Skip to main content

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.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Thought for the Day: Thanking HaShem Each and Every Day for Solid Land Near Water

Each and every morning, a Jew is supposed to view himself as a new/renewed creation, ready for a new day of building his eternal self through Torah and mitzvos.  We begin the day with 16 brachos to praise/thank/acknowledge HaShem for giving us all the tools we need to succeed.  We have a body, soul, and intellect.  We have vision, mobility, and protection from the elements.  Among those brachos, we have one that perhaps seems a bit out of place: רוקע הארץ על המים/Who spreads out the land on/over the water.  After all, it's nice to have a dry place to walk, but does that compare to the gratitude I have for a working body and vision?  As it turns out, I should; as explained by the R' Rajchenbach, rosh kollel of Kollel Zichron Eliyahu (aka, Peterson Park Kollel).  Your best bet is to listen to the shiur; very distant second is to continue, which I hope will whet your appetite for the real thing.

First... since we have dry land, I don't have to slog to work through even a foot…

Thought for the Day: Using a Mitzvah Object for Non-Mitzvah Purposes

As I am -- Baruch HaShem -- getting older, I am more cognizant of the fact that I'd like to stay as healthy as possible right up the moment I leave this world.  Stuff hurting is not the problem (I am told there is an old Russian saying that once you are 40, if you wake up and nothing hurts -- you're dead), stuff not working, however, is a problem.  To that end, for several years now I commute to work by bicycle (weather permitting, 30 minutes on an elliptical machine when weather does not permit).  I recently took up some upper body weight training.  Not because I want to be governor of California, just simply to slow down loss of bone mass and extend my body's healthy span.  Simple hishtadlus.  I have an 18 month old grandson who is just the right weight for arm curls (yes... I am that weak), so I do about 10 reps when I greet him at night.  He laughs, I get my exercise; all good.  (Main problem is explaining to the older ones why zeidy can't give them the same "…

Thought for the Day: Hydroponically Grown Humans... I Feel Sick

I am quite openly not at all objective about abortion in particular and the treatment of human embryos and fetuses in general.  I am, after all, the survivor of a failed abortion attempt.  Not "thought about it, but couldn't go through with it"; not "made appointment, but then chickened out at the lost moment"; but, "tried a procedure, but was unsuccessful in attempt to abort".  Nonetheless, I try very hard to listen to the liberal arguments (which I also used to chant as part of the general liberal catechism), and am genuinely empathetic to the plight of women who find themselves in that difficult position.

What I heard on NPR this morning, however, has left me feeling physically ill.  You can read about it, if you like, but here's the bottom line:  Scientists in Cambridge have achieved a new record, they fertilized a human ova and then kept it alive in vitro (that is, in a test tube/petri dish in a laboratory) for 14 days.  The scientist involve…