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Section: Moadim   Category: Elul-Tishrei
Rav Yisroel Salanter: Get Rich Quick - How The Poor Stop Getting Poorer

In the olden days, says Rav Yisroel Salanter (Ohr Yisroel 14), people would tremble at the mere word Elul.  A reminder that Yom HaDin loomed in the near future was enough of a jolt to scare people.  What is strange, says Rav Yisroel Salanter, is that one would think that those people who are far away from Avodas Hashem all year round, would be the most scared come Elul time.  Yet quite the opposite is true.  The Yirei Shamayim get nervous Elul time, while the rest continue with business as usual.  Why?  

Rav Yisroel Salanter says that there are two reasons, one gashmiyos and one ruchniyos.  From a gashmiyos point of view, a person suffers from "Hergel".  He is so used to everything, he has become numb and nothing will phase him.  In terms of ruchniyos, each aveira puts a layer of tumah on the sinner.  With tumah covering you, the world looks much different.  You cannot see kedusha.  You cannot appreciate an Elul. Even the mitzvos you do are tainted due to the condition you have created for yourself.  

So how does one break out of the mess and get on the road to recovery.  Mussar!  Only mussar can cut through the grime and touch the depths of the Neshama.  Mussar breaks the heart and turns it towards good.  Elul is time of mussar.  Everyone should choose their own mussar sefer for Elul.  The classics include, Shaarei Tshuva, Shaar HaGmul, Mesilas Yesharim, Tomer Devora, Reishis Chochma, Chovos HaLevavos, Orchos Tzadikim, Orchos Chaim, and others.  Many are even translated into English.  There are also many contemporary gedolim that have written classics in their own right.  Pick one up, any one.  By time you put it down you will not be the same, and neither will your Rosh Hashana.

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