middot diligence besorah why we are doing this

why we are doing this

Written by  rabbi benjamin ehrenfeld

art-running2Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize. (1 Corinthians 9:24-27, NIV)

What a beautiful analogy for diligence, and what’s more, what a beautiful analogy for diligence in Mussar specifically! In Mussar we work diligently towards a goal, becoming masters of our bodies and minds so that we receive the prize of eternity. Mussar is our “strict training.” Mussar assures us that we are not running aimlessly. It makes it possible for our daily lives to be ceaselessly moving toward the goal. We use our higher selves to master our minds and bodies so that we may be transformed. To put it simply, Mussar IS the diligence required to “get the prize.”

Rav Shaul’s analogy reminds us why we are doing Mussar. He reminds us that we’re not working so hard to build our character towards some aimless end. He reminds us that when we are diligent in being masters of our actions we become able to encourage others. This reveals the ultimate prize: many become fit for eternity in G-d.

May we all be thankful for the opportunity to share in the “prize” together. May we be diligent in our practice and become masters of our bodies; by this it may be known that G-d is the Master of our lives.

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