One’s essential being is comprised of two parts: the intellect (seichel) and the character traits (middos). Most people use their intellect to improve their character traits. In contrast, true Torah scholars build the intellect as well. Therefore, most people need to develop their intellect for the purpose of improving their character traits since they consider the character traits to be of primary importance.

The first sefer in this series “Getting to Know Your Self” דע את עצמך is a general introduction to the very idea of self-recognition & attaining inner quiet and should be studied before the other sefarim in this series. Firstly, learn the sefer from beginning until end. Secondly, peruse each chapter and draw conclusions on how you have understood the lessons. Thirdly, begin to review the sefer again from the first chapter, and contemplate the lessons and internalize the lessons in the heart. Finally, you can act practically upon the lessons. Do the same with each chapter you learn. You are ready to move onto the next level whenever you feel that a level has become simpler to you, and it is no longer a novel concept to you, and you don’t feel any opposition to it, for the most part. [The sefer “Getting to Know Your Serenity” דע את מנוחתך also explains more about inner quiet.]

Secondly, it is recommended to learn “Getting to Know Your Soul” דע את נפשך and “Getting to Know Your Feelings” דע את הרגשותיך which explain the general structure of the abilities in the soul, by showing how the intellect can be built for the purpose of improving one’s character traits. The main purpose of these sefarim is to reach the world of character traits that are within the soul.

Secondly, it is recommended to learn “Getting to Know Your Soul” דע את נפשך and “Getting to Know Your Feelings” דע את הרגשותיך which explain the general structure of the abilities in the soul, by showing how the intellect can be built for the purpose of improving one’s character traits. The main purpose of these sefarim is to reach the world of character traits that are within the soul.

In contrast to this, the series “Getting to Know Your Thoughts” דע את מחשבותיך and “Utilizing Your Daas” דע את דעתך explain how one clarifies the character traits at their root, in a fundamental manner. Those who are mainly drawn towards character improvement alone will find these two series more difficult to learn, in spite of the fact that this will detract from the full picture. It is not possible for one to completely clarify one’s character traits unless one sees their roots that are in the intellect.

(As is known, Reb Yisrael Salanter’s path is the path of “mussar”, ethics ספר אור ישראל. The sefer of the Alter of Kelm took this further, with “Chochmah U’Mussar”, “wisdom and ethics” ספר חכמה ומוסר. Reb Yeruchem Levovitz developed this further into “Daas Chochmah U’Mussar”, “understanding, wisdom and ethics” ספר דעת חכמה ומוסר.) Meaning, there is a wisdom that is revealed through the character traits, and there is also the root of the wisdom as it is.

The sefer “Getting to Know Your Imagination” דע את דמיונך explains the bridge between the intellect and the character traits, which is the very concept of medameh, imagination, comparing, resembling. This is the bridge between one world with another, the bridge between the created and Creator, as in the term adameh l’Elyon, “I will resemble the Creator.” It is the bridge connecting one’s intellect and character traits, because the word “medameh” is from the word middos/character traits.

After that comes “Getting To Know Your Inner World” דע את יחודך and “Torah Way To Enlightenment” דע את נשמתך, which explain the ways of avodah that speak more to the neshamah, a more inner level of the soul.

We should be clear that we have an avodah in our realm of action, which is through observing halachah, and we also have an avodah in our world of middos/character traits, as well as an avodah in our world of seichel/intellect.

We also have a personal avodah based on the nature of the neshamah. The series “Inner Silence series” דע את התבודדתיך takes this path.

Finally, there is “Reaching Your Essence” דע את הויתך, which is a guide to help one reach one’s very havayah – one’s essential being.

Everything else in the “Da Es” series are essentially the “branches” and “garments” of one’s havayah.

Please note: It is highly recommended and important, that besides for reading the sefarim, you should seek to actualize the lessons, even if only a little. Without practically acting upon what you’ve read, it is simply an “emotional high”, which feels uplifting, but which won’t last. Besides  this, it is recommended that you should speak with Hashem, simply and naturally, every day, even if it’s only for a little bit of time, according to how much you can do.

Regarding reviewing these sefarim/shiurim, the Rav advises to set aside a few minutes a day [for reviewing]. On a “vacation” day, you can spend more time reviewing. It should only be done according to your current capabilities.

The main thing is to gain a wide expanse and depth into the sefarim of the Sages throughout the generations.The Rav has emphatically stated, “In no circumstance should you limit yourself only to these [of the Rav’s own]sefarim.”

As previously explained, the sefarim of the “Da Es” series, which have been released so far with siyata d’shmaya, are  “general paths” which are not individually tailored to one’s particular soul. These classes cannot explain how one can understand his personal, individual soul. Chazal state, “a person was created individual” and it is up to us to discover our own individual idividuality! In order for a person to attain their own self-recognition of their own personal, individual soul and one’s corresponding personal avodah, we have the series of “Understanding Your Middos” דע את מידותיך and the series of the “Four Elements”  ארבעת היסודות. The “Understanding Your Middos” series of  104 classes survey the topic of the four elements embedded in Chazal. The series of the Four Elements give practical advice on a wide variety of human maladies based on the teachings of the four elements.

Understanding Your Middos

  • Fixing Your Earth including:
  • Fixing Your Sadness & Laziness;
  • Fixing Your Earth [Sadness] and;
  • Fixing Your Earth [Laziness]
  • Fixing Your Water
  • Fixing Your Wind
  • Fixing Your Fire including:
  • Fixing Your Fire [Conceit];
  • Fixing Your Fire [Anger] and;
  • Fixing Your Fire [Honor]

Four Elements

This requires a deep, in-depth study about many different facets of the soul, so that one can gain the general structure of the soul and its details, down to the subdivisions of each of these details. This is a way by which one can come to recognize his individuality, and if one merits it, one can even help others learn about their own souls. The order to learn the “Four Elements Series” is:

After this, one should learn the shiurim that explain each of the character traits in general [Fixing Your Earth, Fixing Your Water, Fixing Your Wind and Fixing Your Fire]. One should mainly learn the shiurim that are more applicable to the middos which are  more personally relevant to each individual.

The Four Elements Institute

In order to disseminate these teachings, the Four Elements Institute was founded under the sole guidance of the Rav, Shlit”a. The Institute follows the world view and sole direction of the author of the Bilvavi Mishkan Evneh series. Its activities will include: publications in hebrew and english, seminars, training programs, therapy center and an inter-active website.

The activities of the Institute are explained in greater detail in the introductory publication entitled, “The Necessity to Study & Know the Soul” הצורך בלימוד והכרת הנפשץ in hebrew. An abridged english adaptation of the first three audio classes is available here for download.

[originally published in response to a question appearing on]