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Acknowledgments There are many people who have played an important role in bringing this book to fruition. I first began studying Mesillat Yesharim over 30 years ago in hevruta, “study partnership,” with my friend and colleague Rabbi Dov Bard. We studied portions of the book whenever we could, and we continue to do so, up to the present time. His friendship and insights have been inspirational. The motivation to move from studying Mesillat Yesharim to writing a commentary on it was the result of my need to teach the text as part of the development of the Mussar Leadership Program at Temple Beth Zion-Beth Israel. Chapter by chapter, paragraph by paragraph, the students in my shiurim added their comments and insights as I prepared this commentary. I hope that they have gained as much from their efforts as I have received from their thoughtful contributions. I am especially grateful to Beulah Trey, Michelle Young, Jim Culbertson, Mindy Shapiro, and Eugene Sotirescu. Over the last four years, those shiurim have expanded to include my students in Mussar at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical School. They have truly been my teachers as well as my students. I want to thank Mel Scult and Rabbi Nancy Fuchs Kreimer for reading sections of the manuscript and generously commenting on them. I value all of their comments. I have dedicated this book to Miles Lerman, who was so critical to my efforts to complete this book. Miles joined the Mussar Leadership Program in the last years of his life and had a profound and inspiring impact on all of the students—as well as on me. I am deeply grateful for having known him and for my continuing relationship with his wife, Chris, and their children, David Lerman and Shelly Wallock, Jeanette Lerman Neubauer and Joe Neubauer. I thank them all for their support of this project. I am grateful for the guidance and professionalism of the staff of The Jewish Publication Society. This project would not have come to fruition without the support of the Editor Emerita Ellen Frankel, COO and Publishing Director Carol Hupping, and Managing Editor Janet Liss, all of whom have been exemplary in the thoughtful attention that they have given to me and my book. The task of editing a work such as this, is, to put it simply, herculean. I continue to be in awe at the energy and proficiency, the sensitivity and skill that h xi Michele Alperin brought to this work. Every line of this book benefited from her attention. Without her, what is a dense book would simply have been indecipherable. I am deeply indebted to her. My special thanks to my superb executive assistant Phyllis Kramer, whose assistance in the preparation of this manuscript was invaluable. Her incredibly sunny disposition amid a mountain of difficult word processing was truly miraculous. To the members and leadership of Temple Beth Zion-Beth Israel: it is unusual to have a congregation that values learning and supports the scholarly pursuits of a congregational rabbi. For this, I feel blessed and truly grateful. Finally, I have been blessed with my wife of over 40 years, Annie, who continues to be the true master of Mussar in my life. I rejoice in the fact that my understanding of service of God has been deepened by having had her as a role model and teacher for these many years. May the love I have experienced from all of these people continue to inspire me to accept my responsibility to serve the other: from the beloved who are the closest, to the beloved next closest, and ultimately to the Infinite Beloved from Whom the gift of life is given. xii Mesillat Yesharim ...


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