Finding a Mussar Mentor

Recently, I rejoined a morning shiur that I had attended for many years. The primary attraction was that the shiur had just started Mesillas Yesharim [Path of the Just] for the mussar [ethics] segment. Though I have learned Mesillas Yesharim (or at least the opening chapters) many times, the chance to learn it with this particular maggid shiur was irresistible, for he is a walking Mesillas Yesharim.

I have not been disappointed. His inferences from a close reading of every word (after all, the Vilna Gaon famously said that there is not an extra word in the first eleven chapters), his palpable excitement in sharing the insights of the Ramchal, and the model that he provides of what a Torah Jew can aspire to be leave me feeling genuinely uplifted at the beginning of each day.

The shiur got me thinking. I am nearly sixty years old. I was privileged to spend many years in yeshivah and kollel, and through my biographies and other work I have spent much time with great Torah scholars, both living and no longer living. And yet this twenty minutes of mussar every morning with a rebbi who has perfected his middos to an astounding degree has had a profound effect on me.

How much more so, then, is it crucial that our sons have a similar experience during their years in yeshivah. As parents, one of our primary duties is to do everything possible to ensure that each of our sons not only hears shiur from great talmidei chachamim, but that they have a personal relationship with at least one figure who causes them to think to themselves, “He represents ha’adam (the human being) for whom Hashem created the world,” and inspires them to be like him.

Published in Mishpacha, June 18.

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