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Dedicating an issue of Yashar is a meaningful way to honor the memory of a loved one, to celebrate a joyful occasion or milestone. For details on sponsorship, please contact info@mussarinstitute.org.

Welcome – Gary Shaffer
Generosity Week
Through a Mussar LensBy Alan Morinis
How to Read Mussar Texts – By Shira Bell
My Mussar Journey: The Holy Soul By Jason Winston
A Taste of Mussar
Upcoming Events and Announcements


By Gary Shaffer

Greetings for 2012. I hope everyone has a happy and fulfilling New Year. In this first week of 2012, we complete the Book of Genesis/Bereishit, where we read in Parsha Vayechi the end of the Joseph saga.

As much as we revere the patriarchs, we might not exactly wish their intra-family relations on our selves or on others. When Jacob gives his final “blessings” to his twelve sons, many of us might think, “If only he had had a copy of Everyday
…”  Jewish thought and practice compel us to address the difficulties that inevitably arise in our interpersonal relations. These relations can be a source of great sorrow, but they can also bring us our greatest joys.

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Generosity Week

February 19 – 24, 2012

We may be inclined to give, but walls around our hearts often keep us from giving freely. “Generosity Week” is intended to help change that pattern.

From Feb. 19-24, The Mussar Institute will inaugurate a week of building generosity muscles. It's a Mussar exercise meant to open our hearts by opening our hands to others, which in turn cultivates generosity in our hearts.

The late Mussar teacher Rabbi Shlomo Wolbe wrote:

It is a wonder. If a person thinks great thoughts about generosity, and has many profound new concepts about it, this thinking will not enable him to acquire the attribute of generosity. But if he gives one coin to a thousand poor people, through this he will surely acquire generosity.

Says Rabbi Wolbe, "it is not the size of the gift, but the repetition that builds your generosity muscle."

The Mussar Institute’s Generosity Week involves three easy steps.

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Through a Mussar Lens

By Alan Morinis

I had a dream that I was a guest at a wedding that was completely Disney-themed. The flower girls were little princesses in frilly dresses, and all the members of the wedding party were dressed in white with big Disney crests over their left breasts. The bride and groom sported Minnie and Mickey head-ware, and when they were pronounced man and wife, celebratory fireworks arched up over a Cinderella’s castle chuppah. I swear to you that I actually had that dream in all that Technicolor detail.

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By Shira Bell

A student asked me recently about language in an optional reading that was troubling. It’s a question that is closely related to getting the most out of Mussar learning. Following are my seven tips.

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By Jason Winston

Last fall, I started Year 2 of the Kiyyum (“Transformation”) program through The Mussar Institute, and we opened with a series of webinars on the subject of our souls. A full discourse on what Jewish tradition says about the soul could fill libraries, but the essence comes down to this: We all have them, and they are all pure and holy.

It’s worth pausing to reflect on what that means exactly. Think of yourself first and the idea that part of you is pure and holy. Think about your family and friends, and how part of each of them, too, is pure and holy. Then think about someone you don’t really like, a boss or that person who cut you off on the freeway or a politician you particularly disagree with—and reflect on that person’s holiness, too.

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Re-Hear the Mussar Kallah Retreat IX

For those who attended the Mussar Kallah Retreat IX in October and wish to re-visit sessions, or for those who missed it entirely, recordings are available as mp3 files.

To see a description of recorded sessions, click here.

A Taste of Mussar

As Good as Latkes: A Taste of Mussar

Know someone who might appreciate being exposed to Mussar study and practice? A Taste of Mussar is the perfect gift, an introductory, four-week course that includes 12 lessons, some of which are introductory to those new to Mussar and some of which are focused on specific middot (soul traits).

It’s an easy way to learn what the study of Mussar is all about and what it can offer. There’s no prerequisite to taking the course, and the format is Web-based, meaning that students can proceed at their own pace and do it anywhere. The course can begin at any time. The course costs $36 and would make a welcome Chanukah gift. To read more or to register, click here.

events and announcements



The Mussar Institute depends on the generosity of supporters. Please consider making a donation to honor someone or to remember a loved one.

  • Jeff Agron in honor of Alan Morinis
  • Chauncey and Shirah Bell in honor of Rabbi Shefa Gold’s wonderful chants
  • Sandy Garrett in memory of Rabbi Joseph H. Lief
  • Susanna and Eric Henley
  • Felice Joyce
  • Roz Katz in honor of Marsha Cohn
  • Ellen Miller
  • Ellen Rosen
  • Gary Shaffer
  • Modya Silver
  • Nina and Evan Yarus

Donations gratefully accepted here.


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