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In This Issue
Welcome to our latest edition of Yashar. I’m excited because the volunteer Board of The Mussar Institute just came off a planning session in Seattle recently that made clear what our vision is going forward. Over the next few months we intend to refine the vision and put teeth to it. We plan to find ways to successfully make more teachings, groups and support available to everyone who wants to learn and practice authentically-rooted Mussar.
I just spent some time with my aunt and uncle from Australia who I hadn’t seen for 14 years. My uncle followed a non-Jewish spiritual tradition that forced him into a solitary endeavour. I marvelled at his path and his strength to stick with it -- alone. I also felt very good that my personal path has been quite different in that I have had community and support from people who cannot do it for me, but can and have done it with me.
My participation in the Mussar Institute over the last five years has added to that support and enhanced my life measurably. As your newly elected co-president, I will focus most of my efforts on understanding what community is, what you want from community and trying to build solutions to help us all grow. My fellow co-president, Jeff Agron, has been and will continue to be a great mentor, as will all Board members and those in the larger community with whom I can connect.
To that end, I put out my first request to everyone. We need help in reaching out to effectively communicate what we have to offer and also to gather feedback and ideas from everyone so that we serve the community better. We are assembling a volunteer team to start immediately. If you have any interest in “community engagement” (no prior experience needed), please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will share more of what we are striving for.
I look forward to meeting many more of you as time passes.
How Mussar Saved Me a Fortune
I have been a Mussar student for several years. Like many, I have come to appreciate the way its practical methodologies have helped me learn about myself in everyday aspects of life, from how I deal with impatience in a grocery store line to how I treat my wife.
In essence, I was involved in Mussar practice, but recently I faced an experience with more potential long-term ramifications. And that experience, when things began to unravel in a business venture, gave me a piece of Mussar work to do.
By Shirah Bell, Director of Everyday Holiness Program
Seattle just had its first Mussar Kallah, which I organized. The event was a major success, both in terms of the learning that took place and the teamwork that made it happen, thanks to the excellent speakers and the committed participants. The question that seemed to spark the greatest electricity concerned the relationship of middot (Mussar) and mitzvot (Divine service) — a major question I have personally sidestepped for the most part. Can one who doesn’t observe mitzvot be a person of good character? Does observing the mitzvot automatically make one a good person in the eyes of HaShem? Please stumble along with me as I explore this here and accept my apologies in advance for any mistakes I may commit.
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ALAN'S SPEAKING SCHEDULE