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In This Issue
In last month’s Yashar, The Mussar Institute’s Co-President Modya Silver spoke of the inevitable slowing down during the summer months (in the Northern Hemisphere) and protecting against slothfulness. As the summertime winds down, I find myself in a place between wanting to stay in a slowed-down mode and wanting to put into action all that I have learned and planned this summer. As the month of Elul approaches, I feel the inevitable draw towards a renewed energy and promise of new beginnings. Will the pull of Elul be stronger than the pull of complacency and slothfulness? That is up to me. Will I do the inner work necessary to move in the right direction? Will I surround myself with those who will be able to support me in my work?
Preparing for Elul
I write to you from a very quiet, peaceful place. Hornby Island is located just off the west coast of Canada, shielded from the open Pacific Ocean by the bulk of Vancouver Island. No bank or pharmacy here, not even a traffic signal. The busyness of life on this island consists of forests growing, waves lapping on the beach, eagles soaring and seals slapping their presence on the waters.
From the midst of this quiet place, I lift my eyes and look ahead across the terrain of the calendar, and there looms Rosh Hashanah, only weeks away. In my imagination I conceive of what it will be like to be in synagogue for Rosh Hashanah. Under my tallis, amid friends and strangers all gathered with a common purpose, machzor in hand, many words, many prayers, many hours.
Soul to Soul
Editor’s Note: Yashar welcomes contributions that inspire or teach fellow Mussar students. Our goal is to make space each month for guest articles. Please send your suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you were a Jew, asked to share your time and space with anti-Semitic skinheads, for what would you be grateful? If you were in prison, for a crime you committed and for which you accept that justice has been done, and you asked for parole and got turned down every six months for more than two decades, could you find it within yourself to be patient? When I thought of how difficult it was to practice Mussar with all of my luxuries, I also began to think of what it might be like if improving my soul was the only freedom I had.
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