The following words have been on my mind for the past two months. They were written by Rabbi Yaakov Feldman, in the introduction to his translation and commentary of Messilas Yesharim, The Path of the Just:
The greatest problem we Jews have to contend with today, though its not recognized as such yet, is the loss of our memories and dreams. We have forgotten who we are, what we do, where we would like to be, what our unique national power and genius is, and what it is that makes us continue to go forward in history.
Once we had character and vision. If we go lost or sidetracked, we had only to close our eyes and hear ourselves again, and we would go right on course to the goal we had recognized (and either followed or openly disavowed but recognized nontheless). But we have lost this. Like a singer in the midst of a great din and rumble, we cannot hear our keynote, and we are dumbfounded.
Indeed, dumbfounded, or numb. Many are living a vibrant life of observant Judaism, while others are floating from day to day, from Shabbos to Shabbos. It’s been 128 since Reb Yisrael left this world. It is easy enough to point fingers, write blogs, and bemoan the current state of the observant life. The fact that, as least for me, there is a desire to strive for an absence of mediocrity is due to R Yisrael Salanter.
For a biography please see this.