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The Mussar Way

 

"By this time I had already come to see myself as a soul. That's one of the first things any student of Mussar needs to understand and acknowledge, deeply and clearly. Each of us is a soul. Mostly we have been told that we "have" a soul, but that's not the same thing. To have a soul would indicate that we are primarily an ego or a personality that in some way "possesses" a soul.

The first step on the path of Mussar is to unlearn that linguistic misconception and to realize that our essence is the soul and that all aspects of ego and personality flow from that essence. At its core, the soul is pure, but habits, tendencies and imbalances often obscure some of that inner light.

The lessons of Mussar are all intended to help us correct whatever shortcomings may be preventing the light of our soul from shining through."

—Excerpt from Climbing Jacob's Ladder

 

WHAT IS MUSSAR?

Mussar is a path of contemplative practices and exercises that have evolved over the past thousand years to help an individual soul to pinpoint and then to break through the barriers that surround and obstruct the flow of inner light in our lives. Mussar is a treasury of techniques and understandings that offers immensely valuable guidance for the journey of our lives.

The Jewish community spawned Mussar to help people overcome the inner obstacles that hinder them from living up to the laws and commandments—the mitzvot—that form the code of life. That community tends to see Mussar as inseparable from its own beliefs and practices, but the human reality Mussar addresses is actually universal, and the gifts it offers can be used by all people.

GOALS OF MUSSAR PRACTICE

The goal of Mussar practice is to release the light of holiness that lives within the soul. The roots of all of our thoughts and actions can be traced to the depths of the soul, beyond the reach of the light of consciousness, and so the methods Mussar provides include meditations, guided contemplations, exercises and chants that are all intended to penetrate down to the darkness of the subconscious, to bring about change right at the root of our nature.

From its origins in the 10th century, Mussar was a practice of the solitary seeker, until in the 19th century it became the basis for a popular social/spiritual movement originating in Lithuania, inspired by the leadership of Rabbi Israel Salanter.

MUSSAR RESOURCES

Some of the classic books that show the Mussar Way:

These too are essential Mussar texts available online in the English language:

Learn more about Mussar distance courses and learning opportunities.

Donate Here - Find tzedaka boxes like this and more at Alljudaica.com, your source for quality Judaica and books.
TMI offers online courses for all levels of Mussar learning. Find out more.
Find out about Mussar Kallah.