When the ancient Rabbis want to etch something in memory and make it part of regular practice and belief, they stick it in the siddur. I cannot specific cite a source for this pronouncement, which I included in a recent dvar torah — although Berakhot, the Babylonian Talmud’s Tractate on Blessing, is one source that […]

A meditation linking God’s four-letter name – YHVH (yud-hey-vav-hey) – with the human body/soul can help focus on God’s presence and power in our lives. I have relied on this meditation since Rabbi David Shneyer taught it to me some years ago. The variation presented here, incorporates a teaching from the prophet Micah on what […]

Here, as promised a few days back, are some of the sources that I included in my prayer “heart map”…. Overall structure is formed by two lines from this kavanah [intention] for the Amidah: Create a pure heart within me let my soul wake up in Your light. Open me to Your Presence; flood me […]

Readers may have noticed a long silence on this blog. But I have not been entirely silent. At start of June 2015, I began an additional blog, #SayThisName, to mark those lost to homicide and police action in the District of Columbia. Since then, I have personally typed out and said aloud the names of […]

One common, powerful theme of the high holidays is the idea of the broken heart. This is encapsulated prominently in the blowing of the shofar, with its shevarim [shattered] call. (See, e.g., The Shofar as Prayer at My Jewish Learning.) All who hear the ram’s horn — during the preparatory month of Elul and the […]

Chapter 21 of Deuteronomy (Shoftim: Deut 16:18-21:9) tells the Israelites what to do, upon entering the land, “if a corpse be found..the identity of the slayer not being known.” This is the elaborate ritual involving the Red Heifer in which the elders of the nearest town must be prepared to declare, “Our hands did not […]

How lovely are these tents! not far from housing that has seen better days and housing that has seen too many awful ones. I love the place of Your house, reached through streets collecting cigarette butts, the odd chicken wing, echoes of homicide. Through Your abundant love, I enter Your house, where these peaceful walls […]