Teachings: Traditional & Contemporary Approaches

Metaphors Be with You, Chukkat

Numbers 19:1- 22:1

There are many approaches to Torah study. My favorites are Remez - finding hints to meaning and Sod (samech daled in Hebrew, pronounced Sohd) - when the text becomes a portal of expanded, seemingly mystical, awareness.

A Map of a Shabbat Morning Prayer Service

Have you wondered if there's a shape to Jewish services? There is actually a beautiful flow and careful sequencing developed by the ancestors. We begin at ground level as individuals with prayers of gratitude for body, mind and soul. We ascend into the level of raising emotions with psalm singing where we begin to feel more like a community gathered than individuals assembling.

Walking in Torah through Feminist Eyes - Part I

Note: The Torah portion known as Vayeitzei, includes Gen 31:19 contains a word the meaning of which scholars continue to puzzle over, "teraphaim." That is one of two mysteries we ponder in this piece. The other is that Torah reveals Jacob to have one daughter, Dina, yet Gen.14:15 speaks of Jacob's "sons and daughters."

Chanting: One Important Form of Jewish Meditation

At many times in Jewish history the repetition of sacred phrases has been recognized as helpful to a meaningful prayer experience. In my case I resisted a long time before trying any of this - some sort of fear kept me from it, as though I would die or something like that. Instead once I plunged in, each time the practice grew on me....like cultivating a taste for olives only much more special and valuable (forgive me, any olives that are reading this). 

Judaism and Focusing Technique

Focusing, a technique developed by Dr. Gene Gendlin, synergizes beautifully with many forms of Jewish spiritual practice and allows us to amplify our spiritual authenticity and depth of experience. This paper cites some of the traditional texts and teachers that seem to have a felt-sense in their spiritual practice and teaching and also two examples of the application of focusing in Judaism.

God

For me God expresses the oneness of the evolving Cosmos. God is that to which I cry out when I am in pain. God is a direction for my praise of the stunning creation of which we are a part. God is that which you and I resemble..........in our creative and destructive nature.

God is everything unfolding, seeking all possibilities, becoming what it is becoming. God is the encoded consciousness of the cosmos which is aware of Its needs and deploys every one of us as an important part of the present and future.

Jewish Approaches to Vision Quest

What is Hitbodedut?

The vision quest is an ancient part of Jewish practice, documented in the Bible. Again and again the primary metaphor of Moses’ adult life is that of climbing a mountain in order to speak his heart and receive the insight and guidance he needed to sustain a meaningful life for the people in his charge. The importance of being able to reach out beyond yourself in this way, to pour out your soul and be able to listen for guidance is something youth deserve to experience and know how to do.

Introduction to Tefillin and How to Put Them On

How are Tefiillin made?

Tefillin are a set of two leather boxes filled with parchments on which a scribe has written specific verses from the Torah, then attached the boxes to leather straps, each knotted so that one can go around your head and one around your weaker [non-dominant] arm. It is quite complex to make Tefiillin, and one is best served by buying good quality ones made by a scribe. The term tefillin (Aramaic) shares the root of tefillah, prayer.

What Is Trope?

Trope is the term for the notation system for chanting Torah. Trope are symbols for when to pause and where to stop in the Torah reading. They each have a different set of associated notes and when strung together become the chant for a given portion. The technical term for trope is Ta'amei haMikra, "the flavor of the reading."

Emet: Jewish Meditation on Exodus 32:10

The Thirteen Attributes of God, as interpreted by Rabbi David Wolfe-Blank, zt"l, in line with the Jewish meditation method of Rabbi Abraham Abulaffia [1240-@1291]. The breathlessness that occurs is part of this practice.


To be recited without stopping, then remain in silence and allow awareness to arise from the power of the terms.

-Emet. Authentic, Emet.

--Emet, v'yatziv, Authentic and Stable, Emet.

---Emet, v'yatziv, v'nakhon, Authentic, and Stable, and Aligned, Emet.

God

Mkor HaHayim...Source of Life.....Tzur...Rock......HaMakom...The Place.....Yotzeret....Form Giver....Yah Ribon

For me God expresses the oneness of the evolving Cosmos. God is that to which I cry out when I am in pain. God is a direction for my praise of the stunning creation of which we are a part. God is that which you and I resemble..........in our creative and destructive nature.

God is everything unfolding, seeking all possibilities, becoming what it is becoming. God is the encoded consciousness of the cosmos which is aware of Its needs and deploys every one of us as an important part of the present and future.

YHVH Visualization on Deuteronomy 6:5

The following visualization that reveals the Godliness of each person was learned in person from Tzeitl Locher of Ameland, The Netherlands:

Jewish Death and Dying: Prayer for Hearing of a Death

When we hear someone has died, we need a way to express ourselves. Jewish tradition provides a very powerful and brief sacred phrase: baruch dayan ha'emet (pronounced bah-rukh, dah-yahn, hah'eh-meht). This phrase seems to be the bare minimum of a blessing, truncated from our usual blessing form, as many as twelve terms short*; cut down, as has been a life.

What does this phrase mean?

Finding the Prayer of Your Heart

Many complain of having difficulty finding deep meaning in the traditional prayer service. Many of us were conditioned to accept that for Jews "praying" is accomplished by simply reciting or chanting all the words, preferably in Hebrew. It is helpful and interesting to note that in the Talmud our ancestors worried that writing down their prayers could lead to just such a deadening rote recitation by subsequent generations.

While there is some comfort in repeating that which is familiar, there is deep healing and joy possible from engaging in meaningful Jewish prayer. For example, at the core of each service is a lengthy set of prayers, said while standing, known as the "amidah." While each of the numerous amidah blessings is set in a careful sequence intended to help us find the prayer of our hearts, many find the traditional amidah impenetrable.

Как сделать Двар Тора интересной (Russian Version of) How to Create a Meaningful D'var Torah or Interpret the Bible

Рабби Голди Милграм

How to Create a Meaningful D’var Torah
Как сделать Двар     Тора интересной    [with gratitude to all our translators; any corrections please write publisher@reclaimingjudaism.org]  To view chapter in English only start here

The Jewish Vision Quest

When life feels like an uphill climb,
accept it and head right to the Top;

A Ceremony for Thanksgiving Shabbat 2012

This is designed for you to choose the elements you wish to include, there is more here than is likely needed for any one ceremony.

Chanting: One Important Form of Jewish Meditation

At many times in our history the repetition of sacred phrases has been recognized as helpful to a meaningful prayer experience. In my case I resisted a long time before trying any of this - some sort of fear kept me from it, as though I would die or something like that. Instead once I plunged in, each time the practice grew on me....like cultivating a taste for olives only much more special and valuable (forgive me, any olives that are reading this). Rabbi Shefa Gold introduced me to these practices, and I encourage you to seek out her work and teachings on the subject, she is a wise, authentic and safe teacher.

Creating a More Meaningful Torah Service

When the words of the chapters assigned to a particular week enter our consciousness and our "soul stream," we can learn something new and interesting about ourselves as individuals, families, humans and peoples. This new awareness is what may be meant by the term "revelation." This is Judaism at its best -- exciting, meaningful, growthful. Torah reading can be a high point of a services. Here is how to give everyone present a greater opportunity to be included in the Torah reading.  I first saw Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi lead a service using this method at Philadelphia's P'nai Or community, and he is indeed, credited with having developed it. During my travels I'm seeing this approach beginning to appear across the full spectrum of Jewish life.