||Eulogy on R. Israel b. Zev Wolf Lipkin (Salanter, 1810–1883), founder and spiritual father of the Musar movement. His father, author of the glosses Ben Aryeh on the Talmud and rishonim, served as rabbi in Goldingen, Latvia and Telz, Lithuania, and he was later appointed rabbi of Zhagare, where Israel was born. At the age of 12, R. Israel went to the yeshivah of R. Zevi Hirsch Broida in Salant, and his reputation there was such that his teacher referred to him as "the little Alfasi"; other great contemporary scholars applied similar laudatory appellations to him. His chance meeting with R. Zundel of Salant, who though a great scholar was an unusually humble and modest man, had a decisive influence on him. Powerfully impressed by R. Zundel's personality, R. Israel attached himself to him, regarding him from then on as his principal teacher, and conducting himself according to R. Zundel's ethical principles. He refused to accept rabbinical office, even that of Brest-Litovsk - the major community in Lithuania.
During his whole life, R. Israel Lipkin sought the best way in which to influence the community. Deciding to become a preacher or a mashgi'ah ("spiritual mentor") in a yeshiva, he accepted the position of head of a yeshivah in Vilna, where he was quickly renowned for his profound acumen. He soon resigned this post, however, and established his own yeshivah in Vilna. When his fame spread he began to preach sermons giving expression to the doctrine of musar, a moral movement based on the study of traditional ethical literature. These sermons attracted huge audiences. He proceeded to found groups for the study of musar on the lines of various ethical works. With the consolidation of these groups he established a special institution called a Bet Musar, in which he delivered his musar discourses and these became the pattern for similar discourses delivered in all the yeshivot of the Salanter school. These discourses were never recorded apart from several individual ones published by his pupil R. Shneur Zalman Hirschovitz in Even Yisrael (1883).
During the cholera epidemic which swept Vilna in 1848, R. Lipkin was in the forefront of all the most dangerous relief activities. He gave instructions that every kind of work was to be done on the Sabbath by Jews and was not to be relegated to non-Jews. On the Day of Atonement during the epidemic he ordered the congregation to partake of food, and set a personal example by mounting the pulpit and publicly eating. This dramatic action made a powerful impression both in contemporary and in later literature. His name was put forward to head the rabbinical seminary of Vilna, founded in 1848, but he refused to accept despite the attractive terms offered and the government pressure that was brought to bear upon him. As a result of this pressure he left Vilna and went to Kovno, where he founded a Musar yeshivah, which expanded greatly, attaining a roll of 150 students, many of whom were to become outstanding Lithuanian rabbis. His most important activity during this period was the improvement of the living conditions of the yeshivah students. He abolished the custom of the students being given daily hospitality in private homes, arranged suitable accommodation for them, and insisted that they be properly and neatly dressed. He also taught deportment and aesthetics. The period of study in his yeshivah was highly valued by the students, who saw themselves under "a new heaven and a new earth and an individual superior to all" (Tenu'at ha-Musar, p. 175). Salanter obtained his livelihood from communal posts in Kovno. Opposition to his methods began during the period of his yeshivah in Kovno, and among his opponents were Joshua Hoeschel of Janow, Abraham Samuel of Rossiyeny, Mordecai Eliasberg of Bauska, and Isaiah of Salant.
In 1857, to the surprise of many, R. Lipkin moved to Germany - first to Halberstadt for medical attention and later to Koenigsberg, where he lectured to university students on Judaism. In 1860 he went to Memel near the German-Lithuanian border. There he published his periodical Tevunah, for the dissemination of Torah and musar, to which all the outstanding scholars of Lithuania and Galicia contributed; 12 numbers were published. In Memel he acquired German citizenship, adopted German dress, and even preached in German. He also mastered various secular subjects. He visited several German cities, including Tilsit, Berlin, Frankfort, and Halberstadt. During this period he maintained contact with his pupils in Lithuania by correspondence. These letters constitute the main source for his system of musar. In 1877 he founded a kolel for young married students in Kovno; similar institutions were also set up in various towns. R. Salanter's pupils began to establish large yeshivot in Volozhin, Kelme, Telz, and Slobodka, in which musar teaching was predominant. In 1880 he went to France in order to disseminate Judaism. Although he suffered greatly there because of his straitened circumstances, he did not cease his activity. He stayed in Paris two years and succeeded in strengthening its Jewish institutions. From Paris he returned to Koenigsberg where he died.
In general R. Lipkin was revolutionary in his ideas. He proposed the compilation of an Aramaic-Hebrew dictionary for the better understanding of the Talmud, the translation of the Talmud into Hebrew, its printing in one volume, its translation into European languages, its teaching in universities, and the provision of religious books in Russian. R. Lipkin was also active in the communal and political spheres. He left no large works. He published an article in the Ez Peri (1881) and a number of articles from Tevunah, were later collected in a special work called lmrei Binah (1878). His well-known lggeret ha-Musar ("ethical letter") was first published in Koenigsberg in 1858 and repeatedly republished. Twenty-two letters were collected by R. Isaac Blaser, who published them under the title Or Yisrael (1900). A collection of his discourses recorded by pupils was published under the title Even Yisrael (1883); letters and collections appeared in various organs such as Beit Yisrael, Hut ha-Meshullash, etc. The letters of R. Lipkin, Kitvei R. Israel Salanter, by M. Pacter appeared in 1973. All these deal with his system of musar which spread throughout Lithuania and was adopted by all the yeshivot.