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In This Issue
To all of those who attended the Kallah in New York in November, I hope that it was an interesting and enriching experience for you. I had a chance to meet and speak with many in attendance. What I found was great enthusiasm and interest in what The Mussar Institute is doing. Even more encouraging for me, was the number of people who are incorporating Mussar study and practice into their lives as part of their Jewish path. Some are new to the practice and others have lived in the Mussar world for their entire lives. The common denominator I find is the impact that Mussar has had on these individual souls. But the reach is much further: changing souls leads to a changed world. I must thank the entire Kallah committee and those who helped make the Kallah a success. Specifically, I would like to single out Gary Shaffer, Micha Berger, Alan Morinis and Susie Kessler of the JCC. Kol ha’kavod!
I have been rereading last month’s Yashar and was stuck by the sheer number of people involved in The Mussar Institute and the number of programs and groups that are happening all around the world. I am also reminded of how many more people we can reach and the work that must be done in order to fulfill our potential. Just in the last month, we have been in contact with the Detroit community about beginning programs there with the cooperation of traditional and more liberal communities. This opportunity came from a teaching weekend Alan did a few months ago. Last week, I had the opportunity to speak to a group in Miami and introduce them to Mussar and Alan’s work. There was great interest. There is so much work yet to do. I am particularly grateful for all of those who are involved in leading or working on programming teams. Your hard work does not go unnoticed.
By Alan Morinis
Here it is, New Year’s Day on the secular calendar, a day on which many people participate in a very useless annual ritual. Today is the day when people resolve to lose weight, to be less busy, to exercise more, to call their mother at least once a week, to give up smoking (or chocolate or French fries), to do (or not do) this or that, starting right now. Despite the wonderful good intentions that move people to take steps clearly in their own best interests, it is common knowledge that New Year’s resolutions are generally doomed never to see the light of day in February. Why is that?
Practicing True Responsibility
The U.S. has elected a new president. Although not all people may be happy about this, we can all be responsible. Barak Obama urged the electorate, repeatedly, “Ask what you can do for each other.” Several middot relate to his request. I would like to focus on one of them: responsibility (ach-ray-ut). Casually, we think of responsibility as keeping our promises, following through, being on time. Some speak of the dimension of preparedness: response-ability – ability to respond to the circumstances of life, what we think of as accountability. The root is said to be “achar” meaning “after.” I think I’m pretty good at these aspects of responsibility.
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January Course Registration Now Open
Want two ways to start the secular New Year off more effectively?
Two higher-level distance-learning courses, offered by The Mussar Institute, are now open for registration, and one of them is sure to help you make the change you want in 2009.
Mussar in Action: advance practice in conscious living is available to anyone who has completed The Course in Mussar I or Path of the Soul or A Season of Mussar I.
For more information on Mussar in Action and to register, click here: http://www.mussarinstitute.org/learning-seniors.htm.