Kenneth Cohen

Study Mussar Books

Rabbi Avraham Twerski, of blessed memory, was a strong believer in the importance of studying books of Mussar. Books such as, “The path of the just,” and “The ways of the righteous,” should be on every table and studied repeatedly.

The word, “Mussar” means discipline. Books such as these taught and reminded people how to work on their character development.

Rabbi Twerski went as far as saying that if one cannot control his anger, for example, and is in a constant state of rage, all of his Mitzva observances are meaningless. If one’s religious observances do not make him a kinder and better person, there is a blatant flaw there, that must be repaired.

Studying Mussar helps us cope with life and deal with it’s challenges. There are constant reminders as to how we must be aware of the “evil inclination” and its tricks to get us off track and confused.

There are two words in Hebrew that we must know, as they play right into the hands of the evil inclination. They are רגש, meaning, emotions, and מצפון, meaning, conscience.

When one acts solely based on his emotions, he is being guided in the wrong direction. He must allow his שכל, or intellect, to rule over often impulsive emotions.
When people says that their conscience is bothering them, and they feel bad or guilty about something they have done, they are very likely, being led to a bad place.
This is another trick of the Yeitzer Hara, that causes confusion. We must have presence of mind, to properly analyze every situation, so that we do not draw the conclusions that we will later regret.

Life is a battle, and the study of Mussar books, gives us a good shot at winning that battle.

About the Author
Rabbi Cohen has been a Torah instructor at Machon Meir, Jerusalem, for over twenty years while also teaching a Talmud class in the Shtieblach of Old Katamon. Before coming to Israel, he was the founding rabbi of Young Israel of Century City, Los Angeles. He recently published a series of Hebrew language-learning apps, which are available at