My Mussar Journey
It is with deep humility that I share my personal Mussar journey, as I have only relatively recently stepped onto this extraordinary spiritual path. Many of you have traveled more years, acquired more awareness and wisdom than I, and have experienced to a greater degree the transformation that Mussar brings to those who study and practice this ancient Jewish tradition.
My Mussar journey began in 2011. Three years after retiring from full-time work, and six months after celebrating my Bat Mitzvah, I wanted to continue my Jewish studies. The catalog at my synagogue, Congregation Beth Elohim in Brooklyn (a 150-year-old Reform congregation with inspiring clergy and extensive programming), listed a course entitled “Mussar” to be held biweekly on Monday evenings. Not having any notion of what Mussar entailed, I showed up at the first session to find that it was being led not by one of the clergy but by a congregation member, Gary Shaffer (whom you will recognize as President of The Mussar Institute). I felt an immediate connection to Mussar as a tool to enable me to live the “third third” of my life with deeper insight into how I can choose, through study and practice, to have a positive effect not only on my own life but on the lives of those around me.
I have begun to understand the character traits (middot) which are more challenging for me and which comprise my own spiritual journey. Among these are humility, generosity, order and trust. Looking to the future, I will strive to incorporate Mussar into daily living, knowing that each time I approach a particular middah, I will gain insights into how to achieve balance and wholeness in my life.
This year I am privileged to pursue my Mussar journey along three paths simultaneously: the Mussar program at my synagogue, the distance learning Mussar Shabbat program, and the Jacob Ween Manhattan Va’ad, which I was invited to join this past fall. Both the Shabbat program and the Ween Manhattan Va'ad have given me the added benefit of studying with two generous chevruta (study partners) whose Mussar insights enrich my own journey. I must confess that it is occasionally challenging to juggle three middot simultaneously: I quietly applaud the weeks when two groups are studying the same middah!
I have now begun to experience “Mussar moments,” those flashes when I am aware that my actions are being guided by a deeper understanding of my place in the world and the impact I have on others—family, friends, volunteer partners and even strangers. My journey is made even more meaningful through my association with The Mussar Institute where, as a member of the Board of Directors, I have the honor of working with Alan Morinis, Jeff Agron and a deeply committed group of volunteer leaders devoted to bringing Mussar to individuals and communities throughout North America and beyond.
As my relatively brief but remarkably meaningful Mussar journey continues, I eagerly embrace a future with Mussar to guide my thoughts and actions. To be on this spiritual path with so many of you who share the gifts of Mussar provides motivation and inspiration.
Help us keep our records updated.
Please notify us when you have a change of address, phone number and especially a new email.
Copyright 2014 © The Mussar Institute