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Publication Date

Spring 5-6-2024


Yosef Yozl Horoṿits (1847 or 1848-1919), Jewish ethics, Musar movement, Georges Ivanovitch Gurdjieff (1872-1949)


This paper is an introductory comparative look at teachings of two spiritual figures in pre-revolutionary and revolutionary Russia: Rav Yoseph Yozel (Horowitz) and George Gurdjieff. Yozel founded the Novarodok school of Mussar; Gurdjieff founded the spiritual tradition known as “the Work” or “Fourth Way.” There are of course great differences between the Jewish tradition of Mussar, whose literature dates back to the Mishnah but which as a social movement was launched by Rabbi Israel Salantar in the late 19th century, and the Work, with its affinities to Eastern Christianity, Buddhism, and Sufism but with no apparent connection to Judaism. Still, some similarities are to be expected between spiritual disciplines. This paper touches on some similarities of spiritual exercises in the Mussar school of Novarodok (and secondarily in later Mussar teachings) and in the Gurdjieff Work, similarities that are interesting given the sharp differences in their Jewish and non-Jewish contexts.

Mussar, Yoseph Yozel Horwitz, The Work, Gurdjieff, work on oneself, spiritual exercises, peules, esotericism, revolutionary Russia

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