straight • upright • righteous
A MUSSAR GEM
We humans have a tendency to always want more. Therefore, it is easy to forget to feel grateful and happy with the good that we already have. We should strive to feel a joy that is complete. Lack of joy with what we have is destructive both physically and spiritually.
Through a Mussar Lens: Gratitude for Both Good and Bad
In October, I gave a talk to a group of rabbis, and my topic was gratitude. It’s a fundamental principle of my teaching that I cite only Jewish sources (except for the occasional reference to Monty Python), but I could find no better text to represent the Jewish view of gratitude than the poem “Listen” by the decidedly un-Jewish W.S. Merwin.
Over the past year, as I studied Mussar and grew in my understanding of gratitude as well as my spirituality, I devised a personal affirmation: “I express gratitude to God for the good things in my life, because I am entitled to them, as well as for the bad things, because I learn and grow from them.”
My Mussar Journey
Since I first read about the Mussar tradition in an article that Alan Morinis wrote for Reform Judaism magazine several years ago, I instinctively felt attracted to it. I think I have been spiritually oriented in one way or another since I was a child. Though my Reform Jewish education was not focused on spirituality, I learned from my father and my religious education that character is important.
World of Mussar: St. Louis
My first encounter with the word “Mussar” occurred in October 2008 when Felice Joyce (see September Yashar Newsletter) began offering Season of Mussar I classes. Saying “yes” to this experience opened a pathway and began a process that brought an improved version of me to St. Louis and to my Congregation Shaare Emeth community when I began serving as its President six months later.
November Special: Discounted Kallah CDs
Were you unable to attend Kallah X? Did you miss Kallah IX, or would you like to relive the great teachings from last year? Then, here are some special offers:
The Practice Corner
Every morning this week, recite to yourself the phrase,
Repeat it several times. Say it aloud. Sing it. Chant it. Place it somewhere that it will remain in front of your eyes: Could that be on a post-it note by your computer? On the dashboard of your car?
And don’t forget to do what the phrase says.
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