Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Reasons to start learning Mussar

Since November, the Miami Vaad has been meeting weekly. The process has been literally life-changing. The 7 members of the group agree. We began unsure of what we would be venturing towards. Just how does one go about changing character traits?  We had no idea. Through the guidance of Rabbi Zvi Miller, the group now understands what Mussar is and how it works. Each week we learn a new Torah text which is then followed by an avoda (homework assignment) that we practice all week long. 
The text was from eMussar, The Secret of Sensitivity. It is about the importance of being extremely sensitive to others. Even making someone wait (being late) can hurt the person waiting. Do we usually think of that when we're late? Someone might be hurt by it? If we are aware of how others will react to what we say or how we act, then we can behave in a gentler, more sensitive way. To realize that even when we don't expect it or imagine it possible, someone might be hurt by something we say. To speak gently and lovingly is a wonderful character trait, that will only benefit us and those we have relationships with. Especially, with the ones we love We have to focus on our inner goodness which will then, bring out the best in others. When speaking with others, we must remember to treat them with tact, respect and love.  If we are trying to help someone we love or care about, the most effective way to deal with them is to include them in your concern... to lovingly convince them why it's to their benefit to make a change. They must perceive that it's for their benefit. Lovingly convince are the key words. It's so important to remember to speak to someone from the heart. The Sages say, words that come from the heart, enter the heart. Timing is very important. In fact, timing is everything. Usually, it's good to wait to say what you want to say. Take the time to organize your thoughts so you can present them in a way so that the situation will have a positive outcome. Always have a sensitive point of view. When you are speaking to someone, think of how what you are saying will affect them. How did it become ok to say whatever it is we want without considering how others will receive our information? This doesn't mean to be submissive or to not express your thoughts or concerns. It merely means that the more you think of bringing out your own inner goodness, the more you will bring out the inner goodness in others. Speak from your heart. Lovingly convince others why it would be beneficial for them to make a change.  Include them in your concern. Speak with tact, respect and love. Time your "talks." You don't have to react immediately to everything that happens. That most probably won't result in a positive outcome. Find some key words from these lessons that apply to you. Lovingly convince, speak from your heart to touch someone else's. Tact, respect and love. Keep these reminders with you and in your thoughts when you relate to others. Be patient and take the time to present whatever it is you want to say, so that the person you are speaking to, feels loved and cared for by you and will be open to hearing what you have to say.  This will produce a result of meaningful lessons, love and harmony.

Mussar is about putting into action, all the wisdom that is available to us through Torah. Mussar works because it is a practice, not just learning. It is about exercises that keep the lessons alive all week.
 Are you learning Torah or living Torah?  Mussar is the link between the two. 

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