The Mussar Dispute

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  1. Shmuel says:

    There definitely is a disconnect today between the Yeshiva world and the (necessary) proper study of Mussar. A recent anecdote highlights this issue:

  2. Chizki says:

    @Shmuel: I just looked at the blog post you linked to. I had no idea that there were portions of the American chareidi world that were so disconnected from, and distrusting of, mussar. But then, I live in an “out of town” chareidi-leaning community in which (1) the moreh d’asra of my shul and the rebbeim of the local mesivta are all musmachim of the Chafetz Chaim yeshiva, and (2) a local chareidi kiruv rabbi with whom I am close is a talmid of R’ Reuven Leuchter, a talmid of R’ Wolbe zt”l. So I guess my perspective of what I perceive to be trends within the larger chareidi world might be a little off-target…

  3. Eli says:


    Where do you live? I want to move there.

  4. You wrote, “Rav Itzele explained that the Torah cures us of evil desires the way a segulah cures a sick person. The person must perform the act or recite the text exactly, and if the segulah is to say it 7 times, there will be absolutely no effect if he only says it six.”

    I find it hard to believe that Rav Itzele said that “a segulah cures a sick person.” What is the basis for this assertion? The Litvishe Derech has always been to avoid things like this.

    • micha says:

      I didn’t just write that, I pointed you to where you can hear R’ Nasan Kamenetzky say so. R’ Nechemia Goldberg believed so as well.

      I think it’s more accurate to say that in Lita, they would tell you it’s bad Judaism to chase a segulah, but they did not all agree about whether or not segulos actually work.

      And in either case, they would discuss the gemara’s medical segulos as though they worked, regardless.

      • Taking the analogy at face value, am I then to deduce that it is “bad Judaism” to think that the “Torah cures us of evil desires”?

        Yes, you gave a source, but as they say, not all sources are correct.

        • micha says:

          I have no idea what your analogy means. (In any case, Rava says that Torah can be used to cure yourself of evil, but it can be abused as well. “If to the right, it is a ‘sam hachaim’; if to the left, it is a ‘sam hamaves’.”)

          In any case, I spoke of the distinction between believing that segulos don’t work and believing segulos shouldn’t be used. Lita is quite clear on the latter — using segulos as magic spells is bad religion.

          But belief that they necessarily don’t work even if one did try using one? I don’t think there is a single Litvisher opinion on that one. Remember, Lita had its share of mequbalim — the Gra, Rav Chaim and R’ Yizchaq Volozhiner, the Leshem, Rav AY Kook…

          I trust the author of Making of a Gadol’s opinion of what was normal belief in pre-war Lita. He isn’t one to rewrite history to fit preconception.

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