The Tikkun Middot Project

What is the Tikkun Middot Project?

Temple Sholom has been awarded a grant to integrate the study of Tikkun Middot, also known as Mussar, into our congregation. This ancient Jewish spiritual practice facilitates the mindful exploration and deep cultivation of “soul traits” such as humility, patience, and kindness.

The Institute for Jewish Spirituality, through a grant from The John Templeton Foundation, has developed a curriculum for use in schools, synagogues, Jewish Community Centers and colleges around the country. From now through next June, our congregation will focus on a monthly quality, or middah.

Cantor Katzman spearheads the project, assisted by congregants Arin Stone and William (Bill) Healey. Bill introduced the program on Erev Rosh Hashanah. Click here to read his thoughtful remarks. He was followed by Arin, who illuminates the meaning of mindfulness, paying attention to our internal and external experience in the present moment with curiosity and kindness. While the term “mindfulness” has  become ubiquitous today, click here to read how Arin elaborates on its value from a Jewish perspective and for purposes of learning middot.

Cantor Katzman further addresses the program as she refers to the quality of Hitlamdut in her Yom Kippur sermon. Hitlamdut, the first quality we focus on in the month of Tishrei, is the quality that enables us to learn and grow from every experience, good and bad.

As we cultivate mindfulness, paying closer attention to our life and the world around us, we are more likely to recognize the point in a situation where we have a choice to act from our better selves, thus coming closer to “holiness”. This is called the behira point, the second quality we focus on in the month of Tishrei.

The behira point is like a yellow light on a stoplight.  It is the place in  our behavior where we pause and consider our choices. Rather than reacting, or resorting to  habitual, automatic behaviors, we slow down and respond with thoughtfulness,  flexibility and compassion.

In sum, as we practice mindfulness, we are developing our capacities for hitlamdut and awareness of behira points. We will rely on these qualities as we integrate the monthly middot.

The Temple Sholom website will offer a new blog post for each Hebrew month and its corresponding middah, including provocative questions and suggested activities for individuals and families.