Weekly Ethics/Mussar Lessons - Starting January 2022
- Online Interactive Zoom Class
1. What is Mussar? a. Literally, it means “correction or instruction.” b. It also serves as the simple Modern Hebrew word for ethics. c. But it is most accurately described as “a way of life.” 2. Its essence: a. It is a spiritual practice that enables one to refine one’s character traits, allowing us to transform ourselves, to move toward wholeness, to realize our highest spiritual potential and to live everyday life with happiness, trust and love. b. In Judaism we believe that each of us is endowed with every one of a full range of “middot” or traits of character. - In Hebrew, middah literally means measure. What distinguishes us from one another is not that you have one trait and I have another, but rather the degree or measure of the traits that exists in each of us. For example, the angriest person has an excess of anger, but Mussar insists there must be some degree of calm in him as well. Just as there must be some anger in even the calmest person. Similarly, the stingiest person still has at least a grain of generosity. It is not whether we have certain traits, while someone else has different ones, but rather the degree, or measure, of the traits that live in each of our souls. This is what gives us our distinctive way of being in the world and is where our traits are measured on the continuum. The goal is not to rid ourselves of certain traits, since each has a role, but rather to correct the measure of the specific trait within us. c. Each of us is assigned to master something in our lives. You have already been given your assignment and you have already encountered it, though you may not be aware that what faces you is a curriculum. - Since each self and life is unique and individual, each of us has a personal curriculum. - Waking up your personal curriculum and guiding you in steps toward mastering it, is the central task of your life and the purpose of Mussar. - Your spiritual curriculum is made up of the issues in your life that keep challenging you, the behaviours that get you into trouble over and over again.
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