straight • upright • righteous

newsletter of  The Mussar Institute


April 2013




We must sometimes permit ourselves to begin things badly, just so that we begin them. Those who spend too much time preparing graceful entrances often never get to make them.
 – Rabbi Shraga Silverstein, A Candle by Day

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Save the Date: Mussar Kallah XI is coming October 17 20, 2013, Illinois Beach Resort and Conference Center, Zion, Ill.

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Rabbi Avi FertigThrough a Mussar Lens

Beginnings: Joy in Process

The euphoric days of Pesach freedom are just behind us and we immediately embark on a journey that will lead us to Mount Sinai, where on the holiday of Shavuot we received the Torah. You might wonder what lesson about the special days we will now traverse can be found in your first taste of really dry red wine or the first shot of an expensive single malt. We shall see. In my case, my response to these experiences was to grit my teeth, force a smile, and say how wonderful it was, while inside wondering why in the world anyone would spend fifty dollars for a bottle of this awful stuff. Beginnings are often bitter, and many of the deepest pleasures in life take time to appreciate. The Midrash puts it even more emphatically: “All beginnings are difficult,” it says. But how is the bitterness of something new transformed into the pleasure and satisfaction we crave?
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My Mussar Journey 

Ten years into Chesbon Ha’Nefesh practices, I have become comfortable with my flaws, can hear criticism without retreat, and generally work with my character traits in a way that helps me to be more attuned with openness and love—not all of the time, but more often than not!
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Rabbi Joshua L. BennettAround the Mussar World: Detroit

On April 29, 2006, an amazing thing happened to my family. Our son, Jacob, entered the world weighing in at 7 pounds, 13 ounces. His arrival came just three days before a scheduled Caesarean section, proving that birth is one of the only real surprises left in the world. Although I was far too overwhelmed at the moment of his delivery to think of the traditional words of the Shehecheyanu, my thoughts echoed its message: Praised are You, O God, Sovereign of the universe, who gives us life, sustains us, and enables us to reach this day of joy! 
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Batya YanigerTime for New Beginnings

Pesach is a time for new beginnings. For the children of Israel, redemption from the harsh slavery in Egypt was the epitome of newness. It signified birth as a nation.

God saw their plight, and in response, they committed themselves to a human-divine relationship that was to carry a message for all humankind. Their destiny was formed as a result of their experience.
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Excitement Building for Mussar Kallah XI: October 17-20, 2013
Zion, Illinois (outside Chicago)

The annual Mussar Kallah has become a signature program of The Mussar Institute. Now in its 11th year, and 4th as a weekend gathering over Shabbat, the Kallah attracts Mussar students from all over the world. Last year students attended from Brazil, Canada and Holland.

We are planning a great program that is taking shape, to be led by a group of outstanding Mussar teachers. The Kallah takes place at the Illinois Beach Resort and Conference Center on the shores of Lake Michigan in a state park, an ideally tranquil setting for Mussar work and community building.
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headphonesApril Special

This month The Mussar Institute will offer a “Grab Bag” of Mussar recordings at half price. The special serves as both a treat and a test of trust.

The first ten people who email will receive three TMI recordings on CD from teachers such as Alan Morinis, Rabbi David Lapin and Rabbi Avi Fertig for $15.

We promise the selections we choose will be spiritually uplifting. Take a chance!

Lighthouse in a stormThe Practice Corner

Every human being has the potential to be a beacon of holiness in the world. The starting point on the journey to holiness is the humble task of identifying one trait in you that could be improved upon and then committing to a process of growth and development in that area. Your practice is to identify one trait and one action you will undertake to change that trait. Start like that, and the peak of the holy mountain will already have come into view.

Newsletter Home
Through a Mussar Lens: Joy in Process – by Rabbi Avi Fertig
My Mussar Journey – by Ellen Berk Rosenblum
Around the Mussar World: Detroit – by Rabbi Joshua L. Bennett
Time for New Beginnings – by Batya Yaniger
Excitement Building for Mussar Kallah XI: October 17-20, 2013
April Special
The Practice Corner

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