The blog

The Zealot

This reading’s title comes from a rash and intense response to the actions of another. But in defense of zealotry (not this story) I want to make the case: We’ve all made mistakes in love. Whether we fell utterly and irrevocably with a zappy crush, manifested or unrequited, or simply said yes to the wrong… (more)

Learning to Listen: TorahCycle Balak

A guy’s hired to curse the Israelites. On the way his donkey refuses to go forward. He beats her; she says, Can’t you see the angel in the road trying to stop us ?!? Confession: I’m a sucker for holy messengers. Usually I get advice from well-meaning friends. My typical response I’m trying!!!, even though… (more)

Oh So Very Close: TorahCycle Chukat

Do you remember from Psych 101 that rats on a treadmill run faster when they get closer to goal? What about you? This week’s reading’s after a big ellipse in time. Forty years, gone with the turn of the page. The Promised Land so very very close. But the troops are cranky, whiny, and thirsty…. (more)

The Rebel

Getting to goal takes longer than we want. There’s lots of muttering Are we there yet? Nope. This week’s about self-sabotage. The part that of you needs something to rebel against, even if it’s yourself. There’s times, individually and collectively, historically and personally, where rebellion is appropriate, honorable, and necessary. Times to resist injustice, to… (more)

Who’re You Kidding? TorahCycle Shelach

I watch movie violence through laced fingers. I don’t mind the faux comic-book kind but deep anger and violence turns my conflict-averse head. It’s not about running scared, but rather appropriate boundaries around what’s not good for one human to do to another. There’s another kind of scary-ness we encounter in life. The kind we… (more)

The Path of Blessing

This week’s reading contains one of my favorite prayers: the Priestly Blessing. I think this prayer is at the core of our relationship with the divine. It’s said at very special times in the Jewish calendar, though my memory is that it was said whenever I went to services. I think so because I reveled… (more)

In The Wilderness

Lots of this story is set in the wilderness. Which an English major would deconstruct to the place that is wilder, less tamed, than where one has been. It’s an interesting concept, an Outward Bound kind of exercise: survive three days in a wilderness with a jug of water, a handkerchief, and a knife; maybe… (more)

Give Yourself a Break

Someone once observed that Judaism’s greatest gift to humanity was not monotheism but rather the idea of a Sabbath. A time to hit the pause button, taking the seventh day to be, not do. A time to live off the labors of the previous six and give gratitude for creation. Not just one day a… (more)

Why We Pray

Every spiritual practice has rituals and observances. Why? To know ourselves. To honor creation. To create community. What’s at the core? Creating communion with however you think about the creator, the eternal life of all the worlds. My shortcut word for this connection is prayer. One of my favorite poets is Rumi, who talks to… (more)

Do Unto Others

There’s a story of the great sage Hillel, supposedly standing on one foot with his life in the balance, saying: What is harmful to you do not do to others. This is the entire Torah, the rest is commentary. Holy writings are loaded with variations on this theme. Do unto others as you would have… (more)

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