Dedicating an issue of Yashar is a meaningful way to honor the memory of a loved one, to celebrate a joyful occasion or milestone. For details on sponsorship, please contact email@example.com.
Welcome – Gary Shaffer
As Rosh Hashanah approaches, we at The Mussar Institute wish you a good year, but we have more than wishes to give you. The year ahead will be determined in large measure by the choices and actions you take of your own free will. If you seek a year of renewal, of depth, of change and growth, we invite you to take a new step on the spiritual path charted and lit for us by the sages of Mussar.
This edition of Yashar is given over to introducing you to the learning and practice opportunities that The Mussar Institute has created for you. We hope you will find a great opportunity for yourself in an appropriate course, for the sake of the soul you are, and because our world needs you to live up to the potential of who you could be.
Read on to hear from the people who are holding open the door to you if you have not yet done any Mussar learning or practice (Everyday Holiness) and for your local synagogue or JCC (A Season of Mussar). There is a course for the advanced student (Mussar in Action) and a course for intermediate students, too (Path of the Soul). And Middah a Month has a unique role for the student wanting to maintain a connection to Mussar and to grow spiritually when not actively doing a course.
If you have questions, please be in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org. We look forward to sharing the journey of the soul with you as we enter a new year, one we hope will be a time of spiritual growth for you and for ourselves, like no other year before.
Alan Morinis and your friends at TMI
By Shirah Bell
The introductory Mussar course called Everyday Holiness has been available for three years now. The course is offered online, using the vast resources of the internet. It is designed for beginners in the field, and provides an introduction to the core Mussar teachings as well as many links for those who seek more advanced knowledge. You can begin the course at any time, and each person is assigned a study partner (or chevruta in Hebrew) with whom you meet on the telephone for about an hour for each lesson.
Advanced Practice in Conscious Living
I keep thinking about a certain Talmudic passage and how it pertains to Mussar practice – and my own in particular.
Our Sages debated which one Torah passage best encapsulated all of Jewish spiritual practice. The first opinion was Shema Yisroel – our affirmation of the Oneness and non-duality of God. The second opinion was the verse, which begins: ve’ahavta l’re’acha – that you shall love your friend as you love yourself. The third verse was that the fire on the sacrificial alter must remain burning and never be extinguished, a puzzling verse, compared to the impressive preceding two. And yet, the rabbis concluded that it was this, the third verse that most captured the essence of all our spiritual work. That is, the fire of our spiritual efforts must remain consistent in its burning and never let up or take a break.
Middah A Month continues on its path with a community of 150 people from across the United States and Canada. The texts are varied, the stories depict a middah in real life situations, and the recorded affirmations give you a concrete practice to incorporate into your daily routine. Our Middah A Month participants connect on www.madrega.com for insightful and probing discussions. If you are in between courses or need to be on a flexible schedule, the program is a perfect way to continue to maintain a flexible Mussar practice.
Training Community Mussar Facilitators
Do you feel called to facilitate or help support others on a spiritual Mussar path like you may be on? If so, the Mussar Institute’s Manchim Program is waiting for you. More than 35 people have graduated from the Manchim Program, which qualifies them to help fill a growing need for capable Mussar group facilitators. It is a sensitive leadership role, but with the program’s training, facilitators are equipped with the tools to help members of their own community engage in personal development and growth through Mussar learning and practice.
A Curriculum for Wholeness
I was a student in a Season of Mussar II group, and when the members of the group were ready to move on in their studies, they were adamant: each wanted to work on his or her personal spiritual curriculum rather than take another course. With encouragement from Alan Morinis and other leaders of The Mussar Institute, we were advised to at least take Path of the Soul Part I before beginning a va’ad to support study and practice focused on personal soul curriculum. It was good advice, for we discovered how much the Path of the Soul course, and its reliance on Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzatto’s classic Mussar text “Path of the Just,” prepare a solid foundation for work on any middot.
I am in awe. The group began as ten individuals coming together to study every other Sunday morning. Several were there because it was something to do while the children were in religious school. Others came because it sounded intriguing. Could they really solve their problems? Could they truly slow down enough to create some space in their lives? Could they actually come to accept the behavior of their partner or children with equanimity rather than annoyance? Could they really learn to be better people, helping others more and bringing peace to the world? What would it take?
Ladder Mussar Va’ad of Manhattan
Taught by Chasya-Uriel Steinbauer, welcomes new participants for the 10-month session that begins September 12, hosted by Makom at the JCC in Manhattan. For more information and with questions, please contact Chasya-Uriel at email@example.com.
Correspond About Mussar With a Jewish Prisoner
We receive letters from Jewish men and women in prison who turn to us because they feel the spiritual burden of whatever it was that got them into their present situation, and they want to connect to people who can accompany and even guide them on their journey of spiritual growth.
When we hear from a prisoner, we set him or her up with a "buddy" on the outside who helps guide them in their study and practice of Mussar.
If you are able to commit the small amount of time it takes to write one or two letters per month, you can perform an important mitzvah of helping a person in need to learn and to grow.
We will provide the materials. All you need is a minimal knowledge of Mussar and a bit of time. You'll be able to make an enormous difference in the life of a person in need, who is trying to improve himself or herself. People who have been buddies to prisoners report a great deal of personal satisfaction from the experience. Please send your inquiry directly to Alan Morinis at firstname.lastname@example.org.
How to Get Your Ad in Yashar
Need a chevruta partner? Do you have a Mussar book for sale or one you are seeking? Whatever your need or want in the area of Mussar, you can advertise your need or request in Yashar by sending it to email@example.com. We'll be sure to include your ad in the next issue, as long as we get your ad by our deadline. The deadline is the 10th of each month.
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