by | Mar 17, 2017 | What’s Happening

Wednesdays, March 29, April 5, April 26, May 3
12:30-1:30 pm, Simon Family JCC

While commonly translated as ethics, Mussar is really much broader. Dr. Alan Morinis, founder of the Mussar Institute, recently spent a weekend in Tidewater as the guest scholar for the Milton “Mickey” Kramer Scholar-in- Residence Fund’s 4th Annual Tidewater Together presented by the United Jewish Federation of Tidewater and the Tidewater Synagogue Leadership Council.

During an extraordinary weekend, Morinis explained that “Mussar is a path of contemplative practices and exercises that have evolved over the past thousand years to help an individual soul to pinpoint and then to break through the barriers that surround and obstruct the flow of inner light in our lives.” Ethics may ask no more of us than being a kind person. Mussar gets in touch with our inner souls to improve how we act, as well as who we are.

The goal of Mussar practice is to release the light of holiness that lives within the soul. The roots of all of our thoughts and actions can be traced to the depths of the soul. Often, our emotions and desires get in the way of those holy thoughts, causing us to act in ways that are less than ideal. By reconnecting with our inner soul, we can become the best people possible, who we want to be. The result is not only becoming more ethical people, but also holier and more spiritual.

While Mussar has been around for thousands of years, the formal study of Mussar did not become widespread until the Mussar Movement in the 19th century, which was started by Rabbi Israel Salanter of Lithuania. He arranged for the republishing of the classic Mussar works and established Mussar as part of the regular curriculum in his yeshiva (rabbinical school). Since then, Mussar books have been printed in many languages and remain an important part of the daily study of many of the rabbinical schools throughout the world. They have also become popular in synagogues, schools, and homes.

Although I have been a student and teacher of Mussar for many years, Morinis’s visit introduced me to a new approach to Mussar study. Not merely an educational resource to study the intellectual aspect of Mussar, the Mussar Institute has created a system to take those ideas and implement them into daily lives, inspiring people to become better and holier. Turning inspiration into action is often difficult, but the Mussar Institute has solved that problem. Through bi-weekly vaadim (group meetings), daily messages, practice assignments, chavruta study, and follow up, a Mussar series is bound to change how you act, as well as who you are.

I am proud to partner with UJFT, Simon Family JCC, and the Mussar Institute to facilitate A Taste of Mussar in Tidewater.

To register for A Taste of Mussar, visit the Simon Family JCC front desk or call 321-2338. For more information, email

Rabbi Gavriel Rudin