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Yashar

straight • upright • righteous

newsletter of  The Mussar Institute

August 2013  • Forgiveness

August 2013

Forgiveness


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A MUSSAR GEM

“Hashem deals with our judgment the way in which we deal with others; if we … do not act strictly with others who cause us pain, [Hashem, too,] will not be strict in judging us. This demands an enormous amount of vigilance in our middot as we prepare for the Day of Judgment and during the Days of Judgment themselves. We must practice vigilance from anger and harshness/being inflexible during these days. If we mention [in our prayers to Yom Kippur], For You are a forgiver of Israel and the Pardoner of the tribes of Jeshurun, then the person who utters such a prayer must also be a ‘forgiver’ and a ‘pardoner.’ ”
–Rabbi Shlomo Wolbe, Alei Shur (translation by Rabbi Avi Fertig)


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Phone: 778-300-6174

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Yashar, the newsletter of The Mussar Institute, July 2013

Through a Mussar Lens: Exploring the Many Facets of Forgiveness

My first reaction when asked to write about “forgiveness” for this issue of Yashar was: “In what sense?” Here’s what I mean ...

There is the idiom “forgive and forget.” Or should we “forgive but not forget?” Is it forgiving someone if I still remember the grievance every time I see him? The Torah exhorts, “Do not take revenge and do not bear a grudge” (Vayiqra 19:18). These are two distinct but related prohibitions (Talmud, Yuma 23a). Taking revenge refers to the one who was denied when he asked to borrow his neighbor’s rake who then refuses to lend his neighbor some sugar to repay in kind. Not to bear a grudge goes beyond that. This is the person who lends the neighbor that sugar, but does so telling him, “Sure, not like you said ‘no’ when I needed that rake.”

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Roann AltmanWelcome

In the va’ad about forgiveness in A Season of Mussar II, participants are invited to stand before the group and recite a prayer to forgive someone. The power of the words is palpable. Releasing the pain of a wrong done to you takes gevurah (strength), emunah (faith) and more than a little anavah (humility), too.

I felt moved, even as the facilitator, to hear myself speak the words and forgive someone close to me. I have continued to try to work on this middah, because freeing myself from the burden of unmet expectations feels so much better than carrying around that bitterness.

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My Mussar Journey

My wife, Adriaan, introduced me to Mussar when she bought me a copy of Climbing Jacob’s Ladder at a retreat in December 2004 at the former Elat Chayyim in Accord, N.Y. I immediately read it and asked, “How does one engage in this practice?” because I sensed this would be great for me, addressing directly my flaws, hidden and explicit, and longings for a better life and existence. 

I then looked up Alan Morinis and The Mussar Institute online and discovered that Web-based Mussar programs were being offered beginning in January 2005. I immediately enrolled, and thus began my immersion and commitment to a daily Mussar study and practice. It began with online material emailed biweekly, an online va’ad that eventually faded out, and chevruta study by telephone with Gerry Owen of Santa Monica, Calif., a weekly study relationship still in place.

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World of Mussar: Temple Beth David, Rochester, N.Y.

Forgiveness is the opposite of forgetting. Insight can reclaim a disconnected past. One of the most moving moments in our Season of Mussar va’ad was learning this truth.

Temple Beth David in Rochester, N.Y., is a small Conservative-affiliated synagogue with a strong heimish spirit and a reputation within the community for lively participative davenning. While Rochester has relatively rich resources for adult Judaic education and participation for an upstate New York community, most efforts are intellectually or culturally oriented rather than providing for spiritual development. Seeing a need for new approaches to spiritual engagement, Temple Beth David’s rabbi and leadership were supportive and encouraged the starting of a Season of Mussar course during the spring of 2013.

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Chevrah Fellowship Expanding

We are grateful for our Chevrah members. The cadre of TMI va’ad facilitators is growing each year and now numbers well over 50. While the growth is exciting, it also creates challenges.

The Chevrah fellowship was formed to help create community among Manchim-trained va’ad facilitators and to lend support as they pursue their own spiritual growth as Mussar practitioners and group leaders. Over the past year, the Chevrah Council assessed the current Chevrah program in order to create a plan for new initiatives. We are excited to update the entire TMI community about the many new Chevrah offerings, and we look forward to introducing new initiatives in the coming year.

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Now’s the Time

As we enter Elul and the holiest time of the year, our thoughts turn inward to how we can become better people. What middot (soul traits) appear to us as needing work? What can we do to improve our relationships? What steps must we take to assess our personal situation and set our intentions?

In keeping with the theme of this month’s edition of Yashar, we might begin with forgiveness. What does each of the articles have to say? Turn to the exercise in the Practice Corner. As Rabbi Berger suggests in “Through a Mussar Lens,” we need to not just forgive, but also restore our relationship to what it was before the incident, and then perhaps approach life with a forgiving attitude, so that we not take offense at what others might do.

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Practice Corner

Practice Corner

In his Mussar classic Alei Shur, Rav Wolbe writes,

G-d is a shadow of your right hand (Tehillim/Psalms 121)—man points his finger, he is shown a finger, man shows his hand, and he is shown a hand. This is a valuable and far reaching method with which HaShem deals with us; the entire way that HaShem acts toward us depends on our actions!”

As we prepare for the High Holy Days and focus on building our positive middot, Rav Wolbe teaches us “to strengthen our love of humanity,” and forgiveness is one such route.

Pledge to forgive at least one person each day in the month of Elul, whether it be someone close to you or a stranger whose path crosses yours just long enough to cause you some small harm.

Say a prayer of forgiveness aloud, affirm your love of humanity, and feel the warmth of the forgiveness in your heart.


Newsletter Home

Through a Mussar Lens: Exploring the Many Facets of Forgiveness – by Micha Berger

Welcome – by Jason Winston

My Mussar Journey – by Samuel H. Finnerman

Around the Mussar World: Temple Beth David, Rochester, NY – by Howard Brill

Chevrah Fellowship Expanding - by Pam Rollins

Mussar Kallah: Now's the Time – by Roann Altman

Practice Corner


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Copyright 2013 © The Mussar Institute

Kallah Registration is Open!

Registration for Mussar Kallah XI, October 17-20 in Zion, IL is now open.

learn more


A MUSSAR GEM

“Hashem deals with our judgment the way in which we deal with others; if we … do not act strictly with others who cause us pain, [Hashem, too,] will not be strict in judging us. This demands an enormous amount of vigilance in our middot as we prepare for the Day of Judgment and during the Days of Judgment themselves. We must practice vigilance from anger and harshness/being inflexible during these days. If we mention [in our prayers to Yom Kippur], For You are a forgiver of Israel and the Pardoner of the tribes of Jeshurun, then the person who utters such a prayer must also be a ‘forgiver’ and a ‘pardoner.’ ”
–Rabbi Shlomo Wolbe, Alei Shur (translation by Rabbi Avi Fertig)


Generosity Week is Feb. 23-28, 2014.  Save the date.

Now Available as an eBook!

Climbing Jacob's Ladder


wwwfollow us on facebook

FOLLOW US ON:

Forward to a friend

Join our mailing list


Study Mussar

Course registration for fall is open

Chevrah members access the HomeSite here


DONATIONS

The Mussar Institute depends on the generosity of supporters. Please consider making a donation to honor someone or to remember a loved one.

Thanks to these generous donors:

Scott Baken
Gina Carter
Joanne Lancin
Wesley Penner
Irv Robinson
Modya Silver

It's not too late to become a Founding Member

Donations are gratefully accepted.

pushke


THE MUSSAR INSTITUTE

For further information on The Mussar Institute, visit www.MussarInstitute.org
Email address: info@mussarinstitute.org
Phone: 778-300-6174