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Messilas Yesharim 6/6/09

We began Chapter 5 of Messilas Yesharim.

Ramchal begins to define for us the word “Zrizus”.

The basic idea we learned this week was the parallel from Zehirus to Zrizus.

Zehirus helps us avoid morally harmful activity. Zrizus helps us take action to do morally good activity.

We also discussed Sotah and some of the ideas that were mentioned in my Monday Lunch N Learn.

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Mesillas Yesharim 05/24/09

You may recall that last week we did not get any further in the Messilas Yesharim text.

Oh yes, we had a great discussion about getting serious about life. We devoted much of our discussion to clothes.

Clothes has been a hot topic at the Pacific Jewish Center lately.

Yesterday, we supposed to talk about the number 50 in Judaism and why Shavuos is the only Jewish holiday with no set date. Instead, we talked more about clothes. Unbelievable.

This week we got back on track.

We completed Chapter 5 in Messilas Yesharim and learned about the 3rd and final detriment to “Watchfulness”. Do you want to know what it is?

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Mesillas Yesharim 05/17/09

This week we ventured further into the detriments to watchfulness.

The last two weeks (catch up here and here) have focused on setting aside time for Torah and spiritual growth. This is to avoid becoming mired in materiality and neglected our spiritual needs.

Today we moved on to the next detriment. The next thing Ramchal teaches us to avoid is an overarching lack of seriousness. Perhaps it could be more precisely defined as immaturity.

Ramchal says that being un able to take things seriously and scoffing anything important is going to impede our growth.

Find out how by clicking below.

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Mesillas Yesharim 05/10/09

Moving right along in Chapter 5

We quickly reviewed last week and continued until we wrapped up category number 1 of “things to avoid’ so as not to hinder our “Zehirus”.

The main idea is to avoid overwhelming oneself in materiality.

Also, a discussion ensued regarding our natural resistance to morality. It’s like a magnet pulling us towards our instincts.

It was a great class with super pace and as always great questions.

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Mesillas Yesharim 05/03/09

Mesillas Yesharim was electric today!

The 5th Chapter is all about avoiding the things that may hinder our ability to be “watchful”. We need to know what we are doing before we can improve our actions. We need to avoid traps that will take our minds off of watching what we are doing.

This is in the spirit of “Sur Merah, Vaaseh Tov” – Psalms 34. First we must turn away from evil and then we go towards good.

Ramchal gives us 3 things to avoid. We began the first of these today.

During the class we had 3 really great discussion.

Our first discussion was about the distance from our heads to our hearts and Tefillin.

The second discussion was about working for a living. The Torah approach is that one should earn a living to take care of our material needs and set aside time for Torah study to take care of our spiritual needs.

We ended with a lengthy discussion about absolute truth. Our Rabbis teach us that one can only become righteous and moral if they study Torah. What is the meaning behind this? Why is intellectual information a prerequisite for moral growth?

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Mesillas Yesharim 04/26/09

…And we’re back. After a brief hiatus the Mesillas Yesharim class returned today with a bang.

We completed the fourth chapter of Mesillas Yesharim!

We began our class today with a re-reading of what we studied during our last class (just added – sorry about that).

It was just as incredible as the first time we studied this idea – it truly blows my mind.

We wrapped up the class with the final thoughts of Chapter 4 and next week we will begin Chapter 5.

Click through to hear the end of Chapter 4.

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Mesillas Yesharim 03/15/09

Incredible.

Today we learned about an amazing concept in Judaism. We learned Ramchal’s reconciliation of a very important conceptual contradiction.

We learned recently that we believe GD’s judgment is exact. He is truth and truth is absolute justice. We use this to contemplate the consequences of our actions. When we contemplate the consequences of our actions we may be able to control our animal instincts.

What about GD’s mercy? What about His compassion. How are we to understand mercy in the context of judgment? If we deserve to suffer the consequences of our actions how can GD “overlook” those consequences and show mercy?

You will be absolutely blown away by Ramchal’s answer.

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Messilas Yesharim 03/08/09

We changed the clocks the night previous to this class. You can tell because I sound extra groggy!

Walking along Ramchal’s “straight path” we continued to analyze the impact of our actions.

There are no small things, nothing gets brushed under the carpet. Meditating on this idea can help us remember that all of our actions all have consequences – that is Ramchal’s goal in this section.

The questions were insightful and I really enjoyed the class despite the effects of the clocks moving ahead an hour…

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Messilas Yesharim 03/01/09

We had a really exciting class today. We began the most practical method for instilling watchfulness in our lives and this sparked a very vibrant discussion.

Ramchal mentions many situations where great people in Jewish history going back to Biblical times found that their actions, while nearly perfect, demanded retribution from GD.

The questions were insightful and I really enjoyed the class.

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Messilas Yesharim 02/15/09

This week we did a review of the first way Ramchal provides to inspire us to be watchful. This is a method useful for very spiritual people who just need a small push to get them started on the path of watchfulness. Then we went over the second way to become watchful. This way is for the type of person who senses and feels his portion in the next world as real and tangible.

What about the rest of us? That is what we began this week. We concluded with a very interesting irony in the way GD deals with his closest adherents. Next week we take it all to the next level.

You can listen to the class by clicking through.

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Messilas Yesharim 02/15/09

Last week PJC was honored with a guest speaker and the Messilas Yesharim class took a one week siesta. The class returned this week.

We took another step forward along the “Pathway of the Just”. We continued Chapter 4 and learned how to channel our thirst for respect into inspiration for growth.

We also had a discussion about using all your talents for good. Each of our character traits can be used to help us if used properly. The question is if we are capable of channeling our abilities or if they are masters over us.

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Messilas Yesharim 02/01/09

Today we began the 4th Chapter of Messilas Yesharim.

The 4th Chapter deals with the method by which we can acquire the very useful characteristic of Zehirus (watchfulness). The fist step in the process is study of Torah. By studying sections of Torah that deal with inspiration and motivation we can give ourselves a much needed boost. This is in addition to the inspiration which comes standard with any Torah study. Ramchal first talks about the type of person who has already acquired much Torah and cares desperately about living his life the fullest. He needs little motivation to be vigilant in his Zehirus – he already cares passionately about using his time well. This serves as his inspiration. It is the fear of not succeeding that drives him.

Next week we will learn about Ramchal’s method advice for those of us still lacking in the Torah study department.

We enjoyed a nice discussion about the fear of failure as well.

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Messilas Yesharim 01/25/09

Today we completed the 3rd chapter of Messilas Yesharim.

Perhaps the most famous of Ramchal’s ideas is present in this week’ section. I won’t ruin it for you so you will need to check it out for yourself…

As we completed the section we talked about practical applications of “Zehirus” and in what ares we need watchfulness. We are not rehabilitating murders, thieves and rapists in our class so where is the moral struggle for which we need watchfulness? As a group we discussed following our intellect over our instinct and areas where that may be helpful.

We also briefly mentioned the idea that when we make good choices they can become instinctive as well – but that is an acquired instinct resulting from our good choices. The bad instinct is the “child” within us that is selfish and is reminiscent of animal instinct.

What we are learning about is how to stop the child instinct from controlling us. Then we make good choices which in turn become instinctual… And that is a good thing!

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Messilas Yesharim 01/18/09

As we continued the 3rd Chapter we learned more about the necessity for watchfulness. Ramchal compares each of us to merchants which must check, double check and triple check our wares to ensure their quality. Similarly, we must check our actions for their quality.

There was a tangential discussion about how the Rabbis will use verses form TanaKh to teach us ideas using puns or plays on the words – very interesting stuff.

We concluded with Ramchal’s introduction of a new set of problems. We are blinded by the darkness of our world – how can we even begin to evaluate our actions to know what is right and wrong?

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Messilas Yesharim 01/11/09

Today we started the 3rd Chapter of Messilas Yesharim. Ramchal has given us the importance of Zehirus (watchfulness) and has taught us that we need to integrate this idea into our lives. What remains is the definitions of Zehirus. Today we began to uncover just what Zehirus actually is. Ramchal gives us the two main areas of Zehirus. Firstly we need to figure out what is right and what is wrong and then we need to figure if what we are doing is helping or hurting us in doing what is right.

We also discussed my previous blog post which prompted a short discussion on preparing for moral challenges and not just relying on our skill as moral warriors.

Finally we discussed examining your actions to see what is good and what is bad and then examining your good actions to see if they can be refined or improved in any way.

Enjoy the class (25 minutes)

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