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What is Mussar?

By Rabbi Ephraim D. Becker

Issue No. 4
December 15, 1997

A reader writes:

Would you please define the word Mussar - thank you! (a ticking shrink) ***********************************************************************

Dear Reader (I couldn't resist leaving in all those lovely stars from your message)

Mussar is typically defined as ethical teachings. That is, the field of mussar is devoted to character and behavioral improvement. This includes a very broad range of strategies and approaches to such improvement. There are various "schools" of mussar (each with its special history and great personalities) which are characterized by particular emphases, each of which are rooted in traditional Torah thought. The Genesis on-line bookstore should be able to get you some good reading on the subject. Hillel Goldberg has written extensively and well on the subject, both for lay and scholarly audiences. The major classical texts of mussar have also been translated and are also available for purchase on-line; Path of the Just; Ways of the Righteous; Duties of the Heart; etc. I'll ask the fine folks at Project Genesis to put a footnote on this posting describing how you can order any of these titles.

My apologies for not putting that explanation in earlier.

Best wishes.

The following books are available from the Genesis Judaica On-Line Bookstore at or .

By Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: (Search for "Rabbi Hillel Goldberg")
The Fire Within - Artscroll / Mesorah HC: $18.99 SC: $16.14
Illuminating The Generations - Artscroll / Mesorah HC: $18.04 SC: $15.19

Edited by Rabbi BenZion Sobel: (Search for "The Ways of the Tzaddikim")
Orchos Tzaddikim - The Ways of the Tzaddikim (Righteous) - Feldheim Publishers
HC: $23.70 SC: $18.95 Pocket: $15.15 (2 vol.)

By Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzatto: (Search for "The Path of the Just")
The Path of the Just - Mesillath Yesharim - Feldheim Publishers
HC: $17.05 SC: $ 14.20 Pocket: $8.50

By R. Bachya ben Joseph ibn Paquda: (Search for "Duties of the Heart")
Duties of the Heart - Chovos ha-Levavos - Feldheim Publishers
HC: $40.80 (2 vol.) SC: $33.20

or search for "Mussar", "Middos" or "Self-Improvement".

For additional bookstore help, send e-mail to .

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