Instruction, resources & community for those seeking greater awareness, wisdom, and transformation through the Jewish spiritual path of Mussar.



Level: Advanced

Delivery: Distance Learning via Live Web Meetings or Local On-Site

Learning Methods: Independent Study, Va’adim, Chevruta 

Duration: 26 Weeks

Prerequisites: Season of Mussar II or Everyday Holiness and Chaburah


Mussar In Action supports you in answering the question: How can one sustain learning and put into practice what is learned? Rabbi Yisrael Salanter saw this challenge and spoke of it in the 19th century, as did Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzatto in the 18th. Both goals are reached through practice.


The source text for this 26-unit course is Alei Shur, the Mussar classic with original translations.  Based on the text, students engage in personal practice, study with a chevruta and va’ad, and select a personal, real-world project to take on.

Students study a bi-weekly reading written by Alan Morinis which focuses on a specific middah, 12 middot in all. The middot studied are truth, equanimity, alacrity, honor, humility, gratitude, trust, love, loving-kindness, joy, faith, and order.

Accounting of the Soul, or cheshbon ha’nefesh, in a daily diary, is the core daily practice. You will receive a looseleaf worksheet to print out and use if you wish. Several times during the program, you will be asked to comment by email on your experiences working on a specific middah, along with any responses you might have to the bi-weekly reading.

You will be matched to a compatible chevruta partner with whom you will have a meeting or telephone discussion every second week.

Your small va’ad of 6-8 people will meet in the alternate week (between chevruta meetings) to discuss a small pre-assigned section of Alei Shur by Rabbi Shlomo Wolbe. This book is only in Hebrew and the translations provided have been created especially for the Mussar in Action program.

In order to bring your Mussar practice into your world (and to firmly avoid the self-absorption that is a potential pitfall of any spiritual practice) and to strengthen the bonds of community across the distances that separate us, you will engage in a project with other people that will be, in effect, your Mussar in Action.

Process reports at the mid-way and end of the program will be reflections on how your middot work shows up and applies in the active, engaged context of the project discussed above.

During the course of the program, you will be invited to have a conversation with a senior Mussar teacher for personal interaction, questions, and guidance.


Robert Barris

Robert is the co-author of this course: Mussar in Action, with Alan Morinis, translating into English various selections from the Alei Shur, the writings of Rav Wolbe.  He is a practicing psychiatrist since 1984. He is shomer Shabbat and integrates Orthodox practice with Jewish renewal. Robert has had a serious mindfulness practice for many years.  He has been active in TMI for the past ten years as a former board member and as the facilitator of several TMI distance va’adim. Robert’s interests include lifestyle medicine (particularly nutrition and exercise), the martial arts, and playing with his grandchildren.

  • Distance courses: TBD. We are now taking waitlist registration for a Winter or Spring cohort. Invoicing will be deferred. Register to be added to the waiting list here.


Season of Mussar II or Everyday Holiness and Chaburah


At this level, you receive the training you need to become a lifelong Mussar learner and practitioner, both independently and as part of the growing Mussar community.


The Mussar in Action program runs for 26 weeks.


    • Distance Learning Va’ad with Robert Barris.
    • Local groups can start at any time; distance groups have a specific start date with 3-4 weeks’ notice to TMI. Local groups can start at any time, as determined by TMI and the facilitator. We require 2-3 weeks advance notice of a new group. Distance groups start after Simchat Torah each year (November 7, 2015) and can begin on a date set by the facilitator and the group once there is sufficient enrollment.


    • Distance Learning: For Chaverim only: $325, reduced from $360.
    • Local Groups: Please check with your group facilitator for a method of payment. Please check with your facilitator before paying for this LOCAL course. Your facilitator will tell you whether to pay directly to the institution sponsoring your Local group or to pay using PayPal/Credit Card at this site.

To get your group started, email


For withdrawal before the program has begun: 100% refund. For withdrawal within the first two weeks after the program has begun: 50% refund. For withdrawal after the first two weeks after the program has begun: no refund.