Showing posts with label Musar. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Musar. Show all posts


Gemara, Musar, Physics, Math, Music and Survival

The reason my idea of a yeshiva having Gemara, Musar, Physics, Math, Music and Survival Skills, is to some degree based on the Rambam but also experience. [The Rambam's opinion about the importance of Physics is well known but ignored. So to bring it up would make no difference. If they ignore the Rambam already then why what I say make any difference.]
But the experience I have shows me the Torah alone approach rarely results in any kind of decent person. Sometimes you will have elevated people like Bava Sali, but that is rare. The general result of Torah alone is not very good. Religious fanaticism at the cost of being decent human beings seems like a bad trade off.

Plus the religious fanaticism does not result in Torah anyway, rather in fetishes like "zniut" and obsession with sex of other kinds of religious obsessions which have nothing to do with Torah.  And then they expect to get paid for their religious fetish and idiotic behavior. And then condemn anyone that does not conform their their confused sick ideas of what Torah is about.
Ultra-religious does not equal righteousness nor holiness. It just results in sanctimonious jerks.
I am not saying one should interrupt his Torah study to make money. Rather if one is in a situation where he can sit and learn Torah, then he should do so and trust in God to take care of his needs. [However I do consider the above six subjects to be a part of a Torah education as the Rambam also held.] 


MDS (Musar deficiency syndrome).

Musar [Ethics] was toned down by the Litvak yeshivas. [Litvak means from Litva or Lithuanian yeshivas].

Even those that accepted it did so in a restrained manner. The Mir in Europe had a 40 min and a 45 min session each day. The Mir in NY had 20 min and 15 min. Nothing like what Reb Israel Salanter was contemplating.

Reb Chaim Soloveitchik did not allow Musar in his Beit Midrash. And in my first yeshiva of Reb Shelomo Freifeld it was absent. Many Litvak's considered it a distraction from Gemara.
 My own learning partner said to me he is "allergic to Musar."

This is a difficult subject because my own experiences with Musar have been varied. At one point I was all  gung ho about it.

My impression is that it is like vitamins. One can overdose. But one can underdone also and have MDS (Musar deficiency syndrome).

I have seen plenty of people with MDS. And it is chronic. It can get so bad that even a small amount of healthy Musar can cause an allergic reaction.  Yet there are plenty of people who have over dosed also. It is hard to find the middle of the road. What tends to put off people I think is the "mashgichim" that make Musar into a business. They are not smart enough to be Rosh Yeshivas yet they are somehow connected by family relations, so they are made into a "Mashgiach." It is hard to find a better group to give Musar a bad name. They are the terror of every yeshiva bachur- student.


Mediaeval Ethics, Musar, Pirkei Avot and learning Gemara in depth.

 The year before I went to the yeshiva called Shar Yashuv in Far Rockaway I spent a lot of time on Pirkei Avot with Shimshon Refael Hirsches' Commentary. In Far Rockaway the attitude was to plunge the students into hard core lumdut [deep learning of Talmud] as soon as possible on the theory that if one does not get it then and there, one will never get it. And I have seen this theory is substantiated in fact.
Learning Pirkei Avot today I would recommend with Avot DeRabbi Natan, the Gra the Rambam and Shimshon Refael Hirsch also.
But that is for Musar.[Learning Ethics= "Musar"] 

As for Gemara, I would in fact recommend going as deeply as possible as soon as possible-because otherwise people never get it at all. I would prioritize going deep into the Gemara with the Avi Ezri of Rav Shach.[Rav Elazar Menachem Shach from the Ponovitch Yeshiva in Bnei Brak]. [Why is learning in depth important? According the Hegel once  a  people stops questioning its institutions and beliefs, then Spirit  dies and cannot 
further develop.]

What happens when people do not learn Gemara in depth at the very beginning of their yeshiva years is a kind of self delusion. They think they understand that which they do not understand. This is different than you find in other fields in which there are experts that know the different between real expertise and phony. In yeshivas nowadays the phonies are the majority. To find the real thing you have to dig deep or go to authentic yeshiva like Ponovitch or the Mir in NY. 

In other words the problem of phonies  is unique in the Torah world, and does not have an equivalent or parallel in the academic world.

[You could take instead of Rav Shach's book the book of Reb Chaim Soloveitchik or his disciples Reb Baruch Ber or Shimon Shkop. But  Rav Shach is  easier to understand.]

In short what I recommend is medieval ethics plus the oral law.


The Musar [Ethics] Movement 2.01

תנועת המוסר 2.01
The Musar [Ethics] Movement 2.01
This would be slightly different than the Musar Movement 1.01

The set of books the first Musar [Ethics] Movement was based on was three, חובות לבבות Obligations of the Heart, מסילת ישרים ואורחות צדיקים. [I do not know the common English translation. I think perhaps Paths of the Righteous, The Path of the Just.] This basic canon was added onto and so the actual books that people were concentrating on were about 30 and even more if you count the Maharal from Prague. In any case the literature was a lot.

But to launch another Musar movement with the purpose in mind as Reb Israel Salanter, I think would have to include the אור ישראל by one of the major disciples of Reb Israel Salanter, Isaac Blasser. And the מדרגת האדם by Joseph Josel Horowitz a later disciple of Israel Salanter after the original three.
Plus it would have to include Jewish philosophy which I think has been ignored at terrible consequence. That would be the אמונות ודעות by Saadia Gaon, the Guide of the Rambam, Ibn Gavirol, Crescas, Joseph Albo, Abravenal.

There are still details to work out. The First Musar Movement somehow got absorbed in yeshivas and is almost zero in effect today. It gets at best lip service, and some "mashgiach" [the person that in theory in charge of the spiritual welfare of the students] talks once a week. Yet it is well known that mashgiachs are just the people too stupid to be rosh yeshivas. They don't even know much about what is going on in Musar itself, much less Gemara. A mashgiach is a person talking about virtue who know nothing about it. How could it not be damaging? Why not get a football couch that knows nothing about football?

So it is hard to see where this might go. Still it is important, and without which nothing else can begin of much worth.

[Plus outdoor skills and physical fitness. Outdoor skills is for character development, plus survival skills.] Outdoor skills and physical fitness have to be a part and parcel of any Ethical movement. Ethics does not exist in a vacuum.

[Outside of all the above I wanted to say that things in Ethics you need to work on, it is a good idea to memorize them and say the paragraph right when you wake up in the morning. Like if you need to work on some trait,you find some statement in a Musar book that deals with that trait and say it over right when you wake up.]


A connection length of days and fear of God.

 I found a connection length of days and fear of God. And I definitely have found myself in need of length of days.--My days had become very short of full of nonsense. I decided I needed a definite refill of fear of God. So I asked myself from where do I think I might get a little fear of God? The most obvious answer I could think of is the idea of learning what is called Musar. This refers to two sets of books on the subject of Fear and Love of God and good character traits. One set was written during the Middle Ages by Jewish scholars. Another set was written recently by people on the same themes. One of these books is called the Madragat HaAdam.


Jewish Ethical works written during the Middle Ages and Renaissance. Musar retreat.

I would like to suggest a school program for Musar [Ethics books written during the Middle Ages]. This would be a school that would learn some Talmud abut the main subject would be Musar.

The idea would be to read for one or two semesters all the thirty major works of Musar.
And I do not mean this as academic program but rather as a character improvement program.

But the major books of Musar say what they have to say with no regard to political correctness.

 Instead of LSD I recommend Gemara Rashi and Tosphot which is a much greater high. (It is not a drug high but a numinous high). Instead of random sex with fear and frustration, you get a wholesome happy marriage and good children.

The best way to go about this is in a Musar retreat. You go into the mountains with a few Musar books and spend the whole day talking with God as a friend while walking and hiking and then when you rest you learn Medieval Ethics.

It is not so much back to nature when you are in NY city . I had come from an environment in which I was always close to nature. two minutes outside my home I would be in a wildness. [Both in Newport beach was it was developing and also in Beverly Hills. --A ten minute walk away was the reservoir a tremendous lake and wildness preserve with no one around. --The only person anywhere near there was the warden or guard of the reservoir. NY was nothing like that