Rabbi Barry H. Block serves Congregation B'nai Israel in Little Rock, Arkansas. A Houston native and graduate of Amherst College, Rabbi Block was ordained by Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in 1991 after studying at its Jerusalem, Los Angeles, and New York campuses, and he received his DD, honoris causa, in 2016. Block currently serves as faculty dean at URJ Henry S. Jacobs Camp, a role he held for twenty-one years at URJ Greene Family Camp. He is a past board chair of Planned Parenthood of South Texas.
Thanks to the diverse, insightful authors assembled in this
commentary, those who engage in mussar study and practice will
discover in this volume a valuable means to deepen their
exploration of the middot manifest in the weekly
Torahportion. Those who are new to this topic will find in an
informative introduction and helpful guide to the middot
and mussar literature. For all those who engage in Torah study,
this mussar-based commentary should be added to the resources
relied upon to shed new meaning on our most ancient, sacred
--Rabbi Andrea Weiss, PhD, Provost, HUC-JIR
In this fine collection of essays by a rich and diverse array of Jewish thought leaders, Rabbi Barry Block and his contributors shine the probing light of Mussar on the texts of each weekly Torah portion. A map towards holiness emerges here, with guideposts like simplicity and silence, patience and awe, judgement and compassion. This is a volume of enduring gifts: these stimulating and accessible commentaries will help us better understand Torah, Mussar and ourselves.
--Rabbi David Stern, Senior Rabbi, Temple Emanu-El, Dallas, TX
A brilliant approach to the weekly Torah portion through the Mussar lens! Block has created a structure allowing both those new and experienced with the Mussar to explore the sacred text of Torah in a fresh light and to bring the teachings and practice of the Mussar into one's daily life. These chapters fulfi ll the highest goal of Torah study, to allow the text to transform us.
--Rabbi Mary l. Zamore, Executive Director, Women's Rabbinic Network, Editor of The Sacred Exchange: Creating a Jewish Money Ethic and The Sacred Table: Creating a Jewish Food Ethic
In Pirkei Avot, The Ethics of the Sages, Ben Bag Bag says of Torah: "Turn it and turn it again, for everything is in it." And yet often our study of Torah views our sacred text one dimensionally: we consider it the story of our people--which it is--and draw imperatives from it on the themes of responsibility to God, the Jewish community and the wider world--with which it overfl ows. But The Mussar Torah Commentary helps us consider the text in another light: not only as our people's story, but also as the story of every one of us. Each weekly portion can guide our own spiritual and moral growth. These brilliant essays explore the deeply personal qualities to which we aspire and through which we build lives of meaning and beauty.
--Rabbi Joshua Davidson, Senior Rabbi, Temple Emanu-El, New York City