Ethics (Mussar) Workshop Begins March 3rd!

Everyday Holiness Workshop

Introduction: 

The iconic modern Jewish philosopher Abraham Joshua Heschel wrote: “Religion is not a feeling for something that is, but an answer to the One who is asking us to live in a certain way. It is in its very origin a consciousness of duty, of being committed to higher ends.”

This participatory workshop is an introduction to “a Jewish practice for self-improvement ‘which focuses on living a more conscientious life and heightening awareness of the world and one’s responsibilities; in short, becoming more of a mensch.’” (Leonard Felson) Another way to put it is that Mussar aims to help us become more holy, and more whole.” (Alan Morinis) 

The core study text will be Alan Morinis’ Everyday Holiness. It is divided into very short chapters on such middot (character traits) as patience, gratitude, generosity, compassion, and honor. During each workshop session, we will discuss each new topic, supplemented with short hand-outs from Jewish texts (Torah, Talmud, modern Jewish writers, etc.) highlighting the new topic, how it uniquely challenges each of us, and how we might strengthen our ability to respond to its challenges.

In between sessions, participants should 1) keep a personal journal (of any length, not turned in) noting how the personality trait being studied arose in his/her life between sessions and was (or was not) addressed, and 2) discuss with a course partner (chevrutah) personal challenges relating to the trait. 

Workshop Objectives:

  1. Study and discuss traditional Jewish spiritual, ethical, and personal values. 
  2. Learn and practice Mussar to increasingly incorporate these values into everyday life. 

Materials/activities:

Required text: 

Morinis, Alan Everyday Holiness: The Jewish Spiritual Path of Mussar. Available here: http://www.mussarinstitute.org/books-everyday-holiness.htm  or through various book sale websites and stores. 

Recommended texts (once you get hooked!): 

  1. Morinis, Alan Climbing Jacob’s Ladder Available here: http://www.mussarinstitute.org/books-climbing.htm  or through various book sale websites and stores. 
  2. Featured articles about Mussar in the Fall 2008 issue of Reform Judaism Magazine including http://reformjudaismmag.org/Articles/index.cfm?id=1385  
  3. The Path of the Just (Mesillat Yesharim). Moshe Chaim Luzzatto. Any version of this classic text. See description at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mesillat_Yesharim  . An English translation is accessible here: http://www.shechem.org/torah/mesyesh/index.htm  

    I use ISBN 1-58330-691-9, available here http://www.feldheim.com/path-of-the-just-mesillas-yesharim.htm l or through various book sale websites and stores. 
  4. Other materials accessible through The Mussar Institute, www.mussarinstitute.org  

Course Term: Bi-weekly, on-going.

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