Mussar - Patience Thought Questions

Teachings and Thought Questions from

(1) When something bad happens to you and you did not have the power to avoid it, do not aggravate the situation even more through wasted grief. (Cheshbon Ha'nefesh)

How might grief aggravate a situation? Is there a grief that is not wasted? If grief is not the proper response to unavoidable tragedy and loss, what is? What does this have to do with patience?

(2) Most types of pain and suffering are created so as to give you the impetus to hasten and seek a remedy for yourself, to serve as a protection for the body in general or for a specific limb.... Greater than the pain and suffering are the worry and fear that precede the pain. They spur you to apply your intellect to avoid even the beginning of pain... (Cheshbon Ha'nefesh)

Do you agree with the author that pain, suffering, worry and fear have this positive role in our lives? In what way have pain and suffering been catalysts for growth in your life? In what way have worry and fear been catalysts as well? How might people become trapped in worry and fear? How might one move from worry and fear as traps, to worry and fear as catalysts to growth?

(3) How do you climb the rungs of the ladder? As you stand on the bottom rung, you must see if your position is firm, and only then can you continue and climb up to the next rung. So, too, it is regarding the service of God: Is it possible to jump to Heaven all at once? One must ascend in stages, rung after rung. (Sayings of Kotsker, p. 149)

People are eager to climb the ladder to Heaven, to enlightenment, to bliss and joy. Yet in their rush for the end they may fall in the middle. How should you go about assessing the quality of your stance on any given rung of the ladder?

(4) Rabbi Israel [Salanter] was critical of those who learn fast. "If people learn without depth and understanding, how will they cultivate awe and humility?" (Sparks of Mussar, p. 10)

What kind of learner are you? Do you race through situations, picking up what you can on the way to the next experience? Or do you dwell in a situation long enough to cultivate deep understanding? How do you know which kind of learner you are? How does learning bring about "awe and humility""?

(5) One of Rabbi's Moshe's chassidim was very poor. He complained to the tzaddik that his wretched circumstances were an obstacle to his learning and praying. "In this day and age," said Rabbi Moshe, "the greatest devotion, greater than learning and praying, consists in accepting the world exactly as it happens to be." (Buber, Tales of the Hasidim, Later Masters, p. 166)