tinsmith's daughter, and only later was he persuaded to spread his doctrine througha yeshiva.From the outside, Novardok's focus on self-perfection seemed insufferable(sometimes the students felt so too, and the tension caused them nervousbreakdowns). Every week, pupils would plan their work and then check theirprogress. Every student had a notebook to monitor his commitments to virtues andconduct. Every few weeks, the students were given a trait to work on, such asausterity or lack of pride.Every day, the pupils studied from books of morals and held intense conversationsabout their own flaws. Tikochinsky quotes former Supreme Court justice MosheSilberg, a graduate of the yeshiva, as saying, "In terms of disregard for thebourgeoisie, property and status, we were more bohemian at Novardok than all thebohemians I have ever met."Most of the Novardok students perished in the Holocaust (Ben-Artzi dedicates hisbook to his classmates who died), but others, sent to establish branches of theyeshiva in the United States and Palestine, were saved. Ben-Artzi was one of them:In 1933 he arrived in Palestine to set up a yeshiva in Bnei Brak. But these branchesdid not last, "mainly because they could not compete with the idealistic spirit of theZionism of those days and the vision of building the land," says Ben-Artzi. He, likesome of his friends, left the yeshiva after a year to work in agriculture, and later joined the Irgun and the Haganah.
The Mussar movement had two lasting influences for the yeshiva world: "the order of morals," the part of the day devoted to studying books on morality, and the"supervisors" (mashgihim), people responsible for helping students perfect theirmorals. At one point, some mashgihim - figures like Rabbi Eliyahu Dessler of Ponevezh, Rabbi Eliahu Lopian of Kfar Hasidim, Rabbi Meir Hadash of the Hebronyeshiva, and others - were considered no less significant, perhaps even more so,than the heads of their yeshivas.Bezalel Cohen, a graduate of the Ponevezh yeshiva, believes that when that periodpassed, the heyday of the Mussar movement was also over. "The boys don't pay asmuch attention to the 'order of morals' nowadays. Usually the study takes placeshortly before the evening prayer, and according to custom, the boys leave the hallto put on a hat and suit to 'get dressed' for study. But in many cases, they remainthere to chat and then simply go back for the prayers. The 'inspectors' have alsobecome much less important figures than the yeshiva heads, and in general yeshivasconcentrate more on studying and less on morals."On the other hand, Tikochinsky believes the movement was successful by virtue of the fact that its messages seeped down deep into the yeshiva world, becoming itsspiritual basis. "The concept of the Mussar movement is now the spiritual code of theentire ultra-Orthodox world, certainly in the yeshivas - the need to work on self-