Musar {Torah Ethics} and Halacha.

My approach to Musar is to emphasize the classical books of Torah ethics from the Middle Ages. That is what would be called the rational approach. The more mystic approach which got into Musar  I tend to think was an unfortunate detour. No offence to the Ari {Isaac Luria} but that approach tends to fanaticism and delusion.   When I was more involved with Musar I tried to go through all the basic set of the books written by the disciples of Reb Israel Salanter and this I still think is important.

[When Bava Sali came to Yerushalim on on of his first visits and people came to him to get a blessing he told his gabai [servant] not to let any kabalist in.]

My approach to  Halacha is to learn Gemara and to depend on דינא דתלמוד the law of the Talmud. Only after learning the subject in the Gemara itself does it make sense to me to look up how the Tur Beit Yoseph understands any given subject. There are no short cuts. And see the Nefesh haChaim "אין לנו אלא דינא דגמרא". "The only thing that matters is the law of the Gemara." He wrote this to a rav that he knew had made a wrong decision.

The thing to be careful of is religious people that use the appearance of Torah to hide their cults.

In any case to come to fear of God which is one of the major goals of Musar is not solely by learning Musar but Physics and Metaphysics also as the Rambam stated clearly in the Mishna Torah and the Guide and hints to in many place. Musar is important but to the Rambam it is not the real source of fear of God.