A Mussar Gem
“We have expounded the thirteen qualities by which a person resembles the Creator. These are the qualities of higher compassion and their special property is that just as one conducts oneself here below so will that one be worthy of opening that higher quality from above. As one behaves, so will be the outpouring from above, and one will thereby cause that quality to shine upon earth. Therefore, do not let these thirteen qualities depart from the eyes of the mind and let not the verse [from the prophet Micha] depart from the mouth, so that it be a permanent reminder. And whenever there is the opportunity of exercising one of these qualities, one will remember, saying to oneself: ‘Behold, this depends on this particular quality. I shall not depart from it, so that the quality may not be hidden and depart from the world.’”
– Rabbi Moshe Cordovero, Tomer Devorah
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One of the striking aspects of the Torah is its depiction of human relationships in all their difficulties, starting with Cain and Abel and continuing through many other instances of domestic strife. What if I told you that a 16th century rabbi wrote a handbook for healing relationships that is as applicable today as it was five centuries ago. Would you believe me? But it is true. Rabbi Moshe Cordovero (1522–1570) is that 16th century rabbi, and his guidelines for creating loving relationships occupy the whole first section of his classic work, Tomer Devorah [Palm Tree of Deborah].
The approach of the High Holy Days affords us the opportunity to heal our relationships by asking forgiveness of all those we may have harmed—by our speech or by our actions. We are encouraged to turn over a new leaf.
Could we do something so next year we had less need to seek forgiveness? Could we prevent harm from occurring in the first place? Can we learn how to create more space between situations and our reactions to them? In effect, can we adopt a proactive approach to our relationships rather than a reactive one?
Check out these great 3-minute Mussar video blogs produced by Rabbi Chaim Safren of the Calgary Kollel in Canada, and one of our esteemed TMI teachers. New videos come out a few times a month and deal with everyday opportunities for Mussar practice. Very engaging and sometimes even fun!
Save the Dates
The 2016 Practice Retreat dates are set: April 10–13 on the West Coast and June 5–8 on the East Coast.
We learn from Rabbi Moshe Cordovero in Tomer Devorah that the foundational practice for healing loving relationships is to practice tolerance [savlanut in Hebrew]. He is not talking about tolerating abuse. He is talking about staying close and being forgiving of the inevitable offenses done to us by those whom we love. The practice he prescribes is both simple and challenging: whenever someone who is close to you insults you or offends you, ask yourself: “What can I do to sustain this person?” What can I do to support and care for this person I love, despite the offenses they deliver to me? This is not a rhetorical question. When someone who is close to you does something unpleasant or even hurtful to you, seek to identify what you can give to the person with whom you want to foster love, and take action.
Through a Mussar Lens: A Model for Healing Relationships – by Alan Morinis
Kallah XIII: Proactive Healing – by Roann Altman
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