Yashar

straight • upright • righteous

newsletter of  The Mussar Institute

February 2014  • Compassion/ Rachamim

February 2014

Compassion/ Rachamim


A MUSSAR GEM

“Compassion is an extremely noble soul-trait. Anything that one can do to cultivate this soul-trait, one should exert oneself to do. Just as one wishes to receive compassion in one’s own time of need, so too one should have compassion on others when they are in need. As it is written, ‘And you should love your neighbor as yourself [Leviticus 19:18].’”
Orchot Tzaddikim


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


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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 and members:

  • Robert Barris
  • Ken Birenbaum, in memory of Nathan Spring
  • Matthew Blumberg
  • Arthur Levine
  • Gayle Marriner-Smith, in memory of Jacob Ween
  • Dean Prober
  • Ellen Rosen, in memory of Rose and Joseph Rosen
  • Gary Shaffer
  • Don Shapiro
  • Gabriel Stern
  • Deborah Wiss
  • The Jacob Ween Manhattan Va'ad

Become a member of The Mussar Institute.

Donations are gratefully accepted.

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THE MUSSAR INSTITUTE

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

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This month's Yashar is dedicated to the memory of Jacob Ween, z'l by the Jacob Ween Manhattan Va'ad.

Through a Mussar Lens: Marijuana and the Cultivation of Compassion

Two US states and the entire country of Uruguay have recently legalized possession of marijuana. These developments may represent the beginning of the end of the “war on drugs” and it seems we will all soon be finding marijuana as available for recreational use as is alcohol today. I take a special interest in the subject because I live in British Columbia, where marijuana cultivation is a major, if currently shadowy and illegal, part of the agricultural economy. In fact, the Jewish position on marijuana has an important connection to my province.

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Welcome

Depending on your perspective, you might say Yashar contains multiple themes this month. I prefer to see the interconnectedness, however.

Our “official” theme is Rachamim/Compassion, and our featured Through a Mussar Lens article from Alan Morinis focuses specifically on this, as does The Practice Corner. We also are spotlighting Generosity Week 2014 with two articles this month and encouraging the full Mussar Institute community to participate. It is challenging to cultivate generosity without a foundation of compassion, so the two middot work hand in hand—and, this month in particular, from hand to hand.

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Generosity Week.  Feb 23-28, 2014Practice Generosity for Six Days and Strengthen Your Generosity Muscle

This year, Generosity Week (February 23 to 28) will be celebrating its third birthday in a whole new way, featuring video lessons from six Generosity All-Star “celebrities” who have been carefully selected to deliver unique lessons to inspire participants to act generously.

In the Mussar tradition, generous giving shines a light in the heart of both giver and recipient. The purpose of the program is to foster individual spiritual development through the practice of generosity—a core human inner trait.

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gardenGrowing a Generosity Garden

Generosity is a universal value, and most religions agree that generosity is an innate human virtue.  In Judaism, and particularly in the Mussar tradition, generosity is a core human trait (middah in Hebrew) that needs mindful cultivation in the fertile soil of the heart.  How does one then start cultivating a generosity garden in one’s heart?

The first person who fertilized my generosity garden was my mother (z’l). I have vivid memories of her loving kindness expressed in a bouquet of generous acts. I can still hear her loud whistle as she leaned against an open window to call hungry street peddlers to our door to receive a full meal, which she would carry down the stairs on a serving tray, accompanied by utensils, condiments, a beverage and even dessert, a gesture that showed true respect (kavod) for each hungry soul. I recall the smell of food traveling down the stairs and the repetitive thank-yous, sometimes accompanied by words of praise, uttered by the lips of the many she fed. 

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In honor of Jacob Ween

Jacob Ween
Jacob Ween, z'l
By Samuel Finnerman

On behalf of the New York Mussar Va’ad, which just renamed ourselves the Jacob Ween Manhattan Va’ad, I am writing this for the greater Mussar Institute community about a dear and cherished member, Jacob Ween, who far too suddenly and prematurely passed away in December.

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angelPractice Corner

The angel Michael represents compassion [rachamim] as his name suggests: mi ka’el – “who is like God,” which calls to mind the essential compassionate nature of the divine. In the bedtime shma prayers there is a recitation that names four angels as surrounding and protecting you. It says, “At my right is Michael.” This means that compassion is at your right hand. 

In your mind, conceive an image of the angel Michael as the embodiment of compassion. This image may or may not have form for you. It need not have wings. The important thing is to fill your mind with a vivid image of embodied compassion.

Once you have that image, visualize it there at your right hand. Feel, see in your mind and experience the vibrant presence of compassion at your right hand.

To intensify the visualization, you can add the recitation of a phrase, whether in Hebrew or English (or any other language, for that matter). It is the line from the bedtime shma about Michael:
* To my right is Michael
Mi yemini Micha’el
Repeat the line over and over aloud in a way that suits your soul and continue to visualize compassion at your right hand. Continue for 5 minutes and repeat every day for one week to strengthen your compassionate nature.

 


Newsletter Home

Through a Mussar Lens: Marijuana and the Cultivation of Compassion – by Alan Morinis

Welcome – by Jason Winston

Practice Generosity for six days and strengthen your Generosity muscle – by Violeta Moutal and Rabbi Barry Block

Growing a Generosity Garden

In Honor of Jacob Ween – by Samuel Finnerman

Practice Corner


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Copyright 2014 © The Mussar Institute


A MUSSAR GEM

“Compassion is an extremely noble soul-trait. Anything that one can do to cultivate this soul-trait, one should exert oneself to do. Just as one wishes to receive compassion in one’s own time of need, so too one should have compassion on others when they are in need. As it is written, ‘And you should love your neighbor as yourself [Leviticus 19:18].’”
Orchot Tzaddikim


Chevrah members access the HomeSite here


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


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 and members:

Become a member of The Mussar Institute.

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