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Thought for the Day: You Have to Learn How to Love and Fear HaShem in Order to Love and Fear HaShem

I read this once in Reader's Digest, so I know it is true.  At the end of a class teaching chess to adults, the instructor said, "You know know as much about chess as Bobby Fischer.  On the other hand, you you also know as much about the alphabet as Shakespeare did."

The M'silas Yesharim introduces his 10 step plan to ru'ach ha'kodesh with a warning that one will get very little out of a single reading of his sefer as he have very little say that is not already well known.  Who doesn't know that reverence for avodas HaShem, loving HaShem, fear of punishment, etc. are absolutely fundamental concepts?  With every recitation of the Sh'ma we reiterate:
You shall love HaShem your G-d with all your heart, soul, and resources.... Be very careful (ie, reverent and fearful) lest your yeitzer hara lead you to stray...
Besides Sh'ma, our p'sukei d'zimra are filled with phrases of love for HaShem, HaShem's greatness and kindness, and how we -- Klal Yisrael -- are on a mission to live that reality and bring the message of HaShem's presence to the world.

With all that, why, then, did the Ramchal write M'silas Yesharim?  It's the very fact that these obligations and ideas are so well known.  Not only that, but the words used for those concepts are words we use in every day language.  "You shall love HaShem your G-d."; "I love ice cream."  "Serve HaShem with fear."; "I'm afraid I can't help you right now."  So saying we know about love and fear for HaShem is like walking into a top accounting firm and applying for a partner position because you know arithmetic.  [Imagine the interview: "So, Mr. Allen, you feel you are qualified for to be a partner?"  "Sure!  I know how to both add and subtract; that's pretty much it, isn't it?"]

There is more to accounting than adding and subtracting; and there is more to avodas HaShem than "I love ice cream."  Moreover, R' Avigdor Miller in his forward to the Feldheim edition, notes that there are an abundance of novel thoughts and concepts in every chapter.  R' Miller goes further and states that learning M'silas Yesharim for its Torah content alone (and not as a playbook to self perfection) is as good as learning any of the works of the acharonim.

All that makes M'silas Yesharim a great place to start in your daily mussar learning; as the Mishna Brura paskens is your obligation.  There's no time like the present.


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