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Climbing Jacob's Ladder: One Man's Journey to Rediscover a Jewish Spiritual Tradition

4.08  ·  Rating details ·  124 ratings  ·  16 reviews
Jewish by birth, though from a secular family, Alan Morinis explored Hinduism and Buddhism as a young man. But in 1997, in the face of personal crisis, he turned to his Jewish heritage for guidance. In his reading he happened upon a Jewish spiritual tradition called Mussar. Gradually he realized that he had stumbled upon an insightful discipline for self-development, compl ...more
Paperback, 240 pages
Published May 8th 2007 by Trumpeter (first published April 16th 2002)
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Average rating 4.08  · 
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 ·  124 ratings  ·  16 reviews

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Nov 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: jewish
Climbing Jacob's Ladder combines memoir and how-to guide in an unusual way. This outstanding book details Morinis's pursuit of self-awareness and -improvement through the tools of Mussar, an ancient Jewish strategy for character refinement. Unique among Mussar books, this relatively slim volume assumes little prior knowledge of Judaism, and is usable for non-Jews, secular Jews, and even those Orthodox Jews who are not already thoroughly immersed in the world of Mussar. Among self-awareness liter ...more
Dec 31, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent, accesible way to enter the process of studying Mussar.
Jun 14, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: jewish, memoir
Excellent and thought provoking. It was inspirational.
Jodie Pine
Apr 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
We will be discussing this book next month in our Daughters of Abraham interfaith book club, and I found it to be a fascinating read. I highlighted these quotes about the Jewish spiritual tradition called Mussar, which is what the author discovered was missing and then transformed his life:

"If the goal of Mussar is to teach us how to develop inner wholeness--or holiness--then a scattered soul is the exact opposite of what we seek."

"The central point is really to reveal to consciousness the conte
Eli Gray
Oct 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent memoir on Alan Morinis journey to integrate Mussar into his life and some great insights on how we can do the same
Nov 09, 2020 rated it it was ok
Interesting story, just very long-winded and not very engaging.
Alan Morinis is a current-day religious seeker who found a practice that changed his life. He shares it in this somewhat memoir-ish book about his early practice of Mussar and the Orthodox yeshivah director who guided him on the path. Its practitioners nearly died out in the Holocaust; a few found their way to Queens, NY. Mr. Morinis sought them out, learned from them, and shares what he learned.
The book gives some examples of practices that he learned. These give some insight on how Mussar is
Daniel Stern
Jul 24, 2016 rated it really liked it
This is a wonderful book wrtten with courage, sensitivity and clarity.
The theme is a story of getting lost on life's journey and on finding a way back- no easy task in our North American culture of "materialism and self-centeredness".
Alan Morinis generously shares his "journey" which took him to the little known ancient Jewish spiritual practice called Musar.
At first through his reading and studying of obscure texts and eventually with the guidance of a wise and compassionate teacher, the author
Susan Rothenberg
Feb 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A book I probably wouldn't have heard of had it not been suggested to me and one I am very glad to have read. A memoir of a man who after his business imploded, searches to both understand himself and what he did and learn ways to live a better, more thoughtful life. Though non-religious Jew, in his search he learns of Mussar, a thousand year old Jewish belief that seeks tries to help "change those qualities within us that obstruct the light of our holiness from shining through." Thus begins his ...more
Jim George
Apr 08, 2015 rated it liked it
I preferred his 2nd book on the same subject. This 1st book does give you the byline of his personal history, and how he was drawn to Mussar. There is a great depiction of his earliest teachers and teachings. Mussar is a centuries old religious system (Judaism) for straightening out one's personal life to sort of coincide with the enrichment and enlightenment of their soul's eternal life, by shoring up weaknesses in your real life, you naturally strengthen traits in your soul's life. (Accomplish ...more
Oct 10, 2008 rated it it was amazing
This is Morinis' first book on Mussar, in which he shares his story of discovering this little-known Jewish spiritual tradition and begins sharing its lessons. It's a moving story that inspired me to learn more about Mussar and how it can help me be a better person. ...more
Feb 07, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: spiritual
Interesting to learn about spiritual traditions in Judaism besides Zohar.
Jean Kelly
Feb 28, 2016 rated it really liked it
It is always interesting to me to see what brings people back to a re-evaluation of the religion they grew up with or where exposed to in youth. Interesting story.
Daughters Of Abraham
Spiritual path and practices from within a Jewish tradition but applicable to all. Led to a good discussion about spiritual practices among all three faiths.
Erica Shufani
Dec 30, 2013 rated it it was amazing
A wonderful book of Jewish spirituality in which the author goes back to his
Faith and finds a meaningful spiritual path in the faith he had put on the back burner
rated it liked it
Jul 16, 2009
Jordan Goldstein
rated it it was amazing
Nov 09, 2020
Apr 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: jewish-texts
As a first introduction to mussar, Climbing Jacob's Ladder is great. It's just a taste, but enough to give you an understanding of what mussar is, and why you might want to study more. It's a delicious taste that made me want more. ...more
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Jul 15, 2017
Jessica D.
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Nov 07, 2009
Josh Jodel
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Feb 12, 2017
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Dec 05, 2014
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Apr 10, 2008
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Jul 30, 2018
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