straight • upright • righteous

newsletter of  The Mussar Institute


January 2013



“An unceasing inner gaze toward one’s responsibility leads to remembrance, remembrance leads to concern, concern leads to confidence, confidence leads to strength and strength leads to serenity and wholeness, internally and externally, in thought and in deed.”   
–  Rabbi Avraham Elya Kaplan

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Jason WinstonEach month when I receive Alan Morinis’s Through a Mussar Lens column, I try to read it right away. In this month’s column, Alan relates several stories that show how our Mussar masters practiced the middah of responsibility, and one tells of a great rabbi who washed the dishes and took on domestic responsibility as spiritual practice.

The night I received and read that teaching, with it still fresh in my mind, we had company for a Chanukah dinner and then I facilitated a Season of Mussar class at my temple. Returning home about 11 p.m., after a long workday and night, having to get up early for work the next morning, what did I find but dishes, of course. Plenty of them, too.

My wife told me she would take care of them in the morning, and I felt a half-hearted rationalization rising in my mind, but the lesson of responsibility had already taken root. The job needed to be done, and the right thing to do was to do it. The Mussar challenge came so quickly! So, with the image of the rosh yeshiva kneeling over a bathtub in my mind, I washed the dishes. I even found some joy in the deed.

To me, this episode is indicative of my Mussar work; I share it with genuine anavah (humility). The tests come to us unbidden, and when I have the wherewithal to recognize them and respond in ways that exercise my spiritual muscles, I know that I am on the right path.

Happy New Year to all of you. Are there any tasks you could do to help ease the burden of someone close to you? Are there, perhaps, any dishes from your New Year’s Eve party sitting around waiting for you?


Newsletter Home
Through a Mussar Lens: The Masters Teach Us Responsibility Through Their Actions – by Alan Morinis
Welcome – by Jason Winston
World of Mussar: Seattle, WA – by Shirah Bell
My Mussar Journey – by
The Practice Corner

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