Mesilat Yesharim: Part 5
By studying Mesillat Yesharim we will be studying what it means to live as a Jew. Mesillat Yesharim is not only a classic because of its content, but it is one of the few books of Jewish thought that has been embraced by all the streams of Jewish practice, and has been endorsed by the Gaon of Vilna as well as Prof. Yeshayahu Leibowitz whose lectures on Mesillat Yesharim have been published.
Mesilat Yesharim: Part 5: Lesson 1
Hello Everyone, I hope you all enjoyed today’s shiur. To summarize it, we asked two questions. First, can a humble person be aware of his humility, or would that be an inherent contradiction of his humility, if not outright hypocrisy? Second, does humility involve an unawareness or denial of one’s achievements? We saw two asets of answers to these questions. Rav Chaim of Volozhin and Ramchal write that a person who is humble is unaware of his humility and would deny his having achieved it. The Rambam and the Netziv (who was a successor of Rav Chaim as head of the Volozhin Yeshiva) write that humility is a type of behavior, but the humble person can honestly claim to possess the trait of humility. The Netizv denies the claim of the Ramchal that to be humble means to deny one’s sense of achievement or worth. Thank-you for attending today’s shiur and I look forward to meeting with you next week.
Mesilat Yesharim: Part 5: Lesson 2
Hello everyone. Today we continued with Mesillat Yesharim’s discussion of humility. Ramchal (the acronym by which the author of Mesillat Yesharim, Rav Moshe Chaim Luzzatto , is known)says that humility is not merely a form of gracious behavior, but it reflects a constant awareness of one’s failures, defects and other shortcomings. When a person is brutally honest with himself he simply cannot be arrogant. I wish to emphasize that this “brutal honesty” carries the risk of leading people into a feeling of hopelessness; a person may think that that if he has so many flaws how can he ever achieve anything worthwhile? I think that Ramchal (who is very optimistic about everyone’s potential to good) only advises this “brutal honesty” as a counter-balance to arrogant thought. However as a rule, people should confident that Hashem has a plan for them and that our efforts are appreciated. Next week is Erev Rosh Hashnah and we will not be meeting- Shana Tova to all. Stuart Fischman
Mesilat Yesharim: Part 5: Lesson 3
Today we continued the study of the trait of humility. More specifically we studied the aspects of humble behavior. Humility requires that we ignore insults, avoid honors,and treat everyone with respect. We saw the the story of the sage Babba ben Butta who, while presiding over a trial, did not get angry at a woman who broke two candles over his head. We also saw the story of Rabban Yochanan ben Zakkai, who would always the first to say good morning to everyone. Ramchal says that true honor exists by people who have a nobility of spirit, as opposed to nobility due to rank or power, and nobility of spirit is acquired by paying attention to the teachings of the Torah. I wish for all of you a g’mar chatimah tova and a very happy Sukkot. I am thinking about what to learn when we finish Mesillat Yesharim, so please send me your suggestions. My own inclination is to study Chovot Halevavot but it may be too philosophical. Bye, Stuart Fischman
Rabbi Dr. Stuart Fischman graduated from Yeshiva University in 1980 and the dental school of Columbia University in 1985. In 1989 he began studying and teaching at Yeshivat Hamivtar and now studies and teaches at Yeshivat Machanaim in Efrat. He has rabbinic ordination from Rav Zalman Nechemia Goldberg.