Elul Middot Project

Elul Middot Project

The Elul Middot Project

PURITY OF HEART, INNOCENCE
תמימות
Elul 6

Rabbi David Seed

Deuteronomy 18:13

תמים תהיה, עם ה׳ אלקיך

Thou shalt be “Tamim” (whole-hearted) with the Lord your God.


MODERATION
שביל הזהב
Elul 7
Thursday, August 27

Cantor Ben Sharpe

שמונה רובן קשה ומיעוטן יפה ואלו הן דרך ודרך ארץ עושר ומלאכה יין ושינה חמין
והקזת דם

Babylonian Talmud, Gittin 70a
There are eight things of which a little is good and much is bad: travel, mating, wealth, work, wine, sleep, spiced drinks, and medicine.

דרכים אחת של אור ואחת של שלג אם מהלך כנגד האור הרי נכווה באור ואם מהלך נגד שלג הרי הוא לוקה בצינה כיצד יעשה ילך בינתיים ויזהר בעצמו שלא יכווה באור ושלא ילקה בצינה

Avot de Rabbi Natan 28
There is a highway that runs between two paths, one of fire and the other of snow. If a person walks too close to the fire, this person will be scorched by the flames; if too close to the snow, this person will be bitten by the cold. What is the person to do? This person is to walk in the middle, taking care not to be scorched by the heat nor bitten by the cold.

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JOY
ששון ושמחה
Elul 8
Friday, August 28

Rabbi Adam Cutler

Psalms 100:2

עבדו את־ה’ בשמחה באו לפניו ברננה

Worship the Lord in gladness; come into His presence with shouts of joy.

Deuteronomy 28:47-51

מז תחת, אשר לא-עבדת את-יהוה אלהיך, בשמחה, ובטוב לבב–מרב, כל. מח ועבדת את-איביך, אשר ישלחנו יהוה בך, ברעב ובצמא ובעירם, ובחסר כל; ונתן על ברזל, על-צוארך, עד השמידו, אתך. מט ישא הי עליך גוי מרחק מקצה הארץ, כאשר ידאה הנשר: גוי, אשר לא-תשמע לשנו. נ גוי, עז פנים, אשר לא-ישא פנים לזקן, ונער לא יחן. נא ואכל פרי בהמתך ופרי-אדמתך, עד. השמדך, אשר לא-ישׁאיר לך דגן תירוש ויצהר, שגר אלפיך ועשתרת צאנך–עד האבידו, אתך

47 Because you did not serve the Lord your God joyfully and gladly in the time of prosperity, 48 therefore in hunger and thirst, in nakedness and dire poverty, you will serve the enemies the Lord sends against you. He will put an iron yoke on your neck until he has destroyed you. 49 The Lord will bring a nation against you from far away, from the ends of the earth, like an eagle swooping down, a nation whose language you will not understand, 50 a fierce-looking nation without respect for the old or pity for the young. 51 They will devour the young of your livestock and the crops of your land until you are destroyed. They will leave you no grain, new wine or olive oil, nor any calves of your herds or lambs of your flocks until you are ruined.

Sheva Brachot #7

ברוך אתה ה’ אלקינו מלך העולם, אשר ברא ששון ושמחה, חתן וכלה, גילה רנה דיצה וחדוה, אהבה ואחוה שלום ורעות, מהרה ה’ אלקינו ישמע בערי יהודָה ובחוצות ירושלים, קול ששון וקול שמחה, קול חתן וקול כלה, קול מצהלות חתנים מחפתם, ונערים ממשתה נגינתם: ברוך אתה ה’ משמחַ חתן עם הכלה

Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the universe, who created joy and happiness, groom and bride, gladness, jubilation, cheer and delight, love, friendship, harmony and fellowship. Lord our God, let there speedily be heard in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem the sound of joy and the sound of happiness, the sound of a groom and the sound of a bride, the sound of exultation of grooms from under their chupah, and youths from their joyous banquets. Blessed are You Lord, who gladdens the groom with the bride.

Psalms 89:16

אשרי העם יודעי תרועה ה באור־פניךָ יהלכון

Happy is the people who know the sound of the t’ruah; O Lord, they walk in the light of Your presence.

Click HERE to register for today’s zoom discussion (3:00 p.m.)


SIMPLICITY
הסתפקות

Elul 10
Sunday, August 30

Anna Gindin, Director of Programming

“Simplicity Parenting”.
Today’s busier, faster society is waging an undeclared war on childhood. With too much stuff, too many choices, and too little time, children can become anxious, have trouble with friends and school, or even be diagnosed with behavioral problems. In the book Simplicity Parenting, internationally renowned family consultant Kim John Payne helps parents reclaim for their children the space and freedom that all kids need for their attention to deepen and their individuality to flourish. Simplicity Parenting offers inspiration, ideas, and a blueprint for change.

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ZEAL
זריזות
Elul 11
Monday, August 31

Rabbi David Seed

Orchot Tzadikim 15:12

אף על פי שהזריזות טובה מאוד, יזהר שלא ימהר בעבודתו יותר מדי. כי הרוכב במהירות – הוא קרוב מאוד להיכשל. וכן מי שהוא רץ במהירות – הוא נופל. ולא יתכן לתקן מעשה מתוקן בבהלה, אבל במיתון יתוקנו העניינים. וכן אמרו רבותינו (אבות א א): “הוו מתונים בדין”. והזריזות: שיהא ניעור לבו ,ויקיץ מחשבותיו, ויקלו איבריו למלאכתו; אך לא ימהר בשום עניין. וכל אלו העניינים צריכים חוכמה גדולה, מתי ימהר ומתי יאחר

Even though zeal is a very good quality, one must be careful not to work too quickly. For one who rides quickly is liable to stumble, and one who runs quickly may fall. It is not wise to attempt to repair anything in haste, but rather with deliberation. And thus said our teachers, “Be deliberate in judgment!” (Avot 1:1). And zeal means that one’s heart must be stirred, and one’s thoughts aroused and that one’s limbs must be light for one’s work, but one ought not to be hasty in any matter. All of these matters require great wisdom as to when to hurry and when to tarry…

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MODESTY
צניעות
Elul 12
Tuesday, September 1

Rabbi Adam Cutler

Babylonian Talmud, Brachot 43b

תנו רבנן: ששה דברים גנאי לו לתלמיד חכם: אל יצא כשהוא מבושם לשוק, ואל יצא יחידי בּלילה, ואל יצא במנעלים המטולאים, ואל יספר עם אשה בּשוק, וְאל יָסב בחבורה של עמי הארץ, ואל יכנס באחרונה לבית המדרש. ויש אומרים: אף לא יפסיע פסיעה גסה, ואל יהלך בקומה זקופה

The Sages taught in a baraita: Six things are disgraceful for a Torah scholar: He may not go out perfumed into the marketplace; he may not go out of his house alone at night; he may not go out wearing patched shoes; he may not converse with a woman in the marketplace; he may not recline and participate in a meal in the company of ignoramuses; and he may not be the last to enter the study hall. And some say that he may not take long strides and he may not walk with an upright posture…

ואל יצא יחידי בלילה: משום חשדא. ולא אמרן אלא דלא קביע ליה עידנא, אבל קביע ליה עידנא — מידע ידיע דלעידניה קא אזיל

He may not go out of his house alone at night because of suspicion of promiscuity. And therefore this was only prohibited if he does not have a set time during the night to study with his teacher, but if he has a set time, everyone knows that he is going to study with his teacher at his set time, and they will not be suspicious of him.

ואל יצא במנעלים המטולאים: מסיּיע ליה לרבי חייא בר אבא. דאמר רבי חייא בר אבא: גנאי הוא לתלמיד חכם שיצא במנעלים המטולאים. איני? והא רבי חייא בר אבא נפיק! אמר מר זוטרא בריה דרב נחמן: בטלאי על גבי טלאי. ולא אמרן אלא בפנתא, אבל בגילדא — לית לן בה. ובפנתא לא אמרן אלא באורחא, אבל בביתא — לית לן בה. ולא אמרן אלא בימות החמה, אבל בימות הגשמי — לית לן בה

He may not go out wearing patched shoes. This supports the statement of Rabbi Ḥiyya bar Abba, as Rabbi Ḥiyya bar Abba said: It is disgraceful for a Torah scholar to go out wearing patched shoes. The Gemara challenges: Is that so? Didn’t Rabbi Ḥiyya bar Abba himself go out wearing patched shoes? Mar Zutra, son of Rav Naḥman, said: It is only prohibited when the shoe has a patch upon a patch. And we only said this with regard to patches on the upper part of the shoe but if the patch is on the sole, this does not apply. And with regard to patches on the upper part of the shoe, we only said this when he is out on the road, but in his house, we need not be concerned. And we only said this with regard to the summer when the patches would be visible to all, but during the rainy season, when the mud obscures the view of the patches, we need not be concerned.

ואל יספר עם אשה בשוק: אמר רב חסדא: ואפילו היא אשתו. תניא נמי הכי: אפילו היא אשתו, ואפילו היא בתו, ואפילו היא אחותו — לפי שאין הכל בקִיאין בקרובותיו

He may not converse with a woman in the marketplace. Rav Ḥisda said: Even if she is his wife. This was also taught in a baraita: One may not converse with a woman in the market, even if she is his wife, even if she is his daughter and even if she is his sister, for not everyone is well-versed in the identity of his female relatives and they will suspect that he is talking to women who are not his relatives.

ואל יסב בחבורה של עמי הארץ: מאי טעמא? — דילמא אתי לאמשוכי בתרייהו

He may not recline and participate in a meal in the company of ignoramuses. The Gemara explains: What is the reason? Perhaps he will be drawn after them and emulate them.

ואל יכנס באחרונה לבית המדרש: משום דקרו ליה ״פושע״

He may not be the last to enter the study hall. The Gemara explains: Because they will call him negligent, in other words, careless and lazy.

ויש אומרים, אף לא יפסיע פסיעה גסה: דאמר מר, פסיעה גסה נוטלת אחד מחמש מאות ממאור עיניו של אדם. מאי תקנתיה? להדריה בקדושא דבי שמשי

And some say he may not take long strides, as the Master said: A long stride takes away one five-hundredth of a person’s eyesight. The Gemara asks: What is his remedy if he took long strides? The Gemara responds: He can restore it by drinking the wine of kiddush on Shabbat eve.

ואל יהלך בקומה זקופה: דאמר מר המהלך בקומה זקופה אפילו ארבע אמות, כאילו דוחק רגלי שכינה, דכתיב: ״מלא כל הארץ כבודו״

And he may not walk with an upright posture, but slightly bowed, as the Master said: One who walks with an upright posture and in an arrogant manner, even four cubits, it is as if he is pushing away the feet of the Divine Presence, as it is written: “The entire world is full of His glory” (Isaiah 6:3). One who walks in an arrogant way shows a lack of regard for the glory and honor of God that is surrounding him, and thereby chases God from that place.

Rabbi Simcha Bunim of Peshischa

Keep two pieces of paper in your pocket at all times. On one: “I am a speck of dust,” and on the other: “The world was created for me.”

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HOLINESS
קדושה
Elul 13
Wednesday, September 2

Cantor Alex Stein

Isaiah 6:3

קדוש קדוש הי צבאות מלא כל־הארץ כבודו׃

And one would call to the other, “Holy, holy, holy! The Lord of Hosts! His presence fills all the earth!”

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HONOUR
כבוד
Elul 14
Thursday, September 3

Dr. Jack Lipinsky, Principal, Adath Hebrew Academy

Pirkei Avot 4:1

.בן זומא אומר. איזהו מכבד, המכבד את הבריות, שנאמר כי מכבדי אכבד ובזי יקלו

Who is honoured? One who honours their fellow human beings as it is said: “For I honour those that honour Me, but those who spurn Me shall be dishonoured” (I Samuel 2:30).

:כבד את־אביך ואת־אמך למען יארכון ימיך על האדמה אשר־הי אלהיך נתן לך

Honour your father and your mother, so that you will survive for a long time on the land that the Lord your God is assigning to you. (Exodus 20:12)

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CHARITY
צדקה
Elul 15
Friday, September 4

Rabbi David Seed

Rambam, Mishneh Torah, Gifts to the Poor 10:7-8

שמונה מעלות יש בצדקה זו למעלה מזו. מעלה גדולה שאין למעלה ממנה זה המחזיק ביד ישראל שמך ונותן לו מתנה או הלואה או עושה עמו שתפות או ממציא לו מלאכה כדי לחזק את ידו עד שלא יצטרך לבריות לשאל. ועל זה נאמר (ויקרא כה לה) “והחזקת בו גר ותושב וחי עמך” כלומר החזק בו עד שלא יפל ויצטרך

There are eight levels of tzedakah, each one greater than the other. The greatest level, higher than all the rest, is to fortify a fellow Jew and give him a gift, a loan, form with him a partnership, or find work for him, until he is strong enough so that he does not need to ask others [for sustenance]. Of this it is said, (Lev. 25:35) [If your kinsman, being in straits, comes under your authority,] and you hold him as though a resident alien, let him live by your side. That is as if to say, “Hold him up,” so that he will not fall and be in need…

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HOPE
תקווה
Elul 17
Sunday, September 6

Rabbi Adam Cutler
Rabbi Jonathan Sacks

Optimism is the belief that things are going to get better. Hope is the belief that if we work hard enough, together we can make things better. It needs no courage, just a certain naiveté to be an optimist. It needs a great deal of courage to have hope. No Jew knowing what we do about history and our own past, so often written in tears, can be an optimist. But no Jew who is a true Jew can ever give up hope.

Rabbi Nachman of Breslov, Likutei Moharan 112

אם אתה מאמין שיכולים לקלקל, תאמין שיכולים לתקן

If you believe breaking is possible, believe fixing is possible.

Victor Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning

The prisoner who had lost his faith in the future — his future — was doomed. With his loss of belief in the future, he also lost his spiritual hold; he let himself decline and became subject to mental and physical decay.

Babylonian Talmud, Shabbat 31a

אמר רבא: בשעה שמכניסין אדם לדין, אומרים לו: נשאת ונתת באמונה? קבעת עתים לתורה? עסקת בפריּה ורביה? צפית לישועה? פלפלת בחכמה? הבנת דבר מתוך דבר?ר

Rava said “When man is led in for Judgment he is asked did you transact business with integrity, did you fix times for learning, did you engage in procreation, did you hope for salvation, did you engage in the dialectics of wisdom, did you understand one thing from another?”

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HUMILITY
ענווה
Elul 18
Monday, September 7

Cantor Ben Sharpe

Numbers 12:3

:האיש משה ענו [עניו] מאד מכל האדם אשר על־פני האדמה

Now Moses was a very humble man, more so than any other man on earth.

Proverbs 22:4

עקב ענוה יראת ה׳ עשר וכבוד וחיים

The effect of humility is fear of the Lord, wealth, honor, and life.

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TRUST
ביטחון
Elul 19
Tuesday, September 8

Rabbi David Seed

Bachya ibn Pakuda, Duties of the Heart, Fourth Treatise on Trust 1-2

א) אך מהות הבטחון היא מנוחת נפש הבוטח ושיהיה לבו סמוך על מי שבטח עליו שיעשה הטוב והנכון לו בענין אשר יבטח עליו כפי יכלתו ודעתו במה שמפיק טובתו
ב) אבל העקר אשר בעבורו יהיה הבטחון מן הבוטח ואם יפקד לא ימצא הבטחון הוא שיהיה לבו בטוח במי שיבטח בו שיקים מה שאמר ויעשה מה שערב ויחשב עליו הטוב במה שלא התנה לו ולא ערב עשוהו שיעשהו נדבה וחסד

Trust is peace of mind of the one who trusts. That one relies in his heart that the one he trusts in will do what is good and proper for him on the matter he has trusted him with, according to his ability and his understanding of what will further his good.

But the main factor, which leads one to trust in the one trusted, and without which trust cannot exist, is for one’s heart to be confident that the one trusted will keep his word and will do what he pledged, and that he will also think to do what is good for him even on what he did not pledge out of pure generosity and kindness.

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FAITH
אמונה
Elul 20
Wednesday, September 9

Rabbi Adam Cutler

Exodus Rabbah 30:24

” כי קרובה ישועתי לבוא (ישעיהו נו א), כי קרובה ישועתכם אינו אומר, אלא ישועתי, יהי שמו מברך, אלולי שהדבר כתוב אי אפשר לאמרו, אמר להם הקדוש ברוך הוא לישראל, אם אין לכם זכות, בשבילי אני עושה, כביכול כל ימים שאתם שם בצרה אני עמכם, שנאמר (תהלים צא, טו) עמו אנכי בצרה, ואני גואל לעצמי

“For My salvation is near to come” (Isaiah 56:1). The text doesn’t state “for your salvation is near to come”, rather it states, “for My salvation”, may His name be blessed. Were this not written, one could not say it. The Holy One Blessed Be He said to Israel, if you do not have merit, I will do it for myself. As it were all the days that you were in strife, I was with you, as it says “with him, I am in strife, and I will redeem for my own sake.”

Solomon ibn Gabriol, The Kingly Crown, 32

מי ידע סוד מפעלותיך, / בעשותך לגוף צרכי פעלותיך? / ונתת לו עינים – לראות אותותיך / ואזנים – לשמוע נוראותיך / ורעיון – להבין קצת סודותיך / ופה – לספר תהלתך / ולשון – להגיד לכל יבוא גבורתך, / כמוני היום אני עבדך בן אמתך, / המספר כפי קצר לשוני מעט מזער מרוממותך

Who can understand the mystery of Your acts?
For You have given our bodies the means to do Your work.
You gave us eyes to see Your signs,
Ears to hear Your wonders,
A mind to comprehend some part of Your secrets,
A mouth to speak Your praises,
A tongue to tell everyone Your mighty acts,
As, today, do I,
Your servant, the son of Your handmaid,
Who tells, according to the limit of my tongue,
A bit of a part of Your greatness.

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MENSCHLICHTKEIT
אנושיות
Elul 21
Thursday, September 10

Phil David, Executive Director

Micah 6:8

הגיד לך אדם מה־טוב ומה־ה’ דורש ממך כי אם־עשות משפט֙ ואהבת חסד והצנע לכת עם־אלקיך׃

He has told you, O man, what is good, And what the Lord requires of you: Only to do justice And to love goodness, And to walk modestly with your God.

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GRATITUDE
הכרת הטוב
Elul 22
Friday, September 11

Rabbi David Seed

איזהו עשיר, השמח בחלקו, שנאמר (תהלים קכח) יגיע כפיך כי תאכל אשריך וטוב לך. אשריך, בעולם הזה. וטוב לך, לעולם הבא

Pirkei Avot 4:1
Who is the rich one? He who is happy with his lot, as it says, “When you eat [from] the work of your hands, you will be happy, and it will be well with you” (Psalms 128:2). “You will be happy” in this world, and “it will be well with you” in the world to come.

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EQUANIMITY
מנוחת הנפש

Elul 24
Sunday, September 13

Rabbi Adam Cutler

Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz, The Thirteen Pedalled Rose

The Jewish approach to life considers the man who has stopped going – he who has a feeling of completion, of peace, of a great light from above that has brought him to rest – to be someone who has lost his way. Only he whom the light continues to beckon, for whom the light is as distant as ever, only he can be considered to have received some sort of response:

Rabbi Isaac Luria, Kitvei ha’Ari, “Gates of Holiness” 4:2:5

A rabbi once came to one of the contemplative Kabbalists and asked to be accepted as an initiate. The Master said to him, “My son, may God bless you, for your intentions are good. Tell me, though, whether or not you have attained equanimity.”

The rabbi said to him, “Master, please explain your words.”

The Master replied, “If there are two people, and one of them honoured you and the other insulted you, are they equal in your eyes?”

The rabbi answered, “No, my Master. For I feel pleasure and satisfaction from the one who honours me, and pain from the insults of the other. But I do not take revenge or bear a grudge.”

The Master blessed the rabbi and sent him away. “Go in peace, my son. When you have attained equanimity, your soul does not feel the honour deriving from one who honours you nor the embarrassment arising from insults. Your consciousness is not yet ready to be attached to the supernal.”

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PATIENCE
סבלנות
Elul 25
Monday, September 14

Anna Gindin, Director of Programming

Rabbi Naomi Levy,
“A Parent’s Prayer for Patience”

When my child tests me, teach me, God, how to respond with wisdom.
When I grow irritable, send me patience.
When my fury rages, teach me the power of restraint.
When I become fixed in my ways, teach me to be flexible.
When I take myself too seriously, bless me with a sense of humor.
When I am exhausted, fill me with strength.
When I am frightened, fill me with courage.
When I am stubborn, teach me how to bend.
When I act hypocritically, help me to align my deeds with my values.
When mundane pressures threaten to overwhelm me, help me to remember how truly blessed I am.
When I lose my way, God, please guide me on the road back to joy, back to love, back to peace, back to you.

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WHOLENESS
שלמות
Elul 26
Tuesday, September 15

Dr. Jack Lipinsky, Principal, Adath Hebrew Academy

ויבא יעקב שלם עיר שכם אשר בארץ כנען

And Jacob came to Shalem, a city of Shechem, which is in the land of Canaan. (Genesis 33:18)

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ORDER 
סדר
Elul 27
Wednesday, September 16

Cantor Alex Stein

Traditional Jewish Teaching about Forgiveness

King David was anguished when he prophetically foresaw the destruction of the Holy Temple and the cessation of the offering of the sacrifices. “How will the Jews atone for their sins?” he wondered.

God replied: “When suffering will befall the Jews because of their sins, they should gather before Me in complete unity. Together they shall confess their sins and recite the order of the Selichot, and I will answer their prayers.”

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TRANQUILITY, EASE
שלווה
Elul 28
Thursday, September 17

Rabbi David Seed

Rashi on Genesis 37:1

ועוד נדרש בו וישב, בקש יעקב לישב בשלוה, קפץ עליו רגזו של יוסף – צדיקים מבקשים לישׁב בשׁלוה, אמר הקב”ה לא דין: לצדיקים מה שמתקן להם לעולם הבא, אלא שמבקשׁים לישב בשלוה בעולם הזה

וישב ‘AND HE ABODE’ — Jacob wished to live at ease, but this trouble in connection with Joseph suddenly came upon him. When the righteous wish to live at ease, the Holy one, blessed be He says to them:
“Are not the righteous satisfied with what is stored up for them in the world to come that they wish to live at ease in this world too!

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COMPASSION
רחמים
Elul 29
Friday, September 18

Rabbi Adam Cutler

Genesis Rabbah 12:15

כך אמר הקדוש ברוך הוא אם בורא אני את העולם במדת הרחמים, הוי חטייה סגיאין. במדת הדין, האיך העולם יכול לעמד. אלא הרי אני בורא אותו במדת הדין ובמדת הרחמים, והלואי יעמד

If I create the world with only the attribute of compassion, no one will be concerned for the consequences of their actions, and people will feel impunity to act badly. But if I create the world with strict judgment alone, how could the world endure? It would shatter from harshness of justice. So, I will create it with both justice and compassion, and it will endure.

Alan Morinis, Everyday Holiness: The Jewish Spiritual Path of Mussar

[C]ompassion is not primarily a feeling. It is something more fundamental than that. Compassion may indeed involve feeling. It also may breed action. But these qualities do not take the definition far enough. The soul-trait of compassion may be more accurately defined as the inner experience of touching another being so close that you no longer perceive the other one as separate from you. The two are made one, as the baby in the mother’s womb. In that state of inner identification, feelings will be shared as fully as if they were your own. You will leap to care for the other as naturally as you can for yourself. Because the other is no longer other.

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