Printer Friendly

Heshbon Ha'Nefesh for the twenty-first century.


In what might be described as one of the most unlikely events of nineteenth-century Jewish intellectual history, thousands of Eastern European Torah-observant Jews adopted a behaviorist approach to self-improvement developed by none other than American Gentile polymath Benjamin Franklin. The method, popularized by Rabbi Menahem Mendel Lefin of Satanov--who presented it with a veneer of Orthodox authenticity complete with endorsements from the famed Rabbis Israel Salanter and Isaac Sher of Slobodka--came to be known by the borrowed rabbinic term heshbon ha'nefesh (self-examination). While the Franklin-Lefin technique proved effective, Constructive-Developmental Theory (CDT), a school of contemporary psychology developed by Dr. Robert Kegan, predicts that it would be ineffective in addressing self-improvement goals that implicate what cdt terms "adaptive challenges." Kegan, along with colleague Dr. Lisa Lahey, developed an alternative technique to address adaptive challenges. They call their technique the "Immunity to Change Map" (ITCM). In this paper I shall employ a close reading of Franklin's autobiography to support the CDT-inspired hypothesis that while Franklin's system facilitated marked improvement in many areas of his behavior, it was simply incapable of helping him overcome his own adaptive challenges, regardless of his resolve. I shall infer from Franklin's own words what his hypothetical ITCM might have looked like and then use the data it reveals to suggest why Kegan's approach might have helped Franklin where his own system failed him. Based on this specific example, I shall extrapolate a more generalized set of guidelines for employing the ITCM technique to augment the Franklin-Lefin technique. Finally, I shall show why a hybrid approach to heshbon ha'nefesh that combines the Franklin-Lefin and Kegan methods is not only more effective but also more consistent with the traditional Jewish outlook, in the hope of providing an appealing system for Jews today.


In his autobiography, Benjamin Franklin recounts his efforts to "live without committing any fault at any time" (Franklin 2008, p. 71). He quickly discovered that the "mere ... conviction ... to be ... virtuous, was not sufficient" to effect behavioral change, because "habit took the advantage of inattention, inclination was sometimes too strong for reason" (ibid.). Resolved to perfect his character, Franklin developed a behaviorist strategy for self-improvement. The crux of Franklin's method entailed a nightly review of his personal conduct and a tally of the number of times his behavior failed to meet his expectations. In total, Franklin committed himself to improve thirteen traits, focusing on one each week, such that every three months he dedicated a week of scrutiny to each. (See Figure 1a, page 110.) Though he admitted to certain failures, Franklin assessed the system overall to be a resounding success. He called the system his "Rules of Conduct" and revealed its details in 1791 with the publication of the second part of his autobiography. Franklin claimed that it was to this "little artifice" that he owed "the constant felicity of his life" and that "being fully persuaded of the utility and excellency" of the method, he hoped it would be widely employed by "people in all religions" (ibid., p. 77).


Franklin's wish came true in circles more distant than he likely imagined. In 1808, Rabbi Menahem Mendel Lefin of Satanov, Podolia (modern Ukraine), published his booklet Sefer Heshbon Ha'Nefesh ("The Book of Self-Examination"), presenting Franklin's method in Hebrew, accompanied by a dozen rabbinic approbations and sprinkled with rabbinic and scriptural supports to assure readers of its conformity to Jewish tradition (SINKOFF 2000, p. 146). Lefin admitted that the method was not his own, saying merely that "[a] few years ago, a new strategy was developed--a strategy that is a wonderful innovation in this field [of heshbon ha'nefesh]" (Lefin 1995, p. 51). Though he left his source unnamed, his work was undoubtedly appropriated from Franklin's "Rules of Conduct." (1)

The method, the diagrams, and even the thirteen particular traits listed in both works are materially identical. Figure ib (page 110) contains Franklin's thirteen traits translated by Lefin into rabbinic Hebrew. For example, the following are the thirteen traits Franklin enumerated in English and beside each is a trait from Lefin's Hebrew list of thirteen: chastity, mwna; cleanliness, nvpi; frugality, ymp; humility, map; industry, mt'it; justice, pis; moderation, nubno; order, no; resolution, nuwpy; silence, nprnw; sincerity, nm; temperance, Nmno; and tranquility, nnun warn.

In 1845, with the encouragement of Rabbi Israel Salanter--a leading nineteenth-century rabbi and founder of the Mussar (self-improvement) movement--Sefer Heshbon Ha'Nefesh was republished several times. Perhaps most noteworthy was its publication under the auspices of the Student Association of the famed Slobodka Yeshivah, complete with a foreword by its dean, Rabbi Isaac Sher.

Attempts to improve one's character by means of heshbon ha'nefesh have been a part of Jewish tradition since time immemorial. (2) The term heshbon ha'nefesh, however, had historically been a generic one: the specifics of the "soul accounting" method either varied from text to text or were altogether vague. During the nineteenth century, a number of innovative, less methodological approaches were advocated by Hasidic masters such as Rabbi Nahman of Breslov, Rabbi Mordekhai Yosef Leiner of Izhbitsa (the Izhbitser Rebbe), and Rabbi Tsadok Ha'Kohen. In fact, it has been argued that Lefin's agenda was intended to specifically combat the emotionally-charged, non-rational approaches of the Hasidic masters (SINKOFF, pp. 146-148). Whatever the case, Franklin's system--as promulgated by Lefin--clearly became the preeminent method of heshbon ha'nefesh among prewar Eastern European Jewry. (3) Its adoption was so widespread that his particular method became almost inextricably intertwined with the general term heshbon ha'nefesh. After the Holocaust, Lefin's book was among the first Jewish classics to be republished.


Contemporary psychologist Dr. Robert Kegan has, like Franklin and Lefin, provided popular tools for adult character development. (4) However, while Lefin adopted Franklin's behaviorist approach, equating humans with trainable animals, Kegan is a constructivist, believing we are, psychologically, meaning-making machines. While Franklin held that the key to personal growth is conditioning, which he called "habititude" (FRANKLIN, pp. 72, 82), Kegan believes growth necessitates changing the way a person makes meaning of the world. Kegan developed Constructive-Developmental Theory (CDT) to describe how human development takes place.

CDT distinguishes between two types of cognitive development: informative and transformative. Informative development occurs when we learn new skills or adopt new behavior patterns. Transformative development entails transforming the way one goes about making meaning. Kegan argues that the former ought to be considered mere "learning" "transforming the operating system itself, not just increasing your fund of knowledge or your behavioral repertoire" (KEGAN and LAHEY 2009, p. 6). Building on the work of Ronald Heifitz (1998), Kegan adopts a nomenclature to differentiate between "technical challenges," having methods of solution known from the outset that can therefore be solved by learning or training, and "adaptive challenges," whose solution entails a method unknown at the outset that can only be overcome through a transformative change that modifies one's mindset with respect to the given challenge (KEGAN and LAHEY, p. 29).

According to CDT, the conscious self, or "I," does its meaning-making by considering elements in the set of phenomena distinct from itself and reflecting upon their relationship to one another or to the "I" itself. Since the "I" is able to "grasp" and "manipulate" these elements as mental objects, CDT refers to them as that which is "Object" to the self. At the same time, there must always be some mental framework the "I" uses to make sense, or meaning, of the Object. Under normal circumstances, the "I" remains both beholden and blind to this framework. Since its meaning-making ability is subject to the framework, CDT refers to its elements as "Subject."

CDT argues that true development (i.e., of the transformative variety) occurs when that which once was Subject becomes Object. In other words, when we are able to think about that which we used to think with--when we can consider not just our view of reality, but the lens through which we are viewing it. At that point, our meaning-making (i.e., our quintessential selves according to CDT) does not merely undergo an incremental change. It undergoes a categorical change. As meaning-making machines, when that which was Subject becomes Object, we are not just better informed, we are also fundamentally transformed.

CDT would thus make a specific prediction regarding the limitations of Franklin's method. Namely, that while one may be able to overcome many undesired behavior patterns with self-discipline and self-reproach--the tools Franklin and Lefin advocate--behavior patterns that are consequential to that which is Subject to the self will be immune (in the long run) to these tools. In such cases, CDT predicts that Franklin's method will prove an ineffective technique to effect the desired change.


KEGAN and LAHEY developed their Immunity to Change Map (ITCM) to prompt transformative change by providing users with a glimpse of that which is Subject to them. Not unlike looking in a mirror to discover the tinted lenses through which one has been viewing the world, the ITCM reveals subconscious fears, commitments, and assumptions that are encoded in the current "operating system" of the meaning-making machine. When a person is able to mentally manipulate the psychological forces that had hitherto manipulated him or her (i.e., to convert that which is Subject to Object), then that person is finally able to effect transformative change.

Benjamin Franklin claimed that he had employed his system to virtually perfect his character in at least eleven of his thirteen target areas. He was less self-congratulatory regarding the remaining two: "Humility" and "Order" Moreover, while acknowledging the self-referential paradox of professing one's own humility, he nevertheless did confirm having made great strides in that trait as well. It was only regarding "Order" that Franklin found himself "incorrigible" (FRANKLIN, p. 77). It is in Franklin's failed attempts to inculcate "Order" that we find fertile ground to explore the CDT-inspired thesis regarding adaptive change. If we take Franklin's words at face value, there can be little doubt about how hard he tried ("I found it extreamly [sic] difficult to acquire ... This article, therefore, cost me so much painful attention") nor how ardently he wanted to reform himself ("my faults in it vexed me so much"). Yet, he simply was unable to change. ("I made so little progress in amendment, and had such frequent relapse, that I was ready to give up the attempt and content myself with a faulty character." [FRANKLIN, p. 76]).

With respect to Order, it seems that Franklin was simply immune to change, and there, perhaps, is where KEGAN and LAHEY's technique might have helped. According to them, the first step in overcoming adaptive challenges is producing an adaptive formulation of the problem, i.e., the Immunity to Change Map (KEGAN and LAHEY, p. 31). The ITCM comprises four sections, or columns. As seen in Figure A, the first column presents a personal change goal that the individual passionately wants to make. In Franklin's case, he was explicit about this: "ORDER: let all [my] things have their places; [and] let each part of [my] business have its time" (FRANKLIN, p. 72).

The second column comprises a mini-confession of the behavior(s) that the individual does contrary to his or her stated goal. In Franklin's case, perhaps "I often receive people of business at their own hours [even when they conflict with the pre-planned order of my day]" (ibid., p. 76); and "[I find it] extreamly [sic] difficult to [return] things, papers, etc., to their places (ibid.) ... [even though] now I am grown old, and my memory bad [and] I feel very sensibly the want of it" (ibid., p. 77). Taken together, the first two columns of Franklin's ITCM might have looked like Figure A:

Figure A. The first two columns of Franklin's hypothetical ITCM
(that which is Object to him)

Column 1                        Column 2 Doing/not doing
Improvement Goal                instead (Behaviors that work
                                against my goal)

"ORDER: let all [my] things     "[I] often receive people of
have their places; [and] let    business at their own hours
each part of [my] business      [even when they conflict with
have its time" (p. 72).         the pre-planned order of my
                                own day]" "[I find it]
                                extreamly [sic] difficult to
                                acquire [the habit of
                                returning] things, papers,
                                etc., to their places [even
                                though] now I am grown old,
                                and my memory bad, I feel very
                                sensibly the want of it" (pp.

While Franklin's response to his patently self-contradictory behavior was a redoubling of his commitment to fight his Column 2 behaviors, he reports such an approach yielded little success. KEGAN and LAHEY would suggest taking a different tack and instead to embrace the contents of Column 2 for the valuable insights they could yield (KEGAN and LAHEY, pp. 34-35). CDT would characterize the contents of these two columns as things that are Object to Franklin. In other words, he sees what he wants, and he can see what he is doing to undermine it. For Kegan these two columns are part of the agenda he is driving. But what is driving him in these two contradictory directions?

In Column 3 of the ITCM, the user attempts to uncover that which is Subject to him--that is, the hidden psychological commitments to explain why he persists in his Column 2 behaviors despite his commitment to his Column 1 goal. In Franklin's case, these commitments might include the following:

"[I think of myself as a] master who must mix with the world" (FRANKLIN, p. 76).

"Such extream [sic] nicety as I exacted of myself might be a kind of foppery in morals, which, if it were known, would make me [appear] ridiculous [and I am unwilling to appear ridiculous in the eyes of others]" (ibid., p. 77).

"A perfect character might be attended with the inconvenience of being envied and hated; and that a benevolent man should allow a few faults in himself, to keep his friends in countenance" (ibid.)

Figure B. The first three columns of Franklin's hypothetical ITCM
(an adaptive formulation of his challenge)

Column 1         Column 2 Doing/not     Column 3
Improvement      doing instead          Hidden competing
goal             (Behaviors that work   commitments
                 against my goal)

"ORDER:          "[I] often receive     "[I think of myself
let all [my]     people of business     as a] master who
things have      at their own hours     must mix with the
their places;    [even when they        world" (p. 76).
[and] let each   conflict with the
part of [my]     pre-planned order of   "Such extream (sic)
business have    my own day]" (p.       nicety as I exacted
its time" (p.    76).                   of myself might be a
72).                                    kind of foppery in
                 "[I find it]           morals, which, if it
                 extreamly [sic]        were known, would
                 difficult to acquire   make me [appear]
                 [the habit of          ridiculous [and I am
                 returning] things,     unwilling to appear
                 papers, etc., to       ridiculous in the
                 their places [even     eyes of others]" (p.
                 though] now I am       77).
                 grown old, and my
                 memory bad, I feel     "A perfect character
                 very sensibly the      might be attended
                 want of it" (pp. 76-   with the
                 77).                   inconvenience of
                                        being envied and
                                        hated; and that a
                                        benevolent man
                                        should allow a few
                                        faults in himself,
                                        to keep his friends
                                        in countenance" (p.

The three columns (as shown in Figure B) taken as a whole reveal that Franklin's "incorrigibility" is not the product of moral lethargy or convictional lassitude, but rather of a highly energetic psychological system that produces behavioral stasis only by offsetting powerful (but countervailing) forces presented in Column 1 and Column 3. The internal conflict between one's conscious ambitions, on the one hand, and one's subconscious commitments and fears that oppose them, on the other, gives rise, as Kegan puts it, to "having one foot on the gas pedal and the other on the brakes." Viewed from this broadened perspective, the activities detailed in Column 2 are not as self-defeating as their conflict with Column 1 had initially suggested. Rather, they are actually self-preserving insofar as they protect the Column 3 persona to which Franklin is committed. Considering the "counterproductive" activities of Column 2 with a synoptic view of both the Column 1 and Column 3 commitments reveals precisely why Franklin's technical solution is inadequate. While he may be sincerely committed to living with meticulous orderliness, he is also deeply committed to being accessible, flexible, and likeable (as defined by the contents of Column 3). In other words, the reason why Franklin cannot overcome his problem is not because he lacks the discipline; it is because he wants to embrace both "Order" and its antithesis at the same time!

At this stage of constructing his ITCM, Franklin's predicament has been successfully formulated as an adaptive challenge. The problem now, however, is that the Founding Father has been redeemed from the frying pan only to be condemned to the fire. While before, he might have had false hope in overcoming his Column 2 behavior, in light of his Column 3 commitments, it would seem he has no hope at all! This is where the fourth and final column of the ITCM comes in, providing a potential wedge to disengage Column 1 and Column 3, which now stand at loggerheads.

Column 4 contains what KEGAN and LAHEY call the "big assumptions." These are the unspoken--perhaps even unrealized--tenets that perpetuate the conflict. In Franklin's case, this might be: I assume that extreme punctiliousness--especially that which is as overt as my notion of Order requires--will incite envy or scorn in my friends and others who will interpret my behavior as small-minded, supercilious, or one-upmanship, which will ultimately undermine my ability to achieve my other goals. (See Figure C for his complete hypothetical ITCM.)

Of course, one's "big assumptions" may be true--but they just as well may be false. Once laid bare on the ITCM, the contents of Columns 3 and 4, which had previously been operating behind the scenes, surreptitiously "driving" Franklin as Subject, can now be viewed and manipulated as Object. He can test his Column 4 hypothesis with private "experiments" that slowly convince him that his assumption requires modification. Alternatively, he might ultimately confirm his Big Assumption, in which case he can revise his Column 1 goal, which currently fails to portray the full picture of what he really wants. For example, he might modify his goal in Column 1 for Order to allow for unstructured windows of time that would still conform to his notion of orderliness, or he might modify his definition of Order, limiting its applicability to when he is working alone.


It appears that Franklin's method is a direct and highly effective tool for behavior modification that served Franklin well in almost all cases. However, when it comes to adaptive challenges, using an ITCM may yield better results. KEGAN and LAHEY readily concede this point:

We have always told our clients that if they can make the changes they need to by recipe, by willpower, by creating some plan to extinguish certain behaviors and amplify others--like submitting to a diet--then by all means that is exactly what they should do. Nothing we have to offer is as quick and easy as a straightforward technical solution--if it works ... The question for one committed to a self-improvement goal thus becomes, "Which approach is the right one to help me overcome my problem?" There is no pat answer. One often cannot determine whether a challenge is technical or adaptive in nature just by looking at it (KEGAN and LAHEY, pp. 37, 38).

It stands to reason, then, that one choosing between Franklin's and Kegan's techniques first ought to try Franklin's simpler, more direct approach. If a technical solution works, the challenge was not adaptive (ibid., p. 38).

Of course, a person's failure to change cannot indicate ipso facto a flawed technique. Franklin himself, though claiming ultimate success, concedes progress was slow and took years (FRANKLIN, p. 76), so we must remain mindful of additional factors that indicate an adaptive challenge. For example, undesired behaviors that had temporarily diminished but then return stronger than ever would suggest the existence of a hidden, countervailing Column 3-type commitment that is prompting Column 2-type behavior (KEGAN and LAHEY, p. 38). Another reliable indicator that a challenge is adaptive in nature is when a problem itself implicates a fundamental aspect of one's personality or identity (ibid., p. 129).


Traditional Judaism emphasizes proper behavior down to the finest minutiae. Arguably, action is afforded greater attention than even faith or feelings. It is understandable, therefore, that Jewish literature has historically espoused a behaviorist approach to self-development. For example, the thirteenth-century Sefer Ha'Hinukh (The Book of Education) advises:

The human being develops according to what he does, and one's heart and thoughts always follow his actions ... Even one who is thoroughly evil ... if he stirs himself ... to toil assiduously in Torah and [its] commandments--even if insincerely--will immediately incline toward goodness, and from insincere [action] will come sincerity, and by virtue of his actions, his drive for evil will die (Sefer Ha'Hinukh, precept 16).

So it comes as no surprise that Lefin's repackaging of Franklin's wares found warm welcome in Torah circles. Can a more effective version of heshbon ha'nefesh based on Lefin's presentation but augmented by Kegan's ITCM remain fully consistent with the traditional Jewish outlook? I believe it can.

According to the normative Jewish model of human psychodynamics, every individual finds him- or herself at the intersection of two countervailing psychological forces: the superego-like yetser ha'tov (the drive for good) and the id-like yetser hara (the drive for evil). See, for example, Rabbi Moshe Hayyim Luzzatto's description of this dynamic in Derekh Ha'Shem (The Way of G-d). Overcoming the drive for evil and to obey instead the drive for good typically presents what would rightly be classified as a "technical" challenge, because the means to a solution is usually known from the outset. Observant Jews have a priori commitments to study, prayer, and good deeds. The successful fulfillment of these commitments requires "only" self-motivation, discipline, and practice. Franklin's technique is thus an appropriate strategy to train oneself to behave in accordance with Jewish ideals.

We should be wary, however, not to conflate this type of "technical" inner conflict with the "adaptive" inner conflicts addressed by the ITCM, which do not necessarily have anything directly to do with moral dilemmas. Consider, for example, Franklin's own struggle between orderliness and flexibility. To the best of my knowledge, nothing in the traditional Jewish literature suggests that either approach is objectively better than the other. To the contrary, some type of balance is probably the preferred modus vivendi. There is a clear distinction between these two types of inner conflict:

(1) The technical challenges that may be described as overcoming the yetser ha'ra

(2) The adaptive challenges that constitute the defining or refining of one's character

The resolution of (1) requires the resolve to fulfill the many Scriptural and rabbinic mandates exhorting us to choose good over evil. The resolution of (2) demands something altogether different. The second requires a more precise, self-reflective understanding of how we must choose to live, according to Maimonides' formulation:

Therefore the early Sages instructed one to constantly evaluate his attitudes, to calculate them, and to align them with the middle path so that he will be perfect (MAIMONIDES, Laws of Attitudes 1:4).

While it is true that proper action is always of primary importance, Judaism also expects us to refine our behavior with ever-deepening levels of understanding (see, for example, TALMUD Kiddushin 40a). The Talmud states that the response of the Jewish People to receiving the Torah at Mount Sinai, "We will do and we will understand" (EXODUS 24:3) was effective precisely because of the commitment first to do and then to understand (TALMUD Shabbat 88a). The critical second part of the declaration, however, should not be overlooked: the all-important commitment to subsequent understanding in order to enhance further action. This attitude is found in Hillel the Elder's famous encapsulation of Judaism to a prospective convert:

What is hateful to you, do not do unto your friend. Everything else is commentary. Now go and study! (TALMUD Shabbat 31a. Emphasis mine.)

Hillel captures the paradigm I propose in the relationship between the behaviorist and Constructive-Developmental Theory approaches: we first directly try to change our behavior by habituation, and then, if that does not work, we seek a deeper understanding of the underlying reasons why, so that out of that deeper understanding, we can ultimately act in concert with our ideals.


Using Robert Kegan's Immunity to Change Map (if it had been available then) might have helped Benjamin Franklin overcome a particular adaptive challenge when his own system for self-perfection failed him. It is reasonable to assume that people using that same system, as presented in Sefer Heshbon Ha'Nefesh, to refine their characters will, like Franklin, be stymied by adaptive challenges. For such people, it is reasonable to assume that augmenting their efforts with an Immunity to Change Map will prove beneficial. Such a hybrid approach is more consistent with the traditional Jewish outlook than the behaviorist method alone. Personally, I have found both Franklin's and Kegan's methods to be powerful tools for my own growth, and I believe the hybrid technique can help many other people as well. As did Franklin, I sincerely hope that my proposed technique will be widely employed by members of all religions, and as a rabbi in the Torah-observant community, I pray that it becomes the preferred method of heshbon ha'nefesh for the twenty-first century.


Afsai, S. 2011. "Benjamin Franklin, Mussar Maven." Jewish Daily Forward. 17 Jan 2011. Retrieved 27 Aug 2014 from benjamin-franklin-mussar-maven.

Franklin, B. 2008. The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, edited by C.W. Eliot, originally published 1791. Rockville, MD: Arc Manor. Retrieved 27 Aug 2014 from &printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_ge_summary_r&cad=0#v=onep age&q&f=false.

Heifetz, R. 1998. Leadership Without Easy Answers. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Kegan, R., and L.L. Lahey. 2009. Immunity to Change. Boston: Harvard Business School Publishing Corporation.

Lefin, M.M. 1995. Cheshbon ha-Nefesh (1845), edited by D. Landesman and translated by S. Silverstein. New York: Feldheim Publishers.

Sinkoff, N. 2000. "Benjamin Franklin in Jewish Eastern Europe: Cultural Appropriation in the Age of Enlightenment." Journal of the History of Ideas. vol. 61, no.1, pp. 133-152. Retrieved 27 Aug 2014 from http://www.

(1.) Sinkoff (p. 134, footnote 3) claims that there was a primary source in which Lefin expressed his debt to Franklin, which was cited in Israel Weinlos's "Menahem Mendel Lefin of Satanov" in Ha'Olam 13 (1925), p. 800 (Hebrew). I was unable to confirm this source.

(2.) See, for example, Talmud Bava Batra 78b and Eruvin 13b; Bahya ibn Paquda's Hovot Ha'Levavot, chap. 8 (Shaar Heshbon Ha'Nefesh); Maimonides' Eight Chapters; and Moshe Hayyim Luzzatto's Mesilat Yesharim, chap. 3.

(3.) Youth groups in Podolia (Ukraine) and Galicia (Poland) actually arose dedicated to living according to Lefin's program (Sinkoff, p. 142, footnote 41). See Abraham Ber Gottlober, Zikhronot U'Masaot, 2, edited by Reuben Goldberg (Jerusalem, 1976), pp. 197-208.

(4.) There are, of course, many other psychologists who have created successful methods in the field of human development. To enumerate all of them and their ideas would require a footnote longer than this paper. Perhaps the psychologists closest to Kegan would be Jean Piaget, Erik Erikson, Lawrence Kohlberg, Abraham Maslow, and David McClelland.

Rabbi Joel Padowitz, MBA, CFA

RABBI JOEL PADOWITZ, MBA, CFA, is a successful entrepreneur who has been involved in adult Jewish education for nearly twenty years, specializing in the interface between traditional Judaism and modernity. He is the founder and CEO of Palladium Capital Advisors, LLC, a boutique investment bank that has facilitated approximately half a billion dollars in private placements and acquisitions. He is also the founder and CEO of Jew IQ, LLC, which develops mobile applications, content, and curricula for Jewish education and travel, including most notably the Israel App, Israel's most popular travel app. He is an award-winning speaker and writer whose articles have been published widely and whose books include Triumph and Tragedy: Journeying through 1000 Years of Jewish Life in Poland. Rabbi Padowitz gives regular classes in Talmud, Jewish thought, and Jewish law, and previously served as rabbi for the Aish HaTorah young professional community in London. In addition to rabbinic ordination, he received his MBA from Bar-Ilan University where he finished first in his class. He holds the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) designation and was honored at the White House by President George H. W. Bush for "outstanding achievements in science."


Figure 1a. Benjamin Franklin's thirteen character traits for his
daily self-improvement program. From top to bottom, in his own
words and spelling:

1. TEMPERANCE. Eat not to dullness; drink not to elevation.

2. SILENCE. Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself;
avoid trifling conversation.

3. ORDER. Let all your things have their places; let each part of
your business have its time.

4. RESOLUTION. Resolve to perform what you ought; perform without
fail what you resolve.

5. FRUGALITY. Make no expense but to do good to others or yourself;
i.e., waste nothing.

6. INDUSTRY. Lose no time; be always employ'd in something useful;
cut off all unnecessary actions.

7. SINCERITY. Use no hurtful deceit; think innocently and justly,
and, if you speak, speak accordingly.

8. JUSTICE. Wrong none by doing injuries, or omitting the benefits
that are your duty.

9. MODERATION. Avoid extreams; forbear resenting injuries so much
as you think they deserve.

10. CLEANLINESS. Tolerate no uncleanliness in body, cloaths, or

11. TRANQUILLITY. Be not disturbed at trifles, or at accidents
common or unavoidable.

12. CHASTITY. Rarely use venery but for health or offspring, never
to dulness, weakness, or the injury of your own or another's peace
or reputation.


Original chart and explanation by Benjamin Franklin reproduced with
kind permission from Arc Manor, Rockville, Maryland.

Figure 1b. Thirteen character traits as they appear in Rabbi Menahem
Mendel's nineteenth-century classic Sefer Heshbon Ha'Nefesh. From top
to bottom, translated from Lefin's Hebrew into Franklin's English:

Menuhah (tranquility)
Savlanut (moderation)
Seder (order)
Akshanut (resolution)
Nikiut (cleanliness)
Anavah (humility)
Tsedek (justice)
Kimuts (frugality)
Zrizut (industry)
Shtikah (silence)
Nihuta (temperance)
Emet (sincerity)
Prishut (chastity)

Figure C. Franklin's complete hypothetical Immunity to Change Map

Column 1           Column 2                 Column 3
Improvement        Doing/not doing          Hidden competing
goal               instead (Behaviors       commitments
                   that work against
                   my goal)

"ORDER: let        "[I] often receive       "[I think of myself as
all [my] things    people of business       a] master who must
have their         at their own hours       mix with the world"
places; [and]      [even when they          (p. 76).
let each part of   conflict with the
[my] business      pre-planned order        "Such extream [sic]
have its time"     of my own day]"          nicety as I exacted
(p. 72).           (p. 76).                 of myself might be
                                            a kind of foppery in
                   "[I find it]             morals, which, if it
                   extreamly [sic]          were known, would
                   difficult to acquire     make me [appear]
                   [the habit of            ridiculous [and I am
                   returning] things,       unwilling to appear
                   papers, etc., to their   ridiculous in the
                   places (p. 76) [even     eyes of others]" (p.
                   though] now I am         77).
                   grown old, and my
                   memory bad, I feel       "A perfect character
                   very sensibly the        might be attended
                   want of it" (p. 77).     with the
                                            inconvenience of
                                            being envied and
                                            hated; and that a
                                            benevolent man
                                            should allow a
                                            few faults in himself,
                                            to keep his friends in
                                            countenance" (p. 77).

Column 4

I assume that
extreme punc-
especially that
which is as overt
as my notion of
Order requires
-will incite
envy or scorn
in my friends
and others who
will interpret
my behavior as
and/or one-up-
manship, which
will ultimately
my ability to
achieve my
other goals.
COPYRIGHT 2014 Jerusalem College of Technology
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2014 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Author:Padowitz, Joel
Publication:B'Or Ha'Torah
Article Type:Critical essay
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jan 1, 2014
Previous Article:Jewish resource policies: the beginning and the end of the world.
Next Article:Sister Swift.

Terms of use | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2021 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters |