Instruction, resources & community for those seeking greater awareness, wisdom, and transformation through the Jewish spiritual path of Mussar.

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Nefesh HaRav is a three-day retreat followed by a year of long-distance learning.

It is specifically designed for Rabbis and Clergy to nurture and develop your personal spiritual practice with the tools and wisdom of Mussar. Newcomers will be introduced to Mussar, while those with prior experience will have the opportunity to deepen your practice. Participants will develop a personal, spiritual action plan based on their unique soul curriculum. Rabbis and Clergy of all denominations are welcome.

For Rabbis and Clergy who:

  • wish to nurture and develop their personal, spiritual practice with the tools and wisdom of Mussar,
  • wish to develop a personal, spiritual action plan based on their unique soul curriculum,
  • are newcomers to the study and practice of Mussar, as well as those with previous Mussar experience.

The Program

  • A three-day retreat, Sunday afternoon through Wednesday, featuring Introduction to Mussar Practice, Beit Midrash study, Mentoring Sessions, Va’ad Sessions, Chaburah and time for self-care,
  • Eleven units, one-per-month, of distance learning alternating with va’ad and chevruta study, (2 each per unit, total 22 of each)
  • Two breaks, one Yom Kippur and Sukkot and the second for Pesach,
  • Texts including a broad and unique cross-section of Mussar literature, both classic and modern.


Information coming soon.

The Commitment

This is designed to be very intensive program that will require a weekly commitment of about an hour. You will be expected to meet with your va’ad group for an hour twice a month, and to meet with your Chevruta partner in the weeks in which there is no va’ad.


  1. Beit Midrash for Mussar Practice: Participants will identify key middot on their soul curriculum and develop Mussar practices to grow in these middot with the guidance of retreat faculty and in chevruta with fellow participants.
  2. Mentor sessions: Each participant will have two Mussar mentoring sessions with our experienced faculty to help understand their personal soul curriculum and to refine their spiritual action plan.
  3. Workshop sessions: Separate tracks for beginners and experienced practitioners will teach Mussar theory and specific Mussar practices that each participant can adopt for his/her specific middot.
  4. Self-Care: The retreat will be a place to nurture the mind, heart, and body.  There will be ample time for movement and silence, as well as directed sessions with tips for spiritual self-care.
  5. Va’ad work: Each participant will be placed in a small group that will function as a place for processing the day’s learnings and experiences. These groups will allow for greater intimacy than is possible in the full group. Participants can also use the va’ad as a sounding board to work through issues in their practice.

Faculty for 2018 Intensive

Alan Morinis is the Founder of The Mussar Institute and an active interpreter of the teachings and practices of the Mussar tradition. Born and raised in a culturally Jewish but non-observant home, he studied anthropology at Oxford University on a Rhodes Scholarship. For the past 20 years, the nearly-lost Jewish spiritual discipline of Mussar has been his passion, a journey recorded in the book Climbing Jacob’s Ladder (Broadway 2002). His guide to Mussar practice, entitled Everyday Holiness: The Jewish Spiritual Path of Mussar, was published in May 2007. His latest book on Mussar, With Heart in Mind, was published in August 2014.

Avi Fertig is Director of Mussar at The Mussar Institute and author of Bridging the Gap: Clarifying the Eternal Foundations of Mussar and Emunah for Today and Stairway to the Sky. Avi received his smicha from Rabbi Zalman Nechemia Goldberg, Chief Justice of the Rabbinic High Court of Jerusalem. He resides in Israel where he also teaches at a traditional Yeshiva.

What your colleagues say about Mussar study through The Mussar Institute

“The program had a profound impact on me.  I had already studied Mussar, but this program invited me to deeper knowledge and introduced me to works of Mussar that I will treasure for the rest of my life.  Both of our va’ad leaders were superb, our va’ad was an extraordinarily kind, loving, and honest group of people, all deeply devoted to the practice.  In this year my understanding of Mussar has deepened, and I believe that I am a kinder and somewhat more righteous person than I was before.  Thank you to the Mussar Institute for making these wonderful resources and experiences available to us.” Rabbi Amy Eilberg, Palo Alto, CA.

“Mussar has become the foundation of my personal spiritual track. The lens of weekly middah intention provides a frame for both rabbinical work and personal interactions.  This practice is grounding and strengthens the soul. I am not entirely sure how I managed my life prior to Mussar.” Rabbi Nancy Wechsler, Sacramento, CA.

“Mussar study has been an incredible tool for reaching out to members of the Jewish community. It engages people from the Orthodox to the unaffiliated, because it teaches universal messages while drawing from uniquely Jewish sources. The participants experience spiritual growth along with self- improvement; and one of its greatest attractions is that they get tangible results with real changes in the way they think and act.” Rabbi Chaim Safren, Calgary Kollel, Calgary, Canada.

Details of 2019 Intensive coming soon.