Best Mussar Books

Welcome to the Mussar Center's list of Mussar books! This is ten of the best and most popular Mussar books (סְפָרִים/seforim) of all time.

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Chovot HaLevavot, Duties of the Heart. Author Bahya Ibn Pakuda. Publishers Feldheim and Littman Liverpool University. ISBN 0873067657, 1680252437, 1583304320. ספר תורת חובות הלבבות. מחבר בחיי אבן פקודה.

Duties of the Heart (חובות הלבבות)

Duties of the Heart or Chovot HaLevavot (חובות הלבבות) was originally written in Judea-Arabic around 1080 by Bahya Ibn Pakuda (בחיי אבן פקודה) and was translated into Hebrew about a century later. The first chapter is of a more philosophical nature and is often skipped by Mussar teachers. Get Feldheim's translation by Daniel Haberman as a two-volume Hebrew/English 1996 compact or fullsize edition, or the 1999 pocketsize or fullsize edition. 926 pages.

Book of Direction to the Duties of the Heart. Author Bahya Ben Joseph ibn Pakuda. Translators Menahem Mansoon, Sara Arenson, Shoshana Dannhauser. Publisher Littman Liverpool University, 1973 and 2000. ISBN 1904113230, 0710074050.

There's also the Littman/Liverpool University's 2000 republication of Menahem Mansoor's original 1973 translation, Book of Direction to the Duties of the Heart. 480 pages.

The Duties of the Heart. Translator Yaakov Feldman. Publisher Jason Aronson, 1996. ISBN 1568214529.

There's also this version of The Duties of the Heart with translation and commentary by Yaakov Feldman, published by Jason Aronson in 1996. 484 pages.

And last and best, Ohr Avigdor: Duties of the Mind is a new five-volume translation of Chovos Halevavos with extensive and innovative commentary from Rabbi Avigdor Miller (1908-2001 Wikipedia) who studied at the famous pre-war Mussar yeshiva of Slobodka, edited by Yitzchok Kirzner and published between 2008 and 2020 by Yeshiva Gedolah Bais Yisroel and Simchas Hachaim Publishing:

Volume 1 (Introduction & Sha'ar Yichud); Volume 2 (Sha'ar Habechinah); Volume 3 (Sha'ar Avodas Elokim); Volume 4 (Sha'ar Bitachon); Volume 5 (Sha'ar Yichud Hama'aseh)

Laws of Personality Development or Hilchot De'ot (Hilchos Deos) in Mishneh Torah's Sefer Hamada. Author Rambam (Maimonides). Publisher Moznaim. ISBN 1885220693. ספר הלכות דעות, ספר המדע, משנה תורה. מחבר רבי משה בן מימון, רמב"ם.

Laws of Personality (הלכות דעות)

The Laws of Personality or Hilchot Deot (הלכות דעות) was written by Rabbi Moshe Ben Maimon (רבי משה בן מימון) also known as the Rambam (רמב"ם) around 1180 as part of Mishneh Torah, his famous code of Jewish Law. Hilchos Deos is the second section of the first book Sefer Ha'Mada. Get the 2010 Hebrew/English Moznaim edition. 727 pages (includes four other tractates along with Hilchot Deot.)

Gates of Repentance, Shaarei Teshuvah. Author Rabbeinu Yonah Gerondi, Rabbi Jonah of Gerona. Translator Rabbi Rabbi Yosef Leibler. Editor Rabbi David Kahn. Publisher Feldheim, 2014 and 2016. ISBN 1680252593, 1598261320. ספר שערי תשובה. מחבר רבנו יונה גירונדי.

Gates of Repentance (שערי תשובה)

The Gates of Repentance or Shaarei Teshuvah (שערי תשובה) was written by Rabenu Yonah Gerondi (רבנו יונה גירונדי) around 1250. Get the 2014 fullsize or 2016 compact edition of Feldheim's Hebrew/English version, translated by Rabbi Yosef Leibler and edited by Rabbi David Kahn. 512 pages.

Gates of Repentance, Shaarei Teshuvah. Author Rabbeinu Yonah of Gerona. Translator Shraga Silverstein. Publisher Feldheim, 1967 and 1981. ISBN 0873061128. ספר שערי תשובה. מחבר רבנו יונה גירונדי.

There's also Feldheim's earlier translation of The Gates Of Repentance by Shraga Silverstein published in 1967 and again in 1981

Shaarei Teshuvah, Gateways of Teshuvah, Jaffa Edition. Author Rabbi (Rabenu) Yonah (Jonah) Gerondi. Publisher Mesorah Publications, Artscroll, 2016. ISBN 142261817X, 1422619001. ספר שערי תשובה. מחבר רבנו יונה גירונדי.

And finally, for a fuller version with notes and commentary see Artscroll's 2016 Shaarei Teshuvah: Gateways of Teshuvah which comes in standard and small sizes. 720 pages.

The Ways of the Tzaddikim: On refining Character Traits and Maintaining Balance in All Matters. Orchot Tzaddikim (Orchos Tzadikim). Publisher Feldheim. ISBN 0873067339, 0873067754, 0873067339, 1680253034. אורחות צדיקים, ספר המידות השלם.

Ways of the Righteous (אורחות צדיקים)

The Ways of the Righteous or Orchot Tzaddikim (אורחות צדיקים) was originally titled Book of Character Qualities or Sefer Ha-Middot (ספר המידות). It was written in the mid-1500s by an anomymous author whom some suspect may have been a woman. Get Feldheim's The Ways of the Tzaddikim: On refining Character Traits and Maintaining Balance in All Matters translated by Shraga Silverstein and published in 1995 in fullsize or pocketsize editions. There are also fullsize 2010 and compact 2017 editions. 648 pages.

Orchos Tzaddikim: A Treasure for Life - Insights to the Classic Guide on Character Perfection. Author Rabbi Avrohom Yachnes. Publisher Feldheim, 2016. ISBN 1680252569. אורחות צדיקים, ספר המידות השלם.

In 2016 Feldheim also published a new version with commentary "including the previously unpublished final seven Gates" translated by Avrohom Yachnes and entitled Orchos Tzaddikim: A Treasure for Life - Insights to the Classic Guide on Character Perfection. 1040 pages.

Path of the Just, Mesillat Yesharim (Mesillas Yeshorim). Author Moshe Chaim (Hayyim) Luzzatto. Publisher Feldheim, 2004. ISBN 1598266276. ספר מסילת ישרים. מחבר רבי משה חיים לוצאטו, הרמח"ל.

Path of the Just (מסילת ישרים)

Path of the Just or Mesillat Yesharim (מסילת ישרים) was written by Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzatto (רבי משה חיים לוצאטו), also known as the Ramchal (רמח"ל), around 1740. Get Feldheim's 2004 Hebrew/English fullsize or compact edition, translated by Rabbi Yosef Leibler. 368 pages.

The Path of the Just, Mesillat Yesharim. Author Rabbi Moshe Chayim Luzzatto. Translator Shraga Silverstein. Publisher Feldheim, 1993. ISBN 0873062396.

There's also Feldheim's earlier 1993 version of The Path of The Just translated by Shraga Silverstein. 340 pages.

Complete Mesillat Yesharim, dialogue and thematic version. Author Rabbi Moshe Hayyim Luzzatto. Translator Avraham Shoshanna. Publisher Ofeq Institute, 2007 and 2016. ISBN 1881255425 and 188125545X.

And here's a version based on the original manuscript of this work which was written as a dialogue, translated by Avraham Shoshanna and published by the Ofeq Institute in 2007 (672 pages) and again in 2016 (703 pages).

Jaffa Edition Mesillas Yesharim: Way of the Upright. Author Rav Moshe Chaim Luzzatto. Publisher Mesorah Publications Artscroll, 2013. ISBN 1422614166, 1422615103.

For a version with commentary see Artscroll's 2013 Mesillas Yesharim: Way of the Upright in standard and smaller personal sizes. 552 pages.

Mesillat Yesharim: The Path of the Upright. Author Moses Hayyim Luzzatto. Translator Rabbi Mordecai M. Kaplan. Editor Rabbi Ira F. Stone. Publisher Jewish Publication Society JPS, 1935 and 2010. ISBN 082760856X.

Another version with commentary is the Jewish Publication Society's 2010 republication of their original 1935 translation by Rabbi Mordecai Kaplan, now accompanied by an introduction and commentary from Rabbi Ira Stone who also wrote the excellent A Responsible Life. 550 pages.

Ohr Avigdor Mesillas Yesharim, 4-Volume Boxed Set. Author Rabbi Avigdor Miller. Publisher Simchas Hachaim Publishing, 2022. ISBN 1954350058, 1954350058, 0998622591, 0999169491, 1954350015.

And last and best, Ohr Avigdor Mesillas Yesharim is a new translation of Mesillat Yesharim with extensive and innovative commentary from Rabbi Avigdor Miller (1908-2001 Wikipedia) who studied at the famous pre-war Mussar yeshiva of Slobodka. 

Get the four-volume boxed set published by Simchas Hachaim Publishing in 2022 and edited by Moshe Shenker. 1372 pages.

These volumes were also released individually between 2018 and 2021:  Volume 1  (Introduction-Chapter 5: Hakdama-Zehirus; if unavailable on Amazon search this ISBN);  Volume 2  (Chapters 6-12: Zerizus-Nekius);  Volume 3 (Chapters 13-21: Perishus-Chasidus);  Volume 4 (Chapters 22-26: Anavah-Kedushah)

Accounting of the Soul, Cheshbon Hanefesh. Author Mordecai Mendel Levin, borrowed from Benjamin Franklin. Publisher Feldheim 1996. ISBN 0873067746. ספר חשבון הנפש. מחבר רבי מנחם מֶנְדְל לֶפִין מסָטָנוב.

Accounting of the Soul (חשבון הנפש)

Accounting of the Soul or Cheshbon HaNefesh (חשבון הנפש) was written by Rabbi Menachem Mendel Levin (רבי מנחם מנדל לפין) in 1809 propounding a system of character development borrowed from Benjamin Franklin. Get the 1996 Hebrew/English book published by Feldheim or by searching the ISBN. 192 pages.

Light of Israel, Ohr Yisrael. Authors Yitzchak Blazer and Rabbi Yisrael (Israel) Salanter. Translator Zvi Miller. Publisher Feldheim 2005. ISBN 1568713029. ספר אור ישראל. מחברים יצחק בלאזר ורבי ישראל ליפקין מסַלַנְט.

Light of Israel (אור ישראל)

The Light of Israel or Ohr Yisrael (אור ישראל) was written in 1890 by Yitzchak Blazer (יצחק בלאזר), the chief disciple of Rabbi Yisrael Salanter (רבי ישראל מסלנט). Collection of the famous Mussar Epistle (אגרת המוסר) and other writings of the Mussar movement's founder along with Blazer's teachings and memoirs. Get the Hebrew-English edition translated by Zvi Miller and published by Feldheim in 2005 or by searching the ISBN. 606 pages. (See also this guide written by the translator.)

Strive for Truth, Michtav Me'Eliyahu. Torah parasha (portions). Author Rabbi Eliyahu Dessler. Translator Aryeh Carmell. Publisher Feldheim. ISBN 1680252364, 1680253123, 1583306870, 1583303529. ספר מכתב מאליהו. מחבר אליהו אליעזר דסלר.

Strive For Truth! (מכתב מאליהו)

Strive for Truth or Michtav Me'Eliyahu (מכתב מאליהו, literally 'Letter from Elijah') is a five-volume series based on the deeply insightful lectures of Rabbi Eliyahu Dessler (אליהו אליעזר דסלר) (1892-1953, Wikipedia), the great-grandson of Rabbi Israel Salanter himself.

Get the fullsize or compact editions of Feldheim's 2016 English two-volume set; 1014 pages. The other volume is published as Torah commentary; 495 pages. 

These volumes were originally published in 1978 as a three-volume set; 436 pages. If unavailable on Amazon search the individual ISBNs for Volume 1, ‎Volume 2, and Volume3.

Everyday Holiness. Author Alan Morinis, founder Mussar Institute. Publisher Trumpeter Press 2008. ISBN 1590306090, 1590303687.

Everyday Holiness

Everyday Holiness was written by Alan Morinis in 2008. It has probably done more to popularize Mussar than any other book in history and is usually the first Mussar book people read. Get Everyday Holiness in paperback, hardcover, audiobook, or Kindle. 352 pages.

With Heart in Mind. Author Alan Morinis, director Mussar Institute. Publisher Trumpeter 2014. ISBN 1611801524.

With Heart In Mind

With Heart In Mind was written by Alan Morinis in 2014 as a sequel to Everyday Holiness and is just as wonderful. Get it in paperback or Kindle. 192 pages.