Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Cheshbon HaNefesh: accounting for the soul

Cheshbon HaNefesh is in many ways characteristic product of mussar, an ethical movement which originated among Lithuanian Jews and spread from there.  Although used by all or any Jews today, originally mussar, with its emphasis on rational analysis of emotion to build solid character traits, was distinctly Litvak --- expressing the special concerns of Lithuanian Jewish scholars.  

What makes Cheshbon HaNefesh so interesting is that that author provides a  concrete system for self-improvement based on notebook notations of character traits and charts. It is very practical, and has a very modern feel; mussar, in many ways, anticipated certain self-help trends.

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