The Jewish spiritual tradition of Mussar was developed in Lithuania in the second half of the nineteenth century by Rabbi Yisrael Lipkin Salanter. The word means "correction" or "instruction" and also serves as the simple modern Hebrew word for ethics. Alan Morinis has been a student of this path of spiritual development since 1997 and is the author of Climbing Jacob's Ladder, which was among our choices for the Best Spiritual Books of 2002.
Morinis calls this volume a handbook on Mussar for people of this generation. You don't have to be Jewish to appreciate or practice this guide to refining and elevating your inner life and outward actions. Here is a sturdy and substantive spiritual curriculum that nourishes the soul and provides a plethora of practices that will bring more happiness, trust, and love into your life.
Mussar emphasizes such daily practices as meditation, silence and retreat, chanting, contemplation, and visualization. The masters also focus on the importance of soul traits such as humility, patience, gratitude, compassion, order, equanimity, honor, and other character qualities that are the sign of a true mensch or decent human being. A simple (though often difficult) way to practice honor, for example, would be to speak only positively about others. A gratitude practice would be to express thanks to every inanimate thing that sustains you.
Morinis makes it clear that we all have traits that cause us to suffer and bring harm into the lives of others. But we can balance these and come to see that even vices have an edifying role to play in our spiritual curriculum. There are three stages of Mussar practice: sensitivity, self-restraint, and transformation. He also discusses the importance of the inner adversary, identifying your spiritual curriculum, and beginning a daily practice. Everyday Holiness is an exceptional resource in that it shows how true spiritual transformation can take place in your life one day at a time.