Tuesday, 28 March 2017
The Messilat Yesharim - Path of the Just - is a classic work in Mussar written by Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzato (known as the RaMCHaL - an acronym of his name)(1707-1747)
In it, Rabbi Luzzato - who was just 40 years old when he died - outlines the steps necessary to master working on one's character traits. In fact Rabbi Luzzato had other ideas when he wrote the work, allowing the student to work his way through the steps involved in sanctifying oneself to the very highest of levels.
The Vilna Gaon - Rabbi Eliyahu Kramer (1720-1797) said of this book that the the author had not so much as added one superfluous word in his work. He also said that had the author been alive at the time he had accessed the book - he would have walked on foot from Vilna to Padua Italy (the place of the RamCHaL) just in order to sit at the feet of this extraordinary man and learn from him directly.
Amazing and powerful words from someone considered the leading rabbinical authority in the Lithuanian world - of world Jewry.
If you've wondered what this book is all about and wanted to learn it in further depth, together with an opportunity to discuss the topics and subjects covered, book a time to learn with me online using Skype and webcam.
It never ceases to amaze me that a book that can change one's entire life around - for the good - can be obtained for the low cost of just $20!
I'd like to share some other books with you too and should you find one that interests you, please contact me so that we can learn them together!
For more about learning opportunities with me see my main pages about learning together:
Please let your friends know. I love learning and teaching - and this is really my main path in life. By learning with me - supporting me - you take an active part in allowing me to continue this path - as much as you take an active part in supporting the study of Torah.
Friday, 17 March 2017
Tuesday, 28 February 2017
It's a famous expression - "just be a good person." Some people like saying it, because - strangely - it exempts them from performing practically any of the mitzvot (commandments) of the Torah. After all, once one is a good person, does one really need to perform G-d's commandments? Many feel that they already know what it means to be a good person in the world. Personally, I have often wondered what people mean by this. Do they ever speak about others? Do they disturb others' peace? Will they insult someone "for their good"? Tough Love after all! Now that is what being a good person could also be about! When confronted - will they acknowledge that what they thought was good - may well have hurt another - perhaps even destroyed their life!
Actually, most people don't actually go by any standard when it comes to "being a good person." They make it up as they go along - as to what they consider to be good! One person's good - is another's actual pain! Try asking someone what they feel to be the good they need - and one may find that it differs quite substantially from the good one feels one is actually giving!
The Torah provides the most objective view of what goodness is because it is a teaching which extends through every generation - for every single person. It reaches to the Jew as much as to the non-Jew - though the non-Jew need not observe all its commandments. In fact, it makes for a better world of goodness for everyone when one observes what one must. Let us not speak about "man-made" laws. Rather, let us speak about the objectivity of the Torah - which in essence allows one to express one's individuality within the boundaries of the Torah.
One becomes holy. One learns humility. One learns about the other - as much as one learns about oneself! His/her needs - as much as one's own! The beauty is its flexibility for the individual which allows for movement - within the realm of good. There is no one standard for everyone - but there is a level of good that exists on whatever level one finds oneself. Good - however, comes from understanding the values of the Torah - not from inventing in one's own mind what good actually is. As the Torah teaches, when one is cruel when one should be kind, one will be kind when one should be "cruel".
Much like a child must be completely prepared to hear from the teacher what the letters of the Alphabet are, before they can read - trusting the teacher no matter what they say - so too does one need to see and realise the value of the truth of the Torah as a basic standard - before one embarks on the process of growth and real learning.
Rabbi David Aaron shares a beautiful idea in animated form - so that we can see the difference between what we consider our own understanding of morality in life - and what the Torah wants from us - to be holy.