straight • upright • righteous

newsletter of  The Mussar Institute


December 2012

Kallah Recap



To what may Awe be likened? To the tremor of fear which a father feels when his beloved young son rides his shoulders as he dances with him and rejoices before him, taking care that he not fall off. Here there is joy that is incomparable, pleasure that is incomparable. And the fear tied up with them is pleasant, too. It does not impede the freedom of dance.
Rabbi Avraham Elya Kaplan

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Save the Date: Mussar Kallah XI is coming October 1821, 2013, Illinois Beach Resort and Conference Center, Zion, Ill.


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Through a Mussar Lens: Moving Forward after 10 Kallahs

Ten years of Mussar Kallahs. Ten years of Jewish spiritual seekers coming together to share the journey of life. Ten years during which the presence of Mussar has grown in the Jewish world so that, at this Kallah in October, there were people from Brazil and Holland, Israel and Canada, as well as the U.S. There were Orthodox Jews and Reform, Conservative and Reconstructionist Jews. There were people from New York and people from Oklahoma; people from California, Florida, Texas and Missouri (and more). Men and women. Every one of them a neshama in search of holiness.
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WelcomeGary Shaffer

This year we celebrated The Mussar Institute’s 10th Mussar Kallah, and the featured topic—Yirah—turned out to be more relevant and enticing than perhaps any of us could have imagined. There was much discussion about the different aspects of Yirah, including the difficulty of translation and the fact that a single word unpacks into seemingly different concepts that then require integration. But by the end of the Kallah, with Hurricane Sandy battering the East Coast, we were starkly presented with forces beyond our immediate control that required the exertion of a controlled response, which helped us adapt and help others as best we could.
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OctJeff Agronober in Zion

This past October, I spent nine wonderful days at the Illinois Beach Resort and Conference Center in Zion, Ill. It was a long time to be away from home, but it was for good reasons.

For the first five days, I was engaged with 11 rabbis from across the denominational spectrum for our first-ever Mussar Retreat for Rabbis and Cantors. It was wonderful to see such enthusiasm from a group of Rabbis for the work that we are doing at The Mussar Institute.
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Sybil McCullenMy Mussar Journey

I grew up singing in the choir of my Presbyterian Church in my hometown in eastern North Carolina. … So how did I get from there to Mussar? 

In my teens, I had deep longings for a spiritual life. During those years, I worked and prayed hard to be perfect in hopes of easing my spiritual angst. Mostly I felt confused and never “good enough.”
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Reflections on 13 Middos of Rabbi Yisrael Salanter

Neil Harris

אמת – שלא להוציא מן הפה דבר שאין הלב מעיד על אמיתותו.
Truth – Never speak a word unless your heart can testify to its truth.      

Do the words we speak to others clearly reflect the feelings in our heart? It is vital that when we talk with our friends or family members we open up ourselves and show them who we really are. Our heart serves as a witness to what we say and who we are. The gemara in Yoma 69b states that Hashem’s “seal” is אמת , truth. By committing to speak the truth in all matters, we are connecting to Hashem in a very powerful way. 
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calendarNew “Middah a Month” Program for 2013

Announcing a new Mussar study and practice opportunity: Accounting of the Soul Cheshbon HaNefesh

Don't have time to take a Mussar course? Want to practice Mussar on your own schedule? Or, maybe you have a small group of friends or a chevruta looking for a good, new study program?
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Special Offer for Kallah XI

Register for Kallah XI (October 1821, 2013, at the Illinois Beach Resort in Zion, Ill.) by December 31, 2012, for a reduced rate of $450 and pay monthly over 10 months—that's only $45 per month. Once October 2013 comes around, you will be all paid for the Kallah registration. Transportation and hotel are not included. 

To take advantage of this special offer, you must email Jeff Agron at no later than December 31 to get set up on the monthly payment plan.

As a bonus, if you register this month, we will enroll you for the benefits of TMI membership at the level of Chaver. If you are already a member, please contact Jeff Agron for a gift of equal value.



The Practice Corner

Cultivating yirah is a matter of attuning inner vision to find the awesome anywhere at all. And true awe brings with it a sense of dread, arising from the recognition of just how frail and inconsequential we are. The inspiring words of William Blake from "Auguries of Innocence" point the way:

To see a world in a grain of sand,
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand,
And eternity in an hour.

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Newsletter Home
Through a Mussar Lens: Moving Forward after 10 Kallahs – by Alan Morinis
Welcome – by Gary Shaffer
October in Zion – by Jeff Agron
My Mussar Journey – by
13 Middos – Neil Harris
New “Middah a Month” Program for 2013
Special Offer for Kallah XI
The Practice Corner

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