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18.11.13

  The unique thing about the family of Israel Abuchatzeira is it gives a remarkable clarification of the question what is the service of God according to the Torah.

  What I mean by this is that it tends to be a confusing issue for most Jews and gentiles exactly what is the divine service that God asks from us. Even well meaning gentiles can come to the conclusion that running a 747 into the Twin Towers is a proper and respectable course of action. There is no reason to doubt the sincerity or resolve of the people that do this type of thing. Now we can all agree that this is because they believe in a false religion.

  OK, but what happens if you come closer to the Torah point of view? Now rigorous logical thinking in issues of theology was the specialty of the Middle Ages. Now matter how hard we try we are not going to come up with a better solution to this question than Maimonides and the other authors of Ethical books during the Middle Ages. This already shows a great advantage to the Musar movement of Israel Salanter that specialized in reading the Books of Musar and trying to fulfill them.

  But even this Musar Movement has great problems. Just look at the Musar movement today and tell me if you see much holiness or wholesomeness?

  The result of my study of these issues in the Jewish world has led me to the conclusion that the family of Bava Sali [Israel Abuchatzeira] has come to a remarkable synthesis that  works. I had a long history of dealing with this family and my conclusion is that they have reached a kind of balance between Torah and Derech Eretz [the art of being a human being ] that is remarkable.
 
  A good example of this would be for instance Shimon Buso in Netivot. On the outside there is not much to see. He sits and learns Torah all day. And to give himself an extra push, he joined a group that accepts on itself on voluntary basis to be tested on a lot of pages of the Gemara [Talmud] every month.
But what is remarkable about this is the lack of fanaticism. By Ashkenazic Jews, fanaticism seems to go with the turf. If you hold like the Litvaks (Lithuanian) that learning Torah is the greatest Mitzvah, then by means of some kind of fanaticism you translate that to mean everyone has to be doing that alone, and all other paths are bad.