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.[“Reaching Your Inner Redemption” דע את גאולתך is parallel to “Getting to Know your Soul”, with an emphasis on practicality.]
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.
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.”
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 one’s personal, individual soul. Chazal state, “a person was created individual.” In order for a person to attain their own self-recognition and one’s corresponding personal avodah, we developed the series of The Four Elements. The Four Elements Series consists of in-depth study of The Four Elements, and practically using the four elements. See here for all the details.