clear that honoring the Sabbath is a mitzvah, and there are many ways to honor it, we should do anything that would bring out the importance of the Sabbath. The early sages would each prepare for the Sabbath in their own way. "Rabbi Abbahu would sit on a stool of ivory and stoke the fire; Rav Saffra would singe the head of a cow for the meal; Rava would

Messilas Yesharim (Mon. Sept. 10th)


CHAPTER NINETEEN (Continued):The second aspect of piety involves how actions are performed. This too can be divided into two aspects, which can themselves be further subdivided into many, many subsections. But the primary subsections would be reverence and love, the two pillars of true Divine service, without which there can be no content to the matter whatsoever. Under the heading of reverence

Petach 2 (Part 2)


Klach Pitchei Chochma -- 138 Openings to WisdomBy Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzattoas adapted by Rabbi Yaakov Feldman----------------------------------------------------------------------------Petach Two (Part 2)2.Ramchal first discusses the idea of wrongdoers having to suffer (even justifiably).He revealed elsewhere that G-d wants everyone to enjoy His benevolence in full [2] and that He takes no

Messilas Yesharim (Sun. Sept. 9th)


CHAPTER NINETEEN (Continued):Corporeally involves helping all people as much as possible and easing their burdens. This is what our sages were talking about when they referred to "bearing a friend's yoke with him" (Pirke Avot 6:6). And should any physical harm threaten to come to a person when you are able to defer or prevent it, you should try as much as you can to do so.Monetarily involves

Messilas Yesharim (Shabbos, Sept. 8th)


CHAPTER EIGHTEEN:Piety actually requires a lot of explanation. There are many people doing a lot of things in the name of piety which are in fact only pale and irreparably formless, shapeless shadows of the real thing. And that comes as a result of improper understanding and analysis on the part of the people who act this way. They have not bothered to delve deeply, with clarity and determination

Messilas Yesharim (Fri. Sept. 7th)


CHAPTER SIXTEEN (Continued):Just as a sacrifice is not acceptable on the altar unless it is of the finest flour that has been sifted through thirteen sieves and smelted of all dross (Menachot 76b), so too is it impossible to raise yourself upon the altar of His Will and be amongst the whole and choice servants of G-d without the choicest of actions-- those purified of all sorts of dross. But I am

"Fundamentals of the Jewish Faith" (Chapter Two, Part 6)


"Fundamentals of the Jewish Faith"An adaptation of Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzatto’s Ma’amar HaIkkurim-- Rabbi Yaakov Feldman's series on www.torah.org__________________________________________________"Fundamentals of the Jewish Faith"Chapter Two: The Spiritual World (Part 6)Most of us have barely an inkling of the depths of our souls. People think their souls are their hearts perhaps, or their

Messilas Yesharim (Thurs., Sept. 6th)


CHAPTER FIFTEEN:The best way to acquire abstinence is to realize the crassness of the pleasures of the world and their inherent inferiority, as well as the great bad that can so easily result from them. What inclines us towards these pleasures so much that we require a lot of strength and ingenuity to escape from them is their seductive powers. The eyes are seduced by things that seem to be good

Messilas Yesharim (Wed., Sept. 5th)


CHAPTER THIRTEEN (Continued):Should you ask, "If it is true that abstinence is such a necessary and important thing, then why didn't our sages institute more protective "fences" as they so often did?" The only clear and forthright response to this would be that our sages only instituted the sorts of protective fences the majority of the Jews could abide by (Baba Kamma 79b). Most people cannot be

Petach 2 (Part 1)


Klach Pitchei Chochma -- 138 Openings to WisdomBy Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzattoas adapted by Rabbi Yaakov Feldman----------------------------------------------------------------------------Petach Twoרצונו של המאציל ית"ש הוא רק טוב, ולכן לא יתקיים שום דבר אלא טובו. וכל מה שהוא רע בתחלה, אינו יוצא מרשות אחר ח"ו, שיוכל להתקיים נגדו, אלא סופו הוא טוב ודאי. ואז נודע שלא יש רשות אחר אלא הוא: The Emanator

Messilas Yesharim (Tues., Sept. 4th)


CHAPTER THIRTEEN (Continued):You will note that there are three levels of things to be avoided: those things actually forbidden by the Torah; the "fences", that is, the ordinances and preventive measures enacted by our sages for all of Israel; and the "safeguards", those optional prohibitions taken on as personal protective walls by anyone who wants to practice abstinence, which include those