(My) Psalm 151
Top Ten Poems of 2010

Top Twelve Posts of 2010

Starting in 2005, I've had a practice of closing out my blogging year by selecting a list of my top ten posts to share here. (Here's last year's, which includes links to top ten posts from 2005-2009. The first two years I had this blog, I didn't yet have the top ten tradition.) This year I couldn't quite narrow it down to ten, so I'm sharing my Top Twelve instead! I'm also working on a list of my favorite poems from 2010, and will share those soon too. Thanks for reading along during 2010; here's to 2011!

  • The nursing mother tallit. "Living without sustained sleep has had a major impact on my spiritual life. As a result of the sleep deprivation (and some depression, related but also relevant on its own), I spent much of my first two months of motherhood largely unable to pray, except when I would lie down after putting Drew back in his crib and would silently beg God for at least an hour to recharge. Needless to say, this is not the maternal prayer life I had imagined."

  • On Jewishness, media, and intertextuality. "As I think on it, intertextuality is one of the things that makes a Jewish text feel Jewish to me. If a text contains references to Jewish texts -- whether Bible or midrash, Hasidic teaching or a snippet of liturgy -- then it's going to ping my Jewish radar. And the fact of intertextuality often feels Jewish to me even when the texts being referenced aren't Jewish ones."

  • Reb Nachman on holy disagreement. "When Torah scholars disagree with one another, a space is created between them, and in that space, the world of halakha comes into being. Like God, we too create worlds with our words."

  • On holy community. "When our son Drew was born, we entered a haze of sleep deprivation, joy, and overwhelm. Drew came into the world with a profound case of jetlag. For nine months, he’d been lulled to sleep by my movements during the day and had danced the fandango inside me at night. When he emerged from the womb, his circadian rhythms were backwards. Sleep debt isn’t the only reason we had a tough adjustment to parenthood, but it was a big one..."

  • Morning prayer, on retreat and after. Three vignettes from the Shavuot retreat at Isabella Freedman; meditations on davenen and parenthood.

  • 5 things about the Gaza flotilla. "So much depends on who's telling the story and which sources they choose to cite."

  • Six tastes of Ruach ha-Aretz. "It is the evening of the fourth of July and the sun is beginning to cast low long shafts of light across the grass. A friend calls my name and I veer off the path back to the room, heading instead to a circle of women in the middle of the great grassy oval in front of the main building at Pearlstone..."

  • A gesture of repair. "One thousand, one hundred and eighty dollars were donated by sixty-five people from across the United States; those who identified their locations mentioned places as far apart as Oregon, New York, and Oklahoma, and I myself live in a small town in western Massachusetts. We are people of many traditions; although Stu Mark and I are Jewish, and I know that at least two of the donors are rabbis (and many donors self-identified themselves as Jews), others self-identified as Christian (Catholic, Protestant, evangelical), Unitarian Universalist, Pagan, Buddhist, and Muslim."

  • The early history of Jews in Muslim lands. "At the beginning of the seventh century of the Common Era, Jews were largely in diaspora, scattered from Spain to Persia and from central Europe to the Sahara..."

  • Ten moments from the Days of Awe. "The first tekiah gedolah, at the end of the shofar service on the first morning of the holiday, blown by a young man in our congregation who was one of my bar mitzvah students some years ago. The note went on so long it brought the room to laughter and beyond, and me to the verge of tears..."

  • We are family. "I disagree with the settlers in pretty much every way; I think what they're doing has disastrous repercussions not only for them but for my Israeli friends and family who are forced to protect them. But that doesn't give us on the pro-Israel pro-peace left the right to slam them as human beings. (Neither, for the record, does it give those on the "other side" the right to slam us.) Would we relate to each other differently if we had family on the other side, whatever that other side may be?"

  • Prayer life changes. "Maybe you're single now: if you become partnered, your ability to immerse in your prayer practice may shift. Maybe you're childless now: if you have a child, your ability to immerse in your prayer practice will definitely shift, especially if you are the primary caregiver, doubly so if you are nursing. Maybe you have kids at home: once they're in school, or once they head off to college, your ability to immerse in your prayer practice will shift. Maybe you're caring for an elder. Maybe you are an elder. Whoever you are, whatever your circumstance, it's going to change. Go into your prayer practice knowing that. Be prepared for your prayer life to shift: that's a natural part of having a prayer life. Don't make the mistake of developing a prayer practice and then assuming that once you've developed it, you're done."