middot separation daily living one year down

one year down

Written by  rabbi benjamin ehrenfeld

art-mirror2I have had the privilege of spending each of the last 52 weeks of the year focused on building character and developing a lifestyle of serious t’shuvah.

As a result, I have found myself to be more honest about my strengths and weaknesses, more aware of how my thinking influences my actions, and more in tune with God’s expectations for his followers. At the same time, I find myself to have barely scratched the surface and I wonder if I ought to have grown more over the past year.


Cheshbon HaNefesh defines separation in terms of distance from sexual immorality. In a very real sense, separation is thus defined as an agent that serves to preserve righteous intimacy. Separation helps to provide the boundaries for healthy nearness. In this way, I have found mussar itself as a practice of separation for the sake of deeper intimacy with others and God. By carving out time to meet with my chevruta, write about middot, journal, and meditate, I separated myself from my preoccupation to be a “human doing” for the opportunity to live more like a human being.

Honoring the being of oneself and others requires a healthy relationship with the middah of separation. Proper relationship requires a certain amount of healthy distance. By taking the time to even distance ourselves from our own character enough to objectively examine its health, we have likely come closer to living more honorable lives. I certainly know I am a little closer then when I began. We have come to the end of the year and the end of a cycle of the Torah. Just like the Torah ends with a new beginning, so are we doing the same on this journey of mussar. It has been a joy to share some of my process of the mussar journey with you over the past year. I look forward to meeting you all again at the other side of the Jordan and at the beginning of Creation all at once.

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