Archives for September 2012

A “Days of Awe” Retreat – Day 2

Back to Life, Back to Reality

The Ten Days of Awe between Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur, are an opportunity to enter into a time of personal retreat, the theme of which is “forgiveness.” The path of forgiveness is one of the most powerful spiritual paths available to us. Forgiving ourselves and others, and even–for some of us–forgiving God, can be a compelling pathway to moving beyond the narrow confines of our ego and finding greater peace within. Forgiving helps us move from our obsessive concerns with our small self and its compelling, mesmerizing stories; and toward our Higher Self, free from stories and obsessions.
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Torah Reflections September 2 – 8, 2012

Ki Tavo

Deuteronomy 26:1 – 29:8

Listening to God’s Voice

As the rabbis of Talmudic times ordered the daily prayer schedule, they made sure we recite the Sh’ma–the central affirmation of our tradition–at least three times a day; during morning and evening services and immediately preceding sleep. It is also well-known that the six words of the Sh’ma are to be the final words we utter on our last breath; and since we do not know when that will be, we are to continuously be present to these words. The verse itself is found in the book of Deuteronomy, and is translated thus:

Listen, Israel: The Eternal manifests as all that Is, the Eternal is One.” [Deut. 6:4] Because the Sh’ma is so fundamental to Judaism, we might mistakenly think that this one passage in Deuteronomy is the only place Israel is called to listen. But in truth, this injunction is found in other places in Torah, including in this week’s Torah portion; and this instance bears no less gravitas than its more prominent counterpart. It reads: “Be Silent! Listen, Israel… listen to the voice of the Eternal One.” [Deut. 27:9-10]

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Torah Reflections August 26 – September 1, 2012

Ki Teitzei

Deuteronomy 21:10 – 25:19

Why Say A Blessing?      


As we find ourselves entering the second half of the book of Deuteronomy, our weekly parasha/portion contains a record of individual, familial, and communal laws and mitzvot. In the passage that pertains to individual vows, we read: “Guard what comes forth through your lips.” [Deut. 23:24] In order to ensure the letter of the commandment is followed, our rabbis often generalize and thus determine that this applies to all speech. Knowing the difficulty of fulfilling such a mitzvah, our sages devised an intense regimen of daily study, prayers and blessings that limit opportunities for idle time and casual conversation. By busying ourselves with words of Torah, praying three times a day, and always being on the lookout for an opportunity to say a blessing, the likelihood of our minds remaining steeped in spiritual matters and focused on the holy is greater.

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