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Thought for the Day: Importance of Learning Musser Daily

When I was first diagnosed with cancer 18 years ago, the doctors didn't know exactly what flavor of cancer it was.  For a week I knew that I had cancer but didn't know what the course of treatment was going to be; that was a very distressing week.  I actually had to be admitted to the hospital to get things moving.  The doctors finally got the information they needed and described to my wife and myself (in broad strokes) what was going to happen.  I let them cut into me, remove parts of me, embed stuff in me, and inject me with strong poison for three months.  (You can call it medicine if you prefer, but the game of chemotherapy is really to try to kill the cancer before killing the patient.)   Why in the world would anyone allow all that to be done to themselves?  The answer is obvious, there is no rational alternative.  Cancer is cancer and this was the cure.  What's the question?

Rochel Imeinu gave over secret signs to Leah Imeinu so that Leah should not suffer embarrassment.  When Yaakov Avinu discovered in the morning that he had been swindled by Lavan,  and then was put in a position of having to work yet another seven years; what was his response?  Yaakov Avinu worked the next seven years with the same faithfulness, honesty, and reliability that he had worked the first seven years.  When Rochel later asked Leah for some of the duda'im that Reuvein had collected, Leah asked in amazement, "You took my husband and now you want my son's duda'im?!"  Rochel's response?  She simply admitted that she had overstepped and made amends.  In fact, despite all the external deception, everyone lived in amazing harmony.  The only jealousy was by Rochel Imeinu, who was jealous of her sister's righteousness; and her response to that was to strive to be even more righteous herself (kinus sofrim).

How do people do that?  The answer is: they had absolute clarity that HaShem was running the world and that the Torah is a perfect description of reality.  If revenge or even holding a grudge is assur, then the Avos would no more do that than I would jump off a 10 story building.  If a situation required them to suffer a difficult situation, then they did.  Reality is reality and this was HaShem's plan.  What's the question?

Learning mussar is simply (ha!) clarifying reality.  Once a person has clarity and knows there is no room for doubt, he can with endure and even grow from any situation.  We live in a world of illusion and trickery, but the Torah gives us the vision to see through all that and see the true reality.  That intellectual knowledge has to become an internal certainty.  The only way to get that is constant review of the truth and constant work to see things as they are.

As the Mesilas Y'sharim puts it: it is a lot of work to see things properly, but it's not hard.  Just do it.

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