As Kislev approaches my mind once again turns to the corners of my Tallitot — which are vacant of Tzitzit. I have had an amazing emotional block around tying Tzitzit to my daily tallit and my ceremonial one. Tzitzit are hugely important to me. As a spiritual practice they not only make sense to me at a primal level, but also as a “magickal” tool via the tying of knots — and it’s a direct mitzvah from the Torah.
If you live in the United States — then vote. No excuses. Don’t take for granted a right that people all over the world kill and die for.
A Blessing for Voting
Blessed are you Holy One, Spirit of the Universe,
who grants us wisdom and enables us to choose
those who lead us on this earthly realm.
May we align our hearts with your way and
may our hands cast votes that are for the benefit of all.
Below is a ritual I’ve created to go along with the Shinui Ma’aseh challenge that I posted over at PunkTorah.org. It’s to kick off month long exploration of a new spiritual or physical practice, especially during the month of Cheshvan when we have no holidays. To learn more, head over to PunkTorah and read about the challenge!
Ritual to Affirm Commitment to Shinui Ma’aseh
Find a quiet place and give yourself about half an hour, at least. Add any additional elements that you feel will enhance the experience for you, whether that is wearing a tallit or other ritual clothing, using incense, drumming, etc. Think about what symbols will enhance the experience for you.
Kavanah Opening Meditation (Psalm 118:19):
The kavanah, is the intention of the ritual. Repeat this phrase four times. Four (4) is a number of gateways and doors, so we say this four times to open a doorway “between the worlds.” You also might want to sing the Hebrew using one of the many chants created for this verse. Here’s a link to one well known one from Reb Shlomo Carlebach. If you use a chant, don’t just listen — it’s important that the words come out of your mouth.
Open to me the gates of Tzedek; I will enter into them, I will give thanks unto the LORD.
פִּתְחוּ-לִי שַׁעֲרֵי-צֶדֶק; אָבֹא-בָם, אוֹדֶה יָהּ
Pitchu pitchu lishaíarei tzedek avo avo vam odeh ya
I got an email from a woman who identified herself as Orthodox. When I sent a response, the email bounced back as invalid. As she use the contact form on my website, it means she most likely typed her address in wrong. I wouldn’t normally post this response publicly, but as there is nothing to identify her I don’t feel like I’m violating her privacy. Plus, this is the only way I can respond to her now.
I come here wondering if Jewitchery would be a means to adding to my spirituality as Orthodox Judaism seems to have killed it somehow. I was always drawn to certain things like crystals, spells, incense–things that people in the OJ community would find ‘strange.’ My basic question is if Jewitchery clashes with traditional Judaism? Do Jewiches fast all the fasts, keep kosher, keep the sabbath as orthodoxy prescribes or how does it differ?
I was honored to be asked to speak at the Rosh Hashanah services of Olney Kehila this year. Below is the text of the “drash” I gave.
I am really honored to be here with you all today. My family seems to have a growing and wonderful connection with Olney Kehila. Not only is Holly, a friend, teacher, and mentor, but my husband crafted the wonderful ark that houses your community’s Torah. I’ve enjoyed services here in the past and just love what a friendly and welcoming congregation this is. One thing, in particular, that’s struck me in the past is the amazing kids you have here. I watch them get so engaged with the songs and chants,and I remember meeting one Bat Mitzvah student a couple of years ago who was working on some project that I can’t even fathom having the maturity to have done when I was twelve.