Leading rabbis and thinkers who lived in the 11th through 15th centuries.
14th-century poem about the unpredictable nature of the world and the paths that lead to the world to come.
13th-century letter attributed to Nachmanides instructing his son to live a life of humility, recited by many on a weekly basis.
14th-century encyclopedia of select character traits, holidays, and commandments, incorporating commentary on the books of Job, Jonah, and Esther.
Letter from Ramban to his Son
13th-century letter of Nachmanides to his son focusing on the value of chastity, incorporated in the will of a figure named Shlomo ben Yitzchak.
14th-century work by Rabbi Yisrael Alnaqua with practical legal instructions, ethical guidance, and discourses on the significance behind commandments.
11th-century collection of short maxims arranged according to behavioral categories, originally composed in Arabic.
Orchot Chaim L'HaRosh
14th-century work of short maxims on living an ethical life, composed by the Rosh for his children.
15th-century work following the structure of "The Improvement of the Moral Qualities,” based upon insights from Maimonides and others.
Popular 13th or 14th-century ethical book based on the philosophical work “Duties of the Heart.”
Short 13th-century essay attributed to Rabbeinu Yonah Gerondi describing how one should act from the time they wake up in the morning and throughout the day.
Sha'ar Ha'Gemul of the Ramban
13th-century treatise on the world to come, reward, and punishment; the last chapter of the Ramban’s legal work “Torat HaAdam.”
Popular 13th-century work of Rabbeinu Yonah Gerondi on repentance, punishment, and forgiveness.
12th-century rhyming work of short maxims based on Mivchar HaPeninim.
The Improvement of the Moral Qualities
11th-century accessible analysis of 20 personality traits divided by the senses to which they correspond.
Leading rabbis and thinkers who lived in the 16th through 20th centuries.
18th-century compilation of 17 sermons delivered by the Chida on the Shabbatot before Yom Kippur, Purim, Pesach, and Shavuot.
20th-century essay on the prohibition of baseless hatred by the Chofetz Chaim.
Early 19th-century guide to self-improvement, modeled on Benjamin Franklin’s program of systematic refinement of 13 distinct character traits.
20th-century work by the Chofetz Chaim admonishing those who eat non-kosher food while traveling and encouraging them to remain faithful to Jewish law.
18th-century ethical will that the Vilna Gaon sent to his family before his planned immigration to Israel.
Influential 18th-century collection of stories, ethics, and customs with frequent quotations from the Zohar.
Kuntres Chovat HaShemirah
20th-century essay on the power of speech and guarding one's speech by the Chofetz Chaim.
Kuntres Sefat Tamim
20th-century essay on the prohibitions of lying, theft, and usury by the Chofetz Chaim.
Maamar Torat HaBayit
20th-century work of the Chofetz Chaim on the importance of learning Torah during one’s free time.
Widely-studied 18th-century work by the Ramchal, structured around a progression of ideal character traits quoted in the Talmud.
Teachings of Rabbi Yisrael Salanter, founder of the 19th century Musar movement, published by his student.
19th-century accessible work on fundamental ethical principles, organized alphabetically.
19th-century ethical treatise on proper speech by the Chofetz Chaim, often printed together with his legal work on the topic.
Shenei Luchot HaBerit
17th-century encyclopedic compilation of ethics, mysticism, and law that profoundly influenced the development of chasidut; also known as “the Shelah.”
18th-century accessible work divided into 52 chapters corresponding to the weeks of the year.
Yaarot Devash I
Collection of sermons on ethical matters delivered by R' Jonathan Eybeschutz
Maamar Mezake HaRabim
20th-century article on the importance of spreading Torah to all Jews by the founder of the Novardok yeshiva.
20th-century compilation of discourses by Rabbi Nosson Tzvi Finkel, founder of the Slabodka yeshiva.
About MusarMusar is a category of Jewish literature that provides virtue-based instruction for moral and spiritual character development. Some works focus on practical and systematic programs for improvement, while others are more theoretical in nature. Study of musar was bolstered by the founding of the Musar movement in 19th-century Lithuania, which encouraged organized study of musar and produced its own musar literature.
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