3 thoughts on “Sunday’s Salanter Selection

  1. Anonymous

    Thank you Neil,
    I am a 67 year old Baal Teshuva, and I have been a grateful student of Mussar for the past two years. I found your article on Mussar’s “reputation” to be very enlightening. I live in New Mexico, and cannot find anyone or any synogogue interested in creating a Mussar Vaad. However, I am fortunate to have connected by email, and telephone conference to a wonderful Vaad under the compassionate and wise tutelage of Rabbi Zvi Miller of the Salanter Foundation.

    Through this Mussar study, which currently is focused on Ramchal’s Tomer Devorah, I am learning new and amazing ways and to love myself and others. So if anyone has a bad rap for Mussar because they believe that Mussar is denigrating or self-abasing, they are very mistaken. Mussar is a “healing spirit for the heart and soul” as Rabbi Miller reminds us. It is not just another form of pop psychology to be used for self -mprovement (although self-improvement for the sake of Hashem is a worthy goal) and truly helps us find balance In fact, Humility, one of the Middahs (soul traits we seek to improve)helps us see that such “abasement” is an extreme expression as is arrogance. Rambam’s wonderful introduction (8 Chapters)to Pirkei Avos gives us the tools to achieve this balance.
    I hope we can find ways to share Mussar with others, as Rav Salanter had requested, as it is a wonderful way to to tap into Hashem’s love for us and for loving others.
    Thank you and may Hashem bless you for providing this opportunity for dialogue and sharing.
    Don Shapiro, Cedar Crest, New Mexico

  2. Mordechai Y. Scher

    Hey Don, nice to see a neighbor on here! 😉

    When we had a four session series on ‘spiritual communities’ up here in Santa Fe, one of the variations we looked at was mussar vaad. And you’re right, there wasn’t much interest in actually trying such a thing.

  3. Neil Harris


    I couldn’t agree more and I’m so happy you left a comment. Rabbi Miller’s translation of Ohr Yisrael the letter of Rabbi Yisrael Salanter) is a monumental accomplishment.

    I might suggest you check out the AishDas society (aishdas.org), which is a great online resource.

    If you want to exchange ideas and thought, Don, please feel free to email me:


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