I heard today in Shul that there is a custom to "skip" the first Shaar of Chovos HaLevavos and substitute it by the Kuzari or the Mesilas Yesharim instead. Does anyone know what is the source for this?

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    highly related: judaism.stackexchange.com/q/5459/8775.
    – mevaqesh
    Commented Mar 16, 2017 at 1:26
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    Note the Shela reccomended the study of Hovot Halevavot's Shaar HaYihud : של"ה עשרה מאמרות מאמר ראשון: על כן חל החיוב להיות בקי במופתים של חובת הלבבות, ויהיו מובנים בלב היטב היטב, וכל שער היחוד יהיה בלב וזכרון מיוחד,
    – mevaqesh
    Commented Mar 16, 2017 at 1:29
  • If you have a copy of the Chovot Halevavot with the commentary of the Lev Tov, he brings pages of quotes of Rabbis from previous generations about this.
    – Menachem
    Commented Mar 16, 2017 at 3:01
  • not everyone is capable of benefiting from it. but many people including myself got alot out of it
    – ray
    Commented Mar 25, 2017 at 21:37

1 Answer 1


One 18th century source for this is the Noda BiYehudah (Mahadura Kamma OH 35):

אמנם ילמוד דברי תורה שיש בהם ממש...וג"כ ספרי מוסר חובת הלבבות מן אחר שער היחוד עד גמירא

However, a person should learn Torah which has substance...and also ethical work [such as] Hoveot Halevavot [starting] from after Sha'ar HaYihud, until its end.

The Seer of Lublin (18th century) is quoted here as saying that laypeople shouldn't learn it since they will not understand it..

R. Moshe Tsuriel here cites a saying in the name of the Vilna Gaon, that studying Kuzari is preferable to studying Sha'ar HaYihud.

  • The choice for Kuzari is natural; he was an anti-intellectual thinker who valued experiential evidence over the Sha'ar HaYihud's attempts at rigorous philosophical proofs. The former is much more consistent with the anti-intellectual school. Mesillay Yesharim would be a similar alternative; (although MY is not theological or philosophical, so it isn't really a replacement for Shaar HaYihud, since it is written on a different topic).
    – mevaqesh
    Commented Mar 16, 2017 at 1:38
  • +1. On regard the choice for Kuzari or MY I was thinking something close to that.... but, on the other hand, would there be an actually source quoting this substitution as a minhag? Commented Mar 17, 2017 at 1:01
  • @RenatoGrun Added a reference regarding Kuzari. I don't know how reliable the author is though. He implies that the Shela opposes the study of Shaar HaYihud, when in reality the Shelah writes: חל החיוב להיות בקי במופתים של חובת הלבבות, ויהיו מובנים בלב היטב היטב, וכל שער היחוד יהיה בלב וזכרון מיוחד
    – mevaqesh
    Commented Mar 17, 2017 at 1:18
  • Thanks for that. I think the source referring to Kuzari is the siddur haGra mentioned there. If you could be able to link it to the post, it would be a greatly appreciated. If you can't, I think this answer already fully answers me and this would suffice for now. Commented Mar 19, 2017 at 4:00

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