Small Mussar Moments

Moment 1One morning, several weeks ago, I got a practical lesson in zerizus thanks to my 5 yr old daughter. She decided to read at the table instead of eating her cereal. When she “decided” to actually eat, her cereal was now soggy. She started crying because her “cereal was ruined for life, Abba, for life!”
I was taken back by the obvious mussar lesson. If something like cereal can be “ruined” by simply not choosing to eat it at the right time, then how much more can the opportunity to get close to Hashem be lost by not acting at the right time.

Moment 2
For some time now, my wife and I have been looking into purchasing
Nok Hockey for the family. I had found two different national sporting goods chains that advertised it online. Going into both chains on the way home from work, I asked several employees where I could find the item. In both stores, I was given blank stares. It seemed that no one had ever heard of Nok Hockey. I had to explain exactly what the item looked like and how it was used. Again, this didn’t ring a bell. In the end, I went to the manager of each store and was told that it must be an “online item only”.

This reminded me of the exercises that students of the Novardhok school of mussar would partake in. They would often go into hardware stores and ask to purchase clothes, or go into clothing store and ask to purchase bread. These exercises were used to work on negating any trace of guy’vah (haughtiness). After these frustrating attempts, we resorted to eBay.

Moment 3
In the Hirhurim Parashah Roundup: Vayechi 5768 by Steve Brizel there was a link to an idea based on a teaching of R Shlomo Woble z”tl. If found these passages to be most interesting, as I have been trying to isolate some of my better traits lately.
“The Mashgiach said in the name of his rebbi, Rav Yerucham Levovitz z”l, that every person possesses an underlying middah, and if he would be cognizant of that middah he would be able to perfect himself. He elaborated that every person is born with one complete character trait, and through utilizing this trait to its fullest potential, one is able to perfect his character.

What is the way that we can become familiar with our underlying character trait? When the Mashgiach was asked, he answered, “If one would keep a daily accounting of the traits that arise in every given situation, after a few weeks he will be able to tell which trait manifests itself most often.”
If we can make an effort to recognize our strengths and weakness, after just a short while we might be able to transform the way we relate to the situations that arise on a daily basis.

This idea of recording when those traits some up has really helped me. I have been keeping a record of several traits that pop up in my daily actions and have taken time to recall them during my nightly Cheshbon HaNefesh. Then I added some ideas that I read from A Simple Jew’s conversation with his Rebbe that has only clarified things for me.

Moment 4
This past Sunday we went to an indoor sportsfest. One of the many sponsors for this event happened to be Adidis. They had a massive booth with a lot of sports activities for kids. The center attraction was the massive truck and trailer with their new ad campaign plastered everywhere, “Impossible Is Nothing”. My wife spied it from across the room and said, “Neil, you have to go check that out.”

More an a witty play on words, “Impossible Is Nothing” instantly reminded me of one of my favorite quotes from the Alter of Novhardok, R Yosef Yozel Hurwitz:
I never thought about whether I could do something, but only about whether I had to do it. And if something must be done, then Hashem will give the means of doing it.
Often times I fell that the only limit to what I can accomplish is the limit that I personally set for myself. This same quote from the Alter of Novhardok was recently expanded on in a post by Dixie Yid here.

Moment 5
Last week while driving home I saw the following sign in front of a non-Kosher restaurant, “Before you make your resolution, make your reservation”. I found it almost humorous, but this really showed me the greatness of Yiddishkeit. Do you ever hear a Rav in a shul or a Rebbe in a yeshiva telling people to go ahead and commit all the aveiros you want to in Elul, because you can do Teshuva? The secular world tends to tell people that you should do what makes you feel happy and worry about tomorrow, well, tomorrow. Really, they are speaking to the guf.

Our style of communication should be different, we should, in theory, address the neshama first. Maybe the sign should have said, “Make a reservation to make a resolution”, putting thought into what you want to change is only the first step. Bring it into action is the second. Mussar to myself, as usual.

17 thoughts on “Small Mussar Moments

  1. Rafi G

    great post but one thing bothered me..
    you wrote This reminded me of the exercises that students of the Novardhok school of mussar would partake in. They would often go into hardware stores and ask to purchase clothes, or go into clothing store and ask to purchase bread. These exercises were used to work on negating any trace of guy’vah (haughtiness). and I have heard that before, but it bothered me then too. Maybe you can explain.

    I can see how it would humble a person, but isn’t it some sort of chillul Hashem (maybe that category is extreme for this case) or something that jews are looking so foolish and stupid walking into a hardware store and asking to buy clothes? Doesn’t it make Jews look foolish? I have a hard time believing there is really such an important benefit of humility gained that can justify the overall bad light in which it portrays Jews, and specifically yeshiva students.

    Please explain if you can.

  2. PK2019.

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