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Welcome – By Gary Shaffer
MAKING THE MOST OF THE YEAR AHEAD
Shana tova. This month’s Yashar arrives between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, a period of intense reflection and re-grouping. The special holiday liturgies focus our attention on the past and on the future. We consider the sadness, wonders, and joys of the past year and wonder what the New Year will bring. Through the pronounced change in seasons, we smell and feel change at hand. As the shofar is blown at the end of the Ne’ila service, we begin to emerge from the powerful emotions of Yom Kippur and the Days of Awe, heightened no doubt by our hunger, and we begin to feel a lightness of spirit. It’s time to move forward and embrace family, friends and the New Year.
It is our pleasure to introduce you to the courses that are available to support your learning and practice of Mussar.
As we move from Rosh Hashanah to Yom Kippur, now is the time to make commitments for what you would like to accomplish in the upcoming year. Perhaps your goals are very practical in terms of your relationships with family, friends and co-workers. Perhaps you would like to explore why you’re here and what God expects of you. Perhaps you are looking for more meaning in your life or a greater sense of spirituality in a Jewish context.
Whatever your resolutions and goals may be, the study of Mussar can help. And the best place to start your Mussar journey is with A Season of Mussar, a course available right in your community.
AN INTRODUCTION TO MUSSAR
The introductory Mussar course, Everyday Holiness, is offered online, capitalizing on the vast and effective resources of the Web to provide tools for your spiritual growth. Just beginning? This course provides an introduction to the core Mussar teachings as well as links if you wish to seek more advanced knowledge. Begin the course at any time. You’ll be assigned a study partner (chevruta in Hebrew) with whom you meet on the telephone for about an hour for each lesson.
A CURRICULUM OF WHOLENESS
If you wish to build an intermediate Mussar Practice, Path of the Soul is the course for you. It relies on Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzatto’s classic Mussar text, Path of the Just, providing a solid foundation for work on any of the middot.
A FLEXIBLE WAY TO DO MUSSAR
Middah A Month is ideal for helping you maintain an independent Mussar practice. You will receive a monthly email containing a wide range of materials—readings, stories, lessons for children, texts to study in chevruta, phrases for cheshbon ha’nefesh practice, and more. The texts are varied, the stories depict a middah in real-life situations, and the recorded affirmation phrases provide a concrete practice you can incorporate into a daily routine. It’s up to you how much or how little of the curriculum to use, and when to study and practice.
ADVANCED PRACTICE IN CONSCIOUS LIVING
The course explores 12 crucial middot as illuminated in the modern Mussar classic Alei Shur, written by the Mussar giant Rav Shlomo Wolbe. The selections from this text have been translated into English for the first time just for Mussar in Action.
TRAINING COMMUNITY MUSSAR FACILITATORS
If you have experience with Mussar Institute courses or a solid background in Mussar learning and feel called to help support others on a spiritual Mussar path, then the Mussar Institute’s Manchim Program is your opportunity to qualify as a Mussar group facilitator. The program will train you to become a facilitator so that you can guide members in your community as they engage in personal development and growth through Mussar learning and practice.
MANCHIM: TRAINING FOR MUSSAR GROUP LEADERS
TORAH THE MIDDAH WAY
The Torah portion each week prominently features one or more middot (or soul traits). If you have suggestions or, better yet, if you have written a drash that relates the Torah portion to a middah, please send it to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We will build a database and make it available so that members of the community can have access to resources to study Torah in a middah way.
LISTEN TO ALAN'S TALK ON STRENGTH, GEVURAH
The middah [soul-trait] of gevurah is central to a life of wholeness, but what is strength? And how do we grow stronger?
In Hebrew, a person who possesses gevurah is a gibor, which is the modern Hebrew word for “hero.” In Pirkei Avot (4:1), the question is asked, “Who is a strong person?” The answer to that question, along with other important insights and practices, were the focus of a session that Alan Morinis led May 1 at the Seattle Mussar Kallah. You can listen to the talk here or go to http://db.tt/rUoOMGC.
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