Friday, October 8, 2010

Got mussar?

Several other bloggers have already mentioned Riverton Mussar (, but I'll add my name to the list of people who are excited about participating.

Shimon the Rock wrote this exhortation to 1st-century Yeshua-followers:
Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy ha'satan prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.
 In our walk with God today, we find our experience to be the same.  Many of our most common failures occur when we're caught unexpectedly by a temptation or a difficult situation, and we respond badly. 

Part of our problem is that we simply don't expect to be tempted.  Then when the trial comes, it catches us off guard, and we fall.
This is where mussar comes in. As a spiritual discipline, mussar helps believers cultivate both self-control and awareness--so when you find yourself facing one of the tests that will inevitably come each and every day, you're not caught off guard, but rather prepared.

What are you waiting for--check it out!


Anonymous said...

I think you get a lot of credit for understanding clearly that mankind is obligated to resist temptation to make wrong ethical choices. We all need strengthening in that department.

And yet, your religious framework espousing moral decision making is centered on a transgression of #1 of the Ten Commandments: "I am the L-rd your G-d, Who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. You shall have no other gods before Me" (Ex. 20:2-3). Note the singular: "I", "Me"; it isn't "we", "us".

But you envision ethical requirements emanating from a trinity, an "us". In the "new testament", Jesus urged his followers to directly violate the First Commandment, and to put him before G-d ("No one comes to the Father except through me", John 14:6). This in itself is a monumental failure to make a proper ethical choice, and taints your entire moral decision making program.

With that in mind, I do want to encourage you to continue to pursue an effort to improve your implementation of a more rigorous stop-and-think regime before acting, but I want you to consider doing it for the right reason: because the one G-d of Israel commanded you to, and not to satisfy an idol He explicitly explained to you that He is not.

Yahnatan said...

Dear Anonymous,

While I appreciate the respectful manner in which you express yourself, it doesn't sound like you've studied the "new testament" very deeply. If you're interested in learning more, I'd encourage you to do so (you might start with Derek Leman's book Yeshua in Context which discusses the besorot and contains extensive footnotes to contemporary Biblical scholarship).
If you're not interested in learning more, that's ok too. I only request that you refrain from hijacking my blog by leaving comments which are unrelated to my posts. Thanks.

James said...

Greetings, Yahnatan.

I've done a minor amount of research into Mussar and read Alan Morinis's book Everyday Holiness, so the idea of participating in Riverton Mussar is compelling.

On the other hand, I'm somewhat hesitant to enter into a realm that could implicitly be offered to Messianic Jews but not necessarily Gentiles in the movement. Do you have an understanding of the folks who are providing this resource and their intent regarding the Gentile disciples of Yeshua?

I've had to learn to resist the temptation to jump into someone else's pool feet first.


Anonymous said...


My comment, above, is the second entry in your blog for which I've submitted a a response. In both cases, my comments were directly related to the topic of your blog. In my comment above, I actually quoted the statement in your entry I was writing about.

Were I less experienced with the so-called "messyantic" blogosphere, I would be offended and bewildered by your admonishment that I must avoid "hijacking [your] blog by leaving comments which are unrelated to [your] posts". However, I have come to realize that just as many bloggers in your movement call Jesus "Yeshua" and Christianity "Jewish", when they complain about "off topic" posts they really mean on topic posts that don't tow the missionize-the-Jews line.

I hope that your odd statement of limited tolerance does not presage a curtailment of our respectful dialog by means of your implementation of a censorship regime to silence an enlightening exchange, but I won't be surprised if that's where you're headed as I've noted it is the online tool of choice of the Jewish evangelizing trade. I hope that going forward we can respectfully articulate our views on the topic of your thoughtful blog entries, which is my only interest here.

Yahnatan said...


I'm glad you commented. I appreciated Morinis's book too; in fact, I left a comment on Derek Leman's blog about one moment in Morinis's story where his rabbi tells him that if a Gentile came to him for guidance, he would teach him mussar.

One of the founders of Riverton Mussar responded very positively to my comment. You can read it for yourself here.

James said...

Thanks for the clarification.

Blessings. :)