About the author:
Ruchi Koval is the co-founder and Associate Director of Congregation JFX, an innovative community in Cleveland, Ohio. She has been a Jewish educator for two decades, leading self-development groups for adults and teens, and mentoring educators around the world. Ruchi is a certified parenting coach, motivational speaker, musician, author, and mother. She is a Trip Leader for Momentum, inspiring hundreds of women on their journeys in Israel.
Excerpts below taken from an article in the Jewish Press reviewing the book:
“Koval defines mussar as “an ancient path toward spirituality, based on personal ethics and character development.” Mussar is the Jewish ethical tradition of self-improvement and moral conduct, the study of which was pioneered by Rav Yisrael Salanter in the nineteenth century. Koval, a seasoned Jewish educator based in Cleveland, Ohio, has made teaching mussar a central part of her educational approach. Soul Construction serves as a how-to guide for the practice of mussar, making the ideas accessible and interesting to the novice and expert alike.
The book is divided into eight chapters, each of which is dedicated to a different character trait. Including topics such as “favorable judgment” and “happiness,” Koval opted to focus on personal qualities that are most crucial to maintaining effective relationships. The purpose of mussar is to work on one’s own growth and not to attempt to fix others, but Koval’s thesis is that when a person changes for the better, they impact everyone in their orbit. The book explains the ways that the traits under discussion come up in daily life and gives practical advice on how to gradually improve one’s proficiency in them. The chapters build on one another, using ideas that were previously discussed, to shed light on related topics.”