Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Day 11: Develop Your Awareness of Hashem

Part 2/4 (to see other parts of the article, click on the pages at the bottom)

by Miller, Rabbi Zvi (See all authors)

How to Develop Yirat Shamayim

In Ohr Y israel, Rabbi Salanter confirms that, "Yirat Shamayim rules over everything. It has the power to curbdesire and keep it in check." (Letter Four)

How can you access this powerful tool? The most effectiveway is through the daily study of Mussar. Some of the classical Mussar texts are:

  • Mesilat Yesharim (The Path of the Just)

  • Orchot Tzaddikim (The Ways of the Righteous)

  • Chovot HaLevavot (Duties of the Heart)

  • Menorat HaMaor (by Rabbi Yitzchak Abuhav)

  • Pirkei Avot (Ethics of the Fathers)

  • Mishlei (Proverbs)

  • Kohellet (Ecclesiastes)

Several works that are more contemporary are relevant and enlightening as well. A few of them are:

  • Ohr Yisrael

  • Michtav Me'Eliyahu (Strive for Truth)

  • Ahavat Chesed (Chofetz Chaim)

  • Ohr Gedalyahu

  • Netivot Shalom

Many works of Mussar have been translated into English, but none should be just read through quickly. It's best to study these works methodically with a mentor or a chavruta. If that is not possible, self-study is a workable option.

In Maggid Mesharim, Rabbi Yosef Caro, author of the Shulchan Aruch, records Torah teachings and secrets that were revealed to him by an angel. The angel instructed him, "Read one section from Chovot HaLevavot every day in order to humble the yetzer hara." If Rav Yosef Caro, who was a pure and holy tzaddik, was told to learn Mussarevery day, is there any question that we need it even more?

In fact, the Rosh, the Tur, the Arizal, the Vilna Gaon and the Mishnah Berurah (chapters 1 and 603) ruled that every person should study Mussar every day. This is because, over time, continuous Mussar study instills the awareness that Hashem sees our actions and knows our thoughts. This is the primary and indispensable weapon to gain self-mastery. Once Yirat Shamayim is a reality to you, a force will be at your disposal that can effectively overcome desires.