RS501 – Personal Life of a Spiritual Leader (Rabbinic Class)

Instructor: Paul Saal

Location: Online

Dates: October 7-December 9, 2018 (Fall Quarter, 2018-2019)

Successful spiritual leadership, whether within or outside the synagogue, does not depend solely on leadership gifts and skills, but rests on the quality of personal relationship with God and others. Therefore, like all followers of Messiah, rabbis and other spiritual leaders need to develop their personal life apart from their leadership roles and responsibilities. Consequently, this course focuses on the disciplines, challenges, and opportunities involved in leaders’ relationships with God and others. It is a “hands-on” course that develops the practices and strategies that strengthen these relationships and therefore contribute to the inner life. Furthermore, the course addresses the motivations and intentions that nourish a healthy spiritual life, as well as the specific challenges of rabbinic leadership, such as dealing effectively with the disappointments and frustrations experienced by rabbis and handling personal temptations, as well as strategies for physical and emotional well-being.

This course is required for the Master of Rabbinic Studies Degree.

This course is relevant to leaders at all levels. What begins with the leader’s life carries over into the lives of those for whom he or she is responsible. Spiritual leadership should be regarded as the art of spiritual directorship and craftsmanship, starting with ourselves. The course has a mentoring component. Therefore, the student’s mentors play a major role in this class in helping them develop the necessary characteristics and tools peculiar to the specific student. This, more than any other class, is a time for personal reflection, development and change.

Limited to Rabbinic Studies students, or to UMJC Madrikh or Smikha candidates. The course has a mentoring component.

Computer and internet access.

Video conferencing by Zoom

Listen to all lectures via podcast and attend scheduled interactive lectures via Zoom, timely completion of reading assignments, class projects, homework assignments and completion of GLC/ICE. Rabbinical students and mentors must attend an SRS mentoring orientation.


  • Greenbaum, Avraham. Under the Table & How to Get Up: Jewish Pathways of Spiritual Growth. Jerusalem: Tsohar Publishing,1991.
  • Morinis, Alan. Everyday Holiness: The Spiritual Path of Mussar. Boston: Trumpeter, 2008.
  • Peterson, Eugene. Under the Unpredictable Plant: An Exploration inVocational Holiness. Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1992.
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