I’d Love to Change the World, but I Don’t Know What to Do


“When asked how he had had such an impact as a great sage and leader in the twentieth-century Jewish world, the Chafetz Chaim answered, “I set out to try to change the world, but I failed. So I decided to scale back my efforts and only try to influence the Jewish community of Poland, but I failed there, too. So I targeted the community in my hometown of Radin, but achieved no greater success. Then I gave all my effort to changing my own family, and failed at that as well. Finally, I decided to change myself, and that’s how I had such an impact on the Jewish world.” Alan Morinis, Everyday Holiness: The Jewish Spiritual Path of Mussar


Mussar is a path of contemplative practices and exercises that have evolved over the past thousand years to help an individual soul to pinpoint and then to break through the barriers that surround and obstruct the flow of inner light in our lives. Mussar is a treasury of techniques and understandings that offers immensely valuable guidance for the journey of our lives.

The Jewish community spawned Mussar to help people overcome the inner obstacles that hinder them from living up to the laws and commandments—the mitzvot—that form the code of life. That community tends to see Mussar as inseparable from its own beliefs and practices, but the human reality Mussar addresses is actually universal, and the gifts it offers can be used by all people.

I purchased Alan Morinis’ book a few years ago.  Having all good intentions to learn Mussar wisdom, I began reading it and highlighting exceptionally meaningful passages.  Unfortunately, I put it down after only reading a small portion of it and I haven’t picked it up since.  I have read other books and have recently started binge watching Homeland.  But I am drawn to returning to the book for I know it contains great wisdom life-changing ideas.

Ah, life-changing ideas.  How do we change?  What can we change?  Can we change others or just ourselves?  I’ve had a hard enough time changing myself to worry about changing things that I can’t control.  Have you ever tried to change your spouse?  Your kids?  Your boss?  You can’t.  But you can change your thinking, your acceptance of others, your view of your relationships, your attitude.

When you finally decide to change yourself, that’s how you can have an impact on your world. Yasher Koach to all of you who are making positive changes in your lives. 

Now back to my Everyday Holiness book.  At least I know exactly where it is!


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