straight • upright • righteous

newsletter of  The Mussar Institute


March 2012



The Slonimer Rebbe’s Mussar book, Netivot Shalom, contains a section entitled, “Serve HaShem With Joy." Among the five paths that he says lead to joy is the guidance to work at purifying character [taharat ha'middot]. His message is that flaws in our interior moral and spiritual world undermine our ability to experience joy and vitality in life. And conversely, ethical and spiritual uprightness serve to open the channels to joy. We learn this from the Psalm that says, "And to the straight of heart—joy!" [U'l'yishrei lev, simcha!]. Therefore one index to gauge the work you do on your personal spiritual curriculum is that it should yield joy in your life.

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October 26-29, 2012
On beautiful Lake Michigan, 40 minutes from Chicago and Milwaukee.

The theme this year is “Yirah: awe, reverence and fear as spiritual practice.”


The Mussar Institute depends on the generosity of supporters. Please consider making a donation to honor someone or to remember a loved one.

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  • Sybil McCullen in honor of Generosity Week
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Purim, Joy and the Pursuit of Wholeness

Last week we ushered in the Hebrew month of Adar, and with it came the injunction to be joyful. The sages taught, “Mi’she nichnas Adar, marbin b'simcha—“When Adar arrives, we increase our joy” (Ta’anit 29b). Rashi explains that Adar is special and merits joy because it ushers in the season of miracles, the season of Purim and Pesach.
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WELCOME Jason Winston

Welcome to the all new Yashar. We've upgraded this newsletter of The Mussar Institute with new features, accessible tools and more gifts from our teachers and the Mussar tradition. We hope it serves you well.
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Rabbi Chaim Safren, head of the Calgary Community Kollel, recalls fondly his ten years of Mussar experiences at the Novardok yeshiva in France, where he spent two weeks every summer. He remembers his first trip, during which he received a profound teaching that affected him to his core.
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Around the Mussar WorldThe Mussar journey at Temple Emanu-El (a 2,600- family Reform congregation in Dallas, Texas) started when we invited Alan to be our scholar-in-residence for S’lichot weekend 2008. As the committee began to plan, we knew that for the weekend to have a lasting impact, we needed to find a way to start a local group or va’ad.
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Each month we'll offer something special: a CD or mp3 at a reduced cost, or a free download. We want to thank you for being part of our community—for your energy, your commitment and, most of all, your support.

Alan recently gave a talk in Phoenix about experiencing life as a soul journey and how this perception changes our view of love. We hope you enjoy this free download. Love and experiencing life as a soul journey.


Another of the Slonimer Rebbe's practices to cultivate joy is to strengthen trust [bitachon]. Practicing trust means internalizing the conviction that God -- and not you -- controls and directs every event and activity in this world. This sensibility creates a deep security about life and so leads to joy. Among the practices that can bolster trust is to repeat the phrase daily, "My life is in the hands of the One who made me." Write the phrase on a post-it note and put it on your coffee-maker or the dashboard of your car or somewhere else you are sure to see it in the morning. Repeat it aloud to yourself. Call on it whenever worry or uncertainty makes itself felt within you. The more you can strengthen the recognition that "My life is in the hands of the One who made me," the more you will taste joy in your life.

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