Narcissistic Spirituality

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  1. Ken Bloom says:

    What was Rabbi Levin’s original question exactly? The way you’ve summarized it, it sounds like an overly simplistic conception of mussar to begin with. After all, Sefer Cheshbon HaNefesh was never all about giving to other people, nor were some of the well-known self-perception exercises of the Novardok yeshiva. So the history of mussar being focused on midot rather than giving is quite long. The question that you explain in the end is pretty good, but was that Rabbi Levin’s original intent, or your own interpretation of his intent?

  2. Neil Harris says:

    I think the underlining theme of Novardok’s yesod of bitachon was that all Avodah rests upon it. Without bitachon you can never maximize relationships with others. From reading the above mentioned book, it seems to me that the Alter took RYS’s emphasis on Yiras Shamayim and used bitachon as the means to that end. Just as the Alter of Kelm used Chessed towards that end.

  3. Leonard Goff says:

    I’ve been reading your posts as a contrast to Rabbi Alan Yuter’s in order to answer the “he is a Korach”(e.g.”all Israel is holy”) charge put on him by some.
    How do you see him?
    Anyway, I just felt I needed to chime in about “Love your fellow as yourself”.
    I recently read in R. Moshe Shamah’s new Chumash commentary about how love meant loyalty back then(c.f. love/loyalty at index there).
    This immediately relieved me of a great burden.
    The lowering of the emotional tone(i.e. love/luv/LOVE! as an emotion) allowed me to see through the crimson haze/heat I was stewing in.
    This ‘quiet'(moving this word out of the emotional realm) allowed me to fit easily/quickly all three named principals of the verse into a working team.
    For instance, I quickly saw that the verse is telling me(in so many words-khamokha) that I cannot be loyal to others unless I am loyal to myself.
    The importance of loyalty in relation to myself struck so deep a chord in me because I am(WAS!) suicidal. This ‘new’ definition enabled me to find and detach the loyal ‘parent'(image of God?) part of myself that can come in to sooth the suicidal(i.e. disloyal to life) part of myself.
    I now fully expect that my ability to love others will improve.
    It’s an unbreakable trinity that keeps reinforcing itself: I can be loyal to Hashem because the verse enables me to give(ahav-from yhv-bring) loyalty to ‘myself’, which is so important to the suicidal who find it hard to be loyal to anything, because they find it hard to be loyal to living.
    Anyway, I recall that you approved of mussar leatsmo when it is about giving.
    This verse for me is a ‘klal gadol’ [for me] because it trinitizes(allows all three principals to go to work on building me up into a loyalty machine).
    Of course, this verse is so great because of other verses such as “…Hashem is our God- Hashem alone.”- a statement of loyalty indeed(R. Shamah likes to translate it this way- so much depends on a translation! Life and death!

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