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20.7.14

I want to start a Musar Movement II [Jewish Ethics].


This was to be a side topic today. The most important thing I wanted to discuss was that I found what I believe to be a possible answer for the Rambam concerning the Talmud Bava Kama page 19B. But I think I will have to put that on another blog because I think the idea of Musar for the general public is more of immediate concern.

So concerning the Musar Movement II let me first state why I think Musar Movement I is not sufficient.
The problem with  Musar Movement I as it exists today is that it became frum [religious]. The main issue are, "Be frum, learn Torah all day, don't go to university, be a good part of the chareidi world," and all that is somehow supposed to be related to fear of God or fixing of bad character traits. Musar today does not seem to have any connection with fixing of bad character or at all; and fear of God it seems to define as  frumkeit [being extra strict in ritual most of which are not from the Talmud and are not halacha]. This alone would have to put a damper on any enthusiasm for Musar for any reasonable person.

My suggestions are these. Musar first of all should be based on the original texts that R Israel Salanter wanted to be the basis of Musar Chovot Levavot, Orchot Tzadikim, MesilatYesharim, Sefer Hamidot,Sefer HaYasher of Rabbainu Tam (and a few other basic Ethical works from the Middle Ages).

But I also wanted to add a philosophical angle to this whole project.
My basic reasoning is that Musar depends a lot on metaphysics. Now most of the Metaphysics in Musar you don't see in the original set. [Notable exception the beginning of the Chovot Levavot ] But as you go on in time and kabalah gets more to be a part of the Musar books you see more and more metaphysics being thrown in. Yet we know from Kant that metaphysics is a problem.
Kant is not an issue that can be ignored. If you accept him then metaphysics is impossible. You can just choose some pre Kant approach like the Kabalah and go your merry way.


Musar II would also have to include books related to world view issues like the Emunot Vedeot of Saadia Geon. Because you can't separate character traits from world view. They are highly interconnected.


[There is a tendency that you find in the book of Job, "Is not your fear your stupidity?"Fear of God is often coupled with not very smart doctrines. Musar as it exist today is a good example. Most Musar books that are published in the Orthodox Jewish would today are incredibly stupid.
Musar has certainly decayed from the time of Israel Salanter. This has to be changed.]