Midrash

Hebrew for “delving,” specifically of a religious text. In this context, the text is also life.

David Mamet’s Christmas Wishes

2011.01.04
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From our Wish-We’d-Found-This-Two-Weeks-Ago department: Over on Tablet, playwright David Mamet literally pens a Christmas card to the Jews from the Chinese “who do not completely understand your dietary customs.” To say more would sound horribly post-facto; let’s say instead we’re being early for next year.

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Fsssss. Pop!

2011.01.01
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Happy Solar Calendrical Artifact Of The Hated Romans Who Destroyed Our Holy Temple May Their Names Be Effaced New Year!
Raise your hands, everyone who detected the irony.

(Everyone who detected the irony, raise your hands.)

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Six Lines, Repeat Until Enlightened

2010.12.29
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“THIS ‘HAPPINESS’ OF WHICH YOU speak. Can it be induced?”

“No. It arises of itself.”

“Why?”

“Because of everything.”

“How?”

“When everything falls into place, there is happiness.”

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“What do YOU like about being a spiritual leader?”

2010.12.29
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THIS QUESTION WAS POSED TO me by a friend who’s considering the path. Since I have some small experience with the subject, and some readers have some interest in it, I’m posting my reply here and will be absolutely unoffended if you skip it.

Wow. No one’s ever asked me that before, so I needed to take some serious time to think about it before replying. So first, thank you for an interesting think.

Before I reply, you need to know that I’m currently off the rabbi thing; partly because I made an unsuccessful bid earlier this year to serve my synagogue in this capacity, and since I now know I only wanted to “be a rabbi” for this community (and despite that everybody still treats me as a spiritual leader) it seems rather moot to continue my studies. But there are other reasons as well. That said, there were certainly aspects I “liked,” or more accurately, found rewarding.

The best thing to me about “being a spiritual leader” is making a difference for people in a direct, immediate way. People come to services for many reasons — duty, support, inspiration, help, grief, socializing and sometimes even to pray. To at least offer a moment of connection for those who need it is incredibly fulfilling; to have it accepted, even more so. (I always feel like I learned most about leading services by hawking for Greg; it’s important to be able to read the crowd and respond appropriately and immediately.)

But leading is not just services. Depending on the tradition you embrace, you may also be witness to (and help facilitate) some of the most powerful moments in someone’s life. What I like most about this, perhaps selfishly, is that there’s no room for yourself in these moments — you must be a pure conduit for those involved — and for a heavy egotist like me the experience is wonderfully freeing.

This next may be a specifically Jewish thing (on account of the heavy rabbinical teacher’s role), but there is also a particular joy in seeing people get excited about their really, really old heritage: that moment of “Ohhhh … THAT’S why we do this.” It’s fun to share the things which excite us. It’s also very scary to be the one passing along a tradition — you want to get it right, and you want to get it relevant — but I think a proper spiritual leader needs a certain amount of insecurity.

Seeing people smile when you enter a room is also a nice benefit. But be careful of being praised beyond your capacity to accept. Gracefully accepting gratitude is something I’m still trying to master; what I do comes naturally to me, partly perhaps because I /don’t/ see myself as being altogether worthy of doing it. I just allow it all to happen, that’s all. Like the old Grateful Dead lyric about the storyteller: “His job is to shed light, not to master.”

That’s all I can think of at the moment. I hope it helps you in some way.

Be well, good luck, and blessings.

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What I Hope God Wants

2010.12.28
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SEEMS TO ME THAT MORE accuracy would be obtained from statements beginning “God does/wants/says” by prefacing them with “I hope.” Because seriously — that’s as far as you’re going to get with figuring out God. (If nothing else, it rather nicely neutralizes the Westboro Baptists’ main slogan. Or so I hope.)

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First-Step Messiah

2010.12.27
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CONSIDERING THE GREAT POTENTIAL CONTAINED in most human beings, and the difficulty we have getting started on projects, perhaps we might accordingly revise our notions of messianism. The Re-(or Un-)born King may not set things right so much as give us the tools and gumption we need (or point out that we’ve had them all along). After all, getting started is the hardest start to any project. Perhaps we just need a little push and can take it from there.(1)

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(1) Disclaimer: This being Monday morning, I tend not to believe in a literal Messiah. In fact, I tend not to believe in a Messiah at all unless as metaphor or if I have a really, really bad headache. But “believe as thou wilt shall be the hole in the Law.”

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Instant Everywhere

2010.12.22
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FOR MY NEXT TRICK, I shall unite the Universe.

Ready?

It is Now as I write this; it is Now as you read it.

Thank you, ladies and gentlemen. We’ll be here all week.

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Metaphysicatin’ Jones and the Book of Words

2010.12.17
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IN ORDER TO BETTER ATTAIN the mind necessary to continue writing about what could be called personal mystical experiences, I’ve been reading up on the subject via John Ferguson’s excellent Encyclopedia of Mysticism and Mystery Religions and incidentally discovering that I hate reading about mystical experiences.

It’s like this: There are certain things which sound crazy if you haven’t experienced them — wild and alien and full of fire and beguiling sparks — yet the thing itself is really so simple that any words about it are just gnang gnang gnang. (It’s not just a “mystical” thing: you hear this around veterans, first responders, New Yorkers and all whose lives and jobs bring them into daily contact with Inescapable Reality: There’s just no reason to talk about what everyone knows. The reason why “those who know don’t speak” is because speaking is a waste of breath.)

So one devotee hears choirs and angels and divine appointings, another sees the reflection of the moon in a bucket of water; afterward, a third can heal the sick of heart and body. Different, perhaps, yes? Yet there is a common point that each have touched, or been touched by. It’s as if the fruit has been digested and there’s no need to look at the rind. (Or, maybe that’s just me — after all, somebody keeps buying enough books on the topic of WooWoo Isness to keep the genre profitable.)
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Warning-Label Zen

2010.12.13
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Fig. 1.



Fig. 1.



Fig. 1.

(If you’re seeing this on the front page, click the title for the entire post. And many thanks to http://www.warninglabelgenerator.com/!)

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Anatomy and Metaphysiology: States of Grace or Tangent

2010.12.10
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PERHAPS BEFORE DELVING DEEPER INTO Things Glimpsed it would be helpful to explain my terms, and how I arrived at them.

Ever since I was a little kid, I’ve been fascinated/obssessed/entranced by “God,” or the “Great Spirit,” or “It What Is” or more specifically the undisclosable Reality behind those words. I was often taken aback by such pop-in-the-head questions as “What came before God?” or “What would an infinitely tall stack of paper cups look like?” or “Does the bathroom wallpaper really have little toilets all over it, or does it just look that way to me?” (Sadly, ’twas the former.)

I say this to tell you that I’ve been both looking for and halfway expecting Weird Inner Experiences all my life. When they actually began happening, though, I honestly didn’t know what to make of them. Read more »

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How To Really Begin Services

2010.12.05
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“DEARLY BELOVED, LET US PLAY.”

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I Never Metaphysician I Didn’t Like

2010.12.03
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HOLDING A PLANET IN YOUR belly may not sound easy — or perhaps even possible — but it is also supremely satisfying in ways that are still becoming evident.

Put another way, it occurs to me that, following Wednesday’s decloseting, I should drop at least a note about the spiritual/wholistic aspects referenced therein. Today’s bit: Contemplation.
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Recent Tales

…And We’re Back

IT FEELS GOOD to write again. It has been just over six years since I last added to this blog (which once boasted a...

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Prosatio Silban and the Starving Survivor

A BUOPOTH IS A STRANGE beast: some say it is half-composed of men’s dreams, others prefer not to speculate. But of the little that...

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Prosatio Silban and the Visitor From The Sands

PROSATIO SILBAN WAS NOT KNOWN for nothing as “The Cook For Any Price.” He had long ago foresworn the Sacreanthood and serving people’s souls...

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The Poet

HE COULDN’T TELL WHETHER HE loved beauty or women more until the day he called his mom and said “Guess what? I’m marrying a...

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Storyteller’s Knot

THE MOST IMPORTANT PART OF any story is the point at which it’s attached to the reader.

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Celebrating the remaining days:hours:etc until Apophis II. Live it up, Earthlings.

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