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Topic: Mussar, Meaning of Word

Gary Mussar wrote:
Dear Rabbi,

I have an interest in discovering the origins of our family name. I have found that a Rabbi Yisrael Salanter established the Mussar Movement which emphasizes the study and practice of Jewish values and ethics. It seems that the Mussar Movement originated in Eastern Europe. My father's parents emigrated from the Hungarian/Yugoslavian border area back in the early 1900s. I was wondering if you had any idea of what the name "Mussar" means and why it was associated with the Mussar Movement. I have found references in Arabic to "mussar" which is a type of turban. There appear to be references in Portuguese and Swedish as well. I don't know if these references stem from the Latin mus (mouse). Any insight you could provide into the origin of the name would be most appreciated.

Dear Gary Mussar,

The Hebrew word "mussar" means "rebuke." It appears first in Deuteronomy 11:2 and is used many times throughout the Bible to mean "rebuke." The Mussar Movement encouraged people to study ethics and morals every day and thus "rebuke" themselves and achieve elevation and character improvement.

I don't know the origin of your family name, as it may be from other languages. If it is from Hebrew, then perhaps your family was called this because they demonstrated elevated character traits.

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