||Ethical discourses by the giants of the mussar movement on the virtue of learning Torah and to foster respect for its students. The book was brought to press anonymously by R. Nathan Zevi Ben Moses Finkel who wrote the preface. It is followed by an introduction from the Hafez Hayyim and opening words from R. Alexander Moses av bet din Dresen. The discourses follow, each with their own title page. They are from R. Isaac Elhanan Spektor, R. Israel Salanter, and R. Alexander Moses. Printed with Ez Peri is Iggeret Mussar.
R. Nathan Zevi Ben Moses Finkel (1849–1927) was rosh yeshivah and one of the leaders of the Musar movement. He was an outstanding pedagogue and educator, based his ethical system upon the eminence of man. “A soldier,” he said, “who does not aspire to the rank of general is not even a soldier.” He stressed the need for perfection and love of truth and for spirituality in one’s daily life to justify the fact that “everything created was created for the sake of man.” In 1881 he anonymously published Ez Peri, containing essays by R/ Israel Lipkin and R. Isaac Elhanan Spector, with an introduction by Israel Meir ha-Kohen, author of the Hafez Hayyim.
R. Israel ben Ze’ev Wolf Lipkin (Salanter, 1810–1883) was a founder and spiritual father of the Musar movement. He refused to accept rabbinical office, even that of Brest-Litovsk - the major community in Lithuania. During his whole life, R. Israel Salanter sought the best way in which to influence the community. Deciding to become a preacher or a mashgi’ah ("spiritual mentor") in a yeshivah, he accepted the position of head of a yeshivah in Vilna, where he was quickly renowned for his profound acumen. He soon resigned this post, however, and established his own yeshivah in Vilna. When his fame spread he began to preach sermons giving expression to the doctrine of musar, a moral movement based on the study of traditional ethical literature. These sermons attracted huge audiences. He proceeded to found groups for the study of musar on the lines of various ethical works. With the consolidation of these groups he established a special institution called a Bet Musar, in which he delivered his musar discourses and these became the pattern for similar discourses delivered in all the yeshivot of the Salanter school. These discourses were never recorded apart from several individual ones published by his pupil R. Shneur Zalman Hirschovitz in Even Yisrael (1883).
In general R. Israel Salanter was revolutionary in his ideas. He proposed the compilation of an Aramaic-Hebrew dictionary for the better understanding of the Talmud, the translation of the Talmud into Hebrew, its printing in one volume, its translation into European languages, its teaching in universities, and the provision of religious books in Russian. Lipkin was also active in the communal and political spheres. He left no large works. He published an article in the Ez Peri (1881) and a number of articles from Tevunah, were later collected in a special work called lmrei Binah (1878). His well-known lggeret ha-Musar ("ethical letter") was first published in Koenigsberg in 1858 and repeatedly republished. Twenty-two letters were collected by Isaac Blaser, who published them under the title Or Yisrael (1900). A collection of his discourses recorded by pupils was published under the title Even Yisrael (1883); letters and collections appeared in various organs such as Beit Yisrael, Hut ha-Meshullash, etc. The letters of R. Israel Salanter, Kitvei R. Israel Salanter, by M. Pacter appeared in 1973. All these deal with his system of musar which spread throughout Lithuania and was adopted by all the yeshivot.
R. Isaac Elhanan Spektor (1817–1896) served as rabbi in various towns, and afterward went to Kovno, where he officiated until his death. In Kovno he attained eminence as a rabbinic authority and established a yeshivah (kolel avrekhim) for the training of outstanding rabbis. He was unsuccessful in his struggle to obtain official recognition for rabbis who were not government appointees. On the other hand he struggled successfully against a law requiring an official examination in Russian from Jewish teachers and also secured the withdrawal of a government decree prohibiting Jewish instruction in the heder. At Spektor's instigation R. Samson Raphael Hirsch wrote his book on the relationship of the Talmud to Judaism, which was submitted to the Russian government. He supported R. Isaac Dembo of Petersburg in his successful campaign against the ban on shehitah in Russia. He frequently organized aid for stricken communities in Russia, Lithuania, and other countries. Individuals and communities in distress, from all areas of Jewish settlement, turned to him. He sought government permission for the provision of kasher food to Jewish soldiers, and maintained a soup kitchen in Kovno until his death. He was the only rabbi invited to the conference of Jewish leaders held in St. Petersburg (Leningrad) in 1881–82 to discuss the deteriorating position of the Jews. He later dispatched a manifesto to David Asher, secretary of the chief rabbi of London, which resulted in protest meetings being held in England, France, Italy, and the U.S. These meetings, whose resolutions were submitted to the Russian government, attracted much publicity and led to the establishment of welfare funds. In later years he made similar pleas and participated in subsequent conferences of Jewish leaders, maintaining confidential contact with influential Jewish circles. Many Torah institutions, including the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary in New York, were named after him.
|| ... לגדל בישורון מורים כהלכה ולקבץ פעלים לתורה... שתול משני אבירי הרועים (מרן ישראל מסלאנט... מרן יצחק אלחנן [ספעקטאר] נ"י הגאב"ד דק"ק קאוונא)... ונלוה לזה קונטרס אגרת המוסר...
עמ' 7-5: "ראש דבר מאת המו"ל", שהוסיף הרבה הערות וחידושים בשולי מאמרו של ר' ישראל מסלאנט. המו"ל, שהעלים את שמו, הוא ר' נתן צבי פינקל. עיין: דב כ"ץ, תנועת המוסר, א, תל-אביב תש"ו, עמ' 177. עמ' 11-8: הקדמה מבעל... חפץ חיים [ר' ישראל מאיר הכהן]. עמ' 12-11: פתיחה. עמ' , 40-32 (ספירה שלישית): חתימת הספר, מהרב... ר' אלכסנדר משה [לפידות] אב"ד דראסיין. עמ' , 30-13, עם שער קצר: מאמר בענין חיזוק לומדי תוה"ק מכבוד... מרן ישראל מסלאנט נ"י... ([וגם] אגרת המוסר). הספירה השלישית, עם שער מיוחד: עץ פרי... מאמר בענין חיזוק לומדי תוה"ק מכבוד... מרן יצחק אלחנן... שנת ע'ץ' ח'י'י'ם' ה'ו'א' ל'מ'ח'ז'ק'י'ם' ב'ו' ע'ד'י' ע'ד' [תרמ"א]. שם הספר, באחד מן הטפסים שראינו, בדיו זהובה. ראינו טופס שני שבו סדר המאמרים זהה אולם ספירת העמ' היא: , 12; , -24 ;30, , 40-32 עמ'. בטופס שלישי שראינו סדר המאמרים שונה וספירת העמודים היא: , 12; , -34; , -40 עמ'. הספירה השנייה, עם שער מיוחד: עץ פרי... מכבוד... מרן יצחק אלחנן... הספירה השלישית, עם שער קצר: מאמר... מרן ישראל מסלאנט... (אגרת המוסר; חתימת הספר מהרב ר' אלכסנדר משה).