You are already walking a path of wisdom and growth because that’s the way life is. We age, we learn, we grow wiser. Mussar enters this picture by providing a pathway to follow so our growth is as conscious, straight and true as it can possibly be.
To help us on our journey of transformation, the Mussar masters developed a distinctive form of chanting called hispailus, or hitpa’alut. A person wanting to cultivate a certain inner trait chooses a phrase (from Torah, Talmud, rabbis or elsewhere) that conveys the essence of that trait, just as he or she wants to develop it. The practitioner sets a time every day to repeat that phrase, over and over. But the phrase is not just spoken—it is chanted with melody and emotion. It is for that reason that this practice is sometimes defined as chanting “with lips aflame.”
JEWISH SPIRITUALITY CHALLENGE: The Mussar Institute will lead an International Study Day on Sunday, March 19, 2017, starting at 2 p.m. Eastern. Alan Morinis will deliver a live kick-off message, followed by study in groups at individual sites around the world. For information on setting up a local group or participating, please contact Ruth Schapira at firstname.lastname@example.org.
SAVE THE DATE: The 2017 Practice Retreat will be held from May 21 to 24, 2017, at the Capital Retreat Center in Waynesboro, PA.
ISRAEL TRIP: Join The Mussar Institute for 10 days in Israel through the lens of Mussar. The tour, led by Alan Morinis and Avi Fertig, will take place from February 19 to March 1, 2017. For more information or to register, click here.
“THE EARTHQUAKE”: TMI faculty member Chaim Safren offers a short Mussar lesson on the value of receiving the occasional jolt to our senses. Check out this recent talk on his weekly video blog.
MUSSAR FOR CHILDREN: Led by Michelle Princenthal, The Mussar Institute offers a Jewish Values for Everyday Living program for ages 3 to 8 that can be incorporated into school and family activities. For more information, click here.
GIVING TUESDAY: Despite appearances to the contrary, it’s not too late to participate in Giving Tuesday. Your gift will help TMI prepare for the Jewish Spirituality Challenge.
The Practice Corner
In all traditional Mussar study, the starting point is a statement of the sages from the Talmud or a Mussar text. Having that quote in front of you, the first step is to understand the plain truth that is embedded in the words. Unpacking the teaching begins with an effort to understand it on its own terms, as a general principle.
Understanding the general principle expressed in the text is the first step, but no more. The goal of this Mussar practice has not changed since Rabbi Salanter eloquently expressed the necessity of using methods that cause key concepts to penetrate deeply, far more profoundly than intellectual knowledge, to the point where the inherent truth of the concept resonates deeply within me and within my life. That is how the concept moves from being information to transformation.
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