Of Soul and Friends

Can’t we all use more of both?

Forging meaningful relationships takes effort, patience and time. When my husband and I moved to a new state, as we did twice in our marriage, I left behind close friends. I stay connected through the miracle of modern communication and these friends are still present in my heart, but they are no longer available for a cup of coffee, a shared Shabbat meal, or a casual get-together. Even before COVID, making new friends in a busy life wasn’t that easy.

Fortunately, our most recent move landed us in the neighborhood of a woman who had been a long-distance home-schooling acquaintance. She now turned into an on-the-spot friend. She granted me an enormous gift by inviting me to a weekly local gathering that served as my stepping stone to meeting more compatible women. However, my life, as well as that of my new friends’, simply is too busy to get together just for social chit-chat. What moved this weekly meeting to top priority for me is that our enjoyable time together focuses on working through various texts from ancient Jewish wisdom that guide us to work on our personal character and behavior. I am a better woman, wife, mother and Jew for being a part of this group—though admittedly, the laughter, camaraderie, and local knowledge I find there is a lovely bonus.

This experience helps to explain why, a while back, I warmly greeted Ruchi Koval’s email introducing herself and the book she was writing. Ruchi has spent many years teaching classes that introduce women and men to this type of wisdom that falls under the umbrella of a Hebrew word, mussar. It’s an age-old program for spiritual attainment by working on one’s own character. After seeing how people’s lives changed as they absorbed these teachings, she felt compelled to share mussar with a wider audience. While my husband and I are extremely protective of our publishing arm, Lifecodex, we were intrigued at the idea that Ruchi’s writings would provide exactly the type of Scripture-based practical life tools that we embrace.

Ruchi spent over a year polishing her manuscript with our guidance. In accepting our feedback and subsequently re-writing and editing, she personified her own growth in one of the areas that we all struggle with—grace in accepting criticism! Her book matches her personality, being both personable and humorous, even as she approaches eight serious main topics, including life challenges such as forgiveness, accepting ourselves and others (including difficult people-who may or may not be us), and creating reality with our words.

I feel privileged to bring this book to your attention. And, while you certainly can read this book on your own, you might think of joining together and sharing it with others who, if they are not friends when you start reading, discussing, and debating, will surely become so by the time you finish.

What do you think? I’d love to hear your comments on this Susan’s Musing article.
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Soul Construction
Shape Your Character Using 8 Steps from the Timeless Jewish Practice of Mussar

We are proud to publish and share this wonderful new book. Click the link below to learn more. You can also listen to a podcast interview with author Ruchi Koval here (interview starts at about the 1-hour mark).


After six months, we finally have Rabbi Daniel Lapin’s Recommended Hebrew/English Bible back in stock.

For years you’ve been asking us to recommend a Bible and here it is!  Rabbi Daniel Lapin recommends this Bible and uses it himself in both daily study and in teaching. This special edition also includes a special dedication page from Rabbi Daniel Lapin himself!

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