Questions tagged [mussar-ethics]

Questions relating to how a Jewish life should be led.

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25
votes
20answers
7k views

How can I curb my sexual desire?

I am looking for the best and most practical suggestion as to what a man can do to curb his yetzer hara (evil inclination) for sexual desire. Please provide sources for why your answer should be ...
26
votes
2answers
553 views

Is unmasking an anonymous author addressed by Halacha?

If an individual writes a document for public consumption anonymously or pseudonymously and either explicitly or presumably desires to remain anonymous, is there a Halachic issue with publicly ...
13
votes
6answers
2k views

Do Jews believe in Heaven and Hell?

In yeshiva I was always told about gan eden and gehinnom, and how the good go to the former place while the bad go to the latter. However, in popular culture, Jews are always said to not believe in ...
11
votes
5answers
2k views

Why does the Torah forbid interest only on loans to Jews?

Why aren't we allowed to charge a Jew interest but we're allowed to charge a non-Jew?
89
votes
3answers
2k views

Does “reputation scoring” make “the Torah a crown to magnify yourself with”?

Is "reputation scoring" against the spirit of Pirkei Ovos 4 (5) "Rabbi Tzaddok would say: Do not make the Torah a crown to magnify yourself with, ...."
11
votes
1answer
498 views

Parameters of Yuhara - When should someone be concerned that he's overdoing it?

There are many cases in halakha where one is discouraged from adopting a stringency because it appears to be an expression of 'religious haughtiness' (יוהרא). When should someone be concerned about ...
6
votes
1answer
234 views

False portrayal on an anonymous Q&A site

If one posts a question on an anonymous Q&A website there is an assumption that other users either do not, should not, or need not know the identity of the person. Thus all interactions between ...
5
votes
3answers
289 views

Origin of the Escalator analogy

What is the origin of the escalator analogy of always striving for growth? I'm referring to the analogy that, in life, like a person climbing a downward escalator, if one is not constantly striving ...
11
votes
5answers
619 views

How to maintain devotion to Hashem in a low period in one's life?

It seems that when things in a person's life are going well, it's easy to pray with concentration and be devoted to the service of the creator. However, when things turn sour these items are more ...
11
votes
3answers
533 views

Receiving Too Much Change

Do I have an obligation to give back extra change I receive? Would it matter if the store owner or person giving it to me was a Jew?
10
votes
0answers
253 views

May one ride in a utilitarian car?

A new study has confirmed the obvious: people want to survive: even though participants approve of autonomous vehicles that might sacrifice passengers to save others, respondents would prefer not ...
19
votes
7answers
3k views

Why is Judaism not Racism?

I am only asking this question to educate myself, not because I am anti-semitic or for any other hidden agenda. I do not want to turn this forum into an ugly place. I realize this question is ...
14
votes
2answers
347 views

Do our sources address “strategic loan defaults”?

In the most recent episode of NPR's Planet Money Podcast, they interviewed a real estate lawyer in Arizona who talked about the large numbers of her clients who have been asking for advice about doing ...
10
votes
4answers
989 views

Why is the Mesillas Yesharim so popular and accepted?

To overgeneralize, I bet there is a copy of the mesillas yesharim in almost every orthodox home, shul and beis medrash. I'm wondering why this work is so popular and accepted. My wondering is ...
7
votes
2answers
373 views

Examples of Rabbis who had strong disagreements and were amicable

I'm looking for examples of Rabbis who had a serious disagreement and were nevertheless very kind and thoughtful towards each other. The main reason I'm asking for examples is to illustrate what a ...
8
votes
1answer
257 views

Riches found in a purchased item. Return or keep it?

A young rabbi reportedly found nearly $100,000 in a desk he'd purchased second-hand on Craigslist, and subsequently returned the money. Is this story about a Kiddush HaShem, or a Hassid Shoteh (...
6
votes
2answers
254 views

Gentile Biography which Inspires

What is the jewish view on reading biographies of remarkable gentiles which one finds inspirational provided there is no apikorsus in the content. Have come across a website about a certain person ...
3
votes
1answer
170 views

Parameters of Yuhara for women

This question asks about Yuhara - religious haughtiness - in general. In the current answer it discusses issues of one-upmanship on one's Rebbe or local Rabbis being a special concern. How is this ...
3
votes
1answer
240 views

Why did God sanction killing everything that breathes against the 7 nations?

Why did God sanction killing everything that breathes against the 7 nations? Why did God sanction such a thing? How is every single person of these nations to blame? Deuteronomy 20:16 "However, of ...
2
votes
0answers
37 views

Source that people are judged based on their inclinations

Where does the Orchos Tzaddikim say that everyone is judged according to their inclinations, meaning that you could have one person who acts better than a second person but the second person is better ...
17
votes
6answers
1k views

Train ticket not collected: destroy?

Assuming a train line where single-ride tickets are normally collected or cancelled manually by train crew circulating among seated passengers, and it is physically possible to use them later if they ...
7
votes
1answer
139 views

A case of business ethics - pricing a matchable antique

A certain piece of art is worth $10,000 for a matched pair. A single is only worth $100. You own an antique shop and have a single in the back. A poor widow with ten children walks in and offers to ...
6
votes
2answers
794 views

Does the end justify the means

Is the phrase "The ends justify the means" a concept favored in Judaism? For instance, can one lie in order to get others to perform a Mitzvah?
4
votes
1answer
113 views

Can one publicize a poor experience with a service provider to discourage others from using him?

Trigger situation for this question: someone asked for a doctor recommendation on a WhatsApp group with 200+ members. When a particular doctor was mentioned, one of the members wrote he had a bad ...
3
votes
0answers
191 views

Elul Cheshbon HaNefesh

How does one make a Cheshbon HaNefesh during Elul. I'm aware of the technique given in Sefer Cheshbon HaNefesh, but that is intended (and set up as) as a year round exercise. To do something more ...
1
vote
1answer
409 views

English translation of Reshit Chochmah

Is there an English translation of the book Reshit Chochmah By Rabbi Eliyahu DaVidas?
5
votes
5answers
656 views

Sifrei Mussar/Machshava/Avodah from the Rishonim

I'm looking for a list of some of the Seforim written by Rishonim that are in the category of either Mussar, Machshava, or Avodah (or anything else that fit into these categories.) For this question ...
5
votes
4answers
846 views

Definition of Baal Nefesh

I have seen "Baal Nefesh" used frequently in various contexts: sometimes as one who is scrupulous in halacha, other times as someone who is a quality person. What is its simple translation/meaning?
4
votes
4answers
240 views

Sefarim specifically made for “Daily Hizuk”

Are there any books/articles/websites/email programs that can help provide a daily Hizuk? By Hizuk, I mean something gives one more of a mood to be Oved Hashem.
2
votes
1answer
85 views

Sefas Emes and your mission

Someone mentioned that the Sefas Emes quotes in the name of the Chiddushei HaRim on that Mishnah (Avos 1:14), אם אין אני לי מי לי, וכשאני לעצמי מה אני, ואם... The Sefas Emes says, Every yid has ...
12
votes
2answers
595 views

Would halacha permit bombing Auschwitz?

I know there's a lot of talk about whether Allied forces during World War II could have / should have taken military action directly against the Holocaust. I'm not opening that can of worms here. ...
11
votes
5answers
563 views

Need a Torah-based quote for “reaching new levels”

Can someone please recommend an appropriate biblical quote or passage that illustrates (or somehow relates to) the ethic "reaching new levels" (spiritual, emotional, educational)?
11
votes
2answers
325 views

El Al Airfare error and Halachah

What are the Halachic implications of yesterday's El Al airfare snafu? In brief, El Al's air tickets were being sold online very cheap for a while; the price was later corrected, and El Al claimed the ...
9
votes
3answers
212 views

How to attain patience

Are there any Sifre Musar that give advice on how to become more patient? If so, can you bring a few points on how to do so? Please cite sources.
7
votes
6answers
354 views

Dealing with anger

What is a good sefer or even book that helps people with a problem with getting angry?
5
votes
5answers
341 views

Is it written anywhere that one must stand up for what he believes is right?

This may sound like a weird question, but I was wondering if it is written anywhere (Gemarah, Commentators, etc) that one has an obligation to stand up for something he believes is right, continuing ...
5
votes
3answers
616 views

What defines a person who is circumcised “of the heart”?

Circumcisions of the heart are a topic which I've seen mentioned a couple of times but never really delved into. While the word circumcision is used to describe it, the mark cannot be equated to true ...
4
votes
2answers
166 views

Morality before Sinai

If Torah is the source of morality, defining what is right and wrong, then Pre-Matan Torah, pre-Sinai, what form of moral objectivity existed?
4
votes
0answers
114 views

Can and should I report cheaters?

Sometimes during an exam, the Rabbi or professor leaves the room. This provides an opportunity (which some students take) to openly and publicly cheat. (These students are not wearing kipot nor are ...
3
votes
2answers
242 views

Immoral Halacha

In a conversation concerning the normal sensitive halachic issues, e.g. gender roles, homosexuality, etc., I recently heard a rabbi state that they found parts of halacha and the torah unethical and ...
3
votes
1answer
201 views

Mesilat Yesharim - how much time per day for zehirut/watchfulness

The Mesilat Yesharim brings down zehirut (watchfulness) as one of the first steps to master. Zehirut in essence means working on cleaning oneself up from all bad behavior through analyzing one's ...
2
votes
2answers
133 views

How to implement the Mesilas Yesharim

The book Mesilas Yesharim prescribes a ladder of stages to master. Must one master each lower stage before moving on to the next one, or can he work on two or more simultaneously?
1
vote
1answer
197 views

Source for skipping the first Shaar of Chovos HaLevavos

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?...
10
votes
3answers
159 views

Do our sources address the question of intellectual property vs the public good?

The NYTimes recently ran a piece about a malnourishment treatment that could save lives in Africa, but one company owns the recipe and controls it tightly. (See the article, I apologize if I'm not ...
7
votes
0answers
187 views

All Sifre HaRamhal? (Rabbi Moshe Chayim Lutzato)

Is there a set that has "Kol Sifre HaRamhal"? The have "Kol Sifre HaHida" and other Rabanim, so maybe they'll also have all Sefarim of the Ramhal?
7
votes
2answers
130 views

Do you have to judge dead people favorably?

In Avot we learn that one should judge all people favorably ("והוי דן את כל האדם לכף זכות"). I would like to know if that includes the deceased. Meaning, can I look back on the life of a person who is ...
6
votes
1answer
123 views

Is judging others unfavorably a prohibition?

Is judging others unfavorably a prohibition? If so, what is the source for it? Also, do any of the sages offer any advice for overcoming judging other unfavorably?
5
votes
2answers
142 views

Exercises in *yiras shamaim* (awe of the Lord)

I have, it seems, no problem relating to Hashem with ahava - one of my main motivations in avoda is to try to make him benachas (happy), like I would my parents. Relating to yirah is another story. I ...
5
votes
1answer
356 views

What's a musar vaad and why is it called that?

I'm familiar with the term "ועד" (vaad) as meaning something like "congress" or "council" or "board": a legislative or similar body like the Vaad Arba Aratzos, the Vaad Harabonim of Queens, or the ...
5
votes
1answer
1k views

Is it permissible for a single woman to have a baby through artificial insemination by an anonymous sperm donor? Is it moral?

Single women, approaching or past 40, hear their biological clock alarm ringing with tremendous volume. One that I know has decided that her love life is not going to come around soon enough for her ...