A Few of My Favorite Posts from Past 10 years

Recent Posts

Hanukkiah: Symbol of Kislev

In thinking about Kislev, I went right to the dreidel and the Hanukkiah.  I decided that if I had to pick one, it’s the Hanukkiah (but I may explore the other dreidels later in the month!)  The Hanukkiah is the nine-branched menorah that we light on Hanukkah.  Even though we generally just call it a menorah, not all menorahs are for Hanukkah!  The menorah, which is an ancient symbol of the Jewish people is actually seven branched. If the menorah is considered  “the most central role of all the sacred vessels, for it is the symbol of light,” and a symbol of spiritual illumination — then it’s safe to assume that this is also the role the Hanukkiah plays.  Hanukkah is a strange holiday because it’s not only post-biblical, but also two holidays smooshed together.  I guess we have a lot of holidays that are two smooshed together, though.  Most commonly Hanukkah is the holiday that celebrates the victory of the Maccabbees over the Greeks, and the “miracle of the oil.”  It’s also a Winter Solstice (Tekufat Tevet) holiday, that acknowledges the darkness of the year and returning of the light.  That’s actually found in ancient midrash, it’s not just some modern “new agey” thing.  It’s even one of the stories I included in the Hanukkah Haggadah! The lighting of the Hanukkah menorah offers wonderful opportunities for spiritual refreshment and renewal.  This year, toss away the annual debates over whether or not Hanukkah is important or just a reaction to Christmas.  Don’t worry about the ethics of celebrating the victory in a war (and that the Maccabees were total zealots, who probably would have killed many of us too…).  Embrace our own holiday of lights at its root level — light. What do you want to light up?  What areas of your life, your heart, your soul need light?  Dedicate your entire Hanukkiah to bringing light into an area in your life.  Let each candle represent a step along the way, and watch the...

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Red String: Symbol of Cheshvan

Oct 16, 11 Red String: Symbol of Cheshvan

Posted by in Holidays & Holy Days, Rosh Chodesh

Explore the “red string” of Jewish mysticism as the symbol of Cheshvan. It is connected to Rachel the Matriarch, whose yahrtzeit is this month, and the color is connected to the Red Heifer.

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The Shofar: Symbol of Tishrei, Symbol of Judaism

Sep 18, 11 The Shofar: Symbol of Tishrei, Symbol of Judaism

Posted by in Rosh Chodesh, Rosh Hashanah

Tishrei 5772 begins at Sundown on Wednesday, September 28, 2011 The shofar is not only a symbol we all associate with Tishrei, but it’s also a symbol of Judaism.  Many of us only think about the shofar at the High Holy days, but in ancient times it was used regularly in religious rites. Blow the shofar at the new moon, at the full moon for our feast-day. (Psalm 81:3) In Psalms, we see the order to blow the shofar at both the new moon, Rosh Chodesh, and the full moon feast days. Historically the shofar would have been used to call us to prayer and attention for a myriad of reasons and events.  The shofar was also the sound of G-d/dess’ voice we hear at Sinai.  Is it any wonder that this ancient relic is one we still treasure today?  When considering the shofar, also remember that it is a sign of our history as a nation of shepherds.  I’m exploring purchasing my first shofar, and finding that I not only want one that is beautiful and playable — but also that I know comes from an animal that is not just kosher, but was also raised with respect and given a good life.  I also want it to be local.  Why should I import a shofar from a foreign country, when there are so many sheep right here? I would like to learn to play the shofar, but I also want to incorporate it into my fall altar, or spiritual focal point if you prefer. If you are unfamiliar with the idea of having a Jewish personal altar, here’s a post  about the practice. This Tishrei, consider the Shofar as more than something you just hear at synagogue.  Explore the history, symbolism, elemental aspects, and potential spiritual uses.  Like Torah, the shofar can be understood on four (and probably more levels).  Consider the shofar at it’s literal level, the alluded to meanings, the “drash” or hidden story, and the mystical meaning.Here are some...

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Finding Refuge in the Month of Elul

It’s Jewish tradition to read Psalm 27 daily during the month of Elul, which falls during August and September. In this month of Elul, we have no holidays. It’s the month where we are supposed to turn inward and prepare for the High Holy Days: Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, and Sukkot. It always seems like this month should be one of quiet reflection, but it never is for me. >>>> Read the rest of this post at NPR’s “Being Blog.”  >>>>>...

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Psalm 27: Interpreting the Psalms

Exploring Psalm 27, a key practice for the month of Elul.

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Elul: Lesson of Gad

Elul is a complicated month. It is one of the four new years, the new year of cattle. It is the month we close out our spiritual year and begin preparation for the High Holy Days and new spiritual year. It is a month where we turn inward and look to our own hearts and our relationship with G!(d)dess.

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Rosh Chodesh Av Services

Recap of Rosh Chodesh Av 5771 services at OneShul.org and video

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Av: The Lesson of Shimon

Jul 17, 11 Av: The Lesson of Shimon

Posted by in Holidays & Holy Days, Rosh Chodesh

Maybe the lesson of Shimon, the tribe associated with Av, is that strength is found more in the hearing, listening, and attempt to truly understand another point of view.

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Tammuz: Lesson of Reuben

The tribe of Reuben teaches the lesson of clear vision for the month of Tammuz.

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Rosh Chodesh Sivan / Shabbat Service

In case you missed Rosh Chodesh services at OneShul.org on Friday night, here’s the video. If you didn’t know, I’m leading monthly Rosh Chodesh services at OneShul.org every month! Come join me. You can attend in your pajamas through the wonder of cyberspace, the service is posted on the OneShul Prayer Service page. It’s live streaming video and during the service there is a live chat space (text, not video) so you can engage and interact with me and the other people who are attending. If you have ideas for music to include for our Tamuz Rosh Chodesh , please feel free to let me know! Oh, and I apologize in advance for the annoying ad that comes up at the beginning. It’s either ads or people donating a LOT more money to OneShul.org! Also, I noticed that the audio and visual were not synched well, and I was having SERIOUS audio issues — sorry about those really, really awkward moments!! I can’t believe people stuck around considering how I tortured them a couple of times.   BTW, don’t miss the additional Sivan resources below the video! Sivan Resources: Sivan: Lesson of Zevulon Sivan: the Power of Real Love Sivan: Revelations in Relationships...

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