ELUL 5782: TZELEM ELOKIM
In the Likeness of God
WELCOME TO WEEK TWO
THIS WEEK'S ELUL SPONSORS
This Week's Sponsors are Heather Westendarp and Naomi Wittlin, Houston, TX:
This week is dedicated to the memory of Rabbi Shlomo Wolbe, zt”l
לעילוי נשמת מורינו המשגיח הרב שלמה וולבה זצ"ל
Rabbi Shlomo Wolbe was the pre-eminent Mussar master of our generation and our primary link to the Mussar academies of pre-war Europe. Often referred to simply as “The Mashgiach (The Spiritual Supervisor),” he was the author of Alei Shur, a modern Mussar classic, the first volume having been written over a span of thirteen years. His writings focus on building the Olam pnimi, the inner world of each individual student. We have been blessed to be led in the study of this brilliant text by Rabbi Avi and are constantly inspired by his teachings.
We are grateful to our sponsors who will bring us each week of this year's program. The final week, in the tradition of Elul, we invite all of our Chaverim to make a $36 donation in honor and merit of a loved one, may their memory be a blessing. Each of our donors and their honorees will be listed during the final week’s email and on our website.
WEEK TWO LEARNING
The Divine Attribute of Savlanut
In week two of our Elul program, Rabbi Yaakov Haber leads us in understanding the Divine attribute of savlanut, bearing the burden of those who have wronged us. Kate Shane composes a stirring meditative chant with her harp and voice, and Judith Golden creates a gorgeous original melody and chant. Rabbi Shlomo Wolbe guides us with additional study texts. What actions does the Divine attribute of savlanut dictate that we take towards someone who has wronged us? How might these lessons inform your personal Elul goals and preparations for the High Holidays? Let’s explore together.
PRIMARY TEXT & ZOOM
Join us for this week's webinar, 9/4, 2:30 - 4:00 p.m. ET: Savlanut: Bearing the Burden of Another’s Wronging You with R. Ya'acov Haber.
THIS WEEK'S ELUL TEACHER
Rav Yaacov Haber
Rabbi Yaacov Haber has been a leading force in the Jewish community for over forty years. He lived and taught in the United States, Australia, and Israel. He is presently the Rav of Kehillas Shivtei Yeshurun, a vibrant community in the center of Ramat Bet Shemesh, Israel. He was Rav of Congregation Bais Torah in Monsey, NY, and served as the National Director of Jewish Education for the Orthodox Union. He is the creator of TorahLab, a popular online educational resource center, and was one of the founding members of AJOP.
WEEK TWO LEARNING MATERIALS
Sustaining Our World
Alei Shur Vol. 2, pgs. 215-216
Rav Simcha Zissel (of Kelm) writes that patience [savlanut)] is the root of all [positive] middot and exalted traits. His source is the RaMaK’s “Tomer Devorah,” who writes lofty ideas in his explanation of the thirteen attributes of [God’s] compassion, revealed to us by the prophet Micha at the end of his words (the book of Micha).2
Indeed, [savlanut] is the first of the thirteen attributes of [G-d’s] compassion, through which God “carries/bears [nosei]” God’s world. Without it [savlanut] we would be unable to exist for even one day. Regarding this trait we are enjoined to emulate God’s ways; through it [savlanut] humanity, too, “carries/bears” their world. Like God, a person bestows goodness, kindness, light of face [ha’arat panim],3 and peace upon their surroundings. If, Heaven forbid, one is unable to act as a “Sovereign who bears insult,”4 but rather when another individual insults the person or commits a transgression [ie., wrong’s the person in some way], and the person immediately hides their face and ceases to bestow goodness, kindness and peace, this person too...
[continue reading in downloadable text]
Savlanut by Kate Shane
Creator, give me the patience to bear the burden of my neighbor.
“... A person should learn the degree to which one must practice patience [savlanut]; to bear the yoke and the evils done by one's neighbor even when those evils still exist [and have not been rectified]. So that even when one's neighbor's offense still exists, one bears the offender until the wrong is righted or until it vanishes of its own accord.”
- Tomer Devorah / The Palm Tree of Deborah, ch. 1
- If you are practicing savlanut as defined by Tomer Devorah, what actions might this dictate you take toward someone who has wronged you or caused you pain? Consider possible scenarios and the way in which you think you should act. Journal about your experiences with the practice which follows.
- Turning your focus to your personal spiritual goal/s for this Elul and in preparation for the High Holidays, consider how acting b’Tzelem Elokim, Godlike, in the area of savlanut might impact your personal goal/s. What are your personal struggles in this area and what might you do to overcome these personal challenges? What specific steps might you take?
Choose 15 minutes of your day, when you’re engaged with others, and specifically with a person who you may have some trouble getting along with or has wronged you in some way. This can be at work, in a social setting, or at home. During this time, your practice is to “bear the burden” of everything you hear and experience that you don’t like or even find offensive. Even if a person directly insults you or does something that would normally make you upset, bear that burden and do not lose your composure. If you must respond, take a deep breath and do so patiently and calmly and from a carefully measured place, without any emotional charge.
As you do this, pay careful attention to your inner self and the feelings that tend to bubble up within you. Experience the feeling of those emotions and practice being in control of them. If you feel yourself becoming judgmental, call to mind the lesson from the Talmud (Rosh HaShana 17A): Rava said: “Whoever is ma’avir (literally, to pass over) on their middot, [God] will be ma’avir on their sins.” (See Additional Study Text for this week.)
Over the course of the week, try to place this “15 minutes of savlanut” practice into different situations that bring you in contact with different challenging individuals. [Based on Rabbi Wolbe’s Alei Shur]