(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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Six Days to Share… (Beyond 38)

In the section of Leviticus dealing with the festival of Shavuot, we read: And when ye reap the harvest of your land, thou shalt not wholly reap the corner of thy field, neither shalt thou gather the gleaning of thy harvest; thou shalt leave them for the poor, and for the stranger: I am the […]

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Jubilee (Beyond 37)

This week’s Torah reading — a double-portion, Behar (Lev 25:1-26:2) and Bechukotai (Lev 26:3-27:34) — includes instructions for conducting the Jubilee, the year of rest for the land, a time to “proclaim freedom throughout the land for all its inhabitants” (Lev 25:10). Writing for T’ruah: the Rabbinic Call for Human Rights, Rabbi Joel Mosbacher notes […]

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Reclaiming Mothers Day (Beyond 36)

We are moving through the omer week of Yesod [foundation, creative energy], from the day of Chesed [loving-kindness] to Gevurah [strength]. This seems an auspicious moment to consider efforts to “reclaim Mother’s Day” for radical, life-saving messages: In the spirit of the original Mother’s Day,* activists in St. Louis gathered today to call on others […]

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Alice in Omerland (Beyond 35)

“I don’t know what you mean by ‘glory,’” Alice said Through the Looking Glass. As we leave the omer week associated with “Glory” “[hod, in Hebrew] behind, let’s consider for just a moment Alice’s conversation with Humpty Dumpty about his use of the term. Is Alice’s conversation with Humpty Dumpty far removed from recent discussions […]

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Moral State of Emergency (Beyond 34)

“God has declared a state of moral emergency,” writes Rabbi David Kasher in his commentary on this week’s Torah portion. Kasher points out that a command to care for the poor suddenly appears in the midst of a portion otherwise dedicated to ritual matters stressing holiday observances, and comments: Mind you, everybody agrees that charity […]

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Coates and Tyfereth, Algren and Mobley (Beyond 33)

“Passover is a time of remembrance but also one of renewal — of looking ahead toward the spring and new growth that will sustain us through the seasons to come. Once we spent spring in the desert. It was harsh and difficult but from that journey grew a people who have endured for centuries. What […]

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Conversing for Racial Justice (Beyond 32)

Lag B’Omer, the 33rd day of the Omer, brings a symbolic break in this 49-day journey from Passover to Shavuot. The 32-day plague wrought by disrespect among Rabbi Akiva’s students (see yesterday’s post) has ended. Lag B’Omer is a day of transition. We don’t necessarily cease mourning for who and what was lost, or stop […]

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Death by Disrespect (Beyond 31)

How can we end the plague of disrespect around race-related topics that threatens our country with disaster? Perhaps the Omer journey shows us a way to begin. Rabbi Akiva, a key player in the story of four who visited Paradise (see yesterday’s post), is also central to a narrative linked with the Omer period. The […]

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The Most Dangerous of Dualisms (Beyond 30)

No one knows for certain what the ancient rabbi meant when warned his fellow mystical travelers against saying “Water! Water!”: When you reach the stones of pure marble, don’t say, “Water! Water!” As it states, “One who speaks falsehood shall not endure before My eyes” [Psalms 101:7] — Babylonian Talmud, Chagigah 14b The speaker, Rabbi […]

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