straight • upright • righteous

newsletter of  The Mussar Institute


November 2012



We humans have a tendency to always want more. Therefore, it is easy to forget to feel grateful and happy with the good that we already have. We should strive to feel a joy that is complete. Lack of joy with what we have is destructive both physically and spiritually.
 — Rabbi Mordechai Gifter (1915-2001)

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Todah Rabbah to the Members of TMI. In our first year of membership, we are pleased to have over 110 Members, of whom more than 40 are Founding Members. We are grateful to each and every one of you who have joined in our first membership drive. See a list of Founding Members and then become a Member yourself.


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Through a Mussar Lens: Gratitude for Both Good and Bad

In October, I gave a talk to a group of rabbis, and my topic was gratitude. It’s a fundamental principle of my teaching that I cite only Jewish sources (except for the occasional reference to Monty Python), but I could find no better text to represent the Jewish view of gratitude than the poem “Listen” by the decidedly un-Jewish W.S. Merwin.
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Jason WinstonWelcome

Over the past year, as I studied Mussar and grew in my understanding of gratitude as well as my spirituality, I devised a personal affirmation: “I express gratitude to God for the good things in my life, because I am entitled to them, as well as for the bad things, because I learn and grow from them.”
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Bonnie PastorMy Mussar Journey

Since I first read about the Mussar tradition in an article that Alan Morinis wrote for Reform Judaism magazine several years ago, I instinctively felt attracted to it. I think I have been spiritually oriented in one way or another since I was a child. Though my Reform Jewish education was not focused on spirituality, I learned from my father and my religious education that character is important.
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World of Mussar: St. Louis

Ken BirenbaumMy first encounter with the word “Mussar” occurred in October 2008 when Felice Joyce (see September Yashar Newsletter) began offering Season of Mussar I classes. Saying “yes” to this experience opened a pathway and began a process that brought an improved version of me to St. Louis and to my Congregation Shaare Emeth community when I began serving as its President six months later. 
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compact discsNovember Special: Discounted Kallah CDs

Were you unable to attend Kallah X? Did you miss Kallah IX, or would you like to relive the great teachings from last year? Then, here are some special offers:

Order any Kallah IX download or CD for a 25% discount. Order now.

In December, you will be able to order Kallah X downloads or CDs for the price offered at the Kallah for attendees (10% discount).  Check for details in the December issue of Yashar.

The Practice Corner

Every morning this week, recite to yourself the phrase,

“Awaken to the good and give thanks.”

Repeat it several times. Say it aloud. Sing it. Chant it. Place it somewhere that it will remain in front of your eyes: Could that be on a post-it note by your computer? On the dashboard of your car?

And don’t forget to do what the phrase says.

Newsletter Home
Through a Mussar Lens: Gratitude for Both Good and Bad – by Alan Morinis
Welcome – by Jason Winston
My Mussar Journey – by Bonnie Pastor
Around the Mussar World – by Ken Birenbaum
November Special: Discounted Kallah CDs
The Practice Corner

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