straight • upright • righteous

newsletter of  The Mussar Institute


June 2012



“The full-time essential purpose of life is to constantly keep improving one's character traits. Every moment one is not improving on his traits, he is wasting his life.”

– Vilna Gaon

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Phone: 778-300-6174

Alan MorinisThrough a Mussar Lens:
Bringing Spirituality into the Synagogue

There is not much that everyone in the Jewish world agrees about, but there is virtual unanimity that synagogue life generally lacks spirituality. A recent article in a new and exciting Orthodox journal called Klal Perspectives ( is called Been There, Done That: Why Being Frum Is So Boring. The journal is shot through with references to Mussar as a spiritual antidote to the deadening effects of rote and intellectualized religion.
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Jason WinstonWelcome

Mussar is a gradual process. That, in fact, might well be its most magnetic quality for me. When I hear about something that promises a quick reshaping of a human being, I find myself rather suspicious of its true efficacy. Despite what advertising tells me, I just do not believe I can learn Japanese in a week or burn 20 pounds of fat without getting off the couch.
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Moshe and Nechama KesslerMy Mussar Journey

Thirty-five years ago I went from living a totally secular lifestyle to an observant one. This meant that I took on observing the Sabbath, keeping kosher, and praying three times a day, along with a host of other commandments. At the same time, I also maintained and deepened many other practices, including meditation, yoga, tai chi, journaling, writing and eating consciously.
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KHNAround the Mussar World:
New Hope, PA

I was first introduced to Mussar by our beloved Rabbi Sandy (z"l, ז״ל), four years ago when she loaned me her copy of Alan’s Climbing Jacob’s Ladder. I had been seeking a Jewish path for my spiritual journey and knew I had found it through the pages of this book. What I also knew was that if I was to remain disciplined in my practice, I would need to work with a group. Since there were no existing groups in the New Hope, Pa., area at the time, the obvious next step was for me to start one.
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Rabbi Yaakov Feldman
Rabbi Yaakov Feldman
Rabbi Aryeh Wolbe
Rabbi Aryeh Wolbe

Mussar Kallah 2012 – YIRAH: The Beginning of Wisdom

Registration is now open!

This year’s Kallah will guide you in an exploration of that prime inner experience that the Mussar teachers praise so highly, and describe variously, as awe, reverence and fear. We will explore all these strands of this challenging quality, which is said to be the clasp on the string of spiritual gems that lie within you.
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headsetJune Special

The complete set of digital audio recordings from Mussar Kallah IX will be available during the month of June at a discount of 50%. The full set of ten MP3 files can be purchased for $45 (regularly $90).

Hear teachings and discussions centered on the theme of Bearing the Burden of the Other, led by Dr. Alan Morinis, Rabbi Yaacov Haber, Rabbi David Jaffe, Rabbi Micha Berger, Dr. Shirah Bell, Rebbetzin Rivy Kletenik and more. Whether you had the opportunity to attend and would like to experience these great talks again, or if you have the chance to hear them for the first time, you will treasure them.

To purchase the set, visit The Mussar Institute Mussar Kallah IX 2011 audio page.

helping handThe Practice Corner – Tikkun

When it comes to making change, there is only one place to start and that is right where you are right now. Neither paralyzing regret nor fantasizing wishful thinking has any place in the process. The three elements needed are a goal, a path and a means of transport.

The goal is holiness / kedusha. Holiness is the potential of every human life and the obligation imposed on us by the Torah. Holiness is also a deeply felt urge that calls to us from within.

The path is to attempt to grow in the specific inner traits where you have that potential. Could you be less stingy and more generous? Could you be calmer and less angry? More respectful and less judgmental? More trusting and less worried? It’s up to you to identify which traits are on your personal spiritual curriculum, though life will lend a hand by giving you many opportunities to trip over just those traits where you have the potential to grow.

And the vehicle? That’s Mussar practice. Wherever you may be today on your spiritual journey, there is a Mussar course that will nurture and guide your personal growth. Find out now about Mussar courses that will help you walk your path of growth toward that goal of holiness.

Newsletter Home
Through a Mussar Lens: Bringing Spirituality into the Synagogue – by Alan Morinis
Welcome – by Jason Winston
My Mussar Journey – by Moshe Michael Kessler
Around the Mussar World:  New Hope, PA – by Sharon Schwartz
Kallah 2012: YIRAH – The Beginning of Wisdom
The Practice Corner – Tikkun

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