R. Eliyahu Dessler (d.1953) was arguably the most prominent proponent of the classical musar tradition to survive the Holocaust. He spent the war years in England where he moved from Lithuania to accompany his father for medical treatment. During the inter-war years, Dessler served as a dean of the Manchester Yeshiva where he trained many boys and young men who were part of the Kindertransports. After the war he immigrated to Mandate Palestine where he served as a spiritual mentor of the Ponovitsch Yeshiva in Bnei Brak until his death in 1953. This lecture will explore Dessler’s teachings, collected in the 5 volume Mikhtav M’Eliyahu, as an example of one who sought to reconstruct the ideology of musar with emphasis on its teachings as a response to the Holocaust. While not normally thought of as a post-Holocaust thinker, I will argue that Dessler’s musar is not simply a reiteration of pre-war musar but is a tool to teach his readers how to react to the theological challenges of the Holocaust.
ABOUT THE SPEAKER
Shaul Magid is the Jay and Jeanie Schotenstein Professor of Jewish Studies at Indiana University. He is also a Kogod Senior Research Fellow at The Shalom Hartman Institute in NYC. His work deals with the tradition and Jewish theology and philosophy from the early modern period to the present. His most recent book is *Hasidism Incarnate: Hasidism, Christianity, and the Construction of Modern Judaism* published with Stanford University Press. His forthcoming book *The Jewish Jesus of Volozhin: Elijah Zvi Soloveitchik's Commentary to the New testament* will be published by Yale University Press.