I have a terrible habit of behaving recklessly. I was wondering if anyone had any good mussar - from personal experience or from sources - that would help one overcome this bad character trait.

Many thanks, as ever.

P.S. My main problem is recklessness in relation to people in authority (not being sufficiently afraid of them).

2 Answers 2


The Ramchal's Mesilas Yesharim when talking about zerizus (zeal) points to the need to find the right level of fear. Once we gain appreciation for maintaining the correct sense of fear it will inevitably remove a sense of recklessness as we act with a more measured approach.

דע כי יש יראה ויש יראה: יש יראה ראויה ויש יראה שוטה, יש בטחון ויש הוללות. כי הנה האדון ברוך הוא עשה את האדם בעל שכל נכון וסברא נכוחה לשינהג עצמו על דרך טוב וישמר מן הדברים המזיקים אשר נבראו לענוש את הרשעים. ומי שירצה שלא ינהג עצמו בדרך החכמה ויפקיר עצמו לסכנות, הנה אין זה בטחון, אלא הוללות. והנה הוא חוטא במה שהוא נגד רצון הבורא יתברך שמו, שרוצה שישמור האדם את עצמו. ונמצא שמלבד הסכנה המוטבעת בדבר אשר הוא עלול אליה מפני חסרון שמירתו, הנה עוד הוא מתחיב בנפשו בקום עשה בחטא אשר הוא חוטא, ונמצא החטא עצמו מביאו ליענש ואולם השמירה הזאת, וזאת היראה המיוסדת על הנהגת החכמה והשכל, היא הראויה, שעליה נאמר (משלי כב): ערום ראה רעה ונסתר ופתיים עברו ונענשו

Know that there is fear and there is fear. There is justified fear and there is foolish fear. There is trust [in G-d] and there is recklessness. The L-rd, blessed be He, has made man with sound intellect and clear reasoning in order that he may guide himself in the right way and guard from harmful things which were created to punish the wicked. But someone who does not want to guide himself in an intelligent manner and exposes himself to dangers - this is not trust in G-d but rather foolishness. Such a person sins in that he is acting against the will of G-d who desires that a man guard himself. Hence, besides the inherent danger which he is exposing himself to due to failing to guard himself properly, he also actively brings punishment down upon himself for the sin which he commits. Thus the sin itself is what brings upon him the punishment. The type of fear and guarding of oneself which is appropriate is that which is based on the guidance of wisdom and reason. On this scripture says: "the clever man sees the evil and escapes but the fool continues through and is punished" (Mishlei 22:3). (Sefaria translation)

Rambam in Mishneh Torah, Hilchos Deos 1:4 provides some helpful corrective advice. He notes that the ideal way of acting is to try and orient oneself to the more middle-of-the-road mentality. Meaning if a person finds that they get easily wound up, agitated, or in your case reckless, the best form of response is to try and work on an inner-compass. If you feel a sense of recklessness emerge, to try and recalibrate and try to revert to the middle ground. In so doing it prevents you from going to either extreme. In the case of recklessness that means, either reacting in an explosive manner and saying something you know you will regret, but at the same time also not being too meek and a pushover:

הַדֶּרֶךְ הַיְשָׁרָה הִיא מִדָּה בֵּינוֹנִית שֶׁבְּכָל דֵּעָה וְדֵעָה מִכָּל הַדֵּעוֹת שֶׁיֵּשׁ לוֹ לָאָדָם. וְהִיא הַדֵּעָה שֶׁהִיא רְחוֹקָה מִשְּׁתֵּי הַקְּצָווֹת רִחוּק שָׁוֶה וְאֵינָהּ קְרוֹבָה לֹא לָזוֹ וְלֹא לָזוֹ. לְפִיכָךְ צִוּוּ חֲכָמִים הָרִאשׁוֹנִים שֶׁיְּהֵא אָדָם שָׁם דֵּעוֹתָיו תָּמִיד וּמְשַׁעֵר אוֹתָם וּמְכַוִּן אוֹתָם בַּדֶּרֶךְ הָאֶמְצָעִית כְּדֵי שֶׁיְּהֵא שָׁלֵם בְּגוּפוֹ. כֵּיצַד. לֹא יְהֵא בַּעַל חֵמָה נוֹחַ לִכְעֹס וְלֹא כְּמֵת שֶׁאֵינוֹ מַרְגִּישׁ אֶלָּא בֵּינוֹנִי. לֹא יִכְעֹס אֶלָּא עַל דָּבָר גָּדוֹל שֶׁרָאוּי לִכְעֹס עָלָיו כְּדֵי שֶׁלֹּא יֵעָשֶׂה כַּיּוֹצֵא בּוֹ פַּעַם אַחֶרֶת. וְכֵן לֹא יִתְאַוֶּה אֶלָּא לִדְבָרִים שֶׁהַגּוּף צָרִיךְ לָהֶן וְאִי אֶפְשָׁר לִהְיוֹת בְּזוּלָתָן כָּעִנְיָן שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (משלי יג כה) "צַדִּיק אֹכֵל לְשֹׂבַע נַפְשׁוֹ". וְכֵן לֹא יִהְיֶה עָמֵל בְּעִסְקוֹ אֶלָּא לְהַשִּׂיג דָּבָר שֶׁצָּרִיךְ לוֹ לְחַיֵּי שָׁעָה כָּעִנְיָן שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (תהילים לז טז) "טוֹב מְעַט לַצַּדִּיק". וְלֹא יִקְפֹּץ יָדוֹ בְּיוֹתֵר. וְלֹא יְפַזֵּר מָמוֹנוֹ אֶלָּא נוֹתֵן צְדָקָה כְּפִי מִסַּת יָדוֹ וּמַלְוֶה כָּרָאוּי לְמִי שֶׁצָּרִיךְ. וְלֹא יְהֵא מְהוֹלֵל וְשׂוֹחֵק וְלֹא עָצֵב וְאוֹנֵן אֶלָּא שָׂמֵחַ כָּל יָמָיו בְּנַחַת בְּסֵבֶר פָּנִים יָפוֹת. וְכֵן שְׁאָר דֵּעוֹתָיו. וְדֶרֶךְ זוֹ הִיא דֶּרֶךְ הַחֲכָמִים. כָּל אָדָם שֶׁדֵּעוֹתָיו דֵּעוֹת (בֵּינוֹנִית) [בֵּינוֹנִיּוֹת] מְמֻצָּעוֹת נִקְרָא חָכָם:

The straight path is the mean disposition found in each and every tendency of all the human tendencies. Such tendency is removed from both extremes an equal distance, and is not nearer to one than to the other. Therefore have the wise men of yore commanded that man should ever review his tendencies, estimate them, and direct them toward the middle-path so that he will be sound in body. How may one do it? He should not be an excitable person, easily angered; nor like the dead without feelings, but adopt a middle-course, not to become indignant, save only at something big which is worthy enough to be angry at, so that the like should not be done another time. Likewise shall he not crave for aught save the things which the body requires, and without which it is impossible to be, as the subject is spoken of: "The righteous eateth to the satisfying of his soul" (Pro. 13.25). Likewise shall he not continue to fatigue himself in his affairs, save to acquire what is necessary for him to live on for the time being as the subject is mentioned, saying: "A little that a righteous man hath is better" (Ps. 37.16). He should not be too close-fisted, nor yet squander his money, but give Z'dakah within the means of his hand, and lend accordingly to the needy. He should not be too optimistic and playful, nor too pessimistic and mournful, but spend all of his days in good cheer and with a pleasant countenance. So should he measure all the rest of his tendencies. And this path is the path of the wise men. Every man whose tendencies are mean tendencies of the middle-course, is called wise. (Sefaria translation)


Sefer HaMidot has a section on Yirah, fear/awe with quick easy points.


There is a Torah in Likutei Moharan where it's brought that the fear needs to be in three aspects: Fear of God, fear of his father, and fear of his rav. When these three are together then the fear is whole and complete. Also the false fears are nullified thereby, so one does not fear people or things that he shouldn't.

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