Hitlamdut/התלמדות – being a learner. Hitlamdut is central to R. Shlomo Wolbe’s mussar. Practicing Hitlamdut means adopting the perspective of being a constant learner. We are always just practicing and we never actually reach perfection in this life. A perspective of hitlamdut protects against arrogance and destructive self-criticism. With the perspective of hitlamdut, we try to see every experience from the 30,000-foot view. Rather than just being in the experience, or responding to it in negative ways, we recognize that we can learn from it.


Hitlamdut Poster, Cong. Beth El of the Sudbury River Valley:

West End Synagogue, New York, NY:


"I am learning from everything."
אור חָדָשׁ עַל צִיּון תָּאִיר Shine a new light on Zion
וְהָאֵר עֵינֵינוּ בְּתורָתֶךָ Illuminate our eyes with Your Teaching
למד לשונך לומר "איני יודע!" Teach your tongue to say "I don’t know!” (Bavli B’rachot--
איזהו חכם? הלומד מכל אדם. Who is truly wise? One who learns from every person

I don't think you're suddenly going to begin to look at the world with new eyes when you're 80 if you haven't been doing it when you're 30.

(Janice Clark)

SELICHOT SERVICE ON HITLAMDUT (Temple Ohabei Shalom, Brookline MA)

“I’m just practicing…”
“I’m just practicing being patient.”
“I’m just practicing being organized.”
“I can see that she is just practicing thoughtful speech.”


  1. "Life Lessons from Leaves," Kol Nidrei sermon on Hitlamdut, Rabbi David Ackerman, Beth Am Israel, Penn Valley PA.
  2. "The Blessing of Curiosity" (Rabbi Sam Feinsmith, Chicagoland Jewish High School)
  3. A Meditation for the "Wandering Mind"
  4. Article on Curiosity (Rabbi Jamie Arnold, Congregation Bet Evergreen, Evergreen CO):

4. Curiosity drills for Tishrei: (Rabbi Jamie Arnold, Congregation Bet Evergreen, Evergreen CO):

Benjamin Franklin, from Poor Richard's Almanac: Who is wise? He that learns from everyone. Who is powerful? He that governs his passions. Who is rich? He that is content. Who is that? Nobody.

Rabbi Kalonymus Kalmish Shapiro, Derekh HaMelekh, Derushim LePesach (Translated and submitted by Rabbi Sam Feinsmith)
“In every generation a person is obligated to see herself as if she left Egypt” (Mishnah Pesachim).
…Every person who experiences a distressing matter worries and finds it difficult to be joyous then, and when that person experiences a joyous matter that person is happy and finds it difficult to worry then.
And given that this is so, a person like this is a mere inn for the thoughts of the world that are passing and returning, going and coming, and the essence (עצם) of the person is not to be found. [Therefore] a person should collect her thoughts daily and observe them and see if they are something other than the circumstances of time and the world, and just as time and the world change, so do they [i.e. her thoughts]--now there are mostly thoughts of worry within the person, and when God assists and time brings about goodness, then happy thoughts will come to her. Neither these, nor the initial ones are her essence; they are just residents or guests within her. First they were
bad guests and now they are good, [revolving] according to the world and the day. But “איכה”--where are you?--Where are You in your Essence (איה אתה בעצמך)?! If a person is [truly] present in her house and in her essence, then it must be that joy will not take control of her mind and worry will not direct her so much.

Recognize – notice and name
Acknowledge – accept, touch, and soften
Investigate – what’s going on in my mind, body, etc.?
Non-identification – letting go. This is not me, it’s passing through me


  1. "Open Us to Learning" (Rosh Hashanah sermon by Cantor Lorel Zar-Kessler, Beth El of Sudbury MA):
  2. "Reality Check: Paying Attention" (First Day Rosh Hashanah sermon, Rabbi Marc Margolius, West End Synagogue, NY NY):
  3. Erev Rosh Hashanah sermon on Curiosity (Rabbi Jamie Arnold, Congregation Bet Evergreen, Evergreen CO):
  4. First Day Rosh Hashanah sermon on Curiosity and Love (Rabbi Arnold):
  5. "Israel, Curiosity, and Peace" (Yom Kippur sermon by Rabbi Arnold):
  6. "Israel and Hitlamdut" (Rosh Hashanah sermon by Rabbi Elliott Tepperman, B'nai Keshet Montclair NJ)
  7. Rosh Hashanah ((Rosh Hashanah d'var Torah on middot practice by Rabbi Joshua Lesser, Bet Haverim Atlanta GA)
  8. "Curiosity" (Rosh Hashanah sermon by Rabbi Tom Gutherz, Cong. B'nai Israel, Charlottesville VA):
  10. Community Email - L'Shanah Tovah


With the perspective of hitlamdut, we try to see every experience from the 30,000-foot view. Rather than just being in the experience, or responding to it in negative ways, we recognize that we can learn from it. We can easily lapse into judgment, so we must make a conscious effort to become discerning rather than judgmental. The difference is to omit the righteousness attached to judgment and become a detached and loving observer through discernment. One way that we do that is by trying to understand that each person has a unique viewpoint of the world, including your children. (Do this experiment. Ask everyone to view the room around him or her. Then ask them to change seats, and look at the room again). There is no wrong perspective in the room. Everyone’s is right. But they are all different.


"The Place Where We are Right," Yehudah Amichai:


Hitlamdut - Chicagoland Jewish High School Middot Minyan Lesson Plan

General Material:

  1. Bronfman Center NY
  2. Congregation Beth Israel
  1. Conregation Bnai Keshet
    1. Hitlamdut Practices
  2. Chochmat Halev
  1. JCC of San Francisco HITLAMDUT (zip file)
  2. JTS - Meditation Summary - Hitlamdut; Behira Points
  3. Chicagoland Jewish High School
  4. Congregation Beth El of the Sudbury River Valley - September posters Hitlamdut Learning.pdf
  5. Congregation Beth Evergreen
  6. Reconstructionist Rabbinical College Learning About Yourself
    Musar practice seeks to help us to develop self awareness about feelings and thoughts that arise in us “out of nowhere.” That is, we feel excited, for example, or offended, or angry, or insecure. Often enough, we leave these feeling unexamined and behave in ways that are guided by them without even knowing it. Before we can cultivate character virtues, we need to be better able to monitor what feelings are arising. Only then can we respond wisely.
    I dismiss my co-worker impatiently, for example. I don’t usually do that. What is going on that led me to be short with him? If I can answer that question, I have a better chance of applying a middah to the situation.
    In the practice of Hitlamdut (Learning about Yourself), you choose a short daily and routine event in your life (5-10 minutes) and remain attentive to what is going on inside of you for that short period of time. At least initially, do not choose an activity or interaction that is emotionally loaded. This practice is not about content or meaning. It is about developing your self-awareness skills.
  7. Temple Beth Shalom - Hitlamdut bulletin article
  8. Temple Ohabei Shalom -
  9. Westchester Jewish Community Services
    1. Hitlamdut
  10. Hitlamdut with young children: A Purim Question: (Congregation Beth Israel, Charlottesville, VA)http://cbipreschool.blogspot.com/2017/03/who-doesnt-want-to-be-mensch.html