The House: Soul’s Abode

Ambiguities and outright confusions abound in teaching about Psalm 30. It begins with argument about possible meanings of its superscription — “A Psalm; a Song at the Dedication of the House; of David” — and how this relates to subsequent content. This blog has already touch on some ideas about which “house” is meant and […]

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The Whole Nine Yards?

Following yesterday’s post about the hiddenness of God, alluded to in Psalm 30:8, here is a comment about prevalence of God’s name in the psalm: Psalm 30 was added to the liturgy in the 17th century under the influence of Lurianic mysticism. It mentions the name of God ten times, and Jewish mystics saw in […]

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MiShebeirach for Circles of Pain

Introduction: Every bullet leaves pain in circles rippling outward, like the diameter of the bomb the Israeli poet Yehuda Amichai once described. Amichai’s bomb extends from 30 centimeters to the immediate range of dead and wounded, out to a solitary mourner “far across the sea,” finally encompassing “the entire world in the circle.” (Chana Bloch’s […]

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(Beyond 39)

“With social media, people were no longer talking. The [contemporary storytelling] movement really began because people missed people. That’s what storytelling does: It connects people.” So Syd Lieberman told Sam Payne of “The Apple Seed” radio program some time back. After news this week of Syd Lieberman’s passing, the Apple Seed today re-broadcast the conversation […]

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Exploring Kaddish: Some Resources and an Invitation

UPDATED 7/27 : See clarification on Aramaic and names of God below. Also see post-Siddur Study “More on Kaddish” resources and notes. Is Kaddish — in its various forms — “prayer,” as in some combination of praise, request and/or submission to God? Or is it a recitation, more like the Shema? Is it a mystical […]

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Opening and the Ark

What does it mean to open the Ark? In my experience the Torah service exhibits more diversity than any other part of a Jewish service. Reading length varies across denominations. General approach ranges from informal circles embracing Torah to formal, long-standing choreography. And the Torah service is one spot where women’s absence on the bima, […]

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“You Didn’t Build That” Ben Zoma Style

“How hard did the first person have to struggle to toil before he could eat a piece of bread: he seeded, plowed, reaped…But I arise in the morning and find all these foods ready for me….How hard did Adam toil before he could put on a garment…How many skilled craftsmen are industrious and rise early […]

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