Todays eMussar Lesson 12th Tishrei, 5771

Todays eMussar Lesson

eMussar – The Wisdom of Personal Growth
A daily inspirational, concise idea, with a suggested action.

True Love

THE AGADAH OF THE TALMUD

Rabbi Akiva taught that the verse, “Love your friend, like you love yourself,” is the primary axiomatic principle of the Torah. That is, love of others is the root of the Torah, from which all of its branches extend. Love of our fellow man is the core that powers every Mitzvah and its fulfillment.

The Alter of Kelm, Rabbi Simcha Zissel, offers a beautiful explanation of this verse. The verse tells us to “Love your friend, like you love yourself.” Therefore, in order to love others, you must love them in the same way that “you love yourself.”

A person naturally loves himself. He doesn’t need the Torah to command him to love himself. Just as we naturally love ourselves, the Torah instructs us to love others “naturally.” That is, he should not love them only because the Torah commands us to love them. No one wants to be “loved” by order of the Torah, because forced love is not sincere love.

Therefore, loving others is the one Mitzvah that should not be performed as “a Mitzvah.” Meaning we shouldn’t say, I love him because the Torah commands me to love him.” Rather, just as we automatically love ourselves, we should see the good in our friends and love them automatically – and naturally.

TODAY: Fulfill the axiomatic principle of the Torah by loving others – naturally.

By Rabbi Zvi Miller.

New Blog Post: TESHUVAH: THE MOVIE IN MY MIND One Day of Teshuva for A Year of Aveiras

Daily eMussar

Salant Foundation’s eMussar(sm) gives you a piece of practical wisdom and perspective for your daily life…in just 3 or 4 minutes a day!

These practical character enhancement and personal growth tools stay impact your mind and your character….and you’ll likely have a chance to try out these inspiring insights and lessons almost every day.

Just so you know, “mussar” is the traditional name for the teaching of character development and personal growth. And Salant Foundation’s eMussar delivers this perspective to you every day via e-mail.

It’s FREE…so why not sign up now, please send email to salant@netvision.net.il or to salantorg@gmail.com

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Special Yom Kippur Issue 9th Tishrei, 5771

Todays eMussar Lesson

eMussar – The Wisdom of Personal Growth
A daily inspirational, concise idea, with a suggested action.

September 17, 2010

Teshuva: The Movie in My Mind

BY JUNE SILNY

The lights dim, there is no music, there is no sound. I stand as I watch the movie in front of me…. the movie in my mind. The sun rises and the day is new. The morning light comes shining through the colored glass windows. The cast is numerous. There are so many people standing around me, encircling me as if I am held captive by a tribe of natives in the jungle. I stand in the center and slowly turn- looking at them, one by one. Some are in the background that appear as a blur. But mostly, all I can see are the faces of those closest to me, close to my heart… the ones I love. At first glance, I see their precious smile. But, as I look closer, I catch a glimpse of hurt in their eyes. All I can think of is… what I did. Are they remembering those words that slipped out of my mouth before I could stop them? Did the advice of my heart turn to criticism- coming through in harsh words of judgment- ending up crushing their spirit? I can’t remember if I told them know how much I love them. I think I did, but I’m not really sure. I know I was busy and may have put them aside. Maybe I was too consumed with myself. Was I thinking only of “me” when I should have been thinking of them? As I look back, it all looks so different from here.

Suddenly, a cyclonic wind comes out of nowhere. My vision is blurred from the sand and dirt of the blowing wind. As I gain clarity, I can see the letters of the aleph beis flying wildly through the air. My arms are flailing like the wings of a baby bird taking its first flight as I try to grab them. The strangest feeling comes over me. It’s as if I can feel the letters coming from inside of me. The aleph beis- all the letters- the spiritual molecules of my soul.

Then, it came to me… I know what’s happening! I realized what caused this! I sinned with the words that came from my tongue! I spoke lashon hara. I sinned using those holy letters. All the letters are escaping, the very holiness of my Jewish soul. Then, it begins… I hear the steady beating sound of a drum. Then I realize, it’s the sound of my own fist beating my chest- slow and solid- I hear the percussion of the rhythm- Ashamnu, Bagadnu, Gazalnu, Dibarnu Dofi….

With each beat comes a letter of the aleph beis…
א- Ashamnu– I know that I have sinned, I now recognize my sin;
ב- Bagadnu– I have betrayed by being ungrateful. I didn’t repay The One who has given me so much;
ג- Gazalnu– I have stolen something that cannot be touched with the hand but only felt with the heart;
ד- Dibarnu Dofi– I have misused the precious gift of speech that was given to me for Torah and mitzvot.

Each letter- all of them, from א to ת- one by one, I am able to grasp them as they fly by; I have caused perversion, wickedness, extortion, false accusations, evil counsel, deceit, scorn, rebellion, provoked and I turned away. I have been perverse, deliberate and unprovoked, persecuted and been obstinate, wicked and corrupt. I have strayed from my holy path by letting the yetzer hara take me away from it. Saddest of all- I have misused the blessing of free will- the opportunity to be close to Hashem. How could I, when I had the chance to be close, and yet I chose to move away in the other direction?

I struggle to grasp each letter as it circles overhead. The thoughts of these sins can overwhelm me. I must navigate my way through so that I can stay on the holy path. I must keep my eyes up while my head is bowed down.

My heart is pounding in parallel beats to the sounds on my chest- the metronome of my heart- I close my eyes and listen. In an instant, four animals appear- a leopard, an eagle, a deer and a lion. They appear to tell me something, there is a message in their presence. They are the symbols of how I should be.
I carefully examine the traits of each one…
Bold as a leopard, light as an eagle, swift as a deer, strong as a lion.
Bold as a leopard
I must move myself forward with the boldness of a leopard; to have the will, the desire, motivation and excitement to allow me to take the leap.
Light as an eagle
Large, powerful, heavy and broad winged it flies through the air -light as a feather, carrying its heavy load as if it is weightless.
Swift as a deer
With its lithe, compact body and long, powerful legs it is able to swiftly jump over and through the most rugged terrain.
STRONG AS A LION
The strongest of all species, the ruler of the animal kingdom, symbol of the Holy City. I know there is a lion in me.

Thoughts of the animals get me through my sins; keeping me safe, far away from my evil inclination, focused and grounded as I continue to travel straight on the directed path.

The winds have subsided. A calm comes over me.
Slowly, I can feel myself coming together again. With each pound on my chest, I can feel the letters return to their home, right where they belong inside my soul. All the atoms and molecules coming together- making me whole and holy again.

In the background, I hear a new sound, a gentle chant. Listening closer, I can make out the words…..
she’ha-kol niheye bidvoro. The sounds are soothing and bring me peace. Again, I hear it…
she-ha-kol niheye bidvoroEverything that comes into the world is from the word of HaShem.
As long as I keep chanting these holy words, I know my sins will be forgiven. If I repeat these words every time I eat or drink, I know I will be able to free myself. I know HaShem wants me to come closer- I know He is there for me- with His endless kindness, compassion and mercy. If I know everything is from Him and remind myself of that daily-then, dovek (cleaving) I will be.

The day is drawing to a close. The afternoon light has changed direction. The colored glass from above is shining down, lighting the ground below. Standing tall and straight, empty of food and physical distractions, feeling like an angel- I look up and can feel the waters from Shemayim coming down washing over me…. HaShem is putting me in His mikveh. Even if I committed aveiras, I know HaShem will forgive me, rectify me and purify me now on this Holiest of Days. HASHEM IS MY MIKVEH!

The sun is setting. Night draws near.
HASHEM, HASHEM- Compassionate and Gracious,
Slow to Anger and Abundant in Kindness and Truth,
Preserver of kindness for thousands,
Forgiver of iniquity, willful sin and error
THE ONE WHO CLEANSES.

Next year in Jerusalem!

May we all be cleansed in HaShem’s mikveh with blessings for the new year!
May we be written and sealed in the Book of Life for a good year!
Wishing you a meaningful, easy fast.

* This was based on a class given by Rabbi Zvi Miller for the Stepping Stones Elul Course.

For further information about SF Vaads, courses and classes:

Rabbi Zvi Miller, Dean of the Salant Foundation
salantorg@gmail.com
T 786 427 3364

June Silny, International SF Vaad Chairman
mussarvaad@gmail.com
T 305 773 1724

Hassid bar

Daily eMussar

Salant Foundation’s eMussar(sm) gives you a piece of practical wisdom and perspective for your daily life…in just 3 or 4 minutes a day!

These practical character enhancement and personal growth tools stay impact your mind and your character….and you’ll likely have a chance to try out these inspiring insights and lessons almost every day.

Just so you know, “mussar” is the traditional name for the teaching of character development and personal growth. And Salant Foundation’s eMussar delivers this perspective to you every day via e-mail.

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Todays eMussar Lesson 9th Tishrei, 5771

Todays eMussar Lesson

eMussar – The Wisdom of Personal Growth
A daily inspirational, concise idea, with a suggested action.

Standing Before the King

THE WISDOM OF THE TALMUD (BRACHOS 32B)

Once, a pious Jewish man was praying by the side of the road. A non-Jewish royal minister passed and greeted the man. However, the man, who was immersed in prayer, did not respond to the minister. The minister waited for him to complete his prayer and then proclaimed, “You fool! Doesn’t it say in your Torah, “Just protect your soul…” How dare you not return my greeting! What is to stop me from cutting off your head?”

“Please give me a minute to explain,” said the Jewish man. “Imagine that you were speaking to the king. As you are standing before the king, your friend passes by and greets you. Tell me, would you respond?”

“Certainly not,” answered the minister. “And if you would respond what would happen?” asked the Jewish man. “They would behead me with a sword,” replied the minister.

“We can draw the following logical conclusion from your own words,” asserted the Jewish man. “If you conduct yourself in this manner when conversing with an earthly king, who is here today and gone tomorrow; how much more so is it correct for me not to respond to a greeting, when praying before the King of Kings, the Holy One, Who is everlasting.
The minister immediately accepted the import of the Jewish man’s words and sent him home in peace.

Throughout the ages, the belief in G-d, the Creator of Heaven and earth, has been the incontrovertible cornerstone of our faith. In the face of every conceivable threat, the people of Israel have loyally upheld their faith. Even more, our faith in HaShem endures despite the unspeakable persecutions that we have suffered throughout our exile.

What makes us so steadfast in our conviction? Our sages of Mussar reveal that our deep-seated faith issues from a “Prophetic spirit” that rests in the heart of every Jewish person. Meaning, HaShem, in His compassion, has bestowed upon us the most precious gift – He has indelibly etched pure and lasting faith into our souls.

May our phenomenal ‘gift of faith,’ awaken the merit for us to experience an immediate and miraculous redemption.

TODAY: When you pray, remember that you are standing in front of the Eternal One, the King of Kings.

By Rabbi Zvi Miller.

New Blog Post: TESHUVAH: THE MOVIE IN MY MIND One Day of Teshuva for A Year of Aveiras

Hassid bar

Daily eMussar

Salant Foundation’s eMussar(sm) gives you a piece of practical wisdom and perspective for your daily life…in just 3 or 4 minutes a day!

These practical character enhancement and personal growth tools stay impact your mind and your character….and you’ll likely have a chance to try out these inspiring insights and lessons almost every day.

Just so you know, “mussar” is the traditional name for the teaching of character development and personal growth. And Salant Foundation’s eMussar delivers this perspective to you every day via e-mail.

It’s FREE…so why not sign up now, please send email to salant@netvision.net.il or to salantorg@gmail.com

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eMussar” Copyright © 2010 by Rabbi Zvi Miller
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Day Twenty Nine – The Book of Life 8th Tishrei, 5771

Todays eMussar Lesson

eMussar – The Wisdom of Personal Growth
A daily inspirational, concise idea, with a suggested action.

DAY TWENTY-NINE:
“THE BOOK OF LIFE”

“If a person desires to merit a virtuous life, he must act in a fair and upright fashion, and amass mitzvos and good deeds in order to counterbalance his many transgressions.
Yet, what can a person do, when he must face life’s vagaries each and every day?

It requires just a simple skill which involves neither clarity of mind nor a lengthy commitment. Let him repeat the Mussar teachings of Chazal several times, until the hispailus (emotional arousal) is awakened in his soul. (And even if it does not initially stir him to improve his ways, he is still considered as being inscribed in the Book of Life!) Since he is alive with feeling [the desire to change], he fulfills the verse (Koheles 9:4): “For he who is attached to all the living has hope,” and he is numbered amongst those who repent.”
(Ohr Yisrael, Letter 30, page 336-337)

Why should the study of Mussar, in and of itself, grant merit for a person to be inscribed in The Book of Life, even if he did not improve his actions?

If one endeavors to improve his conduct and character by virtue of Mussar study, even if he does not change his ways-he has initiated a dependable healing process within his soul. His effort to inculcate Mussar-and the internal impressions that resonate within his subconscious-are fully acknowledged by Heaven. Although he may not yet see the difference, his nature is continuously changing and improving-with the same certainty that an impression is made when water continuously flows over rock.

Moreover, while the curative power of any other medicine is not absolute i.e. maybe it will heal, maybe it will not-the curative powers of Mussar are absolute and effective. What’s more, the healing power of Mussar not only heals the soul, it actually imparts life, as King Solomon declared (Mishlei 4:13): “Strengthen your grasp on Mussar, do not weaken your grip; protect it, for Mussar is your life.”

Therefore, if a person studies Mussar, whether or not there is an obvious change in his conduct, he has injected his soul with a surefire remedy. Mussar is life itself! In light of this, HaShem will inscribe his name in The Book of Life!

Implementation: You are learning Mussar-and as you are learning–visualize your name being inscribed in The Book of Life.

By Rabbi Zvi Miller.

Hassid bar

Daily eMussar

Salant Foundation’s eMussar(sm) gives you a piece of practical wisdom and perspective for your daily life…in just 3 or 4 minutes a day!

These practical character enhancement and personal growth tools stay impact your mind and your character….and you’ll likely have a chance to try out these inspiring insights and lessons almost every day.

Just so you know, “mussar” is the traditional name for the teaching of character development and personal growth. And Salant Foundation’s eMussar delivers this perspective to you every day via e-mail.

It’s FREE…so why not sign up now, please send email to salant@netvision.net.il or to salantorg@gmail.com

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eMussar” Copyright © 2010 by Rabbi Zvi Miller
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Todays eMussar Lesson 8th Tishrei, 5771

Todays eMussar Lesson

eMussar – The Wisdom of Personal Growth
A daily inspirational, concise idea, with a suggested action.

A Prescrption for Spiritual Survival

FAITH AND TRUST IN HASHEM

The prophet, Habakkuk, condensed the entire Torah into one principle, “The righteous live by virtue of their faith in HaShem.”

Yet, how can the entire Torah – the Chumash, Talmud, Midrash, etc. – be represented by one simple axiom?

Shimon was onboard a ship that was caught in a great storm. As powerful winds and crashing waves pounded the ship, Shimon was thrown overboard into the churning sea. As he fought for his life, he noticed a tree growing far away from him. Shimon swam with all of his strength towards the tree. Finally, he grasped a branch of the tree and held on for dear life.

The people of our generation are challenged by great spiritual tests and trials. “Winds” of unimaginable force and “tremendous waves” bombard us from every side. Yet, HaShem has sent us a lifesaving message, through Habakkuk, “The righteous live by the virtue of their faith in HaShem.”

The tree in the parable represents the Torah – the Tree of Life. Trust in HaShem is the very root of the Torah. Just as Shimon grasped the branch in order to survive, so too, if we grasp the branch of TRUST IN HASHEM we will survive the great tests of life.

When we grasp the branch of Trust in HaShem, we connect to HaShem and Torah – the true lifeline of our souls!
[Based on the writings of the Chofetz Chaim]

TODAY: Grasp the branch of trust in HaShem, and connect to eternal life!

By Rabbi Zvi Miller.

New Blog Post: SCALES OF JUSTICE

Hassid bar

Daily eMussar

Salant Foundation’s eMussar(sm) gives you a piece of practical wisdom and perspective for your daily life…in just 3 or 4 minutes a day!

These practical character enhancement and personal growth tools stay impact your mind and your character….and you’ll likely have a chance to try out these inspiring insights and lessons almost every day.

Just so you know, “mussar” is the traditional name for the teaching of character development and personal growth. And Salant Foundation’s eMussar delivers this perspective to you every day via e-mail.

It’s FREE…so why not sign up now, please send email to salant@netvision.net.il or to salantorg@gmail.com

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eMussar” Copyright © 2010 by Rabbi Zvi Miller
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Day Twenty Eight – Divine Assistance 7th Tishrei, 5771

Todays eMussar Lesson

eMussar – The Wisdom of Personal Growth
A daily inspirational, concise idea, with a suggested action.

DAY TWENTY-EIGHT:
“DIVINE ASSISTANCE”

“In turn, this will bring upon him the following blessing: “One who strives to purify himself is granted Divine assistance.” He will then ascend from level to level in fulfillment of Torah and mitzvos – even in the difficult aspects, which will benefit him-the “self”-in the World to Come.” (Ohr Yisrael, Letter Six, Page 187)

How will fulfillment of the easy aspects facilitate his eventual fulfillment of the difficult aspects?

Rav Yisrael concludes his masterful exposition of preparing for Yom Kippur through Mussar study with yet one more sparkling diamond. In a previous segment, Rav Yisrael presented two concepts concerning our fulfillment of Divine service. Both of these approaches to serving HaShem are “in our control”:

“The first one is that at all times; every person has the free will to be completely devoted to HaShem’s service. Also, during the Ten Days of Repentance, a person has the opportunity to entirely transform himself – to be a tzaddik, a man of peace in the upcoming year.

The second factor concerns improving the standing of one’s Divine service according to his current status – at all times, but particularly during the Ten Days of Repentance. Regarding this, the essential principle is to reflect and contemplate on one’s ways. Then, he should see to it that he at least observes the easier part of a precept – each person according to his situation and fear of Heaven. By following this procedure he will be delivered from transgressing the graver aspects of that particular sin.” (Ohr Yisrael, Letter Six, Page 177-178)

Since initially he actively rectifies the easy aspects which are “in his control,” Divine assistance will then help him master the difficult aspects. Again, Rav Yisrael is a source of encouragement, “One who strives to purify himself is granted Divine assistance”.. Thus, we see, that if one merits Divine assistance, through his efforts to fulfill easy injunctions, and the person uses this Divine assistance to fulfill the difficult injunctions, nevertheless, this is classified as “in his control.”

As Rav Yisrael postulated regarding our spiritual endeavors, both aspects of a Mitzvah, the easy and the difficult, are in one’s control. Therefore Rav Yisrael assures us, “Also, during the Ten Days of Repentance, a person has the opportunity to entirely transform himself – to be a tzaddik, a man of peace in the upcoming year”.

Implementation: Vocalize the axiom: “One who strives to purify himself is granted Divine assistance.”

By Rabbi Zvi Miller.

Hassid bar

Daily eMussar

Salant Foundation’s eMussar(sm) gives you a piece of practical wisdom and perspective for your daily life…in just 3 or 4 minutes a day!

These practical character enhancement and personal growth tools stay impact your mind and your character….and you’ll likely have a chance to try out these inspiring insights and lessons almost every day.

Just so you know, “mussar” is the traditional name for the teaching of character development and personal growth. And Salant Foundation’s eMussar delivers this perspective to you every day via e-mail.

It’s FREE…so why not sign up now, please send email to salant@netvision.net.il or to salantorg@gmail.com

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Source: My Email Subscription

eMussar” Copyright © 2010 by Rabbi Zvi Miller
and the Salant Foundation

Todays eMussar Lesson 7th Tishrei, 5771

Todays eMussar Lesson

eMussar – The Wisdom of Personal Growth
A daily inspirational, concise idea, with a suggested action.

A Precious Daimond

PIRKEI AVOS\THE ETHICS OF OUR FATHERS\5:26

“Ben Bagbag said: Turn it and turn it – for everything is dependent upon it.”

What is this great thing that everything, i.e., all success, depends upon it? It is the dedication to Torah study.

We understand Torah is important because it teaches us the path of goodness. However, why didn’t the text simply state “All success depends on Torah study?” Why is it that all success depends on “the dedication” to Torah study?

Every Jewish soul was present at Mount Sinai and experienced HaShem giving us the Torah. Therefore, our souls are naturally filled with love of Torah. Just as a spark ignites a fiery material into a flame, so too, the mere remembrance of our relationship to Torah sparks the holy flame within our soul.

Intuitively we grasp the greatness and goodness of Torah. Just as a parent’s love for their children instinctively inspires them to do everything for their children, so too, once we remind ourselves that the Torah is our very life, we will be inspired to dedicate ourselves to Torah and reap its precious fruits.

In this light the text said, Turn it and turn it because all success depends upon it.” That is, just as we look at a precious gem from every facet to gaze at each aspect of its beauty, so too, the more we reflect on our precious relationship to the holy Torah, the more we will be drawn and attracted to its incomparable and endless beauty.
[Based on the writings of the Vilna Gaon]

TODAY: Reflect on your opportunity to become one with the Torah – and ignite your soul.

By Rabbi Zvi Miller.

New Blog Post: SCALES OF JUSTICE

Hassid bar

Daily eMussar

Salant Foundation’s eMussar(sm) gives you a piece of practical wisdom and perspective for your daily life…in just 3 or 4 minutes a day!

These practical character enhancement and personal growth tools stay impact your mind and your character….and you’ll likely have a chance to try out these inspiring insights and lessons almost every day.

Just so you know, “mussar” is the traditional name for the teaching of character development and personal growth. And Salant Foundation’s eMussar delivers this perspective to you every day via e-mail.

It’s FREE…so why not sign up now, please send email to salant@netvision.net.il or to salantorg@gmail.com

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Source: My Email Subscription

eMussar” Copyright © 2010 by Rabbi Zvi Miller
and the Salant Foundation