Neil Harris has 15 years of full-time experience in both teen and adult informal education. In 1994, he pioneered the idea of using Starbucks as a kiruv destination for NCSY events (what is currently NCSY’s “Latte and Learning” program). He currently works in the healthcare industry, gives a mussar vaad, and also teaches a chabura on the sefer, Bilvavi Mishkan Evneh.
I recently received a copy of the new Jaffa Edition of Mesillas Yesharim. As someone who gives a mussar vaad, I currently own the classic Feldheim version, The Ofeq Institute’s Complete Mesillas Yesharim, and Rabbi Yaakov Feldman’s translation with commentary (highly recommended, if you can find it). I also have both “Lights Along the Way” by Dr. Rabbi Abraham J. Twerkski and “The Shmuz on Life- Stop Surviving and Start Living” by Rabbi Ben Tzion Shafier, both of which are based on various teachings from Mesillas Yesharim.
I have read 30 pages (well into Chapter 1) of this new edition that Artscroll unveiled and it’s simply a treat for the soul and one that I would recommend that every rabbi and educator strongly consider adding to their personal collection.
The commentaries, pulled from many baalei mussar and other rabbinic sources, ranging from the Rambam to the late Rabbi Shlomo Wolbe, are refreshing and the text is formatted using the phrase-by-phrase translation, which is very helpful. Over the past 275 years, many publishers and authors have introduced, new translations and commentaries of this book, but Artscroll has invested time and talent into making this new edition very reader-friendly.
Artscroll and the authors and editors involved in the Jaffa Edition of Mesillas Yesharim have repackaged a familiar book and that will totally redefine how people will understand and experience this classic mussar work. While there are many self-help books on the market, both secular and Judaic, Mesillas Yesharim for many people is a seminal work. Just glancing through this book, both the scholar and the student will begin to see this work in a whole new light. On the practical side, I found that the book wasn’t too heavy and is only 9×6 inches (the Daf Yomi editions of the Artscroll Tamud are 10×7).
It’s small enough to carry with you, yet big enough that you don’t strain your eyes reading it. In an age that is saturated with many traditional Jewish works that are growth-oriented, I think this edition of Mesillas Yesharim will be a game changer in reintroducing a classic to the hearts and minds of today.