Mussar is a word that may sound strange to many believers who have never heard it before but you probably do some form of its practice in your spiritual development already. Don’t worry…it is not some odd, worldly practice. It actually helps develop what comes down to the spiritual disciplines and traits that help us to be loving, giving, fruit-bearing people.
It is sometimes translated as discipline and instruction and helps us strike that balance between law and spirit, and in observance and character.
It is the discipline of consistent personal character refinement. Our greatest Mussar Master, Messiah Yeshua, taught us how we should bear good fruit as a demonstration of the Spirit operating in our lives and our love for God being lived out from day to day.
What is Mussar?
If you are concerned about what it is , you might be surprised to learn that the word “Mussar” appears in the Bible 51 times, with over half of them in the book of Proverbs.
The basic premise behind this centuries’ old practice is that it is not enough to learn that it is important to show loving-kindness to another person or to learn that patience is a virtue. That “head” knowledge does not give you the Middot (spiritual traits) of loving-kindness or patience. Learning ABOUT kindness does not make us more kind. Learning about patience does not make us more patient.
But working on our “spiritual curriculum” (those things in life you are called to which, Dr. Alan Morinis says “What I have learned from Mussar is that each of us comes into life with a curriculum. We are free to ignore or even deny that curriculum, as the prophet Jonah tried to do”, where you not only learn about the Middot but learn which ones you are strong in and which ones you need a little more work on (hello…patience here for me!!) and working through this with others while you share your stories and your own difficulties not only helps you come together as a community but it helps you to strengthen those traits in yourself AND in others.
Sarah Friedson says “What I am calling your curriculum shows up most clearly in issues that repeatedly challenge you. I’m talking about the behaviors that dunk you in the same soup, time and time again.”
So How Does One Practice Mussar?
So since Mussar is a Jewish practice, we are going to “tweak” it just a tiny bit to make it work for all of us whether you are a Messianic Jew or a non-Jewish believer or even a Jew who wishes to join us. We will be dealing much in what we might call Spiritual Disciplines but will be using Mussar as a basis for it as I find it useful. We can ALL benefit from working on the middot or spiritual traits!
We work on this together in a group.
I select a book that I feel we could all benefit from and work well in together and each week we read a chapter and come together on a Zoom call (right now these are scheduled for Thursdays at 7PM Eastern beginning February 3, 2022) to discuss and share OR we may also have a Facebook group devoted just to our Mussar Group.
Since this is a typically Jewish practice, I would select a book that ALL people participating would feel comfortable working in.
And if you want to learn more about my qualifications, check out my About Worth Beyond Rubies page.
The book we will be using for the current study is Everyday Holiness by Alan Morinis which you can purchase here.