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Posts Tagged ‘Mussar’

Using Mussar During Passover Prep - Rachael’s Reflection VLOG - March 25

Thursday, March 25th, 2010

Rachael offers a suggestion on how to use Mussar to help with all the organizing and stress of cooking, cleaning and preparing for Passover.

Mussar Dilemma for March

Friday, March 12th, 2010

You are attending your family Seders at a relative’s house. You look forward to it and have some insights you’d like to share about Jewish values and challenges. There are other people at the table who are not as engaged in the ‘Jewishness’ of the evening and would like to race through the Hagadah to get to the food. Every time you raise a topic for discussion, they groan or roll their eyes.

You could:
(a) Ask them why they’re being so rude to you.
(b) Tell them you appreciate that they’re hungry but you’d love a few minutes of discussion knowing this could spark an argument.
(c) Promise yourself that next year you will decline the invitation to join this Seder again.
(d) Do nothing and say nothing.

I’d love to hear your thoughts. Send an e-mail to info@rachaelscentre.org.

February Mussar Dilemma

Wednesday, February 10th, 2010

Continuing with our shopping environment, one of the students in our Mussar group raised the example we have all faced.
You are standing in line at a busy cashier.  Suddenly a second cashier opens the cash in the next lane.  The person in front of you was next to be served but the new cashier announces ‘I’m open over here’ and suddenly a new line forms from those who were waiting behind you.
Clearly the person in front of you should have been served next and has been ignored.
You could:
(a)    Loudly tell the new cashier that the person in front of you should be served before the others in line.
(b)    Say nothing and do nothing
(c)    Wait until after you check out and then complain privately to the manager about the cashier
(d)    Quietly speak to the person in front of you in line and let them know you are aware they should have been served next.

What would you do? Post a comment and join the conversation.

January Mussar Dilemma Recap - February 2010

Wednesday, February 10th, 2010

Last month we presented a ‘Mussar Dilemma’, a day to day situation we all have experienced with a Mussar question attached.

You attend a social gathering filled with family.  Across the room you see someone you recognize that you haven’t seen in a while.  You remember that the last time the two of you spoke there was a minor falling out and then you lost touch.

Here are the options for your response and what Mussar has to say:

(a) look away and pretend you didn’t see the person.

Clearly we know that this option would not be the optimum choice.  It creates a falsehood and an action to reinforce the lie.  As much as we know this would be the least appropriate response, it’s interesting how many of us opt for this response as the easy way to avoid the entire dilemma.

When it comes to Mussar, the easy way is quite often not the most appropriate.

(b) wait for the person to greet you first and then you’ll respond warmly.

Although this option seems like it would address the situation properly, it is transferring the choice to someone else.  Mussar teaches us to choose our own responses, if we hand over the gift of our choice to someone else then we are no longer pushing beyond our limitations.

(c)  cross the room and greet the person with a smile.

This option is the most appropriate for the situation.  The person in the room is someone you recognize and with whom you have a connection.  The awkwardness of the moment should not be the defining point.  It is important to remember that everyone should be treated with respect regardless of a previous conflict.

Mussar would encourage you to try and respond with option (c).  The next step would be to ask ourselves why it felt so difficult to cross the room and initiate respectful greetings.

One of our blog visitors responded with:

“Since I know how irritated I feel when someone I recognize doesn’t acknowledge me, regardless of how long I haven’t seen them, I would indeed respond. Probably with a combination of the first two choices. I would smile from across the room and if it was reciprocated I would cross and converse. Choices and opinions in relationships years ago are often very different from those we might make as we age. Having said that it might just reinforce why we stopped staying in touch to begin with!!”


Do you agree or disagree? Join in on this conversation and add your comment below.

December Mussar Dilemma Recap

Thursday, January 21st, 2010

Last month we presented a ‘Mussar Dilemma’, a day to day situation we all have experienced with a Mussar question attached.

While checking out at the supermarket, the person in front of you continuously delays you by running back into the aisles to pick up just a few forgotten items.  Although you have nothing scheduled for afterwards, you are getting annoyed at the ongoing delay.

I offer food for thought from a Mussar perspective:

There are 2 different things to consider at this moment.  The first thing is your reaction outwardly to either the cashier or the person shopping.  The second thing to consider is your growing internal feeling of impatience and annoyance even though you have no pressing deadline.

Option 1: Complain to the cashier while the shopper has run back into the store.
Although it is understandable why someone might opt for this, it would obviously involve speaking of someone behind their back.

Option 2:  Tell the person delaying you that you are in a hurry, even though you are not.
This option might well bring about an apology and a change of behaviour (best case) but it is clearly based on an untruth.

Option 3: Tell the person delaying you that you would appreciate if they would finish all their shopping before going to the cashier.
This person will likely feel awkward and embarrassed.  Since Judaism takes this very seriously, you’d need a strong purpose for publicly chastising someone.  Since the purpose is to vent your frustration, Mussar would question choosing to make yourself feel better by making someone else feel badly.

Option 4: Subtly change to another cashier.
By choosing a different cashier you are effectively changing your environment.  Environments and events speak to us as powerfully as do people and sometimes a subtle change in environment is just the choice that fits the moment.

Mandatory Option 5:  Address your frustration
Mussar would now strongly recommend that you explore the frustration and irritation you experienced.  With no deadline at stake, why were you so annoyed by the delay?

My Messy Desk

Wednesday, January 20th, 2010

My desk at work and the workspace around me has gotten out of control.  My colleagues and I have clearly become complacent about the environment in which we work.  The piles of paper, the empty boxes and the office supplies strewn about became commonplace.  While I like to pride myself on being an organized person, I had regressed.  This afternoon, with some inspiration and motivation, we worked together to tidy and reorganize our office by shifting furniture, throwing things out and storing items not immediately needed. Within moments, our space was less cluttered and had a fresh, new look.

Mussar teaches us that our environment is like having someone else at the table.  In other words, I would never invite guests into my home if it were a mess. I would want it to be a reflection of who I am.  Maybe my space morphed into a mess because I don’t ever conduct meetings at my desk, but that should not have been an excuse. The environment didn’t create itself, I created it.  If I internalize what Mussar teaches us, then I will always be cognizant of my environment. Now it’s just maintaining that attitude.

A renewed faith

Tuesday, January 12th, 2010

I made my way to the gym tonight for a 6:30 spin class.  Due to the popularity of this instructor, it is necessary to arrive at least 30 minutes before the class starts to get a bike.  Following the rush hour commute, the parking procedure and the slow elevator (that I curse every time I work out), I arrived close to 6:00 and rushed to get organized and up to the change room. I was relieved to get a bike and for next 90 minutes I focused on my workout. The instructor tells me that it’s all about setting an intent for the class.

Following a good sweat and a few moments in the sauna I made my way down to my car. I was shocked to find my trunk unlocked and open. I had been in automatic and popped my trunk as I do daily when I get home. Not such a big deal if my snow scraper and rollerblades were the only items in there, but my computer, a few files and my wallet were all accessible.  I held my breath, opened the truck and I was SO relieved to discover that everything was there.  (I think I may have even thanked God)

I took this moment to contemplate what could have happened.  Had my personal belongings been stolen, I likely would have blamed the dishonest thieves who attend that gym and I would have been on the defensive everytime I went back even though it was my wrongdoing.  While the outcome of the situation could have been much different, I speculated losing control of the situation and my behaviours. It certainly was a Mussar moment.  For more on Mussar (Jewish Ethics), check out the All About Me section of RachaelsCentre.org.

All About Me

All About Me

Weekly Reflection - November 26, 2009

Wednesday, November 25th, 2009



Click here to watch Rachael’s Weekly Reflection VLOG

This week, Rachael delves into a dilemma that she’s facing. To avoid gossiping, Rachael turns to her inner process and reassesses how she will problem solve.