I am the rabbi of Beit Hashofar synagogue in south Seattle and co-founder of Riverton Mussar.
Many thanks to all who attended our recent intro to Mussar at the summer 2014 UMJC Conference. Rabbi Paul Saal and Rabbi Jason Forbes (aka. rav rafael) presented this class to a packed room.
Due to the amount of interest at this conference, we plan to start a new year cycle after the fall holidays, on October 19th, 2014. Sign up on our email list to the right. In the meantime, we recommend you get started learning with the book Everyday Holiness.
Click "read more" to listen and view the presentation.
If you want something done, ask a busy person to do it. The more things you do, the more you can do. – Lucille Ball
There’s never a dull moment around our house. As I’ve been preparing to write an article about the middah of awareness, my wife has found two stray ladybugs in our kitchen. She has made it her personal mission this Sunday to make sure they are fed and watered before she sends them off into the wild world. She has an acute awareness of so much around her. Even the little bugs in our home get her attention. At the same time, I’m considering a verse from Torah that teaches the principles of caring for our neighbor’s property and having a general concern for other.
Around our home, Jewish holidays are elaborate affairs. While I tend to be focused on the ritual and teaching aspects of the holidays, I observe that each time they come around my wife turns into a full-time caterer.
And the Lord God called to man, and He said to him, "Where are you?" And he said, "I heard Your voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I am naked; so I hid." And He said, "Who told you that you are naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?" And the man said, "The woman whom You gave [to be] with me she gave me of the tree; so I ate." And the Lord God said to the woman, "What is this that you have done?" And the woman said, "The serpent enticed me, and I ate." – Bereishit 3:9-13
'The kindnesses of the Lord I shall sing forever; to generation after generation I shall make known Your faithfulness, with my mouth. For I said, "Forever will it be built with kindness; as the heavens, with which You will establish Your faithfulness."' -– Psalms 89:2-3
The lessons of kindness coming from the scriptures are as boundless as the kindness Hashem used when He formed Creation. The midrash teaches us that the Torah begins with kindness (the clothing of Adam and Eve) and ends with kindness (the burial of Moses). It seems that chesed is a fundamental force of the universe.
I tend to be a quiet guy, always desiring to choose my words carefully. I suppose part of this is influenced by people I've met journeying through life who have a lot to say but tend not to deliver.
Introduction: Rav Rafael
Rabbi Russ Resnik Session 1: Obeying the great commandment, Part One
The Shema is a central Jewish prayer and statement of faith, but above all it is a commandment. We will consider six ramifications of the Shema-as-commandment and how they shape our practice of Mussar.
Rabbi Russ Resnik Session 2: Obeying The great commandment, Part Two
In this session we explore the commandment that Messiah (along with Jewish tradition) describes as inextricably linked with the Shema: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” What does this mean and not mean, and why is the Shema incomplete without it?
Rav Rafael Session 3: Na’aseh v’Nishma
This session examines the ethical/mussar imperative that Mashiach Yeshua gives us in chapters Matthew 5, 6 and 7 from the DHE and how to concretely apply it to our lives. Yeshua's Mussar teaching from the mount is an allusion to the giving of Torah from Sinai when we said, "All that Hashem has spoken we will do and we will hear [Na'aseh V'nishma]!“ How we do and listen is a reflection of our character development.
Rebbetzin Malkah Session 4: When all you hear is noise
Meditation Exercise & Feedback:
During this session, we will explore the middot of gratitude and silence. In doing so, we will learn how these middot can be used within meditation to help us stop the noise and truly listen to our souls.
Here are the sources used for the class materials, and various resources to help with your study of Jewish meditation.