Teachings: Articles

What Is Mussar?

Rabbi Mendel of Satanov created a new approach to the practice called Heshbon HaNefesh, “Accounting of the Soul.” He encouraged keeping a journal on how you are doing in cultivating the following 18 attributes within yourself, and I would add, your students, children and grandchildren. After the list, are several ways to work with these concepts in your life. These are the core concepts of Mussar, one of many inspiring approaches to Jewish living.

1. Equanimity - מְנוּחַת הַנֶפֶשׁ.  Attaining skillful ability to live in balance.

2. Tolerance - סַבְלָנוּת. Growing pains lead to knowing gains, listen with an open mind.

3. Orderliness - סֵדֶר. Allocating time for living fully with integrity, including showing up on time.

4. Decisiveness - חָרִיצוּת. Acting promptly when your reasoning is sure and kindness is intelligently incorporated in necessary action.

Configuring Grief in Spiritual Terms

by Rabbi Anne Brener

This is an excerpt from Rabbi Brener's chapter in Seeking & Soaring: Jewish Approaches to Spiritual Direction, a Reclaiming Judaism Press volume created in honor of Rabbi Shohama Wiener in order to reveal the leading teachers, methods and value of the emerging profession of mashpia - Jewish spiritual director.

So many people come to spiritual direction after a loss. Very often their sense of God has been shattered. They may feel betrayed or abandoned by the God that may have been their bedrock in the past.

Entering the Unknown through the Silence of Dmama

a sample chapter from Seeking & Soaring: Jewish Approaches to Spiriatual Direction

Chapter 2
by Estelle Frankel

“Stop the words now. Open the window in the center of your chest and let the spirits fly in and out.”—Rumi

 “There is a time to speak and a time to be silent”Ecclesiastes

“For You, Silence is praise.”—Psalms 65:2

Jewish Life Mentoring

Transcript of a Real-Life Session, also known as Hashpa'ah and Jewish Spiritual Direction

Thjs example of a Jewish Life Mentoring (hashpa'ah) session involves conflict between a Christian father and his adult Jewish son. It is shared with the permission of the individuals involved, as are all stories in this series. All names have been changed to ensure and respect privacy.

1. Focusing Invitation: “I wonder if you might take some time to sit quietly and share with me what is bothering you.”

Opening the Dialogue with God in B’nai Mitzvah Preparation

The B-Mitzvah (R)evolution

by Rabbi Hanna Tiferet Siegel

An anxious pre-teen enters tentatively into my home for the first day of b’nai mitzvah training. We begin by chatting to learn the basics about each other. Listed below are some of the questions I ask and some of the responses I receive.

Guidance from Other Dimensions of the God-Field: Ancestors, Angels and Guides

a sample chapter from Seeking & Soaring: Jewish Approaches to Spiriatual Direction

Chapter 10

Author’s Note: The people whose experiences I have reported have specifically given permission for me to use their names.

Exploring the God-Field: A Systems Approach to Spiritual Direction/Hashpa’ah in Communal and Organizational Life

a sample chapter from Seeking & Soaring: Jewish Approaches to Spiriatual Direction

Chapter 25 by Shawn Israel Zevit

Four Worlds Spiritual Direction and Studies

Rabbi Zalman Schachter Shalomi re Rabbi Goldie Milgram

My appreciation of the Four Worlds as an approach to spiritual development, i.e., personal growth that connects us within, between and Beyond was first created through observing my teacher, Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, who appears in this short clip which I discovered today during a google search. What a cool surprise. The course he mentions that took place at Isabella Freedman is also available as a retreat or Shabbaton for communities.