In a New Yorker cartoon, the always very funny Roz Chast outdoes herself with a retelling of the story of Genesis. It begins, “On the first day, God created nothing, because there was plenty of time.” By day three, God created a list. On the fourth day, He was not in the right mood. At the very last moment, on day six, “God created the whole shebang.”
What is standing in my way? I start out with zerizut (enthusiasm) and then wonder why I am not supporting my choice with my practice. I have always wanted to take voice lessons. Finally, in my 64th year, I decided if not now when, and found a joyful, energetic, brilliant voice teacher. I love going to my lessons—so why am I not practicing?
When I think about the challenges before us to improve the environment, I feel an urgency to play my part in doing what I can to restore at least some part of it. But am I being energetic and persistent enough in my efforts?
The middah of zerizut has a great deal to teach us in this respect. In our busy lives, we can easily rationalize that we just don’t have the time to do anything about the immense problems.
SAVE THE DATE: On March 19, 2017, TMI will sponsor an International Study Day to explore “The Jewish Spirituality Challenge: What Do You Need?” Details to follow.
ISRAEL TRIP: Join The Mussar Institute for 10 days in Israel through the lens of Mussar. The tour, led by Alan Morinis and Avi Fertig, will take place from February 19 to March 1, 2017. For more information or to register, click here.
KALLAH XIV: Registration is open for the Mussar Kallah, to be held from December 1 to 4 at Capital Retreat Center in Waynesboro, PA. For more information or to register, click here.
CHEVRUTA CONNECTIONS: The Mussar Institute can assist in pairing individuals looking to learn with a partner. Please email Kalinka at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in being part of a corps of trained volunteers willing to be matched with newer learners, or if you are looking to find someone to share this exceptional learning experience with you.
“THE PLAN”: TMI faculty member Chaim Safren offers a short Mussar lesson on making commitments for the coming year which will take just five minutes a day. Check out this recent talk on his weekly video blog.
NEW INTRO MUSSAR BOOK: Greg Marcus has published a new Mussar book designed to be especially accessible to those who do not know Hebrew or engage in traditional ritual observance. Alan Morinis says of the book, “The Spiritual Practice of Good Actions opens wide the door to a traditional Jewish Spiritual Practice that has the power to transform your life.”
The Practice Corner
In his column in this month’s Yashar, Alan Morinis shows how growing in zerizut (enthusiasm; alacrity) begins by cultivating generosity toward others (which makes you beloved, setting off a series of steps that lead to zerizut).
With that teaching in mind, consider someone who might love you more if you were generous toward him or her, and then go ahead and do something generous, whether with money, time, possessions, emotions or any other way they may appreciate.
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