Thursday, August 11, 2011

Developing the Positive

The Alter of Kelm, zt”l, explained that even positive attributes that one was born with require work. “The good character traits also require development. If a person does not work to build up the good—and even more so if he acts contrary to a good middah—it atrophies and is eventually completely ruined. Later, even if he desires to arouse the good, it will be virtually impossible and he will have to start cultivating it as if he had never had it in the first place.
He explained further, “Every quality has a particular ‘statute of limitations’ during which it can still be revived even if its strength has waned. But if one does not begin to work on awakening these positive attributes while there is still time, it will be too late. This is another meaning of the verse, 'ככלות כוחינו אל תעזבינו'—‘Do not allow us to wait until we are abandoned and cannot really rectify the damage we have done...”
Rav Yisrael Salanter, zt”l, explained this with a vivid parable. “It is well known that if one sits on his hand or foot and stops circulation by avoiding any movement it is only a matter of time until he can no longer use the motionless limb no matter what he does to restore its vitality. Emunah is no different than the physical world in this regard. If one does not develop his emunah or any a positive character trait due to his laziness or any other reason, it dissolves into nothingness and unfortunately writhers and dies.”


Neil Harris said...

Do you know where RYS says that?
I'm guessing some letter in Ohr Yisrael or in Eitz Pri.

Micha said...

The only source I know of is Rav Yitzchak Meltzan in his introduction to the Siddur of the Gra "Ishei Yisrael."