Category: Judaica

“Just Jewish” — the texts, the tribe, the being. (With a bit of random spirituality mixed in.)

Hiding the Hidden

Last week, we read in Parsha Beshallach about the departure from Egypt (Heb. “Mitzrayim”, or “narrows,” which the mystical tradition identifies with the forces of constraint and bad-habitry). Among the other nifty details is this one, from Exodus 13:21: “And…

Torah Nerds, Unite!

Some people say that the Torah can only be meaningful if the events depicted therein are true. In other words, if 600,000 people didn’t march through the Sinai Peninsula; if the plagues were just a mythologization of natural disasters; if…

Mapping God

Like any Torah Nerd, I’ve never met a commentary I didn’t like — the more abstruse and seriously-taking the better — but I’ve always had difficulty with the traditional view of God As Punisher and Rewarder. Perhaps that stems from…

Posse Commentatus

IN THE BEGINNING was the Text. But not for long. The Text – definer and exemplar, authority and comfort, platform and trampoline – was no ordinary collection of words. It spoke of history and possibility, treated miracles as though they…

In the spirit…

… of its content, this might have been posted 12/28/6, the day I wrote and sent it to my coworkers. But it wasn’t: Friends, If you can imagine a universe-sized sponge made of galaxies surrounding bubble-like voids, congratulations: you’re hip…

Der Apikoyrus Rebbe

RABBI AKIVA TATZ IS A turned-on guy whose shiurim (lectures) are ripe with mystic but rational Torah learning. R’Tatz tells a wonderful story about apikorsim (singular “apikorus,” from the Greek “Epicurean;” one who disbelieves the divine origin of Torah and…

Contradicting the Paradox

“Most people don’t worship God. What they do is make an image of what they think God is, and worship that.”— James “Sputnik” Gjerde The biggest problem with Aristotelianism is that it posits false dichotomies (good/evil, up/down, is/ain’t, tastes great/less…

Message From Beyond

NOT ALL MITZVOT TURN INTO ghost stories — but when doing holy work, it’s always a good idea to expect the unexpected. Ann and I are members of the Sonoma County Chevre Kadisha, which literally means “holy fellowship;” it’s a…

Midrash Ko(r)ach

Torah Study Saturday, July 110:00 a.m. – noonNeal’s and Ann’s housePortion: Korach (Numbers 16:1-18:32) “To a man with only a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.” – Anon of Ibid. This week’s portion, Korach, seems fitting for the Shabbat…

Comfort of Nothing

Addressed to a mailing list of old and dear friends, during one of the perennial and genial “Nature of God, or Someone Like Him/Her/It” discussions, and whether Immanence vs. Transcendence helps one sleep better at night: Back when I first…

Circlogics

Circles, by definition, have no ends — each is a continuous line which, as the philosopher Charles Fort tells us, “one measures … beginning anywhere.” However, like life’s other complexities, not all circles conform to strict definition. Consider: Earth’s orbit…

Torah of Vigilance

“Pay attention! and be prepared To do it right The Super Thing — the thing That makes you bigger than life.” — Devo, The Super Thing Friends, Tonight marks the beginning of Shavuot, the ancient harvest festival which post-Temple Jewish…