“The Mussar Torah Commentary: A Spiritual Path to Living a Meaningful and Ethical Life” edited by Barry H. Block— Analyzing the Parshot

Block, Barry H., editor. “The Mussar Torah Commentary: A Spiritual Path to Living a Meaningful and Ethical Life”,  Central Conference of American Rabbis, 2019.

Analyzing the Parshot

Amos Lassen

This Mussar-based commentary is an important resource for Torah study. It provides a thoughtful analysis of each reading of the 54 week Torah cycle. Each essay in this anthology brings a portion into juxtaposition with one of the character traits as described within the Jewish school of ethics known as Mussar), giving an applied lens of teachings that allow us to go deeper into the Torah and the middot with mindfulness and intention.

The authors featured here regularly engage in both Mussar study and practice and they provide a valuable means to deepen their exploration of the middot that are part of each weekly Torah portion. For those who are new to Mussar, this is a helpful informative introduction and helpful guide to the middot and the literature of Mussar. For all those who are already involved in Torah study, this commentary adds to the resources that are commonly used and  shed new meanings the Torah.

As a whole, the book  gives structure to explore the Torah in a new and fresh and lets us bring Torah into daily life. Our study of Torah usually sees the Torah in one dimensional  as the story of the Jewish people and from it we learn the responsibility to God, the Jewish community and the larger world. With Mussar commentary we can see the text as not only as our people’s story, but also as each of our personal story. Each weekly portion can therefore guide our own spiritual and moral growth. The essays here explore the personal qualities that are our aspirations and by we build lives that are filled with meaning and beauty.



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