I am looking for recommendations for a good online mussar work to study with a beginner (english).

  • 1
    "Mussar" is a pretty generic term as it serves many purposes. Can you supply soe details as to what your main purpose is (what type of mussar) as well as some description of your student's (or your - not clear if this is for you or to teach others) level.
    – DanF
    Commented Aug 10, 2015 at 1:39
  • 1
    @DanF something light. perhaps pirkei avos will do
    – user813801
    Commented Aug 10, 2015 at 12:17
  • You are suggesting a specific book. What I am seeking is a better sense of what your "mussar goal" is. Are you looking for just general adages and an "assortment" of lessons, or something that focuses a bit more specifically on human behavior and relationships to others. Or, does it not matter and you want a list of various ideas from which you can decide? Please edit this focus into your question.
    – DanF
    Commented Aug 10, 2015 at 14:12
  • @DanF something a beginner will find interesting. cannot teach talmud as too involved. chumash or tanach is also too far off. so something he can relate to immediately and be motivated to learn more
    – user813801
    Commented Aug 10, 2015 at 14:49
  • mesilat yesharim shechem.org/torah/mesyesh
    – ray
    Commented Aug 11, 2015 at 21:10

5 Answers 5


How about Mesilat Yesharim, one of the most commonly studied mussar text?

Available online at Sefaria. Also available as an ebook from artscroll for a few dollars, in the style of the Schottenstein Gemara. Using the latter made a huge difference for me in terms of making the text come alive, relevant to the 21st century and that much easier to understand. Highly recommended for a beginner.

See also this excellent answer from miyodeya on why Mesilat Yesharim is so popular especially the point that

[the author] continually stresses that every positive step, no matter how small, is actually a major achievement, and that even one who attains to only the lowest of the levels described in the book has done something extraordinary.

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    Looking to implement one of the exceptional suggestions to my question "One Jewish Practice," this might be a good choice. I'm always open to other recommendations. With regards,
    – user18223
    Commented Nov 7, 2018 at 22:52

I just found this and I like it (it is in alef Bais order) http://www.peleyoetz.com/
Pele Yoetz is a book of Jewish Musar literature first published in Constantinople in 1824 by Rabbi Eliezer Papo

If you want somthing very logical then i love
Hebrew http://www.daat.ac.il/daat/mahshevt/hovot/tohen-2.htm Chovot HaLevavot, or Ḥobot HaLebabot, is the primary work of the Jewish philosopher Bahya ibn Paquda, fullname Bahya ben Joseph ibn Pakuda

Maybe Kuzari https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kuzari will be good


As you had suggested in your comment, Pirkei Avot has numerous adages regarding ethical behavior, Torah study, etc. It is good, but for a beginner, not really focused on one specific area.

I think that a better, more focused approach would be the beginning two sub-volumes in Rambam's (Maimonedes) Mishnah Torah - Sefer Mada, spec.

  • Hilchot Yesodei Hatorah - these deal with essential Judaic beliefs of G-d, faith and Torah andLaws of Torah Foundations and

  • Hilchot De'ot - this volume deals with human behavior such as avoiding anger, how to relate to others, etc.

English versions for both books are available on the Chabad web siteor on Sefaria.org. Sefaria, though, doesn't have English for everything, and, I have found some inaccuracies in the translations. Chabad's site, at least for Ramba"m seems more complete, and I think, more accurate.

  • isn't much of yesodei torah in the rambam based on medieval thought rather than on the mesorah? (such as regarding the four yesodos or the stars)
    – user813801
    Commented Aug 10, 2015 at 15:48
  • @user813801 There's nothing that I noticed that relates to this concept. Can you give me some idea where you have this notion from? Perhaps there is a brief coverage of this idea in one of the chapters. I'm unaware of this.
    – DanF
    Commented Aug 10, 2015 at 16:16
  • @DanF there is definitely discussion or the then-accepted astronomy.
    – andrewmh20
    Commented Nov 8, 2015 at 18:22
  • @DanF Chapters 3 & 4 of Yesodei HaTorah are entire devoted to the Ptolemaic universe and astronomy. The latter half of Chapter 2 is about levels of angels.
    – Ze'ev
    Commented May 12, 2020 at 23:29

I would suggest cheshbon hanefesh, with English commentary by Feldheim publishers. It's very practical and very deep; it can be learned on many levels. The author, Rav Mendel Lefin, himself had a very interesting background. Rav Yisrael Salanter suggested that the sefer be reprinted and wanted it to become more widespread. I am such an avid fan of the book that after learning it for several years now, I began a blog based on the book, and you can buy the book online.

  • From Wikipedia "which was published in 1809, based in part on the ethical program described in the autobiography of Benjamin Franklin" See here full article
    – kouty
    Commented Jul 31, 2016 at 19:04

Lev Eliyahu translated into English by Klein, not sure if this is available online though.

Or Strive for Truth (Michtav me'Eliyahu in English), probably also not available online.

Or the first volume of Tenuas ha'Mussar translated into English (in English this is 3 volumes, definitelty not online though, but then Reb Yisrael Salanter also didn't have an iPhone).

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