By Mrs. Ruchie Schwartz
‘The foundation of all righteousness and the root of the perfect service of Hashem is that a person should clearly know his obligation in this world and into what he should place his vision and aspirations of what he douse all the days of his life.’
This the English translation of the opening words of Mesilas Yesharim written by Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzatto ZT”L
The reverence which the Vilna Gaon displayed towards this sefer and its widespread learning by universal Torah Jewry throughout the centuries is legendary. A monumental undertaking to help Jews in the 21st century bringing them truth, meaning and happiness based on the first chapter of Mesillas Yesharim, has been achieved.
‘Stop Surviving, Start Living’ is written by Rabbi Ben Tzion Shafier, a close talmid of Rabbi Henoch Leibowitz, ZT”L and has received haskamas from leading gedolei Yisroel. The author has an exceptional capacity to capture the reader’s mind and heart. His uses of vivid imagery of plausible examples as well as use of variety of historical facts known in the 21st century are utilized.
Here’s an example of his technique. To show this utility of running after purposeless desires, he vividly describes a character who wins a million dollar lottery and sets out to buy happiness. We actually feel his excitement as he buys his own island, enters his beautiful palace and sits himself down in front of a huge dining room table where he is served most delicious pancakes and syrup handed to him by his white gloved servant. Our taste buds are tangling as he takes his first bite and we actually feel his diminishing happiness as he eats the same the next day. We travel with him on his ocean liner just to discover that his happiness is delusive.
Here’s an illustration where R’ Shafier uses modern facts to bring across the point where people waste their lives. At a farewell toast given by a retiring CEO, the multi millionaire director declares the following:
He declares ‘’ …My daughter was recently married. At the wedding, I looked around….I didn’t know what book she read, I didn’t know what she liked, or what she didn’t like, In short, I didn’t know my daughter. If you want my job, you have to pay the price,
That is the price; I don’t think it’s worth it.
And he sat down.
R’ Shafier successfully uses various meshalim and at the same time explains the viewpoint of the Mesillas Yesharim and R’ Yisroel Salanter to the answers why Hashem created us and what is expected of us in life.
Unless you are safely encased with a strong safety net barrier, between yourself and the modern technology and meshugasim of modern day living, this sefer is for you. Men with extensive Yeshiva and Kollel backgrounds who become exposed to the difficulties of the work world will gain. Seminary girls as well as working mothers, who meet head on with secular education and alien work environments, will get Chizuk and direction. Older teenagers standing on the crossroads of life, are invited to read. Even people with limited Torah backgrounds who are searching for truth will enjoy it.
Stop Surviving, Start Living written by R’ Shafier is a must read for a large segment of Yidden to find truth, meaning and happiness based on the first chapter of Mesillas Yesharim.
The Sefer can be purchased directly by calling 866-613- Torah (8672) or contacting theshmuz.com.