Sharing the Burden

Rabbi Simhah Zissel Ziv and the Path of Musar

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Geoffrey D. Claussen
SUNY series in Contemporary Jewish Thought
  • Albany, NY: 
    State University of New York Press
    , July
     260 pages.
     For other formats: Link to Publisher's Website.


Sharing the Burden analyzes the rich moral traditions of the nineteenth-century Musar movement, an Eastern European Jewish movement focused on the development of moral character. Geoffrey D. Claussen focuses on that movement’s leading moral theorist, Rabbi Simḥah Zissel Ziv (1824–1898), the founder of the first Musar movement yeshiva and the first traditionalist institution in Eastern Europe that included general studies in its curriculum. Simḥah Zissel offered a unique and compelling voice within the Musar movement, joining traditionalism with a program for contemplative practice and an interest in non-Jewish philosophy. His thought was also distinguished by its demanding moral vision, oriented around an ideal of compassionately loving one’s fellow as oneself and an acknowledgment of the difficulties of moral change. Drawing on Simḥah Zissel’s writings and bringing his approach into dialogue with other models of ethics, Claussen explores Simḥah Zissel’s Jewish virtue ethics and evaluates its strengths and weaknesses. The result is a volume that will expose readers to a fascinating and important voice in the history of modern Jewish ethics and spirituality.

About the Author(s)/Editor(s)/Translator(s): 

Geoffrey D. Claussen is Lori and Eric Sklut Emerging Scholar in Jewish Studies and Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at Elon University.


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