Mussar | Introduction | Part One
Even if you grew up in the Jewish world, chances are that you never heard the word Mussar until you encountered it here. But we assure you that Mussar is a venerable and well-established Jewish tradition that is now becoming more widely known. For centuries, Mussar has provided an illuminating, approachable, and highly practical set of teachings and practices for cultivating personal growth and spiritual realization in the midst of day-to-day life.
The core teaching of Mussar is that our deepest essence is inherently pure and holy, but this inner radiance is obscured by extremes of emotion, desire, and bad habits which veil that inner light. Our task in life is to transform the “veils” and so uncover the brilliant light of the soul. The Mussar masters developed a range of teachings and practices— some of which are contemplative, some of which focus on how we relate to other people in daily life, some concern God—to help us heal and refine ourselves. A current Mussar student put it well, “Each week I feel like I’m entering and spending time cleaning out the accumulated dust and grime covering my soul and mind.”
We’ll begin with a brief overview of the most essential elements of the Mussar approach to spiritual living.