Thursday, December 15, 2016

The Mussar Movement

The Mussar Movement:

There is a very important Movement that has, unfortunately "lost it's sting", so to speak, and has died down a little.  Which one?  The Mussar Movement.  And I believe that it needs to be "revived".  Who is with me?

First let us ask; what is the Mussar Movement and what are it's goals?  So, it is a Movement that was started in the 1800's by HaRav Yisroel Salanter zt"l that emphasized trying to think about what we do, and trying to keep the Commandments properly. That seems like what we do every day - but it is not quite.  Often people don't think too much about what they are doing and "cut corners" with the Mitzvos; but Mussar teaches otherwise. 

And this Movement stresses the study of Mussar and the refinement of our charachter traits. Like the Torah commands us 'Tamim ti'h'yeh im Hashem Elokecha.'

Mussar literally means something like discipline - and that is one of the main concepts stressed in Mussar - us disciplining ourselves. 

An example of something the Mussar Movement stresses is to be very, very careful about your fellowman's feelings, honor, etc.  This is keeping the Commandment of Loving Your Neighbor as Yourself, properly.

Now, perhaps something that could sum up a lot of the Mussar Movement is a vort from HaRav Yisroel Salanter zt"l on this Parsha, quoted in the book Oznayim LaTorah:

Yaakov Avinu was afraid of the fact that Esav HaRasha was coming towards him with 400 men. But many Mefarshim ask; how could he be afraid? Hashem had promised him that He would be with him, etc.!

So, Reb Yisroel gives a mashal: Say there is a person who was hired to watch something for another. (We'll call the "watcher" Reuven, and the "hirer" Shimon). Now, while Reuven was watching the item, he broke it. Shimon will certainly not pay him! Maybe if he was being nice, he would not charge Reuven - but he will certainly not pay him for breaking his thing! 

Says Reb Yisroel: Hashem gives us a task to do, and rules to keep. And often, we break those rules. So, maybe Hashem, in His Mercy and Kindness, will not punish us really, sometimes (though we will end up get punished for breaking them unless we do complete Teshuva). But He will certainly not pay us for breaking His Commandments!

Yaakov Avinu, he explains, was worried that he had broken even one Commandment or something like that in the interim of that time and when he had been promised the good stuff. Because, if, Chas V'Shalom, he had, then perhaps he would not be punished; but certainly Hashem would not reward and pay him for that! Maybe the promises were on condition that he did good only.... 

So, concludes Reb Yisroel zt"l, this teaches us how careful we must be with keeping the Commandments. We must always try to perform the Mitzvos properly. But we must be even more careful, he says, to not, Chas V'Shalom, use our life - the life that Hashem gives us each morning; each second; to break the Commandments. 

So, anyway, unfortuantely, this Movement has mostly died out - though, Baruch Hashem, there is still a lot more Mussar studied in Yeshivos than it used to be - but it needs to be revived, so to speak. It stressed and reminded us of so many important things in life that must be remembered and practiced.

So now, I ask again; who is with me?  Should it not be "revived"?

Kol Tuv everyone!  


  1. I am with you with regard to the mussar movement, and wish you הצלחה with that aim.

    Keep it up!

  2. Todah Rabbah! Is there a way you know of to spread the word?

  3. Live mussar, learn mussar, write/talk about it...

    Are you familiar with the Salant Foundation? You can subscribe to their (just about) daily mussar messages by sending "request" to salantorg at gmail.

    Also of interest are and

  4. Beautiful! Thank you! I think I'll check them out! They look like awesome sources.

    Some books I can recommend: Sparks of Mussar - incredible book. Changed my life. Orchos Tzaddikim - silences your Yetzer Hara and is very strong and fiery.

    Thank you for all your support and perhaps we can work together on this.

    Freilichen Chanukah!!

  5. Okay...

    I gather that you are from Russia. If you are from Russian non-Hasidic roots, you should consider giving that derech in Yiddishkeit preference, as it is the way of your ancestors.

  6. Actually, I am from the eastern US. If you saw a comment I made in Russian, it is because there was a comment left in Russian, so I replied using Google Translate.

    "you should consider giving that derech in Yiddishkeit preference, as it is the way of your ancestors" - I don't quite get what you mean. Could you please explain?

  7. Thanks for explaining the Russian language comment.

    With regard to your question, there is an inyan of following the derech in Yiddishkeit that was passed down in your family.

  8. Ah, ok. Thank you for explaining.

    B'Ezras Hashem, I hope to continue trying to spread word of the Mussar Movement and spread Mussar. Maybe, B'Ezras Hashem, it could get some more followers again....

    Have a wonderful Shabbos and a very Feilichen Chanukah!