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New on The Wisdom Daily: a meditation on divorce

Logo-twd-headerI have a new essay at The Wisdom Daily. Here's a glimpse:

I’m in the process of moving through a divorce, and that means I’m in the process of moving. This summer I’ll leave the house that my partner and I shared, and move to a place of my own. Right now I’m taking the first steps toward that shift: beginning the work of winnowing and packing.

Sometimes this work is satisfying. It gives me an excuse, for instance, to let go of extra dishes and pots and pans. I’m filling boxes for Goodwill, and with every item I discard I feel less encumbered (and also virtuous — it feels good to know that someone else will get use out of things I’m releasing).

Other times, this work is grief-inducing. In the middle of poking through my winter clothes to decide which things I actually wear and should therefore keep, I run across the sweater I bought for myself on the Isle of Skye on my honeymoon eighteen years ago, and suddenly I’m weeping into the wool.

Read the whole thing: Moving On: A Meditation on Divorce.


Spring

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When I remember you
my fingertips tingle.

I'm a lilac, petals
prickling to spring free.

Yearning tangles my tongue.
My words become fragrance.

My heart overflows
like a wadi after a storm.

The thought of you
nourishes me, dizzies me.

Breathe into me
and I bloom.

 


 

I know I just posted one of the poems in my Texts to the Holy series, and I don't usually share two in rapid succession, but I wanted to share this one while the lilacs in my backyard are still in flower.  

My words become fragrance. In Jewish mystical tradition fragrance often evokes Shechinah, the immanent, indwelling, feminine divine Presence.

The thought of you / nourishes me, dizzies me. See Song of Songs 1:2, טוֹבִים דֹּדֶיךָ מִיָּיִן -- "your love is better than wine."

Breathe into me. See Elohai Neshama (or my variation thereupon in Open My Lips.)

 


Distant

 

I can't see you, can't touch you
can't breathe, because without you --

but I'm never without you. Even
when all I am is ache.

Especially then. Press my fingers
to the delicate bones of my wrist

and there you are, accompanying me
with every beat of my yearning heart.

 


 

I can't offer a citation for the idea that God is as close to us as the rhythm of our own hearts, but it is a teaching from which I draw substantial comfort. Sometimes the distance between us feels unbearable, and then I remember it's illusion and there isn't really any distance between us at all.

This is the latest poem in my Texts to the Holy series.

Shabbat shalom to all who celebrate.


Register now for the ALEPH Kallah!

13112831_10154309073527590_4055702587247613969_oThe ALEPH Kallah -- July 11-17 in Fort Collins, CO -- is coming up soon. Register by 11:59pm eastern time on June 3; starting at midnight on that night, a 10% late registration fee will be added. (Also, the longer you wait, the likelier it is that the classes you want to take will fill up without you.)

The Kallah is an incredible opportunity to experience the richness of Jewish Renewal. There's learning to stimulate the mind, all kinds of davenen to uplift the heart, and -- maybe best of all -- the opportunity to immerse in a community of like-minded spiritual seekers for a week. 

Here's a full listing of classes and workshops.

Here's information on the teen and kids' Kallah. (My son will be attending the kids' Kallah this year -- I'm really excited about it.)

Here's a list of Frequently Asked Questions.

Here are some of my posts about the most recent Kallah in 2013: Five glimpses of the start of Kallah; Five more glimpses of Kallah; A delicious mikveh before Shabbat... with a few surprises; Welcome home to a place where you've never been. (If you go further back via my ALEPH Kallah tag, you'll find posts from previous Kallot in 2011 and 2009.)

Register now!


A Listening Tour weekend in Boulder

26868253500_2dc4d1a770_zThe ALEPH / Jewish Renewal Listening Tour began in May of 2015 with a weekend in New York, co-hosted by Romemu and by Yeshivat Maharat. (I wrote about that right after it happened -- Sidewalk havdalah.) As it turned out, our final Listening Tour trip took place one year later almost to the day.

Rabbi David, our executive director Shoshanna, and I arrived in Boulder late last Thursday night and went directly to the home of ALEPH Board member Judith Dack, who graciously hosted us for the weekend. On Friday morning, after Rabbi David and I indulged in some early mountainside davening, we went to the campus of Colorado University for a focus group. The Boulder focus group featured rabbis and laypeople and academics, as well as representatives from the CU Boulder Jewish Studies department, the Boulder JCC, and the Denver-based nonprofit organization Judaism Your Way, among others.

27142757465_a58905eb2d_zThat afternoon we toured the new Boulder JCC campus. That wasn't originally on our agenda, but I'm so glad we managed to add it to the day.  The campus is beautifully-designed, and every element of its construction seems thoughtful and well-chosen. While there, we had the opportunity to visit the Reb Zalman room -- a room in the JCC's library that is filled, floor-to-ceiling, with books that had been part of his own home library. It's only a tiny fraction of his rabbinic library, most of which is still in the house where he lived, but it offers a glimpse of who he was through the lens of some of the books he cherished.

After a dinner with the Nevei Kodesh board, we davened on Friday night at Nevei Kodesh with Rabbi Sarah Bracha Gershuny and the house band (which, to my delight, featured not only piano and violin but also standing bass!) I was particularly moved by their choice to set Ahavat Olam, the evening prayer that speaks of God's enduring love for us, to the melody of the love song "Erev shel shoshanim"... and by the fact that before counting the Omer, we sang "Bati l'gani," Reb Zalman z"l's setting of verses from Song of Songs.

We davened on Shabbat morning at Pardes Levavot. The co-rabbis there, Rabbi Victor and Rabbi Nadya Gross, were out of town at a family simcha (joyous occasion), so we experienced a contemplative chant-based service led by a congregant. Here too there were sweet nods to the memory of Reb Zalman z"l -- including the use of his four-part chant "It is perfect / you are loved..." Services were followed by a potluck lunch where we held a Listening Circle, harvesting stories and frustrations and hopes from members of that community.

27058465342_0e42083932_zDuring the afternoon, Rabbi David and Shoshanna and I went to Reb Zalman's kever (gravesite.) I was moved to see -- and to add to -- the collection of pebbles and small precious items that people have left on and around the headstone. We davened mincha (the afternoon service) there on the grass beside his stone. Then we sat for a long time and talked about Reb Zalman and about our own hopes and dreams for what the future of ALEPH and Jewish Renewal might be.

Late in the day we met with the board of directors of the Yesod Foundation. It was a pleasure to be able to thank them for everything they did to uplift Reb Zalman and his work, including establishing the Reb Zalman Legacy Project, and to talk with them about what their future might hold. That was followed by a potluck dinner at Nevei Kodesh, which was in turn followed by a poetry reading. I shared poems from Toward Sinai and from Open My Lips -- poems for the Omer journey, and poems for the poignant liminal time when Shabbat begins to give way.

After the poetry reading we moved into a community open mike, harvesting yearnings and "ouches" and needs and hopes from the Nevei Kodesh community. That open mike began in a unique way: before we began moderating the conversation as we usually do, everyone in the room took a turn telling us something they hoped we would carry away with us from our time with their community. We wrapped up the night by meeting with Rav Bracha to talk about her community and the Listening Tour and ALEPH and what might come next.

On Sunday we met with Eve Ilsen, a teacher and writer and student of noted mystic Colette Aboulker-Muscat. (She's also the widow of Reb Zalman.) Reb Eve will be teaching with us at Shavuot at Isabella Freedman in a few weeks (sign up now!), and will be teaching at this summer's ALEPH Kallah, too. (You can sign up for that now too.) We spent the morning bringing the Listening Tour to her, receiving her hopes and dreams for the ALEPH that is to come. After a final lunch meeting with Rabbi Tirzah Firestone and David Friedman, we bade Boulder farewell and began the long journey home, grateful to all of our hosts -- and to all who participated in the weekend's conversations -- for opening their homes and their hearts.

 


Davening with the deer

On our first morning in Colorado, Rabbi David and I are still on east coast time, so we're both awake by five-ish. Around six we tiptoe out of the house where we are staying, get into our rental car, and drive into the foothills. 

The friend (and fellow ALEPH Board member) with whom we are staying lives on a lovely residential street only moments away from the eastern flank of the Front Range of the Rockies. We drive to Flagstaff Mountain to perch at a beautiful overlook called Panorama Point.


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A few of our morning companions.

As soon as we arrive, the first thing we see are mule deer. First a pair of does, then a brace of bucks with soft furred nubbly antlers. We freeze and look at them, and they look at us, and for a moment all is still. After a minute or so we start breathing again, and when they don't turn tail and run we murmur joy to each other quietly, and they stay near us and munch on grass.

We daven at the very edge of the world, watching the sun rising higher. We are at the place where the plains meet the Flatirons. This is where east meets west. We're near where the continent divides. Before us is a vista of flat land as far as the eye can see: trees, roads, some residential streets. Immediately behind us the hills rise up, peppered with pine trees. 

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More members of our morning minyan.

During the shema, as we are singing the words which remind us to take notice of our tzitzit and be reminded of the mitzvot which connect us up, we are visited by a gleaming green and black hummingbird. The hummingbird hovers near us, rests on a branch briefly, and sips delicately from a nearby flowering bush. Its presence feels like a blessing.

During our silent amidah, which we daven standing at the very edge of the hillside -- I have taken off my sandals, in remembrance of Moshe and the burning bush, and I stand barefoot in the dusty Colorado soil -- a hot air balloon rises at the horizon. By the time we are finished davening, there is a minyan of hot air balloons soaring over the distant plains.

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The plains, before the hot air balloons.

 


Jewish Renewal Listening Tour: off to Boulder

6a00d8341c019953ef01bb0883e9fc970d-320wiToday I'm heading off, with Rabbi David and with our executive director Shoshanna Schechter-Shaffin, on the final trip of our yearlong international ALEPH / Jewish Renewal Listening Tour. The idea for the Listening Tour came to David and me on the plane home from Colorado two Januaries ago when we had just learned that we would be given the opportunity to serve ALEPH and Jewish Renewal by taking on a three-year term as co-chairs. It seems fitting that the last physical trip we're taking is back to Boulder.

Our weekend will feature a focus group hosted by the Jewish Studies department of Colorado University - Boulder; a dinner with the board of directors of Congregation Nevei Kodesh; Kabbalat Shabbat at Nevei Kodesh (where Rabbi David will be the darshan, offering a d'var Torah); morning services, followed by a Listening Circle, at Pardes Levavot; a session with the board of directors of Yesod; meetings with other area luminaries, among them Rabbinic Pastor Eve Ilsen; a se'udah shlishit (festive "third meal" of Shabbat) at Nevei Kodesh where I will offer poetry and teaching leading into havdalah and a community Open Mike where we'll harvest hopes, dreams, feedback, "ouches," and yearnings from the broader Jewish Renewal community.

The schedule follows the pattern we've evolved over the last year. We'll have opportunities to daven in different places. We'll have focus groups to harness the voices of longtime Renewalniks as well as those who may be outside of our usual spheres but are doing work which resonates with ours in heart and in spirit. We'll have meetings over meals, and an open mike where we will curate a broad community conversation. In these structural ways I expect this weekend to be parallel to the other Listening Tour Shabbatonim we've done across North America -- from Boston to Vancouver, from New York to San Francisco.  And, of course, we'll bring the same questions, and the same open-hearted readiness to listen, as we've brought everywhere we have gone.

In other ways, I know this weekend will be unique. Every place we visit has its own ta'am, its own flavor, its own way of doing and being Renewal. And Boulder is infused with a special kind of Jewish Renewal history and energy because it's where Reb Zalman (z"l / of blessed memory) lived for the last many years of his life. Maybe because it was Reb Zalman's last home, Boulder has special importance in the history of Jewish Renewal. Like Boston, Philadelphia and the Bay Area, Boulder is one of the places where Renewal first took root in its current forms.  Boulder too continues to lean forward into the newest iterations of what Jewish Renewal can be and become. CU Boulder is home to the Rabbi Zalman Schacter-Shalomi Collection at the Post-Holocaust American Judaism Archive, and we are working toward an ALEPH / Jewish Renewal Archive there as well. 

It's both exciting to be heading to Boulder for these conversations, and a little bit bittersweet to be approaching the end of this year of travel. We've learned so much during this year about the depth and breadth of Jewish Renewal: where we've come from, what we've done well and what we could do better, where people hope we're going next. It's a privilege to hear people's deepest yearnings for a Judaism that will truly nourish and connect them. And this year-long practice of receptive listening, setting aside our own hopes and ouches and visions in order to truly take in the hopes, ouches, and visions of hundreds of others, has been a powerful discipline for me... and I know that the vision for the future that emerges from this adventure will be immeasurably enriched by everything we have heard.

This weekend's trip doesn't mean that we're "done." We still have more focus groups scheduled via videoconferencing, to hear from people in places we haven't been able to visit in person. We're still collecting responses to our Listening Tour questions (find the questions, and an address at which to email us, at the Listening Tour webpage.) We'll spend the summer turning our hundreds of pages of notes into the report we'll issue at Rosh Hashanah to share what we've learned about how y'all understand Jewish Renewal's past and present, and what y'all (and we) hope will emerge in Jewish Renewal's future. And even once the Listening Tour is done, we still hope to travel to Jewish Renewal communities and to continue hearing from you about what you yearn for! But this weekend's trip will be the last official trip of the Listening Tour.

For now: if you're in the Boulder area, we hope to see you, whether davening at Nevei Kodesh or Pardes Levavot or at the havdalah and open mike on Saturday night.


That's why

 

Because I could say your names
tasting them on my tongue
for hours and not grow tired.

Because when you're with me
I sparkle like water in the sun.
Because I turn toward your light.

Because when I remember you
I shine like Moshe come down
from the mountain.

Because my heart, full of you,
bursts open like a ripe fig
juicy and sweet.

 


Because I could say your names... for hours. Both the Jewish mystical tradition and Sufi mystical tradition contain the devotional practice of reciting names of God. Because I turn toward your light. Reb Zalman z"l taught that just as plants are phototropic, and naturally turn toward the source of light which nourishes them, human beings are theo-tropic and naturally turn toward God. I shine like Moshe come down / from the mountain. Torah teaches that when Moses came down from Mount Sinai, having communed with God and received the Torah, his face was so radiant that he had to wear a veil to protect the people around him from his light. 

This is another of the poems in my Texts to the Holy series.


Inspiring rabbis

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I always enjoy the Forward's list of Most Inspiring Rabbis.

I like that the focus is not on fame, but on inspiring others. In-spiring: infusing people with spirit, connecting people with God. That's a metric I admire. Each year when the Most Inspiring Rabbis list comes out I read it avidly, kvelling for friends and colleagues when I see their names there, and resolving to try to meet those on the list whom I do not yet know. 

I'm humbled to be able to say that this year I am on that list. This year there are 32 people on the list, out of some 350 nominations. (I'm not sure why 32, though the Hebrew number לב -- when read as a word instead of as numbers -- reads "heart." I'd like to think this reflects the fact that as a group, we have a lot of heart.)

I'm in amazing company, with some of my ALEPH / Jewish Renewal hevre (friends), and with some of my Rabbis Without Borders hevre, and with others whom I have long admired.  Here's this year's list: Most Inspiring Rabbis 2016. Mazal tov to everyone on the list, and deep gratitude to those who nominated me!


Parsha posters

I just learned about an artistic enterprise that I think is incredibly neat. An artist and graphic designer named Hillel Smith is creating parsha posters each week. Each Thursday he releases a poster inspired by that week's Torah portion, featuring interesting and innovative Hebrew typography. (Look closely at each poster and you'll see the name of that week's parsha woven into the image in a thematically-appropriate way.) 

Here are thumbnail images of a few that particularly tickle me:

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(To see them full-size, you can go to his archive of parsha poster entries. They're also available as prints, and I'm planning to buy a few, perhaps once I've moved into my new place.)

Hillel releases each poster online accompanied by an excerpt from someone's Torah commentary -- and in the case of this week's poster, it's accompanied by one of my poems. (That's how I found out about them. Needless to say, I have now subscribed to his weekly emails, and to his Omer image emails, too.) You can see this week's parsha poster, accompanied by one of my parsha poems, here: Kedoshim | Parsha Posters.

And of course, if you like the parsha posters and don't yet have a copy of 70 faces: Torah poems (Phoenicia Publishing 2011), you might enjoy that too. 


New in The Wisdom Daily: the spiritual power of embracing uncertainty

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I have a new piece in The Wisdom Daily. Here's a taste:

I’m happiest when I have made a choice and can act on it. The in-between phase, when I’m poised on the fulcrum of a decision and could fall either way, is frequently unsettling and uncomfortable for me. And that’s part of why living with not-knowing is such an important part of my spiritual practice — both because it doesn’t come naturally to me, and because I think it’s an essential part of being open to holiness unfolding in the world.

I like certainty. I like feeling rooted. I like knowing where I’m going and what happens next. And I know that in all of those things, there’s danger — because it’s easy for certainty to become my idol, the thing I serve. And if I’m serving my need for certainty, my need to have the answers and to know what comes next, then I’m not the person I want to be.

Read the whole thing: The Spiritual Power of Embracing Uncertainty.


Immersion

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On the day that would become the first night of Pesach, I went to Mayyim Hayyim to immerse. Some people immerse before Shabbat; some people immerse before Pesach. This day was pre- both of those, but those weren't the reasons I was immersing. I was immersing to mark a life transition, in hopes of emerging into the liberation of Pesach feeling spiritually cleansed and ready for a new beginning.

I've been to Mayyim Hayyim a number of times -- I wrote about touring the mikveh at the Gathering the Waters mikveh conference in 2010; several years ago I participated there in a beit din as a new Jew entered the covenant; we held a focus group there as part of the ALEPH Listening Tour last fall -- but there's a world of difference between visiting the place as a witness and visiting it as a participant.

(I had planned to come to Mayyim Hayyim to immerse before my ordination as a rabbi, in a ritual of preparing myself to receive the transmission of smicha. But I live two and a half hours away by car, and on the date of that pre-ordination mikveh appointment a winter snowstorm kept me in the Berkshires, so I found an alternate way to immerse. This time the weather posed no such difficulties.)

When we were there for the Listening Tour focus group in the fall I noticed their attention to detail. How even the bench in the garden has a water motif in its tiling, and even the door handles curve like ocean waves. How there are seven steps down into each mikveh (one for each day of the week, one for each of the seven "lower" sefirot), how each mikveh pool is round evoking the womb and its waters.

When I came this time I noticed even more loving attention to detail, and was grateful for all of it. The seven kavanot (intentions) before immersion. The supplies they thoughtfully provide, from a pumice sponge for one's feet to gentle cleansers for face and body and hands. How easy it is to turn the handle to allow living waters (rain from the cistern) to "kiss" the warm waters of the mikveh itself.

When I arrived, the mikveh guide asked whether I wanted to bring a laminated ritual sheet into the mikveh with me. I asked whether they had rituals available for divorce, and they did. (I wasn't obligated to tell her for what reason I was immersing... but I feel strongly that while there is grief in the end of any marriage, there should not be shame, so I didn't mind being open about what had brought me there.)

I chose to immerse without a witness. That was the right move, because as soon as I entered the mikveh room I began to weep. (I had the feeling that was going to happen.) I paused on each of the seven steps and cried. I stayed longest on the bottom step, the one that maps to the aspect of God known as malchut -- sovereignty, or nobility, or the immanent indwelling Presence of the Divine we call Shekhinah.

My mikveh guide had given me four laminated rituals to choose from: one for the end of a relationship, one for difficult life transitions, one for healing, and one for pre-Pesach immersion. I sat with all four of them in the dressing room. In the end, I brought three of them into the mikveh room with me, and used excerpts from each. I began with these words from the ritual following the end of a relationship:

I stand here, having completed the unbinding of a relationship.
I stand here as a Jewish woman with dignity and with strength.
I stand alone, a whole and complete person, no longer bound as a companion and partner.

The third line is the one that cracked my heart all the way open. "No longer bound as a companion and partner." No longer bound; no longer a companion or partner. Even when ending a marriage is the right thing to do -- and ending this one was my decision -- it still comes with tremendous grief. Part of my spiritual work at this season is allowing that grief to ebb and flow as it needs to do, without shutting it off or ignoring it or trying to short-circuit it.

I immersed three times, with different words of prayer and different intentions before each. I paused for a long time before the final immersion, and prayed the words I needed to pray, and quietly sang parts of the Song at the Sea, and went under. I counted the seven steps back out of the mikveh: from Shekhinah back up the Tree of Life to lovingkindness. I took my time dressing and getting ready to go.

As I was about to leave, my mikveh guide told me that everyone there appreciates my work -- which was a gift to hear. (I said I appreciate their work too, which I do! I've been a longtime fan of Mayyim Hayyim from afar, though this was my first time immersing there.) And then she added "I didn't say that until now because I wanted you to be here just as a person, not as a public figure" -- and that was a gift, too.

We wished each other a Pesach of sweetness and liberation. I walked out into the garden and sat for a while on the bench tiled with the water motif. I called a friend, and watched a big fuzzy bee dart from flower to flower. And my friend talked with me about Hallel and Shekhinah and the Song at the Sea until I felt grounded and steady enough to operate a car and to re-enter the flow of the world.

At Pesach we ask "why is this night different from all other nights?" Right now everything feels different from anything that came before. My world has shifted on its axis, and I know it will be a while before I feel steady on my feet again. I'm working on accepting that. Entering the mikveh unlocked a wellspring of tears in me. While those tears are sometimes wrenching, I believe that they bring healing, too.

 

Image source. 


Join me for Shavuot at Isabella Freedman!

13178057_10154012469395781_6052018367941507131_nIn 2010, I was blessed to be able to spend Shavuot at Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center. (I wrote a little bit about the retreat: The Torah of Our Mothers, Reb Zalman Shavuot 5770, 4am, and Morning prayer, on retreat and after.) 

This year the Shavuot retreat -- co-presented by ALEPH -- features a lineup of some wonderful Jewish Renewal teachers and leaders. I'm honored to be one of the teachers at this year's Shavuot retreat.

I'm organizing a delegation from my synagogue to go down to Isabella Freedman, and as members of an ALEPH Network community we get a discount on registration. But the retreat isn't just for self-identified ALEPH folks -- it's open to everyone, and it is a tremendous experience. If you've ever wanted more out of Shavuot but haven't been sure how to find it, come to Isabella Freedman. Join us at the mountain. And get ready for some beautiful Torah to come down.

Learn more, and register, here at the Hazon website


Among the roses

IMG_3662What happens when one visits a rose garden on Shabbat afternoon with a group of rabbis, having already taken part in Shabbat morning services; when one takes menucha (rest / rejuvenation) time to enjoy nature, to enjoy friends, and to sit with the still-resonating experiences of the preceding week? 

One might wind up finding mystical resonance in everything one encounters. Such as, for instance, the realization that this particular rose garden has seven tiers, seven levels to descend and climb.

Seven is a powerful number in Judaism. To a Jewish mystic, seven immediately suggests holiness. There are seven days of the week and seven colors of the rainbow, both of which point to the seven "lower" or most accessible sefirot (which one might understand as aspects or qualities of God, or as channels for divine light.) 

As soon as the seven levels are noticed, the rabbis in question might start skipping from level to level, naming each as they go: this level is chesed, lovingkindness; this one is gevurah, boundaried strength; this one tiferet, balance / harmony... These are the same qualities we mark daily and weekly as we count the Omer. In this rose garden we move from one to the next with only a few steps.

Or take the fact that the very lowest level -- the one that corresponds to malchut or Shekhinah: nobility, sovereignty, immanent Divine Presence, the Divine Feminine, embodiment in creation -- centers around a free-flowing spring. There is a free-flowing spring in the very heart of the garden. This is almost too remarkable a literary allusion to be coincidence.

In the Zohar, one of the foundational works of Jewish mysticism, malchut is compared both to a rose and to a free-flowing spring. And when each of the seven "lower" sefirot are mapped to days of the week, malchut is mapped to Shabbat -- the very day on which this rose garden visit is taking place. 

Long after returning home, those who wandered among the roses might pause and smile, remembering the sweetness of that Shabbat, the delight of finding an inhabitable map of the cosmos in which all paths lead to the well of divine abundance at the heart of all things, and the heady scent of roses in bloom.

 

With gratitude to the friend who suggested a visit to the Berkeley Rose Garden during a break between open mike conversations on the California swing of the ALEPH / Jewish Renewal Listening Tour. Shabbat shalom to all who celebrate.


Only the beginning

 

Coming through the sea
was only the beginning.
The giddiness of walking
through walls of living water...

But the story doesn't end there.
Now it's desert, without a map.
What if the next forty years
are bone-dry and desolate?

Maybe it wasn't so bad, that life
numb and familiar. Cucumbers
and fish fresh from the Nile.
Certainty: a fixed path.

Now hope unfolds its mighty wings
and every step risks failure.
When I falter, remind me
I didn't cross the sea alone.

Remind me there's a mountain
I'm heading toward, a promise
of becoming together
that spans lifetimes.

 


Through walls of living water. Many depictions of the crossing of the Sea of Reeds imagine the sea as a kind of glassine wall on both sides, with sea life visible to the Israelites as they walked through. What if the next forty years[.] This foreshadows the fact that the children of Israel will wander in the wilderness for forty years, until the generation that knew slavery has died out. Cucumbers // and fish fresh from the Nile. Torah recounts the Israelites grousing to Moshe that they missed the foods they had known in Egypt. I didn't cross the sea alone. To me this is one of the powerful messages behind the daily recitation of "Mi Chamocha" -- the reminder that we all experience sea-crossings in our lives, and the knowledge that God is always with us. [T]here's a mountain / I'm heading toward[.] The culmination of the 49-day Omer journey is Shavuot, the festival when we receive Torah anew. The message of the Omer period is that Pesach finds its fulfillment in Shavuot, that liberation finds its fulfillment in covenant. [T]hat spans lifetimes. What we're heading toward is a brit olam, a covenant that is everlasting, through all time and space, from one lifetime to the next.


Come write midrash with me at the ALEPH Kallah!

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Hey, want to spend a week writing contemporary midrash with me in beautiful Colorado this summer?

There are just a few spots left in the class I'm teaching at the ALEPH Kallah this year. For those who are interested, here's the description of what I'll be offering:

TURN IT AND TURN IT (THE MIDRASHIC PROCESS)

Midrash are interpretive stories (the name comes from the Hebrew לדרוש, to interpret). Midrash speak in a multiplicity of voices as they open new facets of Torah... and diving deep into Torah is one of the most perennial “Joys of Jewishing!” In this class we’ll begin by exploring classical midrash to examine how they work, then we’ll delve into contemporary midrash (in a variety of forms: poetry, music, film), then learn the midrashic process from the inside out as we write our own midrashic texts, embroidering our voices onto the ongoing tapestry of interpretation.

If writing your own midrash sounds like fun, I hope you'll join me. Enrollment in my class is limited, so sign up now!

And, of course, there are many other amazing offerings -- if my class isn't your cup of tea, check out the Kallah 2016 Class and Workshop Guide. I highly recommend clicking on the interactive pdf file and reading through the whole catalogue. 

There's no better way to experience the joy, vibrancy, and "juice" of Jewish Renewal than to come to the ALEPH Kallah. The things I love most about Kallah include the creative and varied davenen (prayer), the sense of community, and the learning. I hope you'll join us -- whether or not you're inclined to sign up for my class -- and (re)discover for yourself what about Kallah you love most.

 

I've posted a fair amount over the years about different experiences with the ALEPH Kallah; if you're so inclined, you can read those old posts via my ALEPH Kallah tag.