Yashar
GEVURAH / STRENGTH
SEPTEMBER 2017

A Mussar Gem

The flow of divine mercy (chesed) is too rich and prolific if left unrestrained. Given free reign [sic], it would obliterate the distinction between God’s response to the sinner and to the saint; the world would be saturated with divine grace. The superabundance of chesed must be controlled in order to encourage finite creatures to act responsibly. This limitation is brought about by ... gevurah, the source of divine justice. Gevurah and chesed complement each other, gevurah limiting the flow of chesed and chesed tempering the severities of gevurah.
– Earl Lefkowitz, “Kabbalistic Musar,” an article in the collection The Musar Anthology.


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For further information on The Mussar Institute, visit www.MussarInstitute.org
Email address: info@mussarinstitute.org
Phone: 305-610-7260

Through a Mussar Lens: Finding Strength to Form Good Habits

Mussar discussions of gevurah (strength) usually begin with the following observation by Ben Zoma (found in the mishnah, in Pirkei Avot 4:1). So who am I to break with tradition?

Who is mighty? One who conquers their yeitzer [hara, their destructive impulse]. As it says, “Slowness to respond is better than a mighty person, and the one who rules their spirit [better] than the conqueror of a city.” (Proverbs 16:32)

In his commentary on this mishnah, Rabbi Ovadia of Bartenura (Italy, 15th cent.) explains the quoted verse, “Good is slowness to anger that comes from the aspect of the might [involved in] conquering the impulse, and not from the [having] a soft nature.”

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Kallah XV: Seeking to Balance Our Strength

Group photo in Amsterdam

Our focus this month is on Gevurah / Strength, a great complement to last month’s middah of lovingkindness. The softness of lovingkindness needs to be balanced with form, which is the value of strength. Similarly, the severity of gevurah, the source of divine justice, needs to be tempered by Chesed / Lovingkindness.

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Gevurah Essential in Confronting Injustice

gavel

Gevurah (strength) is considered the opposite of chesed (lovingkindness), the quality that drives many of us in our social action endeavors. But gevurah is also central to social justice. Everywhere you look, injustice cries out to be remedied, so much so that without the discipline and self-restraint embodied in gevurah, we would not attend to our own needs and other commitments because we were trying to save the whole world

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TMI to Develop Mussar-Based Teen Curriculum

The Mussar Institute has received a three-year grant from The John Templeton Foundation for its project Scaling Up a Compelling Mussar-Based Teen Curriculum.

During the course of the project, TMI proposes to provide Jewish teens with a solid foundation of meaning and values that will prepare them to lead fulfilling adult lives through the study and practice of Mussar.

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Elul Learning Middot Cards Nefesh HaRav
Musssar Practice Retreat Mussar Video Blog Rabbi Perr's book

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ELUL PROGRAM: It’s not too late to join TMI’s five-week daily Elul study program and catch up on what you missed. Sign up now. The program includes an opportunity to sponsor a day ($236) or a week ($1,000) in memory of a loved one. Please contact Steven Kraus (steven@mussarinstitute.org) to learn more about sponsorship opportunities.

MIDDOT CARDS: The Mussar Institute now offers sets of 20 Middot Cards that can be used as reminders of key concepts in Mussar. Inspired by Alan Morinis’s writings, each set costs $11.96, with discounts for larger orders. 

PROGRAM FOR RABBIS: Are you a Rabbi or do you know a Rabbi who is looking to nurture and develop his or her spiritual practice? Nefesh HaRav is a year-long program for Rabbis, starting with a retreat in the Los Angeles area in January 2018 and continuing with distance learning. Registration is now open.

SAVE THE DATE – Mussar Practice Retreat: Could your spiritual practice use a charge? Looking for ways to connect to a greater good? Seeking community with other souls on your path? The Mussar Practice Retreat is a 3-day workshop that will boost your spirit and send you home with new practices to sustain your growth for months to come. The dates are May 6 to May 9, 2018 in St. Louis, Missouri.

VIDEO BLOG: Is there a connection between physiology and Mussar? Check out this talk from Chaim Safren titled, “Thoughts from the Cerebral Cortex.”

NEW MUSSAR BOOK: Mind Over Man: The Climb to Greatness, a sefer based on the Mussar va’adim of Alan Morinis’s teacher, Yechiel Yitzchok Perr, is available for purchase from the Yeshiva of Far Rockaway, N.Y.


The Practice Corner

chain with sunsset One of the core Mussar practices involves reciting aloud a meaningful phrase with enough voice and emotion to cause it to come alive and be imprinted firmly in your consciousness. To use that practice to cultivate gevurah, recite to yourself every morning for a week one of the following phrases:

  • Self-restraint reduces suffering.
  • A wise man is strong; and a man of knowledge makes strength greater. (Mishlei / Proverbs 24:5)

If you prefer a line of Hebrew, consider the same quote from Proverbs:

  • Gever chacham b’oz v’ish da’at ma’amatz koach.

Newsletter Home

Through a Mussar Lens: Finding Strength to Form Good Habits – by Micha Berger

Kallah XV: Seeking to Balance Our Strength – by Michele Jackman, Kallah Program Team Member

Gevurah Essential in Confronting Injustice – by Rose Ashford

TMI to Develop Mussar-Based Teen Curriculum


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Copyright 2017 © The Mussar Institute

A Mussar Gem

The flow of divine mercy (chesed) is too rich and prolific if left unrestrained. Given free reign [sic], it would obliterate the distinction between God’s response to the sinner and to the saint; the world would be saturated with divine grace. The superabundance of chesed must be controlled in order to encourage finite creatures to act responsibly. This limitation is brought about by ... gevurah, the source of divine justice. Gevurah and chesed complement each other, gevurah limiting the flow of chesed and chesed tempering the severities of gevurah.
– Earl Lefkowitz, “Kabbalistic Musar,” an article in the collection The Musar Anthology.


wwwfollow us on facebook

FOLLOW US ON:

Forward to a friend

Join our mailing list


Donations

The Mussar Institute depends on the generosity of supporters. Please consider making a donation to honor someone or to remember a loved one. We are so grateful for all the recent donations.

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: 305-610-7260