Mussar books are a great way to begin or expand your Mussar knowledge.
True, Mussar is a practice and as such how we behave is key. However, book learning is important in order to teach us the key concepts and behaviors we should focus on. Here are some of the key Mussar books to help you on your journey. Note: this is a page in progress. We’ll be adding images, links, and reviews over time.
Mussar books for beginners
These are great first Mussar books. They are also very good for ongoing Mussar practice.
Click on any book to go to Amazon.
|Everyday Holiness: The Jewish Spiritual Path of Mussar, Alan Morinis, Trumpeter Books, 2007.
|The Spiritual Practice of Good Actions: Finding Balance Through the Soul Traits of Mussar by Greg Marcus, Llewellyn 2016. This book is the embodiment of American Mussar practice. Learn More
|Climbing Jacob’s Ladder: One Man’s Rediscovery of a Jewish Spiritual Tradition, Alan Morinis, Broadway Books, 2002.
Modern Mussar books for ongoing study
Specialized Modern Mussar Books
Classic Mussar Books
Duties of the Heart (Chovot HaLevavot) by Rabbi Bahya ibn Paquda (11th century)
Path of the Just (Mesillat Yesharim) by Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzatto translated by Yosef Liebler. I also like the version with commentary by Rabbi Ira Stone
The Ways of the Righteous (Orchot Tzaddikim), by an anonymous (probably female) author
The Palm Tree of Deborah (Tomer Devorah) by Rabbi Moses ben Jacob Cordovero. Free HTML Version here.
Accounting of the Soul (Cheshbon HaNefesh) by Rabbi Menachem Mendel Lefin of Satanov (19th century)
Pele Yoetz by Rabbi Eliezer Papo was published in Constantinople in 1824. Visit Peleyoetz.com, an amazing free resource.
Mussar Books About Key People
Sharing the Burden: Rabbi Simhah Zissel Ziv and the Path of Musar by Geoffrey D. Claussen SUNY Press, 2015
Not Mussar Books Per Se, but Key Books for Jewish Wisdom
Sage Advice: Pirkei Avot with translation and commentary by Irving (Yitz) Greenberg. Koren Publishers 2016
Rebbe: The Life and Teachings of Menachem M. Schneerson, the Most Influential Rabbi in Modern History by Rabbi Joseph Telushkin. Harper Wave 2014. Read a review here.
Note that American Mussar may receive a small commission for books purchased on Amazon using these links.
I started reading the spiritual practice of good actions. However in chapter 1 I got completely turned off because there is no adequate explanation for what the soul is. Could you please provide me with a resource or better yet a definition. Tha says
I started reading the spiritual practice of good actions. However in chapter 1 I got completely turned off because there is no adequate explanation for what the soul is. Could you please provide me with a resource or better yet a definition. Thank you so much
Greg Marcus says
Hi – I wish I could. People have been trying to figure out what the soul is for thousands of years. I would step back from trying for an intellectual understanding. It is a heart-space concept, not something the intellect can fully grasp.
Just remember this. You don’t have a soul. You are a soul.
The way the book is structured, these concepts are gradually introduced and revisited, so I would try reading on.
Frank Schwartz says
Hello Greg, We appreciate the weekly zoom teaching. Where can I send a check to American Mussar?
Gary Shapiro says
Just started reading The Spiritual Practice of Good Actions. Got to the section on generating a soul profile diagram and came here. When I click the take test link, nothing happens. Web site glitch?
Elizabeth Czhubirka Percival says
I have been attempting to take The Soul Quiz for the past several days. No matter which of the ‘Click Here’ buttons I click nothing happens.
M M Milch b.tl. says
In an interview with TV News reporters about the killings / massacre that occurred only about 2 miles from my home ,on Shabbat Oct 27th , 20018 ,I used a term of reflection –or cheshbon ha nefesh . As a scholar etc in this lit. , was I on target or off for usinng any hashkafah wording about such a terrible massacre —?
Greg Marcus says
Hi – thanks for your question. Cheshbon ha’nefesh is best translated as accounting of the soul, a deep reflective practice often connected with Tishuva, or personal transformation. I’m afraid I don’t know about the context of how you used it to comment.