Friday, March 11, 2011

Imagination Versus Intellect - Not What You Think

From Rav Weinberger's Shabbos shiur this morning:

Rav Yisroel Salanter in Igeres Hamussar: "ha'adam asur b'muskalo, v'chofshi b'dimyono." "Man is imprisoned by his intellect and free in his imagination."

Rav Weinberger's explanation: A person's intellect and soul, to whom G-d's reality is blazingly obvious, one is bound ("asur") to do what is right and avoid what is wrong. To the intellect/soul, one can no more look at an inappropriate image than he could stick his hand in a fire or cut himself with a knife.

But the force of the imagination/fantasy/body makes a person feel "chofshi b'artzeinu," free to do right or do wrong. But that feeling is pure dimyon, fantasy.

"Asur b'muskalo" is why a person says he "can't" eat on Yom Kippur, and "chofshi b'dimyono" is why he feels it's not so pashut that you can't conceal income on his tax return.

IY"H may we all be zoche to attain the feeling of "I can't" when it comes to doing anything against Hashem's will!


Shmuel said...


Was this his own thought?

DixieYid (يهودي جنوبي) said...

You mean about pshat in Rav Yisroel Salanter? I don't know because I haven't seen Igeres Hamussar. It could be clear from the context that that was his point. But I don't know. This was part of a broader drasha that was very original as an introduction to the inyan of Shabbos Kodesh and the sefer Raza D'Shabbos.

Shmuel said...

I'm not up to there yet - I'm still finishing up the Nezer Yisrael's take on the mashal from the BeSHT.

Neil Harris said...

R Zvi Miller's transation (and notes) of Igeres HaMussar can be found here: