Sunday, October 5, 2008

His'orrus (stimulation) vs. Transformation - Kelm Mussar

Someone was lamenting to her rebbitzen about the lack of his'orrus (stimulation) from the current round of speeches given this time of year. The rebbitzen responded that the concern for this time of year should not be hearing exciting or stimulating speeches - even if delivered with great wit and even if they contain profound insight - we should instead be concerned with transformation.

In Kelm they explained his'orrus as being akin to the following.

Out in the country, far from the hustle and bustle of the big cities is a tranquil cow pasture. Nothing much happens there. The cows spend their days mindlessly grazing on the grass and drinking from the quiet little stream that flows with cool water through the pasture or just enjoying the sun and gentle breezes. However every once in a while a train goes by on the nearby tracks. It blows its whistle as it goes by. During that 2 minutes that the train is visible and audible the cows interrupt their eating, lift there heads and watch it go by. When it is gone they lower their heads and return to their routine of slowly chewing the grass and drinking the water. Nothing has really changed.


  1. sounds like semantic games. I think it is obvious that the woman was asking her rebbitzen about his'orrus that encourages real change (not like cows picking up their heads briefly). And the Rambam also uses the word "his'orrus" (uru yisheinim ...) so I am not sure what was gained from the rebbitzen's answer.

  2. I think I'd kvetch that the Rebbitzen was trying to say that in the absence of something more startling, such that one's reaction to a mediocre speech is like a cow to a train, then it's poignant to recognise that the speech need not be the be all and end all. Recognising that a speech may only be a "passing train" may jolt someone into undertaking a stimulant-free transformation?

    Yes, it's a kvetch, but other than that, I too am unable to find anything which is misorer (sic).

  3. "Kelm and cows" that are "akin" (cows=kine)?

    Is all that supposed to be some form of alliteration?

    Sounds like pure bubba-meises from the "rebbetzin" who needs to recognize and learn how to answer sincere existential questions and quests and not respond with trite nonsensical old world ghetto-ish nisht-tzum-zach baloney (fun der cow) bubba-meises when speaking to people in the 21st century in this year of 5769 (only 231 years to go to the year 6000 and the end of the world as we know it according to the Gemora, all while the "rebbetzin" spouts her simplistic nonsense.)

  4. Personally I share the Rebbetzin's perspective. The common fire-and-brimstone speeches where Rabbi yell and rile up the crowd (ok-I may be exaggerating a little) really lacks anything permanent. We are over saturated with hearing speeches from others and under nurture our own introspection. If everyone would go to one less speech a week and spend that time alone introspecting and soul searching, looking into their own lives and seeing what should and can be changed we would all be better off. The speeches these days are little more than entertainment and fodder for pointing fingers and applying them to others. Real change doesn’t come with listening to more talk as much as it comes with hard work and a real look into ourselves.

  5. Kelm was all about slow and steady change.

    Novhardok, OTOH, couldn't see waiting that long. This was an era where we were losing yeshiva students to Isms -- Zionism, Socialism, etc... The Alter of Novhardok opened a "basic training" system by which the student is torn down like any "maggot" coming into the Marines and built up again a stronger person.

    His'orerus needn't be "fire and brimstone". It could be "you are in the 'image' of G-d, capable of more than this!" In which case, one entered Slabodka.

    The problem is that without his'orerus, when does one wake up to take the first step? We already are in the pasture. And if most of us cows go back to sleep, r"l that is expected. But if the train never comes through, I can tell you as a certainty that no cow will will up her head and see something greater on the horizon.



please use either your real name or a pseudonym.