A Few of My Favorite Posts from Past 10 years

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Spiritual Math

1 = The Source of Life2 = The Tablets3 = The Patriarchs4 = The Matriarchs The lives of the 3 and the 4 = The 5 books The lives of the 3 times the 4 = The 12 tribes ——————————————– I know this has been said by others, but it bears...

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Good Yom Tov

A quick post just before Yom Kippur eve. I’ve been asked what I’m doing for Yom Kippur this year. I know some were hoping I would lead a service of some kind. This year I am doing a solitary observance of the holiday. For the past couple of years, I have attended services at Capital Kehillah and Fabrangen. Both were nice, but neither was home. For the curious, here is my plan for this year: Kol NidreiI have both the Hebrew and English translation to read and study. I also have several audio versions including the phenomenal one by the Western Wind Ensemble. Yom Kippur DayI am planning to break the day in three segments. Replacing meals will be a little physical movement. Part of the meditations all day will be devoted to the name I inscribed at Rosh Hashanah. The names people inscribed were not their name, but rather a name by which they’d like to be known. One that symbolizes who they wish to be, what they want the world to be, how they’d like to be recorded in the Book of Life. MorningI’ll start the day with either my usual Yoga program or an extended one I’ve been meaning to try. The rest of the morning will be spent in prayer and meditation and reading the Torah passages. AfternoonA short meditative walk around the neighborhood, followed by meditation and reading “Man’s Search for God” by Abraham Heschel. Part of my meditation will involve the use of a singing bowl that I recently received as a gift. I also plan to do at least part of it outside in my circle space. Some of what I want to explore is a new ideas been rolling around in my mind which is “internal elemental personalities.” More on this later. EveningAnother walk or more Yoga, followed by a little creative spiritual exploration. I know many interpret “complete rest” as “no creating,” but for me the creative endeavor is a spiritual one and there will...

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Someone asked an interesting question about Sabbath. Is it important what day we celebrate, as long as we honor the creator? We are told that the Sabbath is the seventh day in the Torah, but it does not say that the seventh day is Friday – our modern calendar does. The modern calendar goes from Sunday to Sunday, so sundown Friday is the beginning of the seventh day. Jewish days start at sundown, not midnight. Part of the power of using the same night as other Jews, is the connection to your tribe. You know that all over the world your extended tribe is stepping through many of the same ritual actions as you. I think the answer is up to you. I think in our modern world Friday night as Sabbath makes a great deal of sense. We work, generally, Monday to Friday, so stopping on Friday night to breath, rest, and reconnect, resonates strongly for me. We also often need at least one day of the weekend to do work around the house, with charities, or at a side job. Claiming Friday night through Saturday night as Sabbath allows us to have Sunday for other work. I think the important thing is taking the time to stop — and acknowledge how precious life is, how blessed you are, and that you are a part of a greater whole. The commandment says, “Honor the Sabbath and keep it...

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Alternative Jewish Music

Um — wow. Much respect, but the visuals are quite interesting.wnbc.com – News – Unusual Rap Duo Teams Up

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Halloween Parsha

I originally wrote this on Halloween 2003 Someone asked me what I was doing on Halloween, especially considering that it falls on Shabbat this year. Even though Halloween/Samhain isn’t really part of my spiritual practice, I became curious about what the Torah portion for this Shabbat is. It turns out that it is The Flood and The Tower of Babel. I was floored. As I re-read the passages, I was struck by the layers of extra meaning & symbolism I found by linking the two stories together. Two stories of destruction brought on by the failings of humanity; two stories where not only humanity learns lessons from choices made, but also G-d. It is strange to think of G-d ‘learning,’ but if man is made in G-d’s image and can grow and learn – why not G-d. So often we are presented with an image of G-d as immoveable and unchanging through-out all time, but a careful reading of the Torah presents us with many examples of G-d growing and changing over time. At the end of the story of Noah, G-d promises never again to wreak destruction on the world to punish humanity. In the very next story instead of drowning the world or reducing it to ashes, G-d acts surgically and goes right after the human world. Animals don’t really care if we all speak different languages. Over and over, G-d reacts in new and different ways. Here a whole city is destroyed. There – a single person is punished. In our quests to grow closer to the Divine we should look to learn and grow and not remain unchangeable and steadfast when new information presents...

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God was in this place and I, i did not know.

I’ve just finished reading “God was in this place & I, i did not know” by Rabbi Lawrence Kushner. I’m continually amazed by how incredible this man’s work is. I cannot recommend this book highly enough for the student of Jewish mysticism and spirituality. The book is a midrash on a passage from the Torah (Genesis 28:26) where Jacob sees the ladder and makes that statement. By the time I finished this book I found myself willing to acknowledge that I am a Kabbalist at heart. I generally avoid calling myself that, since it has many preconceived notions for people. I do not mean to say I am a student of the Kabbalah Centre or that I agree with the teachings of every Kabbalistic Master. But my world and spiritual view are profoundly intertwined with Kabbalistic teachings. I have not memorized the Sephirot and all the different meanings (although I know them), as this has never really struck a chord with me beyond the concept of “emanations” of the Divine. It is the actual life lessons that I learn from teachers like Rabbi Kushner that stay with me and affect my spiritual practice. For the first time, reading this book, I found in writing someone who saw the story of Adam and Eve the same way I do. I’ve felt that there was no sin, but rather a natural process of children growing up. We have different rules as children then when we are adults, and as we grow we challenge the boundaries of those rules. Once we reach a certain level of maturity, in this case evidenced by eating the forbidden fruit, we must leave home and venture out into the wider world. Sometimes that world is harsh and daunting, but we must take that step, none-the-less, or stay children. Another thought that resonated with me is the idea that everything we do matters. We never know what may be important to the history of the world. We never know how our actions...

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Yom Hashoah Ritual

I’ve been working on a ritual for Yom HaShoah. I was originally going to begin research and work on the Mourner’s Kaddish, but this lead me to looking at Yom HaShoah. I’m finding it remarkably difficult to actually write the ritual. I keep bursting into tears, which completely surprised me. I’ve worked through most of the ritual in my head, but now I just need to move it onto paper. I suppose with the emotional subject matter I shouldn’t be surprised that I’m responding to it. Part of what I was exploring was how do we experience this holiday. Do we remember with joy the lives lived or do we mourn the lives lost. The path the ritual has taken is a deep mourning followed by slowly moving to joy. The beginning of the ritual is almost silent, which causes most people discomfort. The end slowly moves to song, which are eventually joyful and even silly. My hope is that people will mourn the tragic loss of life and the horror of genocide — but then be grateful to be alive and able to prevent that kind of horror. The ritual although focused on the Holocaust will also allow acknowledgment of other genocides that have occurred throughout history. I think it will be a different kind of ritual than I usually write. I’m relying less on the Pagan model I usually use and following a narrative idea this time. I do think more research into Jewish views and practices for mourning will enhance it in the...

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Chaplain of the House of Representatives – Prayer Archive

Visit the Prayer Archive I’ve been researching government resources on the Web for work lately, and came across this site. The page is the “Prayer Archive” for the prayers said each day before the House of Representatives begins work. It does seem odd that in a country that officially espouses separation of church and state that a government website would house a “Prayer Archive.” I’ve always known that there was a chaplain, but I figured he was more of a behind-the-scenes resource for members of Congress. It’s sad that all of the guest clergy appear to be Christian, with a Rabbi here and there. There seem to be several “Universalists,” but I imagine their view may be very close to a Christian one. It would seem more appropriate for guest clergy to be of different paths and perspectives to help expose Congress to the variety of citizens that represent. Why shouldn’t there be Buddhists, B’hai, Hindus, Muslims, and of course, Pagans represented? I have no issue with the chaplain being Christian while the majority of Congress is. The chaplain’s primary role is to act as spiritual advisor. Not to say that a B’hai chaplain couldn’t act as a spiritual advisor just as well. You can nominate someone to be a guest chaplain. I’d be thrilled to see someone nominate and acutally get someone other than a Christian and a main-stream Rabbi as guest...

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Triple Goddess in Judaism

So as a result of my reading/research binge to get ready for the workshops I’m doing in July I’ve been playing with a few new ideas – here’s one. Triple Goddess Figure / Archetype as represented in Judaism: Maiden – Sabbaththe eternal bride who comes to rejuvinate us Mother – ShekinahThe Presence who watches over us and cares for us Crone – TorahThe venerated elder who is dressed in fine robes, given the place ofhonor, and looked to for wisdom The Sabbath as Goddess figure is pretty common I realize, as is clearly Shekhinah, but I started looking at Torah as being elevated to Goddess level the last time I went to a Sabbath service with a local Renewal group. I started looking at the people dancing around with it, reaching for it, kissing it, and treating the scrolls with such incredible reverence — that it seemed beyond respect for a sacred text. I started seeing the pattern of the triple goddess archetype appearing andthought it was interesting. Granted, traditional scholars would balk at this — but that is why I’m looking at it as an archetype, like the Sephirot of the kabbalist tree of...

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