Sefer HaMidot

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Sefer HaMidot – literally translates as The Book of Character Traits – is one of Rebbe Nachman’s books.  It is arranged according to issues in alphabetical order from Emet (truth) to Tefila (prayer), and most chapters have two parts.

The first part is a compilation of verses from the Tanach, Oral Law, and poskim pertaining to midot and segulot (traits and spiritual remedies) which Rebbe Nachman completed before he became Bar-Mitzvah, i.e. before he reached age 13.

The second part was compiled later in Rebbe Nachman’s life and reflects his own insights regarding the issues.

He said of this book that it is what made him a real Jew.

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Messilat Yesharim – The Track of the Upright

 

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(by the Ramchal, Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzato)

 

The title of the Ramchal’s book is taken from Mishley, Proverbs 16: 17 –

‘Track of Upright, leave evil protects one’s soul, forms one’s path.’

This book summarizes the Components of the complete Service of Hashem, as –

1.Awe, 2.Going in His Ways (Integrity of Perfecting Virtues), 3.Love of Hashem and Gratifying Him, 4.Wholeness of Heart, that the service of Hashem is with purity of intention, and 5.Keeping all the mitzvoth, commandments, being the means of the Service.

The root of wholeness of service – Authentic Piety – is that it should be clear and verified to a person what one’s duty is in the world, and why one needs to focus and direct everything one strives for one’s entire life.  The means to attaining our purpose are the commandments, the mitzvoth; and the place we can do them is only in this world – i.e. this world enables us to do them.  The basis of the Track is that verse in Dvarim, Deuteronomy 10: 12 –

And now, Israel, what does Hashem your God ask of you but to [have] awe of Hashem your God, to walk in all of His ways, and to [have] love of Him and to serve Hashem your God with all of your heart ad all of your soul.

And, the actual path, the ‘Terms of Service’ being the Track, is comprised of twelve steps or levels:

Torah leads to Carefulness (the mitzvoth of omission, or negative commandments), which leads to Agility (the action mitzvoth, or positive commandments), then Cleanness, Abstinence, Purity (of heart and thought), Piety, Humility, Sin-Fearingness, Holiness, the Holy Spirit (above natural law), and Resurrection of the Dead (like Eliyahu and Elisha the Prophets).

Actions of the Crown

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Man is suitable to [act] in likeness of his Maker,

and then he will be [included] in the secret of the higher form, tzelem [image] and character.

Whereas if he is similar in his body but not in actions, then he disappoints the likeness…

Therefore it is right to [act] in likeness to the actions of the Keter (Crown),

which are the 13 Virtues of Higher Compassion as hinted in the secret of the verses (Micha 7: 18-20)…

(The opening of the Ramak’s (Rabbi Moshe Cordova) Tomer Devorah, Deborah’s Palm)