straight • upright • righteous

newsletter of  The Mussar Institute


March 2013




The corpse of a criminal executed for the most heinous crime must be treated with dignity, for man was created in the image of G-d and to demean a human is to demean G-d … The works of mussar repeatedly point out that although evil is to be despised, we must separate the evil act from the person. It is the wrong deed that the person does that is to be condemned, but the person himself never loses his essential sanctity. The Torah tells us that the Divine presence never abandons us, regardless of how defiled we may be. (Vayikra 16:16)
– Rabbi Avraham Twerski, Let Us Make Man

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Through a Mussar Lens: Cultivating Sensitivity to Others

Alan MorinisI sought out Mussar studies and practice when I needed guidance for my personal soul-journey. I was not at all involved with formal Jewish practice at that time. But as the years have gone by, my engagement with Mussar has given me a new lens through which to see other aspects of Jewish life. Like the holiday cycle, for instance. That’s pertinent to this particular moment because in the annual round of Jewish holidays we find ourselves perched at an interesting juncture, suspended between the miracles and redemption of Purim that has just passed and the miracles and redemption of Passover that lie just ahead.
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WelcomeJason Winston

“But if it be a sin to covet honor,
I am the most offending soul alive.”
–Shakespeare, Henry V, St. Crispin’s Day speech

“Kavod flees from him who runs after it, and follows him who flees from it.”
–Elijah HaCohen, Shevet Mussar

The first time I read about the middah of kavod—honor—out came the English Literature major in me. My mind drifted back to the Shakespeare I studied and how frequently his characters spoke of this most precious of gifts for which they so frequently risked their lives. What Shakespeare understood so well is how much our egos crave honor.
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Around the Mussar World: Mediation Practice in The Netherlands

Marga and Henri VogelWe utilize Mussar in our profession of mediation and conduct workshops for Jewish as well as non-Jewish professionals.

The unique element of this combination is that an ancient Jewish school of wisdom (Mussar) contains all the elements of a very young profession by the name of mediation.
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My Mussar Journey 

Bonnie KozekIt’s 2013. I’m meeting with my chevruta tomorrow, and I feel unprepared; I haven’t focused on my practice. No morning affirmation. No meditation. No Cheshbon HaNefesh. Feeling discouraged, I ask myself: If I don’t do the work, how can I expect Mussar to expand my awareness and effect real change? I answer, “I can’t.”
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A Reflection on Order (Seder)

Stephen Haas“If you are not careful about the cleanliness of your house, you are also likely to be lax about the purity of your spirit.” 
– Alan Morinis, Everyday Holiness, p. 88

The season of Pesach is upon us, and the middah of seder (order) looms large as I think about how critical this trait is in preparing for the holiday and in celebrating it. As I studied this soul trait during the Everyday Holiness course that I am taking, and read the above line, I was overcome by the major conflict with order in my life. My office and my home indicate that I have no sense of order—the desk is piled with papers in stacks, things are not put away in my house, etc. 
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March Special

This month The Mussar Institute will offer a “Grab Bag” of Mussar recordings at half price. The special serves as both a treat and a test of trust.

The first ten people who email will receive three TMI recordings on CD from teachers such as Alan Morinis, Rabbi David Lapin and Rabbi Avi Fertig for $15.

We promise the selections we choose will be spiritually uplifting. Take a chance!


The Practice Corner

In the tradition of Mussar kabbalot (exercises), choose a 15-minute time period each day in which you will do whatever you can to express honor (kavod) to anyone with whom you interact during that time.



Newsletter Home
Through a Mussar Lens: Cultivating Sensitivity to Others – by Alan Morinis
Welcome – by Jason Winston
Around the Mussar World: Mediation Practice in The Netherlands – by Marga and Henri Vogel and Daniel Beaupain
My Mussar Journey – by Bonnie Kozek
Reflection on Seder – by Stephen Haas
March Special
The Practice Corner

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