Alan Morinis, Taste of Mussar – an introductory course in Mussar
The core of Mussar practice is an “accounting of the soul,” a direct translation of the Hebrew phrase “cheshbon ha’nefesh.”
Rabbi Y.B. Soloveitchik (1903-1993) pointed out that in the story of creation in Genesis, after different things were created each day, God looked back at the day and evaluated it: “And God saw that it was good.” Since one of the guiding principles of Mussar practice is to “walk in God’s ways,”10 in other words, to learn from and try to emulate the divine, so, too, should we be looking back at our actions and evaluating them. That means doing an Accounting of the Soul.
Done in a systematic and thorough way, this practice provides clear knowledge of the forces and contours of your own inner landscape. That interior world of personality, thought, values, wisdom and emotions, along with its eternal essence, is what we know as “soul,” and a rigorous process of soul-accounting delivers up penetrating insight and, ultimately, change.
Identify or purchase a journal and dedicate it to your Mussar practice.
Write your intention (kavanah) at the beginning of your journal.
Reflect on your daily experience with regard to your inner trait.
Keep your notebook beside your bed, along with a pen. A blank journal of any kind can be used for this practice, but we recommend that you print out the loose-leaf journal pages that we have prepared and provided just for this purpose.
Typically, Mussar journaling is done just before you go to bed, when you look back over your day to see what you can identify that in any way reflects experience you had with any of your inner traits. Was there a situation in which you were impatient? Or patient? Perhaps you didn’t express gratitude to someone who helped you. Or perhaps you went out of your way to say thank you to someone. And so on through any the other traits that might come to your attention on reflection.
When writing in your journal, be on the lookout especially for any breakdowns, problems or troublesome feelings that arose, as well as any positive motivations, actions or successful behaviors you can identify in relation to your personal attributes.
Notes in your journal should be brief, just an outline of the facts that reveal something of how you experienced the event/feeling. Don’t worry if what you write won’t pass as literature. No one but you ever need see this notebook. The point of the writing is to bring your spiritual curriculum to conscious awareness. That is the first step in doing an Accounting of the Soul, and we will add further steps to the practice as time goes on.
Messilat Yesharim is available for independent learning without a va’ad or chevruta. Have you struggled with ancient, classical Mussar texts and wished you had some…
PATH OF THE SOUL
Path of the Soul is an advanced-level Mussar course designed for people who have completed at least one year of Mussar study. How do you recognize…
The Duties of the Heart, by Bahya ibn Pakuda Gates of Repentance, by Rabbeinu Yonah Orchos Tzadikim, anonymous Mesillat Yesharim, by Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzatto…
Inner Ladder: Continuing Mussar Steps is the continuation program for those who have completed either Seeking Everyday Holiness or Gates of Everyday Holiness. Groups continue to…
GATES OF EVERYDAY HOLINESS
Gates of Everyday Holiness contains more Hebrew than Seeking Everyday Holiness as well as chevruta study materials. The Jewish tradition of Mussar offers the Jewish…
PATH OF THE MENSCH
Path of the Mensch has been customized for Conservative Congregations. The Jewish tradition of Mussar offers the Jewish world a deep and rich experience of…
YOU SHALL BE HOLY
You Shall Be Holy has been customized for Reconstructionist Congregations. The Jewish tradition of Mussar offers the Jewish world a deep and rich experience of…
ELUL LEARNING PROGRAM
ELUL LEARNING FOR ALL – During the month of Elul, which precedes the High Holydays, TMI presents a daily program of introspection and self-analysis, two cardinal…
OMER 5780 (2020)
Each year, on the evening of the second Passover Seder, we begin the traditional counting of “the Omer,” the seven weeks between Passover and Shavuot. …
Seeking Everyday Holiness
SEH was written in partnership between The Mussar Institute and The Union for Reform Judaism (URJ). The Jewish tradition of Mussar offers the Jewish world…
- « Previous
- Next »