What is Mussar?
Mussar is a 1000-year-old Jewish spiritual practice that teaches how to find those things inside that cause us to get stuck in the same place again and again. Mussar offers a framework for gradually bringing balance and healing through mindful living and small incremental steps.
Mussar teaches that we all have the same Soul Traits, such as Humility, Patience, Order, and Awe. However, we all have different amounts of each one. Thus a scattered person still has the trait of Order, just far less than someone who is fastidious.
The end result is a practice that teaches you how to become a mensch, an exemplary person. We all have what it takes to be a mensch, and Mussar provides a supportive framework to set the mensch-within free.
I have heard of Mussar, but not American Mussar. What is the difference?
American Mussar is Mussar remastered to address the 21st century American Jewish community. American Mussar is informed by a distinct Jewish American experience, and resides in conversation with Jewish teachings that go back thousands of years. The three defining principles of American Mussar are:
- Jewish Values through mindful living.
- Alternatives to “God talk.”
- No Hebrew, except for the word Mussar.
Who is American Mussar for?
American Mussar was developed for the 70% of American Jews who do not belong to a synagogue. In addition, almost 50% of Jews in the United States don’t know a single letter of Hebrew, yet maintain a Jewish Identity through values and culture. American Mussar will help you connect with Judaism in your home and in everyday life.
Whatever your level of Jewish observance, you’ll find that American Mussar complements and enriches your current practice.
What if I’m not Jewish. Is there anything in American Mussar for me?
YES! While American Mussar is developed for the unaffiliated Jewish audience, all are welcome. There are no Hebrew terms, and the practices to become a better person are universal in nature. Many non-Jews resonate. Come check it out and see for yourself.
Who is Dr. Greg Marcus?
Dr. Greg is a recovering workaholic who helps people find secular and spiritual balance through the practice of Mussar. He has a Ph.D. from MIT and worked ten years as a marketer in Silicon Valley before becoming a writer, speaker, coach, and stay-at-home dad.
I am interested in learning more. How can I get more information?
Throughout 2016, American Mussar will be launching products to help support your mussar practice, including an APP, mantra cards, and Dr. Greg’s book, which will be published in the fall of 2016 by Llewellyn.
The best way to learn Mussar is to do it. Start now by taking the Soul Trait Profile Quiz. Click here to begin.
In addition, Everyday Holiness by Alan Morinis is an excellent book to learn about Mussar and to begin your practice. Go to Amazon. In addition, Alan founded The Mussar Institute that has many virtual and in person classes to choose from. Go to The Mussar Institute Website. Greg Marcus, the founder of American Mussar is a student of Alan and continues to participate in TMI classes and programs.
Here is an article from March 2015 in the J Weekly about Mussar.
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I would like to start an American Mussar practice. Where do I begin?
Click here to take the Soul Trait Profile Quiz to assess your balance across 13 Soul Traits. In addition, you’ll be enrolled in the 4 Week American Mussar challenge. Click here to get started.
I don’t speak Hebrew
You are not alone. According to the 2013 Pew Research survey, “A Portrait of Jewish Americans.” 48% of Jews in the United states don’t know any Hebrew, and only 13% speak Hebrew. Many people, including Dr. Greg, are uncomfortable and feel left out when they don’t understand Hebrew words, and find transliterations a barrier. Here, you’ll never have that problem. American Mussar uses no Hebrew terms except Mussar.
What about mensch? Isn’t mensch a Hebrew word?
No, mensch is Yiddish. American Mussar reserves the right to use Yiddish words, including but not limited to mensch, schmuck, and chutzpah. A mensch is a person of outstanding character and kindness.