You can Change! Focusing on Free Will
Week 3, Lesson 16: September 13 / Elul 22
Rabbi Eliyahu Dessler was born in 1892; he was the scion of a rabbinic family and a student of the Kelm tradition of the Mussar Movement. In the early 1940’s, Rabbi Dessler assumed leadership of the newly formed Gateshead Kollel in the north of England and in 1947, moved to Israel where he became the spiritual advisor at the famed Ponevezh Yeshiva in Bnei Brak. His students wrote notes of his lectures that formed the basis of a five volume Hebrew masterpiece called “Michtav M’Eliyahu / Letter from Eliyahu.” Many of these lectures have been translated into English in a six-volume set entitled, “Strive for Truth!”
Rabbi Dessler compared our moral choices to life on the battlefield. He writes that “When two armies are locked in battle, fighting takes place only at the battlefront.” Any territory behind the lines of either army is assumed to be in the possession of that army. If one army pushes the other back, then that territory, too, becomes the assumed possession of that particular army. He compares this notion of the point where the troops meet to choices that individuals make:
Clarify Rabbi Dessler’s lesson in your own words. In what way does his formulation make your choices easier? Harder?
Continue with your intention for the week to exercise your free will in a situation that challenges you. For today, add the intention to identify three areas in your life where the struggle between “truth” and ‘falsehood” is alive, or where forces equally compelling are pulling you in different directions and where an active choice is required? Journal your insights.
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