The Mussar Institute’s Webinar Series 2018
“Calming the Storm”
Mussar Practices for the Heart and Soul in Troubling Times
We are living in stormy times. The political and economic climate is troubling. Terrorism and senseless hates crime lurk around the corner. Nuclear war threatens. Relationships with those closest to us are strained. Many people struggle with the challenges of modern parenting or the demands of caring for aging parents.
Though our world often has us spinning out of control, the wise King Solomon tells us, “There is nothing new under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:9). Despite feelings that we might be ill-equipped to deal with today’s challenges, deep down we know that our situation is not new. Many previous generations have dealt with challenges that have threatened to overwhelm. Some simply survived, while others rose to life’s tests and lived life fully and joyfully.
Join us for a timely webinar series, exploring centuries-old practices from the Mussar tradition that have been developed by its masters and tested by generations of people. Learn how you can experience greater equanimity and trust as you study and hear from the tradition’s thousand-year-old wisdom, as practiced and applied in today’s chaotic modern world.
Do not miss this opportunity to study the wisdom of our tradition and enliven your Mussar practice; discover how you can bring greater calm to the storm.
All webinars will be recorded. Register below to receive links to both the live webinar and recording. There will be time at the end of each session for questions and answers.
Your support of The Mussar Institute allows us to offer programs like this at no cost. Please consider a donation to help offset the cost of this Webinar Series
Webinar 1: “Meditation as Mussar Practice” with Alan Morinis
Sunday, Jan. 28, 1 to 2 PM Eastern
Meditation has an important role to play in Mussar practice. The Hebrew term hitbonenut is the word most commonly translated as “meditation,” and seen through a Mussar lens, hitbonenut is the practice of placing one’s focused attention on a single object, and concentrating your attention on that object, to the exclusion of any other thoughts and inner dialogue. This practice “opens up the space between the match and the fuse,” and whether the session is blissful or full of distraction and agitation is not important. You see the results of the practice when you are able to carry a state of restful awareness into real-life situations and so exercise more free will in making choices. Join Alan in exploring and experiencing the Mussar practice of meditation and contemplation. Alan Morinis is Dean and founder of The Mussar Institute and is the author of 4 books on Mussar.
Webinar 2: “Visualization/Contemplation” with Chasya Uriel-Steinbauer
Sunday Feb. 25, 1 to 2 PM Eastern
We are called upon together to calm the storm, to engage in practices that will build our trust and strengthen our equanimity, which is no small call. Our souls hear the soft, still voice of God and our beloved ancestors, so that we deeply know that “we” as a people have been here before and will get through this storm. Not only will we get through the storm, but it is important that we see this as an opportunity from Hashem to engage in Mussar practice and to grow, to become our higher selves, and to “lech lecha (לך לך)” like our Abba Avraham.
Join Chasya Uriel-Steinbauer as she engages us in her own unique, emergent practice, based on centuries-old Mussar practices of visualization and contemplation of the weekly parasha that are actualized through chalkboard drawings. Through visualizing and contemplating sections of our Torah portion we deeply engage with our ancestors to develop kingship and the felt sense that these are our family, our people; we bring them into being in our most intimate settings, turning concepts of family, trust, equanimity, and God into a deeply felt wisdom that will carry us through unsettling times. Come to the webinar with paper or chalkboard and drawing utensils like crayons, colored pencils, soft pastels or chalk. Please read Torah parashaTetzaveh (תצוה) from Shabbat, February 24 (Exodus 27:20–30:10), before this webinar. Time will be allotted for questions at the end of the webinar.
Chasya Uriel-Steinbauer has been practicing Mussar since 2001 under teachers Dr. Alan Morinis, Rav Dr. Shmuel Lewis, and Rav Doniel Katz. She is the creator of the Ladder Va’ad of Manhattan and was a Legacy Heritage Fellow at the Conservative Yeshiva in Jerusalem, where she created the first egalitarian Mussar Va’ad in Israel. She is on the faculty at The Mussar Institute and is a graduate of the Scholars’ Circle at Drisha, where she earned rabbinic leadership certification from Rav David Silber.
Webinar 3: “Calming the Storm through Mussar Yoga: Experiencing Equanimity and Trust in the Body”
with Edith Raphael Brotman
Sunday, March 25, 12 to 1 PM Eastern
Mussar teaches that we can only build our side of the bridge. If we want less enmity and fear in our world, we need to start with ourselves. The physical practices of yoga are a mirror through which we can see how we react to difficult situations (the storm) and then practice new techniques for staying calm and experiencing trust. The body gives us immediate and tangible feedback that we need to better understand our habitual patterns and newly adopted ways of reacting. We’ll begin our Mussar Yoga session with a brief discussion about the neurobiology of change, and then move into the physical and spiritual practice of Mussar Yoga. I’ll be offering various options of poses, sequences and corresponding kavannot which you can use to further your personal practice of menuhat haNesh and bitachon.
Edith Raphael Brotman, PhD, RYT 500 is a Wexner Heritage Alumna, an experienced educator and a highly trained yoga teacher who is passionate about finding, creating and sharing meaningful spiritual connections to Judaism. Edith is a recipient of the Dorbrecht Grant for Judaic Yoga and was named one of Baltimore’s favorite yoga teachers in Baltimore Magazine’s “Best of Baltimore.” She has taught at TMI Practice Retreats and has completed the Manchim facilitator’s training program. Edith has assumed many lay leadership roles at Baltimore Hebrew Congregation including serving on its Board and Executive Committee and creating their “Exploring Spirituality Series.” These days Edith is leading Mussar Yoga workshops based on her recent book, Mussar Yoga (Jewish Lights, 2014).
Webinar 4: “The Art of Internalizing through Mussar Chanting” with Chaim Safren
Sunday, April 29, 8 to 9 PM Eastern
In this webinar, Chaim Safren will address and discuss the following questions and topics:
- Why is chanting an essential part of a Mussar practice?
- What is the goal of chanting?
- How will chanting improve one’s quality of life?
- Practical methods of chanting.
Chaim Safren is Head of the Calgary Community Kollel. He grew up in Buffalo, N.Y. where, amongst other things, he prepared for the Canadian winters. After receiving a B.S. degree from MIT, he spent four years studying Torah in Israel. He also spent many summers studying Mussar in the Novardok yeshiva in France. He has been teaching, living and facilitating Mussar (including many TMI programs) for years. He has taught at both the TMI Kallot and Practice Retreats.
Webinar 5: “Finding Your Agency in Stormy Times thoughCheshbon HaNefesh (Soul Accounting) Journaling”
with David Jaffe
Sunday, June 10, 8 to 9 PM Eastern
Cheshbon HaNafesh/Soul Accounting is one of the most time-tested of Mussar practices. By taking a clear, honest look at our own lives we can identify otherwise hidden opportunities for growth and change. This clarity helps us meet challenging situations with joy and confidence. In these turbulent times, we may feel overwhelmed and powerless. The Cheshbon HaNefesh practice helps cultivate a sense of agency and reminds us that change is always possible.
This session will explore the role of the Cheshbon HaNefesh in Mussar theories of growth and will include models and suggestions for practice.
Rabbi David Jaffe is the author of Changing the World from the Inside Out: A Jewish Approach to Personal and Social Change, winner of the 2016 National Jewish Book Award for Contemporary Jewish Life. He is the founder of Inside-Out Wisdom, which helps, individuals and organizations apply Jewish wisdom to challenges of leadership, social change and communal life. David has taught at the TMI Kallot and led other webinars and programs for TMI.
Elizabeth Eastman, Webinar Series Assistant Producer
All webinars are recorded. Please register to receive a link to the recording.