Archives for August 2012

Torah Reflections August 19 – 25, 2012

Shoftim; Deuteronomy 16:18 – 21:9

The Healing Power of Self-Awareness

This week marks the beginning of the month of Elul, the last month of the Jewish year. Less than 29 days separate us from Rosh HaShanah, New Year’s Day. Elul is a month of preparation ahead of the High Holy Days, a time of personal inventory. We review the year that was, fearlessly assessing how we have “shown-up” in our world against the yardstick of our own values and principles. This process is called Teshuvah/returning, because no matter how far we have drifted away from our center, engaging in this practice with honesty and integrity allows us to return, to re-align ourselves with our soul, our Higher Self. Teshuvah is a way to heal, to forgive and be forgiven, to learn from and let go of the past; a way which ultimately supports our reclaiming our own inner wisdom.

But how do we enter into such a process? Because we are so good at criticizing and condemning ourselves for all our faults and failures throughout the year, how do we engage in a thorough moral inventory, openly examine the character flaws that impact our lives, without falling into excessive self-righteous flagellation which can easily turn into an ego trip down the I-am-the-worst-evil-person-that-ever-was road? The first verses of this week’s Torah portion–which inaugurates the month of Elul each year–give us instructions in regard to this inner process:

You shall not judge unfairly; you shall show no partiality; you shall not take bribes, for bribes blind the eyes of the discerning and upset the plea of the just. Justice, justice shall you pursue, that you may thrive and occupy the land that the Eternal your God is giving you. [Deut. 16:19-20]

[Read more…]

Israel 2012: “I wish so-and-so had come!”

The Wonders Of Israel 2012

December 12 – 23, 2012 

Jana reminded me in a conversation last week that unavoidably, in every trip, she and I look at each other or one of the participants always exclaims:  “I wish so-and-so had come!

Don’t be that “so-and-so” this year! This experience will be amazing and you already know it. What will it take for you to finally listen to your heart and soul and pack your bags to go to Israel?

You know that I often remark that parts of who I am are only alive when I am in Israel. Which is why I believe that each of our journeys through the land of Israel is ultimately a personal journey, an inner journey, a once-in-a-lifetime journey. Come and discover that part of your being yearning to be finally met there.

Click here to register today!

Torah Reflections August 12 – 18, 2012

Re’eh

Deuteronomy 11:26 – 16:17

Blessings — OK, bring them on; but why curses?    

 

This week’s Torah portion is close to my heart. It was the Torah portion of the week of my wedding, thirteen years ago, and is called Re’eh, which means “See!” It begins:

 

See! I place before you today a blessing and a curse. The blessing, if you hearken to the path of mitzvot of the Eternal your God, that I enjoin upon you today; and the curse if you do not hearken to the path of mitzvot of the Eternal your God, and turn aside from the way that I enjoin upon you today… [Deut. 11:26-28]

I place before you today a blessing and a curse,” an interesting injunction to launch a marriage! But as much as the ego is fine with blessings, why does God have to also place curses in front of us?

[Read more…]

Torah Reflections July 29 – August 4, 2012

Va-Et’chanan
Deuteronomy 3:23 – 7:11

The Blueprint of a Spiritual Journey

This week’s Torah portion is awash in an abundance of themes. It includes Moses’ plea to God to upend His death sentence so that he, too, may enter the Promised Land. It speaks of the three “cities of refuge” to protect those who commit involuntary manslaughter. It has the Ten Commandments; and both the Sh’ma and the V’ahavta. Yet despite all this, I found myself attracted to an often overlooked passage right in the middle of the portion, and it occurred to me that this passage is a compelling blueprint of a person’s spiritual journey:

But if you seek YHVH your God from there, you will find Him; if only you seek with all your heart and with all your being. When you are in distress because of all the things that have befallen you; in the end, return to YHVH and hearken to His voice. For YHVH your God is a God of compassion… You have but to inquire of earlier days… You yourself have been made-to-see and know that YHVH is God, nothing else is but the One. [Deut. 4:29-35]

[Read more…]