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In This Issue
As I sit and write this article, the Kallah in Phoenix is two weeks away. But I must write for an issue of Yashar, which will come out after the Kallah. How do I write about something that has not happened? Then I thought about the tee shirt that Alan and the Board gave to me after the Miami Kallah, which I chaired. It said: “Bitachon. All life is in the hands of the one who created me.” So, that is the answer. I need to have Trust, Trust in G-d. Ok. But there is so much unknown as I write. Will the attendance be greater than now? What if it is not great? Will we be able to meet our expenses? How much attendance is considered a “success?” What else could be done to make the program more successful? Will the speakers all make it on time? So, how can I practice bitachon?
The question is what choices do I have? I can trust or not trust. What difference, if any, will it make if I practice bitachon? Will it affect only my perception or will my trust help the situation in any way? I know that if I don’t have trust, I will make myself miserable in the time leading up to the Kallah. I will lose sleep, not eat well, feel tired and make myself vulnerable to illness. On the other hand, I need to remain proactive and not bury my head in the sand, living in a world of denial. So, I need to find the right amount of trust for the situation. Will my trust lead to a favorable outcome for the Kallah?
Can I identify a single defining moment that captures what we experienced at this year’s annual Mussar Kallah, which took place late last month at the Valley of the Sun JCC in Scottsdale, Ariz., just outside Phoenix? No, it is not possible. Everyone who was there likely had their own moments of highlight, of course, but the truth is that those were not really the main event. As time has passed, and this community of spiritual seekers has grown, Mussar has taken more of a place in the contemporary Jewish world. In fact, the reality of this burgeoning community of people engaged with Mussar learning and practice was the biggest highlight for me. What I saw and experienced was an extraordinary group of people whose hearts are as large and as vital as are their minds, and who are alive to seeking with sincerity and diligence.
Cultivating a Mussar Study Group
Editor’s Note: Yashar welcomes contributions that inspire or teach fellow Mussar students. Our goal is to make space each month for guest articles. Please send your suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
About two years ago, a small group of congregants at a synagogue in
Study group members range from a broad variety of backgrounds, professions and perspectives. Each shows respect for the other while remaining candid, allowing us to get to know and appreciate each other in some depth over time. As a result, a warm atmosphere pervades, conducive to discussing middot (character traits) that show up in real-life situations. After working through several TMI courses, the group's members have become familiar with Mussar concepts and the middot. Many have done independent research from Mussar sources, which they contribute at our meetings. In short, we’ve grown self-reliant, and members show a strong interest in learning more about Mussar and becoming more aware of middot in life's course.
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