1. Education and mentorship

2. Principles of education and mentorship

3. Self-criticism and self-grooming

4. The first requirement: self-criticism by the educator or mentor

5. The second requirement: the grooming of an educator or a mentor

6. The third requirement: familiarity with the pupil’s personality and status

7. The nature of the person being educated

8. Four parameters for individual differences

9. (a) Occupation

10. b) Economic status

11. (c) Habitual lifestyle

12. (d) Environment

13. The fourth requirement: defining desirable values

14. The fifth requirement: judiciously choosing one’s approach

15. The sixth requirement: determining priorities

16. Intrinsic and acquired characteristics

17. The seventh requirement: praise and reward, reproof and punishment

1. Education and mentorship. This task, which entails a heavy responsibility, demands strenuous effort of mind and body, and involves many detaileddirectives regarding the preparation and conduct of both the educator and his charge.

If any activity, from the hardest to the easiest, springs from a spiritual source and seeks to succeed in impacting a material recipient, it requires an appropriate talent that must be tapped. That talent – whether in music or in oratory or in teaching or in mentorship or whatever else – is a gift from Above. Since these various talents derive from the spiritual soul, they are all like organs that are vitalized by the nucleus of that soul, and even though the soul is indivisible, it enables each of them to carry out its distinctive function. Some talents, whether artistic or musical or manual or the like, thus affect the material realm; others, such as the gift for oratory or persuasion or arousing emotion or teaching or mentoring, operate in the spiritual sphere.

The above distinction relates to the external influence of the various talents, and varies according to whether the recipient is material or spiritual. And just as in the material sphere, the expression of an artistic talent differs from the expression of a musical talent, so too, the application of a talent for education and mentorship differs from the expression of a talent for teaching.

Summary: Talents expressed in the material sphere differ from those expressed in the spiritual realm, each having its own characteristics.

2. Principles of education and mentorship. At first glance these two functions together appear to be synonyms for teaching, since they all operate in the spiritual realm, but in fact they are utterly different. Although teaching is one of the more difficult kinds of work, education and mentorship are far more difficult, and also entail a heavier burden of responsibility, for two reasons.

[Firstly:] Even when the particular subject being taught is minute, the tasks of a teacher are intellectual. He seeks to explain concepts to his pupils by means of analogies and examples, to expand their creative faculties, and to impart clear and solid information. In contrast, an educator or a mentor deals mainly with objectionable values and behaviors. This applies particularly in the early stages of his work, because “man is born a wild donkey,”2 with innately animalistic habits, and is drawn to material benefits and to whatever pleases his eyes.

[Secondly:] The role of an educator or mentor does not include teaching texts. If a teacher does not succeed in that role, at least he has caused no damage, whereas if a mentor does not succeed in correcting that which calls for correction, he has definitely caused damage. It follows that whoever seeks to educate or mentor a person of whatever age must observe certain indispensable principles, without which he will not only fail to attain his goal but moreover will cause damage.

Summary: Comprehensive principles in education and mentorship.

3. Self-criticism and self-grooming. A man’s worst enemy is the unbridled coarseness of his innate and materially-oriented self-love. Accordingly, anyone seeking to live a life of avodah, a life of moral and spiritual self-refinement, must focus on the self-criticism of every aspect of his inner life.

Self-love is one of the professional tools of the Evil Inclination. Self-love blinds a man’s mind, desensitizes his heart, dims his eyes and blocks his ears, from recognizing his failings and his sinful mistakes. “A man’s path is right in his own eyes,”3 and his self-love obscures all his sins4 as well as his innate humanity. In his perception of himself, a man’s self-love makes of a fool – a sage; of an ugly person – a handsome one; of a cruel person – a refined one; of an envious person – a kindly one; and so on.

What a display of foolishness and blindness this is, when one fool mocks another, when one mindless person scoffs at another, when one proud person makes fun of another, when one ugly person ridicules another, and so on with all other moral defects – while being oblivious to their own! Moreover, if someone points out those defects, they will find hundreds of excuses and obscure reasons to explain them away: the speaker was simply mistaken…! Some of them, whose glaring faults exceed all norms, are so blinded by their self-love that they sin against their own souls – the souls of G‑d’s choice creation, man – by daring to regard themselves as being above and beyond all criticism.

Woe unto those creatures! First of all, they are sinning against the intention for which G‑d dispatched their souls “from a lofty roof to a deep pit,”5 to This World, in order “to work it and guard it”6 – by cultivating positive character attributes, as well as by studying Torah and observing the mitzvos. In addition, those individuals are (G‑d forbid!) destroying their potential spiritual elevation, for which they would have been rewarded in the World to Come. And besides, they remain an everlasting disgrace.

The only guilty party here is a person’s inborn self-love. Because he does not give due attention to monitoring his own behaviors, he mindlessly follows the path that his self-love shows him, like an ox being led to the slaughter. And by following that path, this person (G‑d forbid!) loses his moral and spiritual life, and his destiny as a human being.

A man’s life in This World is an intense battle between good and evil, between truth and falsehood, between that which is beautiful and that which is despicable. Now, a classic tactic for success in battle is precise and orderly monitoring. At such a time, even loving friends need to be monitored with an eagle eye, in order to confirm that they are indeed fulfilling their respective duties in overcoming the enemy. How much more is this essential with regard to one’s enemies, especially with regard to an enemy who masquerades in the clothes of a loving friend – namely, self-love – and deludes a person at every step.

Every individual has a mission that was decreed for him by Divine Providence, namely, to light up the world with the light of the Torah and the lamp of the mitzvos. Divine Providence also benevolently provides him with all the spiritual resources that he needs in order to fulfill that mission. In accordance with what was explained above, anyone who desires to live a life that is in harmony with his mission would be well advised to groom himself for it by conscientiously monitoring his own avodah and his own conduct.

Summary: Self-love deludes a person, whereas self-criticism prepares him for fruitful avodah.

4. The first requirement: self-criticism by the educator or mentor. All human beings, whether of noble or common lineage, have both positive qualities and failings, because the Holy One, blessed be He, implanted in them the qualities that characterize humanity, and also the failings – in order that each individual should toil in the avodah of removing them and utterly uprooting them, and to replace them by newly-acquired positive qualities.

Labor that enriches him who undertakes it is worthy indeed, and there is no pleasure greater than the satisfaction of a person who transforms evil to good. The pleasure of a farmer who plows and sows a field of rich soil and duly reaps a generous harvest cannot be compared to the pleasure of a farmer who plows and sows a barren field, yet reaps a generous harvest. The latter farmer, in addition to his profit, has the moral satisfaction of observing what he has earned by the hard labor of his hands. The same is true of the eternal satisfaction that one earns by the hard work of refining one’s character, for the work of replacing evil by good and undesirable behaviors by commendable ones brings greater pleasure than investing effort in that which is good and desirable. In this spirit, [the Zohar7 praises particularly] “those among you who have transformed darkness to light, and the taste of bitterness to sweetness.”

Traits of character, including both positive qualities and weaknesses, are either innate or acquired. In both cases they become firmly rooted with time, until the innate characteristics [seemingly] become an inseparable part a person’s essence, and the acquired characteristics appear to be innate – in the spirit of the adage that “habit becomes nature.”

It is self-evident that neither positive qualities nor weaknesses become stronger and more deeply rooted spontaneously, without some active input, for (lit.), “G‑d created this opposite that.”8 Thus, just as a person’s mind will not grow without study, so too a weakness will not become entrenched unless it is repeatedly called upon. This explains why we often observe that the gifts of a bright child or youth do not develop because they are not called upon, and another child’s negative traits do not grow because they likewise lacked the opportunity to be activated.

In fact, even an individual whose negative character traits (whether innate or acquired) have developed untamed has the ability not only to reject them and disencumber himself of them, but moreover to transform them from evil to good. He has this ability by virtue of the supreme power that the Holy One, blessed be He, has given every single Jew according to his particular situation. Thus the Sages teach that [before a Jew is born], “an oath is administered to him [in Heaven, charging him], ‘Be righteous [and be not wicked].’”9 It is explained [in the teachings of Chassidus]10 that this oath also sates the soul with the spiritual strength [to fulfill that oath].11 [And every individual is able to cope with his personal burden, because] “the load matches the camel.”12 Thus, the Holy One, blessed be He, endows every individual with the requisite spiritual strength to “transform darkness to light and the taste of bitterness to sweetness,”7 by toiling in his avodah of body and soul.

Summary: People have both positive qualities and failings, whether innate or acquired, and an oved is enabled to transform a failing to a positive quality.

5. The second requirement: the grooming of an educator or a mentor. If his efforts are to be effective, an educator or a mentor must undergo due preparation. Moreover, not every applicant can undertake the responsibility of this role, for an unsuitable candidate will not only fail to improve matters, but can make them worse, and for that he will be answerable.

First of all, a budding educator or mentor must work on monitoring himself even more intensely than any other person, as discussed in section 3 above. In particular, he needs to check that his teaching style finds expression in the most moderate and well-mannered language, so that he is always seeking palatable phrases that will remain engraved in the hearts of his young listeners even after they take their leave of him.

The fruits of educating and monitoring do not grow overnight. Not only the undoing of innate or acquired habits, but even the implanting of positive character traits takes time and toil, in addition to the effort that the listener himself must invest. The educator and mentor must keep in mind that everything depends not only on his carefully-chosen words, but also on the tone in which they are shared – whether courteously and moderately or excitedly and derisively. Even if he truthfully describes a glaring fault of character by an offensively harsh term, he will fall in the estimation of his young listener. Many educators mistakenly assume that they will attain their goal by loudly denouncing unwanted behaviors with fire and brimstone, and even by belittling their listeners, whereas in fact the listeners’ young hearts squirm in pain and even bring them to tears. Moreover, needless to say, the desired effect of such educational efforts vanishes like a dream.

Only when an educator or a mentor observes the above requirements fully and conscientiously can he secure true and lasting success, and then generous blessings will rightfully light upon his head.

Summary: Success in this role can be attained only by due attention to appropriate language that is delivered courteously and moderately.

6. The third requirement: familiarity with the pupil’s personality and status. Since a pupil’s personality and state of mind are critical factors, and since the initial challenge of an educator or mentor is the distancing of unwanted behaviors, he needs first of all to carefully consider his pupil’s personality.

This is more difficult than the task of a teacher, who needs to assess his pupil’s scholarly skills so that he will be able to attune his teaching methods to the pupil’s learning ability. If he succeeds in doing so, he not only gives his pupil a mastery of the material being taught, but also upgrades his scholarly skills.

In contrast, assessment by an educator or mentor focuses on the pace and the depth of his pupil’s character refinement. And in this field, only by interesting himself in the state and the environment of his pupil can he hope for success.

All human beings of course comprise both body and soul, and moreover it is unthinkable that one soul is essentially superior or inferior to another. Rather, greater and lesser men differ only with regard to the differences between the various ways in which the faculties of the soul find expression in their lives.

Summary: Souls are identical; people differ only by virtue of the varying ways in which their spiritual potentials surface.

7. The nature of the person being educated. The principles of education and mentorship relate not only to children but to people of all ages equally, though varying in the techniques by which they are applied. Only after weighing his student’s gifts and qualities, and likewise his failings and his conduct, will the educator or mentor be able to determine whether a particular point calls for correction.

Some behaviors are considered reprehensible and also bring disgrace upon the doer and others if the party involved is one kind of person, but not if the party involved is a different kind of person, in intellect and in character. If, for example, a man of stature who is widely admired for his lofty character is not vigilant in avoiding pointless conversation, this will be counted as a desecration of the Divine Name.13 Not so the man in the street. In fact in many contexts the Gemara teaches that [unusually high standards of conduct are expected of certain individuals because] “a man of stature is different.”14 Another example: if such a man were to devote highly-focused attention to the finer esthetic points of his clothing, or were to curl his hair, and the like, for him that would be counted as a serious fault, whereas for a woman this would be considered an appropriate degree of dressiness.

If an educator or mentor were to dream of upgrading a mediocre individual so that he will equal a person of outstanding gifts of intellect [and character] by removing his subject’s subtle flaws of character, not only would he fail to achieve any more than would be appropriate for him; moreover, his [misguided] efforts would ruin him and push him off the path.

Thus, Chovos HaLevavos15(in ch. 2 of Shaar HaCheshbon) discusses whether the same accounting applies to everyone, and concludes: “The endeavors that people make with regard to their study of Torah and to their destiny in the World to Come vary according to their diversity – with regard to their awareness, their intellect, and the refinement of their understanding. Every individual must consider within his soul what are his personal obligations in Divine service, according to his recognition of the Creator’s gifts, both universal and individual.”

It goes without saying that every individual is obligated to study whatever he can understand and study, whether independently or by listening to scholars who teach publicly. Likewise, every individual ought to endeavor to recognize the Creator’s benevolence, whereby He monitors and sustains all created beings with His specific Providence, as in the verse, “You open Your Hand and satisfy the desire of every living thing.”16 In particular, one should ponder upon G‑d’s hashgachah peratis over oneself and over one’s family. And in all of the above requirements, every individual is obligated to the extent that is in keeping with his personal abilities and spiritual standing. The latter point is axiomatic and needs no proof, just as it is written [with regard to the question of whether or not a person should go to work and thereby make a tangible conduit (or “vessel”) for the sustenance that comes from Above]: “Many tried to follow the example of R. Shimon bar Yochai [who held that one should rely on pure faith, unaided by mortal effort], but it did not work for them.”17

Summary: Education and mentorship must be tailored to suit the personal characteristics of each student.

8. Four parameters for individual differences. People vary in terms of their occupation (whether as fulltime scholars or businessmen), their economic status (whether higher or lower), their habitual lifestyle (for better or for worse), and their environment (whether in a little township or a big city). Although people in all of those categories are equally obligated with regard to the observance of the practical mitzvos and Torah study and moral conduct, their education and mentorship will need to be attuned to their daily lifestyle.

As to the factor of age, it is written that “man is born a wild donkey,”2 and the Midrash (in Koheles Rabbah, sec. 1) proceeds: “When he is one year old he resembles a king; at two or three he resembles a pig; at ten he prances like a kid goat,” and so on. While he is a toddler, he mainly needs to be taught about cleanliness, modesty and polite conduct, so that for example when eating he should not gorge, and so on with other matters that are minor but indispensable, inasmuch as they distinguish between an animal and a human being. When he is a little older his education centers on things such as the berachos recited over food, his elementary studies, respect towards others, honoring his parents, and obedience to his teachers. With the approach of his bar-mitzvah the focus is more on the lovingly precise performance of the mitzvos,18 punctual participation in congregational davenen, tackling his studies conscientiously, not wasting time, the art of learning from anyone who is more advanced than himself – and so on, stage by stage.

The educator’s task thus calls for sensitivity. Although good meat and concentrated soup would obviously fortify an adult more than a drop of milk in sweetened water, a month-old infant would not survive on the more powerful diet, just as the adult fed on the infant’s diet would soon wilt. So, too, clothes that are too short are of no use, and over-long clothes trip up their wearer. And just as with food and clothing, all educational efforts need to be tailored to size – not so hesitant that they are ineffective, and not so intense that they backfire, but fine-tuned to suit the differing ages and characteristics of those being addressed.

Summary: Matching the education of adults to their particular backgrounds and the education of children to their level of development.

9. (a) Individual differences relating to occupation. The differences between full-time Torah scholars and businessmen are not dictated by inborn differences between one soul and another.19 (As mentioned in section 3 above, this is not the case with inborn intellectual differences, whereby in the course of nature a mediocre person will never become a profound and creative intellectual. Likewise, that gifted sage will never become a mediocrity, unless he is thus transformed, G‑d forbid, as a punishment.) Yet although occupations are not inborn and hence are interchangeable, full-time Torah scholars and businessmen differ with regard to their obligations and restrictions.

It is axiomatic that full-time Torah scholars are superior to businessmen (though not to craftsmen or laborers) and that their basic differences affect their respective occupations. Thus, if a particularly gifted individual engages in commerce, he differs from other businessmen, but still does not match the standing of a full-time Torah scholar.It follows that the obligations of a businessman with regard to Torah study and personal conduct differ from the obligations of a full-time Torah scholar. The latter is free to plan his time at will, his life is relaxed, and he can choose his preferred environment. As to the businessman, by contrast, even if he lives his life according to the Torah, he is constantly kept busy, he is preoccupied by the unavoidable pressure of his affairs, and he is obligated to encounter all kinds of people and sometimes-undesirable environments.

Accordingly, the educational regimen that the Alter Rebbe prescribes in chapter 30 of Tanya: Sefer shel Beinonim for full-time Torah scholars cannot be applied to a businessman, for whom it is impossible to monitor all aspects of his life to resemble the life of the fulltime scholar. Behaviors that the Torah deems permissible for the businessman can conceivably be counted as unforgivable sins if practiced by the scholar, and could even cause him to be counted among those who desecrate the Name of Heaven.

Summary: A businessman cannot be given the same education that is appropriate for a full-time Torah scholar.

10. (b) Individual differences relating to economic status. Habituation to poverty or to wealth becomes ingrained in one’s nature; as is often expressed, “Habit becomes nature.” Those two states are not merely different but are opposites: a wealthy individual is [often] self-confident and generous, and relates to his social inferiors with gross pride, whereas a pauper [often] lacks self-confidence, and instead feels crushed, downcast and lowly.

The above traits include the very best and the very worst. The worst of them are negative, whether they appear in the rich or the poor, and even the best of them have two sides. Self-confidence, for example, is a basic human need, yet even it has two sides. If believing in oneself is harnessed to upgrading one’s study of Torah and his performance of mitzvos, and refining and exercising the positive attributes of his character, it is wonderful. If, instead, it serves unworthy purposes, as can happen with those among the rich who are blinded by their wealth, such “wealth is kept for his owner, to his detriment,”20 for self-confidence of that kind aggravates the ailments of his character.

So too, if a person puts his contrite and humble heart to good use, it can elevate him to unbelievable spiritual heights, whereas if his lowly spirit results from poverty, it dulls the light of his head and his heart, desensitizing both.

The above differences between the natures of the rich and the poor thus affect the role of the educator or mentor, which is to heal moral disorders and to fortify moral health. To apply this to one of the above examples: Although self-confidence can be harnessed to praiseworthy purposes, it is intrinsically a negative trait, as it is written, “Do not rely on your own understanding,”21 or, as in the popular maxim, “A sage who believes in himself is likely to stumble.” On the other hand, if a contrite and humble heart is utilized to serve positive purposes, it is a lofty resource, as it is written, “A contrite and crushed heart, G‑d, You will not disdain,”22 and likewise, “Though G‑d is on high, He sees the lowly.”23 Nevertheless, a crushed and downcast heart is intrinsically a negative trait, being the opposite of the natural human instinct to be outgoing and self-assertive.

Accordingly, the educator’s approach will necessarily take the above differences into consideration.

Summary: The varying natures of rich and poor.

11. (c) Individual differences relating to habitual lifestyle. Habit is just as powerful as if it were hereditary because, as is often quoted, “Habit becomes second nature.” Habits affect everything around themselves, including both the organs of the body and the faculties of the soul. The various faculties of the soul operate in either of two ways, either (a) by pleasant and moderate influence, just as a person’s mind explains to him in an approachable manner that he ought to relate to his studies or his conduct in a certain way, or (b) by imposing their influence forcibly, in the insistent manner of a person’s will. Habit operates in the second way. As people say, habit overrules everything – and this is true, regardless of whether its object is petty and physical or significant and abstract.

Like all of a person’s other natural leanings and moral or psychological faculties, habit too can be either beneficial or harmful. Awareness of this will of course influence one’s educational endeavors, which must be particularly determined – praising and buttressing his disciple’s positive habits and utterly uprooting those that are negative. In fact, even positive habits sometimes need to be corrected, as in the case of someone who is accustomed to enjoying fine delicacies in order to gather strength for his Torah studies. Though his intention is praiseworthy, that habit in itself is more negative than positive. Besides, as far as that person himself is concerned, devoting attention to tastes and flavors is inappropriate to his spiritual standing. In addition, it contradicts “the way of the Torah…,”24 which a student’s education ought to encourage, to the extent that is possible and appropriate.

Summary: Even orderly habits influence a person insistently and forcibly.

12. (d) Individual differences relating to environment. Although at first glance the difference between living in a little village or a big city would appear to be a superficial detail, this difference in fact impacts all aspects of a person’s life – his personality, his development and his conduct – as well as the educational norms of his family. And if he is so comprehensively influenced by his physical place of residence, how much more must he be influenced by the lifestyle of the community in which he lives. Besides, life in a small rural community is easier than life in a big city.

The Holy One, blessed be He, created man with a nature that differs from all other created beings, not only from those that populate the earth and the heavens, but also from the supernal Sefiros. Each of those beings has one distinctive nature. Thus, the hosts of the earth have a tangible physical body and have one distinctive natural characteristic, being either kindly or compassionate, or tough and cruel. The hosts of the heavens likewise have bodies, albeit of subtler material, and each of them too has one distinctive natural characteristic that comprises several functions. For example, the sun radiates light, and heals, and promotes vegetative growth, and ripens fruits and harvests, and so on. The same is true of the created beings in the worlds above, namely, the ten levels of angels enumerated by Rambam,25 which correspond to the Ten Sefiros that range from Chochmah through Malchus.

Each of the above-listed beings, then, has one distinctive natural characteristic – apart from man. Man comprises both the essential lofty qualities of the heavenly beings and the lowliest peculiarities of the earthbound creatures, and has many functions.

The numerous natural characteristics that the Holy One, blessed be He, implanted in man match the composition of his body and soul. Thus, although the created beings on earth are made of physical material and hence differ from those in the heavens, which are made of more refined matter, both of them function by virtue of their bodies, whereas the supernal Sefiros function by virtue of their souls. And since man comprises both the supernal beings and the worldly beings, he functions both by virtue of his body and also by virtue of his soul.

The Holy One, blessed be He, created man in such a way that not only can he act and exert influence, but he can also be influenced by external factors. For example, refined food affects his mind favorably and appropriate clothes lend him a feeling of wellbeing. So, too, the days of those who live in little townships are twice as long as the days of city-dwellers.

Summary: Man differs from the created beings of Above and below, and every aspect of his life is influenced by his place of residence.

13. The fourth requirement: defining desirable values. There are three vital elements in the relationship of the student vis-à-vis his mentor: the esteem in which he holds his mentor; his trust in his mentor; and his utterly devoted acceptance of the discipline involved.

Conversely, there are three vital elements in the relationship of the mentor vis-à-vis his student: close attention to his student’s personality, habits, spiritual status and place of residence; a bond of mutual affection; and a sober and periodic appraisal of the student’s moral maturation.

A mentor needs to have a clear picture of which behaviors are desirable and which are not, in particular since the distinction between the two is not absolute. Then, if appropriate, he needs to convey the required message thoughtfully and lovingly, for “words spoken softly by wise men are heeded.”26

The more the mentor is aware of the above-mentioned distinction, and the more earnestly he is faithful to the above three attitudes to his student that his role requires, the more will his directives be accepted – and not merely out of discipline. When a student observes that his mentor weighs his words carefully before speaking, then even if he himself does not know the reason for a directive, his growing trust in his mentor will inspire him to observe it fully.

Summary: A mentor should adjust his expectations regarding desirable and undesirable behaviors to match his disciple.

14. The fifth requirement: judiciously choosing one’s approach. A mentor needs to observe his disciple’s qualities and faults closely and patiently, neither minimizing them nor exaggerating them. In this he resembles a craftsman who is confronted with a piece of equipment in need of repair. First of all he takes it apart, taking care not to break it in the process. He then separates its component parts into those that are beyond repair (“How shall I detach them and replace them?”), those that can be salvaged (“How shall I repair them?”), and those that are in good working condition (“How shall I strengthen them?”). He then decides on the preferred techniques and the sequence of his patient activities, which will not overlook the minutest detail.

It would no doubt be superfluous to spell out this analogy any further because, as it is written, “Instruct a wise man, and he will [then independently] grow even wiser.”27

The mentor’s attitude should be inflexible, so that the student will clearly grasp that his mentor will not retract from any directive that he has given, whether regarding studies or conduct, and that he will see to it – whether by gentle words or by punishment – that it will be followed. Only by means of an ironclad stance can one be certain regarding one’s student, that “even as he grows old, he will not depart from [the path that he has been taught].”28

Side by side with this firm stance, the speech of the mentor must be loving and temperate. In this way, not only will his directives be better obeyed, but in addition, he will gain respect, and the student will grasp that the punishment did not erupt out of angry cruelty but was motivated by the mentor’s loving concern for his welfare. Moreover, such speech will arouse the student’s love and trust and obedience towards his mentor. It will also teach the student how toughness can be harnessed to positive purposes, and give him a solid base in respectful interpersonal relations.

Summary: A mentor should relate to his disciple both firmly and lovingly.

15. The sixth requirement: determining priorities. True, man is intrinsically intellective, as distinct from all other creatures. It is his mind that regulates his actions and words and thoughts as well as his ability to love, or hate, or praise, or thank, or be victorious, or to choose that which is good and pleasant and to shun that which is evil and undesirable. Nevertheless, the overruling power is his will.

In addition to the vitalizing soul29 which animates the organs of the body and enables them to fulfill their respective functions, such as sight and hearing and walking and touching, the faculties of a man’s soul comprise four categories: (a) Pleasure and Will;30 (b) [the intellective faculties of] Chochmah, Binah and Daas; (c) the emotive faculties,31 which include love, hate, self-aggrandizement, thankfulness, victory, and so on; and (d) [the soul’s three means of expression:32] thought, speech and action.

These four categories in turn divide into (a) the inner set (the pnimim) and (b) the outer set (the makkifim), which are distinguished by four parameters:

(i) the inner set comprises specific faculties, whereas the outer set comprises comprehensive faculties;

(ii) the inner set affects specific organs, whereas the outer set affects all organs;

(iii) the inner set is rooted more deeply in the soul than the outer set;

(iv) to a certain extent, the inner set exerts its influence in a pleasant and amicable manner, whereas the outer set exerts its influence in an insistent and overpowering manner.

Pleasure (oneg) and Will (ratzon) both belong to the set of makkifim, which are distinguished in four ways from the pnimim. Nevertheless, they differ from each other. Since it is it not within the province of the present essay to define the various faculties in detail, suffice it to cite here two broad adages which express the differences between Pleasure and Will: (a) Nothing is greater than Pleasure; and (b) Nothing is more powerful than Will (or, in another version: Nothing can stand in the way of one’s Will. These two adages make the point that Pleasure (oneg) is superior in that even though it is no more than one of the soul’s faculties, it is the first of them to find expression; and the basic characteristic of Will (ratzon) is that no faculty of the soul nor organ of the body can resist its power.

Summary: The faculties of the soul divide into two sets, the inner and the outer; the superiority of Pleasure and the power of Will.

16. Intrinsic and acquired characteristics. From the above two versions of the adage concerning Will we can gather the extent of its influence, both on the superior faculty of Pleasure, and on the inferior faculties on which it imposes itself in an insistent and overpowering manner.

Some of the soul’s characteristics are intrinsic and others are acquired.33 This applies from the soul’s highest faculty, Pleasure, which is so lofty that it is defined not only as a faculty of the soul but as an actual expression of the soul, to the lowest faculty, such as the ability to throw, which can be present even in animals. The identity of an intrinsic characteristic (such as the wisdom of a man), which is part of his essence, is uniform both internally and externally; an acquired or borrowed characteristic (such as the cunning of a fox) merely bears a superficial and marginal resemblance to it.

These two levels likewise exist within the Will. If it is an intrinsic part of a person’s essence,34 it pervades all of his faculties and organs with an intensity that compels them to defy their own nature and to comply. If, however, it is merely a “borrowed” or acquired characteristic, meaning that that person merely wants to do something, he is influenced by considerations of pleasure or reason – and these are the very opposite of the above-described Will, which is part of his essence. Yet even the acquired level of Will earnestly desires to extend its influence.

Another point: A careful mentor will not only move slowly, as one does when teaching a toddler to walk step by step, but will also avoid tackling two tasks at a time, whether in defusing a fault or in encouraging a positive quality. For example, if a disciple, blind to his own faults, is equally propelled by his will (a) to exaggerate and lie and (b) to lose his temper, the mentor will prioritize the more dangerous fault. In this case he will choose to begin with the latter fault, which entails actual sin, like physical self-stimulation and the like, that can (G‑d forbid) seriously affect both body and mind.

Summary: The mentor’s first task is to deal with the fault that is the most harmful and objectionable.

17. The seventh requirement: praise and reward, reproof and punishment. True to his G‑d-given nature, a person is pleased by praise and looks forward to moral or material reward for positive deeds, and is also thankful for admonition and for deserved punishment. Whether this natural instinct is inborn or acquired, it is deeply rooted in the disciple’s heart and mind, and the success of the educational process depends on the mentor’s skill in cultivating and praising the positive behaviors of his charge and in downplaying and uprooting the unwanted behaviors.

No craftsman, whether his raw material is tangible, like that of a builder, or intangible, like that of a mentor, can work without his professional tools, and in both cases, the raw material to be worked on needs to undergo due preparation. Thus the student, who is the raw material of the mentor, needs to be brought to a frame of mind that will enable him to internalize his mentor’s educational efforts to cultivate within him an upright and kindly character, and the observance of the mitzvos with pure faith.

One of the educator’s indispensable tools is a word of praise: it uplifts the recipient and sets him up on a higher base. So, too, a reward encourages him to aspire ever higher, both in his scholastic attainments and in the level of his conduct.

Notwithstanding the above, there is also room for the kind of reproof that is inspired by hidden love – reproof that indicates misdeeds relating to Heaven or to mortals – and for punishment.

In this field, the educator or mentor must make judicious choices as to what manner and what measure of praise or punishment will be most effective and most appropriate in each individual case. He will also consider the additional benefit that his student will gain when he realizes how earnestly the mentor considers his responsibility to him, and how well-intentioned is the mentor’s motivation.

Summary: The attention to be given with regard to praise and reproof, and reward and punishment.