From the mysticism of Kabbalah, to the soul-centered contempLative practice of Mussar, our collection of Jewish-interest books offers many ways to explore using the tradition's 3,000 years of wisdom for self-transformation.



My Mussar Story by Alan Morinis

Alan Morinis has become a leading contemporary interpreter of the venerable Jewish spiritual tradition of Mussar. He talks about what sent him on the search that led him to discover Mussar, what he found that changed his life, and is now changing the lives of so many others.

Find out more about Alan Morinis here.



Estelle Frankel is a practicing psychotherapist and a seasoned teacher of Jewish mysticism and meditation. She was ordained as a rabbinic pastor and spiritual guide (mashpiah ruchanit) by Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi and is one of the spiritual leaders of her local Jewish Renewal community. Estelle has taught widely in the United States and in Israel, where she lived for over eight years, and is currently on the core faculty of Chochmat Halev: Wisdom of the Heart Meditation Center. She lives in Berkeley, California, with her husband and two children.

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Climbing Jacob's Ladder by Alan Morinis, pages 138–139

This might sound like a fatalistic attitude, but actually having this sort of trust still doesn’t relieve us of our obligation to act. It doesn’t mean we just sit back and wait to see what God has in store for us, because it is still important that we make an effort—and, in fact, in most instances effort is required, because the Jewish tradition prohibits reliance on miracles. It’s a bit of a paradox, because everything is decreed from on high, and yet we still have free will and an obligation to act on our own behalf. The rabbis don’t resolve this paradox, they just affirm the truth of both propositions. Rabbi Akiva puts it succinctly: “Everything is foreseen, yet freedom of choice is given.”

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A kabbalah (plural, kabbalot) is a small act you take on to facilitate growth in a particular soul trait. For example, if you are working on generosity, a classic kabbalah is to give a small amount of money as many times as possible during the day to build the generosity muscle. A kabbalah needs to be small, measurable, and easily achievable.
It has two purposes—to create a positive habit through regular repetition, and to bring unconscious resistance regarding a certain middah into conscious awareness. The word kabbalah comes from the Hebrew root for “accept/receive”; one “accepts” a kabbalah upon oneself.

—David Jaffe, Changing the World from the Inside Out: A Jewish Approach to Personal and Social Change, page 108

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