Question & Answer With Rafi G. - Only Gemara B'Iyun
A Simple Jew asks:
Rebbe Shlomo of Karlin once said, "One does not need any mussar sefer except for learning a little bit of Gemara b'iyun (in depth)."
What is your reaction to this statement? Could you imagine a person only learning Gemara b'iyun as his only form of mussar?
Rafi G. of Life In Israel responds:
One would be that the Gemara has so much mussar already contained within it, there is no need to learn mussar from other seforim. If one were to learn Gemara b'iyun he would glean the mussar from the Gemara itself.
The second way to understand it would be that if one were to learn Gemara b'iyun he would taste the beauty of the Torah and that would be the greatest mussar lessons possible - better and deeper mussar than the mussar of any other mussar sefer. After learning the sugya and connecting with Hashem directly through the Torah, how could one then go and not act properly? Would one really need to learn mussar after he has really tasted the connection to kedusha?
It seems to me that maybe that second statement, which is what I think Rebbe Shlomo of Karlin really meant, is appropriate for a previous generation and not for us. While there is plenty of mussar in the Gemara, and there are people who might be able to learn at that level and actually reach that level of understanding and kedusha, most of us cannot. One would have to really be learning l'shem shamayim with complete sincerity and purity to be able to relate to the Torah at that level.
I know I am not there. I am sure there are some people that are there. I think most of us are not ready for that and we need to learn the mussar seforim in addition to the Gemara b'iyun.