There has been much attention given lately to the “crisis of connection”. We are a generation where the observant community is more informed than any before (perhaps since King Chizkiyahu; c.f. Sanhedrin 94b), but we mourn our lack of the kind of connection with the Almighty that came more readily to our parents and grandparents. We have started exploring ways to not only inform, to put concepts into our heads, but inculcate values into our hearts. Knowing something is a bad idea doesn’t always translate into making right decisions. (Otherwise, I would have lost that extra weight a long time ago!) Somehow we have to get ideas from the head into the heart, into our passions and motivations.
This need is also a critical part of dealing with another topic that the community has (finally) started realize it’s full life-changing potential — living in a world where the internet plays an increasing role, despite the challenges the internet makes all too available. We need to not only rely on external tools to minimized temptation, but in addition to find tools that help us resist temptation.
This notion of inculcation was a central part of the problem Rav Yisrael Salanter was addressing when he founded the Mussar Movement. Different people may find Mussar’s approach to framing Judaism more or less appealing than other approaches. But I want to just look at one of the tools he developed, which can be used to instill into the roots of our souls what we intellectually know regardless of which derech, which path in Judaism, you find best fits your own proclivities, abilities and weaknesses.
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