In October, I was invited to speak at the first Mussar Kallah to take place in Europe, which was held in Amsterdam. It touched my heart to be addressing people in 2014 in the very place where in 1740 Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzatto published his Mesillat Yesharim [Path of the Just], which is a main pillar of Mussar thought and practice. It was humbling to be teaching Mussar in his shadow!
A darker shadow was present in Amsterdam as well.
Each month, Yashar will send a question to one or two Mussar teachers on an idea, practice, text, middah, or other Mussar-related challenge that someone is confronting. Email your question to email@example.com .
This month’s question:
“I am involved with Holocaust education in my synagogue. My big question is how can a Jew in the 21st century have Bitachon after the Holocaust? Talking with many survivors and 2nd generation survivors, that is a 6,000-pound elephant in the room.”
Generosity Week Starts Feb. 8
Mark your calendars now! The Mussar Institute’s fourth annual Generosity Week is scheduled for the week of February 8, 2015. Generosity Week was developed to share the gift of Mussar-centered learning, inspiration and guided practice to enhance giving with self-awareness.
The program includes brief video teachings on generosity by noted speakers, commentary and practices to strengthen and build our generosity muscles, opportunities to acknowledge the generous acts of others, and enthusiastic conversation on the topic among participants on the TMI Facebook page. There’s a lot more to the middah [soul trait] of generosity than many realize, and we want to share these enriching teachings with as wide an audience as possible. We are inviting all of you as the TMI community to participate this year by sharing and liking the videos and posts and by joining in on our conversations.
Generosity Week Committee Chair
TMI Bulletin Board
- Alan Morinis’s Everyday Holiness is now available as an audiobook.
- Registration is open for the Practice Retreat, to be held May 31 to June 3, 2015, in Baltimore. Rates are discounted until Feb. 1.
- Save the dates for Kallah XIII, Nov. 12 to 15, 2015, in Zion, Ill. Kallah XII was our biggest and best yet, so be sure to make plans to be there this year.
Developing a good memory is an important part of the Mussar path: Rambam identifies memory as one of the “intellectual middot” that a person on the path toward wholeness needs to acquire. Rabbi Yisrael Lipschutz (1782–1860), author of Tiferet Yisrael, a commentary on Pirkei Avot, identifies the ways to develop a good memory:
“Go and see which is the straight path that a person should cleave to. Rabbi Eliezer said ‘a good eye’...” (Pirkei Avot 2:9).
Tiferet Yisrael says that to develop “a good eye,” a person should focus on developing the ability to:
- be content with what he or she has
- rejoice in the success of other people
- not be envious
- not worry
- not get angry
Rabbi Lipschutz concludes: “All of these things weaken the power of memory. But when one has the trait of ‘a good eye,’ his memory will be like ‘a cemented pit which never loses a drop’ (i.e., a perfect memory).” Different people will find their memory impeded by each of these inner traits to varying degrees. Which of these five focuses is the most important one for you to work on to improve your memory?
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