RS501 – The Personal Life of the Spiritual Leader- 2021

Instructor: Rabbi Paul Saal
Location: Populi (
DatesOctober 3 December 5, 2021

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 and has a mentoring component. It is limited to Rabbinic Students only and UMJC Smikha candidates with permission.

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.


This is an online video-conference course. The student must have a computer, headset, and high-speed internet access. Please contact Joyce Klayman, our IT assistant, for technical help at .

Video conferencing via Zoom. 


Attend all interactive lectures via Zoom, timely completion of preassigned reading prior to weekly class, weekly reflection papers inclusive of additional readings assignments, and completion of GLC/ICE. Rabbinic students are required to attend orientation along with their mentors that covers, among other things, the mentoring component.


  • 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 in Vocational Holiness. Grand Rapids:  Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1992.
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