Parsha Tzav: The ‘How’ of Worship

This parsha, portion, Tzav, meaning “command,” is a challenging parsha as it mostly addresses sacrifices and other priestly concerns, and therefore doesn’t make an easy opening into spiritual or moral discussions. While reading this portion, I had to seek a path that would be relevant to our meditation practice, as a kavannah, or intention. I […]

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Thanksgiving Meditation

There is a built-in sense of indebtedness in the consciousness of man, an awareness of owing gratitude, or being called upon at certain moments to reciprocate, to answer, to live in a way which is compatible with the grandeur and mystery of living.  – Abraham Joshua Heschel One of the reasons I love holidays is […]

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God’s face: Loving-kindness meditation and the Birkat Kohanim (Priests’ Blessing)

I grew up calling it “dukhening”, the Yiddish term. Formally, it’s the Birkat Kohanim, in Hebrew, or Priestly Blessing, in English. I can’t think of any other moment in a synagogue service that feels anything like the Birkat Kohanim. For me as a kid, it was melodramatic and powerful and mysterious and that drama was […]

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Parsha Chayei Sarah – Still Yourself and Receive Life’s Blessings

This week’s parsha, Chayei Sarah, begins with the death of Sarah, at age 127. Abraham, her husband, purchases a burial property for her, and later marries another woman, Keturah,  who bears him six more children. He also sends his most senior servant to his birth land to find a wife for his son Isaac, and […]

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Making solo space within — Parsha Tazria

This week’s Torah portion, Tazria, explains that during specific periods in a person’s life, she or he must spend time in physical seclusion, truly alone, in order to return physically and spiritually to a balanced state of being; once a person returns to this place of balance, she is then ready to return to the […]

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Having a Conversation with the Universe – Parsha Tzav

The parsha deals with the offerings and sacrifices that G-d has deemed necessary for Aaron and his sons to become holy and prove their worth as priests to the Israelites. Moses receives and delivers the message of G-d, an intermediary.  When Moses was born and cast into the Nile, he was retrieved by Pharaoh’s daughter […]

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Re’eh – See!

Parsha Re’eh – ראה – Deuteronomy 11:26-16:17 This week’s parsha, Re’eh, begins with the line “See (re’eh), I place before you today a blessing and a curse.” Basically, Moses is offering the Israelites two options: follow the rules and be blessed; abandon God and be cursed. Moses instructs the people on the laws of the […]

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Attachment: Jewish Style

Some time ago, I posted a review of Rodger Kamenetz’s The Jew in the Lotus on Amazon. The book, a favorite among Jewish meditators, is partly about a Jewish delegation’s visit to the Dalai Lama in Dharamsala, India. The delegation traveled there to share the strategies that Jews have used to survive as a people […]

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Faking It

One of my core spiritual beliefs is the power of “faking it ’til you make it.” I was on a silent retreat recently, where I dropped out of the “advanced” class, because it felt too academic and intellectual for what I wanted at that moment. People in that class were debating about nondualism versus dualism, […]

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Clear your mind, the rest will follow.

This year’s Rosh Hashana was great- I was with family who I love and miss, caught up with cousins I definitely don’t see enough, and spent as much time as humanly possible with the cutest 16-month old on the planet. I also went to synagogue and took long walks up and down hills. My cousins […]

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