Saturday, 22 October 2011

Mussar: A Happy Life vs. A Meaningful Life

« ...[EG] Self-help addresses
(1) loss of productivity; and (2) personal pain.

In Torah (including Mussar) we'd call these yisurim (trevails). But Mussar wouldn't want you to attack yisurim. Yisurim are triggers, part of the solution. They aren't the things that need changing, they are causes to get up and change something. Mussar adds to self-help the notion of duty. One doesn't try to eliminate yisurim, but their causes — which reside in flaws in our ability to carry out our mission.»

| Aspaqlaria



Without necessarily opposing the sentiments expressed in the post above, I still think it depends on the person's situation [matzav]. This post is totally appropriate for some [EG RYDS] but others may NEED to feel better in order to be effective people and effective Jews. EG a person who is so depressed as to not get up out of bed, will also not make it to Minyan.

So I don't see the values of seeking relief from pain or happiness as necessarily opposed to seeking meaning. In my way of thinking, it really depends upon the situation or the madreigah of the individual
That means, if happiness adds to effectiveness, it's a worthwhile middah. OTOH if the pursuit of happiness leads to avoidance of "doing the proper thing" then it can indeed become a negative.

Also, as I posted a while ago [quoting a sefer], public mussar can do as much harm as good, depending upon the audience; meaning good Mussar can motivate some and "turn off" others.


1 comment:

micha said...

I was only trying to argue they are different goals, not that they necessarily contradict.

Nor was I speaking of Mussar in particular.

Torah is about doing what's right, not doing what makes me happy.