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I am committed to a life provoking the invasion of The Coming Kingdom through: human service, ecstatic prayer, halakhic observation, community building, nurturing hope, and drawing down abiding faith...

Monday, June 14, 2010

Mussar, Middot, and a re-Minder

There is much to contemplate, live, and share as a Jewish follower of Yeshua. As such there is much discussion on Messianic blogs across the globe discussing Jewish ritual practice, what equity between Jew and Gentile looks like (or doesn't), Rabbinic tradition, Yeshua's deity, and so on. I find these to be noble and important topics, but have (for the most part) decided to leave them to those individuals who have already done an excellent job in addressing them. I suggest the links and book list on the right for anyone interested in knowing the general hashkafah (philosophy) I align myself with on such matters...

In starting this blog it has been my hope to fan the flames on various aspects of Messianic Jewish faith and practice that I feel could get more attention than they currently are(at least in my generation, if not beyond). The topic of this post has to do with one such area...

Yeshua focused very much on growing the middot (character traits) of those he encountered. He spoke more about how we ought to carry ourselves while wearing tefillin than teaching how to put them on. He reminded us why we wear tzitzit more than telling us how they are to be tied. I am utterly convinced he would instruct us on the details if we asked, but that was not his primary function. He came to Fill-Full the Torah with all its richness and power. He came to implant it deep within our hearts by teaching us how to cleave to him in Truth. He told us that we oughtn't even look with lustful/hateful eyes, let alone behave lustfully/hatefully. Many of us didn't grow up engaged in Torah, so we're busy learning the "dos" and "donts," as well as the "hows." I would like to re-Mind us that Yeshua wants to give us the inner level AND the external, he wants to give us the TOTALITY of Torah. He wants to clean us from the inside out, he wants us to LIVE from the inside out.

Thankfully his core values find expression in his words to us, in the words of many others, and in our ongoing relationship with him. I would like to encourage us all to start engaging in Mussar (ethical/cognitive/spiritual growth) even more. There are many ways this can be done:

1. Find a partner and learn the Sermon on the Mount together. Each time you learn together, question and encourage one another in the topics you're learning. Ask, "Which aspects of Yeshua's teaching are most difficult?" and discuss ways to improve.

2. Find a partner to learn a book on Middot or general improvement (I personally reccomend Rav Kook for Mussar, Rebbe Nachman for devotional material, The Apostolic Letters).

3. Learn any of these on your own.

4. Don't daven ONLY with the Siddur. The Siddur is so beautiful and powerful, but don't let it replace time with you and God ALONE...No accessories necessary.

5. Don't be afraid to ask friends and people you trust in your communities how you're doing in particular areas. We needn't be afraid to involve one another in our processes. In fact, it's vital that we do so. This is the only way p'rat (individual) growth can advance into k'lal (communal) growth.

6. Get thee a Rav! Find someone who is a leader that you trust and respect and ask for advice on particular issues or just share what's going on.

7. Know that the effort you're putting in is not to serve your needs alone, but is a participation in the colletctive t'shuvah (re-Turning) of Israel, all Humanity, and all Creation.

I personally reccomend all of these. It burns so deeply in my heart to share the vital importance of taking observance and faith into levels beyond our own limited visions of what we are capable of. Pure hearts and minds are not promises left for some other world. We are promised access to COMPLETE T'SHUVAH NOW. It will not happen if each of us is doing this alone. All of us need to be doing it, and we all need to be sharing it with one another. We have a purpose as the Body of Messiah...Let's grow together.


  1. Shalom Ben from Los Angeles! Your blog feels like an entrance to a haven of HaShem's shalom. I plan on visiting often and look forward to learning and growing in relationship with Mashiach and with our people!

  2. Hello Rivka! Thank you for your comment. I look forward to it also.

  3. Ben,

    Excellent post! I love the perspective you bring on Yeshua and Middot. Yasher koach on your new blog and we have added you to our blog roll on Yinon Blog.

  4. I just got word of your new blog via Facebook--glad to discover that you're lending your voice to the Messianic blogosphere, as well as focusing on some important topics.
    FWIW, I'm just beginning my journey into mussar (reading Alan Morinis's books). Looking forward to reading your postings!

  5. P.S. In the "Important Books" section, you listed "Realizing the Unity"--what book are you referring to?

  6. Yahnatan and Yosh,
    Thanks for checking things out. I look forward to the dialogue that ensues!

    "Realizing the Unity" is a book on Jewish prayer and meditation by Rabbi Avraham Sutton. He has a new website, and it looks as if he has split this book into two. You can order them from his site. It's not all "mi Sinai" as far as I'm concerned, but there's some beautiful stuff there. I'm going to add a link to his site on the blog.