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Running on Jewish Time

Saturday, March 04, 2006

New Motto for Artscroll Biographies

"There is no tzaddik in the world who does good and does not sin"
So why do we still read these books?

Okay, maybe you don't, but I do. (Okay, just Rav Yaakov and Rav Hirsch.)

Because being righteous is hard.
Because there are no good deeds without any sin mixed in.
Because the battlefield of the soul shifts from the words tripping off the lips in Shomnei Esrei to controlling thoughts wandering through the head. From the amount of money in the hand outstretched to a poor man, to the width of the smile across the face he sees. Asymptotic approach, closer and closer, and never quite there.

Because as good as you get, it only gets harder.

And these men were very good. So good that most of us never knew that they struggled. That they seemed perfect and serene. So good that whatever they struggled with was so internal, so private.... We never saw them.

But that didn't mean it wasn't still there.

I can't learn anything from angels, from perfect people who never desired evil, who never tasted the bitter sense of failure. Who never sinned.

I have no interest in the impossible. It far too late for never having sinned, or spoken a harsh word or forgotten a mincha. But it's not too late for everything.
But these men sinned also. That puts their level in range, far distant range but on the scale of possible and therefore interesting.
"A tzaddik falls seven times and gets up."
Everyone falls, everyone sins, what makes someone a tzaddik?

He gets up after biting the dust for the seventh time.

and that is something worth learning.

13 Comments:

  • Beautiful post.

    (Masmida - Can you give me some advice about my most recent blog? I usually don't like to plug my own blog, and you're welcome to delete this after you read it...but I would like your opinion on it very much.)

    By Blogger Holeches Levadi, at 12:23 AM, March 05, 2006  

  • So true, we all fall. The important thing is to keep trying. Like when working on a certain charecter trait, we sometimes slip, but we can still succeed if we keep trying.

    By Anonymous suzan, at 12:59 AM, March 05, 2006  

  • So you would like to read the book, "Making of a Gadol?"

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:30 AM, March 05, 2006  

  • well said!

    By Blogger almost_frei, at 5:58 AM, March 05, 2006  

  • Every person has within them the potential for good and evil, and those potentials are equally within them. For someone who is very righteous, they have an equally evil devil sitting on their shoulder and whispering in their ear. Yes, we all fall. But we all know...

    "Bemakom sh'baalei teshuva omdim tzadikim gemurim aynom omdim"

    Masmida... I really enjoy your blog. The concepts you bring are wonderfully insightful and I believe it is a reflection of a wonderful person.

    By Blogger FrumGirl, at 11:10 AM, March 05, 2006  

  • Very good post! There were only 4 people in the world history who did not sin ever ( as it states in the Gemarah Babah Basrah)

    The rest of the people had sinned, but they learned from their mistakes, and admitted to them and moved on and grew larger!

    That is a tzaddik! One who admits his mistakes, and grows from them.

    Good luck to you.

    By Blogger RebYidd, at 11:57 AM, March 05, 2006  

  • Good post, I also get frustrated when reading these biographies but for practical reasons they can't write them any differently.
    Contrary to some belief, Artscroll's books are still intended for profit.
    If a book gets banned and subsequently only bought by a couple of rebels, sales would be devastating. For this purpose any slightly negative thing abut a Godol is OUT OF THE QUETSION!

    By Blogger Pragmatician, at 9:02 AM, March 06, 2006  

  • What a wonderful post.....
    Chassidishe seforim are more into the not getting down when you sin..etc..

    By Blogger David_on_the_Lake, at 11:04 AM, March 06, 2006  

  • HL-
    Thanks and done, hope it helped.

    Suzan-
    Good insight.

    Anon-
    Yes. Do you know where I can get a copy pre-republishing?

    AF-
    well commented

    Frumgirl-
    Why, thank you.

    Reb Yid-
    where in bava batra?

    Prag-
    how horribly mercenary and pragmatic. Was it Rambam who said that 'you should not take money for teaching because the torah is not a shovel for you to dig with'?

    David-
    Sigh. when i was young i had little paitence for chassidim, now that i'm older they've grown on me

    By Blogger Masmida, at 11:22 AM, March 06, 2006  

  • Tonight is Moshe Rabieniu's yourtzeit, light a candle and pray for techiat hameitim...

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:26 AM, March 06, 2006  

  • Tonight is Moshe Rabieniu's yourtzeit, light a candle and pray for techiat hameitim...

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:26 AM, March 06, 2006  

  • I didnt say..chassidim..
    I said Chassidic literature and philosophy

    By Blogger David_on_the_Lake, at 4:42 PM, March 06, 2006  

  • Anon-
    I pray for tichat ha'mattim twice a day, every day. But even Moshe Rabbeinu got fed up with the Dor De'ah.

    David-
    The comment meant both. I've developed a deep abiding fondness for chassidim and chassidic litetature even though the chassidic lifestyle is not my derech.

    My derech is well, unusual and not easy, but I try to have integrity within it.

    By Blogger Masmida, at 11:06 AM, March 07, 2006  

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