||Twenty-two Musar letters by 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, 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 Salanter sought the best way in which to influence the community. Deciding to become a preacher or a mashgi'ah ("spiritual mentor") in a yeshivah, 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).
In general R. Israel Salanter 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. Israel Salanter 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. 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.
R. Isaac Blaser (Reb Itzelle Peterburger; 1837–1907), Russian rabbi and educator. R. Blaser was one of the foremost disciples of R. Israel Lipkin (Salanter), whose Musar (ethicist) movement he helped develop and lead. In the early 1850s, R. Blaser moved from his native Vilna to Kovno, Lithuania, where he came under the influence of Lipkin. In 1864 he reluctantly accepted the rabbinate of St. Petersburg, hence the name by which he is familiarly known, "Reb Itzelle Peterburger." During this time he wrote halakhic works and responsa, arousing the opposition of the maskilim. He left the rabbinate in 1878, returning to Kovno where he headed the kolel ("advanced talmudical academy"), and sent emissaries throughout the world to gain support for it. He helped to found the yeshivah of Slobodka. About 1891, as the result of bitter controversy concerning the Musar movement, he left the kolel of Kovno and helped to found other such Musar-oriented schools elsewhere. Increasing opposition to the Musar movement (1896–98) and to R. Blaser, its chief exponent, forced the yeshivah to leave its premises in Slobodka, and it finally became established in Kelm (1898). In 1904 R. Blaser emigrated to and settled in Jerusalem, where he passed on. His main contribution to the Musar movement was his emphasis on acquiring "fear of the L-rd" (i.e., piety) by means of emotional meditation in works of musar. Unlike other disciples of R. Salanter, who expounded musar intellectually, R. Blaser held that knowledge and conceptualization were inadequate to the task of curbing man's baser instincts. "Fear of the L-rd" could be aroused only by an unsophisticated contemplation of man's physical vulnerability, his moral lowliness, and his punishment for continued disobedience. Since he held that the form of such meditation makes a more lasting impression than the contents, he prescribed the reading aloud of musar texts in a melancholy melody, with frequent periods of weeping. Similarly, his preaching was simple, sad, and usually accompanied by tears. R. Blaser's major literary contribution to the Musar movement, Or Yisrael ("Light of Israel"; 1900), was often reprinted, and for several decades was the only available exposition of musar. R. Blaser here expounded the fundamentals of the Musar approach and presented excerpts from the letters of R. Israel Lipkin, along with evaluations of the teachings of the founders of the Musar movement and of some of its leading personalities.
His major halakhic work is Peri Yizhak ("Fruit of Isaac"); the first volume was published in Vilna in 1881, some 14 years after he had completed writing it. The second volume was published posthumously in 1912. He contributed numerous articles, both on halakhah and musar, to the various rabbinic journals of the day. Much of his writing remained unpublished.