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The Real War

Translation by Yehoshua Siskin

What is the most difficult war? The war to develop and perfect our personality. So claimed Rabbi Yisrael Salanter, who passed away 137 years ago today. He established an educational movement in the Jewish world, the Mussar (moral conduct) movement, whose purpose is to change and improve a person's character traits. Here are just a few short, piercing thoughts from the many that make up Rabbi Salanter's powerful legacy:

  • "It is easier to master the entire Talmud than to change a single character trait."
  • "The material distress and physical needs of another are the spiritual concerns of mine."
  • Whoever wishes to rise above someone else should not dig his friend a pit but rather construct a mountain for himself."
  • Not everything we think should we say, not everything we say should we write, and not everything we write should we publish."
  • It is part of human nature that the more we benefit someone else, the more we love that person with our whole heart."


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