straight • upright • righteous

newsletter of  The Mussar Institute


May 2013

Torah Study



“The Sages have told us in no uncertain terms that the only way to achieve the sparks of the soul’s light is through intensive study of our holy Torah, for both of these derive from the same source, as is known to the wise.”
– Rabbi Chaim of Volozhin (Nefesh Ha’Chaim 1:16)

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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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Thanks to these generous donors:

Jeff Agron
Roann Altman
Evelyn Baran / Baran Endowment Fund
Ken Birenbaum
Sandra Garrett
Stephen Haas
Robert Mass
Alan Morinis
Irv Robinson
Michael Selz
Gary Shaffer
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Phone: 778-300-6174

Alan MorinisThrough a Mussar Lens:

More Than Studying Torah, Acquiring It

Rabbi Itzele Peterburger (1837-1907) was one of Rabbi Yisroel Salanter’s closest disciples and collaborators. There is a famous story about a visit R’ Itzele paid to the Volozhin Yeshiva where he argued for the importance of Mussar. Rav Chaim Soloveitchik, the head of that yeshiva, replied that the study of Mussar is like castor oil: only sick people need it and if you don’t need it, it will make you sick. Healthy people do not need any practice other than learning Torah.
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Jason WinstonMy Mussar Journey 

Like so many of us at The Mussar Institute, I received my introduction when Alan Morinis came to speak at my synagogue about seven years ago. Who could have imagined the impact attending one lecture would have? The benefits of encountering and embracing Mussar continue to be life-changing and defining for me. A spiritual seeker my whole adult life, I suddenly discovered that a Jewish tradition even existed.
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World of Mussar: Calgary


Alan Morinis Going on Sabbatical

After nine non-stop years since the founding of The Mussar Institute, Dean Alan Morinis will be taking a sabbatical May 1 to July 31 to work on a new (and exciting!) book project. In that period, the Associate Dean of TMI, Rabbi Avi Fertig, will step up to be Acting Dean.

Any questions or other communications concerning TMI that you might have sent to Alan please direct to R' Avi in this period. His email address is
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A Mussar Experience Not to be Missed:
Mussar Kallah XI, October 17-20, 2013



Rabbi PerrMay Special

This month, The Mussar Institute offers a special on two talks given by Rabbi Yechiel Yitzchok Perr, Alan Morinis’s Mussar teacher.

The first talk is on Shalom Bayis (peace in the home), and the other is on Pathways of Bitachon (Trust in God).

Each comes on two CDs and is on sale for $10 plus shipping throughout May. The regular price is $20 each plus shipping. These recordings are not currently available as mp3 downloads.

Please visit our Audio page to purchase these and other inspiring Mussar recordings.


Practice Corner

Our practice is Torah study and the Mussar approach is, simply enough, to study Torah.

The second of this week’s dual Torah portions (Behar-Bechukotai) begins with the words, “Im bechukotai telechu.” All Torah study begins with questions, and here are some that arise from these three words that you can investigate:

  • Im” means “if.” “If” reminds us that we have free will. We can choose how to act. What are the implications of our free will that the Torah later outlines in this parsha?
  • Bechukotai” means “in my statutes,” but it is not so simple as referring to laws because there is a distinction in Hebrew between a simple statute (mishpat) and a chok. Research the difference. Then consider how the fact that the verse refers to chukim ties into the issue of free will.
  • Telechu” means “you will go,” and so the whole phrase translates as, “If you will go in my chukim.” Why “going in”? Why not “obey” or “not breach”? What do you learn from the reference to “going” in this context?

Take a few moments, answer the questions, and you will give yourself a gift of learning that will take root surprisingly deeply in your heart.


Newsletter Home
Through a Mussar Lens: More Than Studying Torah, Acquiring It – by Alan Morinis
My Mussar Journey – by Jason Winston
Around the Mussar World: Calgary – Interview with Chaim Safren
Alan Morinis Going on Sabbatical
Excitement Building for Mussar Kallah XI: October 17-20, 2013
May Special
Practice Corner

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