Posts Tagged ‘ Learning Jewishly ’

Invitation to a Study

2011.03.18
By

FRANCE STREET TORAH STUDY
SATURDAY, 3/19/11, 10 am-noonish
Torah Portion: Tzav (Leviticus 6:1-8:36)
Haftarah: Jeremiah 7:21-8:3; 9:22-23
Neal & Ann’s House
(707.933.9430 for directions)

“Tzav” means “command.” It’s the same root as “mitzvah” which, though sometimes translated as “connection” or “good deed,” carries the contextual connotation of “sacred obligation.” (These aren’t necessarily exclusive meanings.)

Of course, “obligation” implies “breach.” Most of Judaism’s breaches are classed as mistakes — error — mark-missing. But mistakes are not necessarily a bad thing, according to Reb Patrick from the “jungerfrummen” website PunkTorah (http://punktorah.org/):

“…Let us take a moment and consider where where we may have missed the mark. What have we done, not in the past year, not in the past month, not even in the past week, but today! Where have we missed the mark today? Were we angry with a loved one? Did we curse at another driver on the road? Did we ignore the needs of those suffering around us? Did we act in frustration or deceit?

“Think about these things and realize that in our mistakes is the power to repair. Through these mistakes lie the power to not only repair what we have broken, but to help repair others as well.

“Hashem has given us a gift, not of being able to miss the mark, but of being able to realize where we have missed, step back up to the line, and aim again. And in this time, I pray we all hit the bullseye.”

(Read more: Parshah Tzav)

From his mouth to G?d’s ears.

Shabbat shalom,

Neal.

  • email
  • Facebook
  • RSS
  • Twitter
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Tumblr
  • PDF

Why Is Purim Like Yom Kippur?

2011.03.16
By

“Yom Kippur brings the joy of teshuvah; Purim the teshuvah of joy.”

(TO UNDERSTAND THIS, YOU NEED to know that this was my response to Rabbi David Wolpe‘s Facebook post this morning. “Every Jewish holiday has its partner,” he said, and asked what ties together Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, and Purim, which begins Saturday night and celebrates a thwarted plot to kill the Jews of Persia.

(R’ Wolpe’s favorite equivalence is from R’ Jack Riemer: “On Purim we put masks on; on YK we take them off.” Purim, in other words, is about the teshuvah (repentance, or transcendence) of illusion. But Jews have been pondering this relationship for centuries. Purim is a very boisterous holiday where people dress up in outlandish costumes and drink until the lines blur between friend and enemy. Yom Kippur is a solemn accounting of mistakes and deliberate errors.

(My favorite Chasidic view of all this is that Yom Kippur (which some interpret “Day Like Purim”), as a day of teshuvah through forgiveness, is even happier than Purim: “How not, when all our sins are forgiven?” So my answer: that as intense teshuvah brings joy, intense joy brings teshuvah.

(But you knew that, right? Happy Purim/Chag Purim Sameach!)

  • email
  • Facebook
  • RSS
  • Twitter
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Tumblr
  • PDF

Unplug: Can You Do It?

2011.03.02
By

LAST NIGHT I DREAMED I was drunk, belligerent and enjoying myself — not a good combination, nor one which I experience (or wish to experience) in real life. The subject of my tirade seems to have been the apologetic and paralyzing self-consciousness of the modern Jewish stereotype, and while I don’t remember exactly what I said I was truly “all het up” about it. (Which I occasionally am in real life, and maybe why it felt so good to express it.)

But that sense of muddy frustration evaporated when I discovered http://www.sabbathmanifesto.org/ and their call for a National Day of Unplugging from sundown March 4 to sundown March 5. Wondering what to do with your time? Ten suggestions are right here (from “Avoid technology” and “Get outside” to “Find silence” and “Give back”), but participants are also encouraged to create their own.

The basic idea is this: No one can run 24/7 without burning out, even someone as necessary and busy as you. So take a regular day off. See what’s within arm’s reach, and maybe rediscover who you are and what you’re doing here — or at the very least, take a well-earned nap. (Remember naps?)

(And if you found this via Facebook during one of many five-minute “just checking” sessions, you might just want to unplug right now.)

  • email
  • Facebook
  • RSS
  • Twitter
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Tumblr
  • PDF

My Plan For Jewish World Domination

2011.01.26
By

(YOU MAY READ THAT TITLE as either “domination of the world by Jews,” or “domination of the Jewish world.” Either way, it may be better than what we have now, or at least more entertaining. Certainly more well-fed. But.)

The point is this: Build fewer Museums of Tolerance and Holocaust Memorials. In fact, stop building them altogether, and instead build more Jewish schools/centers, for both kids and adults to interact face-to-face with well-trained Jewish teachers. We cannot help but carry the past, of course — but with our hands full, who will build our future?

  • email
  • Facebook
  • RSS
  • Twitter
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Tumblr
  • PDF

The Yad In The Kitchen

2011.01.17
By

IN ONE OF OUR KITCHEN cabinets is a knot shaped like the Hebrew letter “yad.” It’s something we’ve lived with for 11 years but only pondered tonight.

Fig. 1.

According to some of Judaism’s lesser-publicized traditions, “yad” as the first letter of the yad-heh-vav-heh — God’s most holy name — is associated with the element of fire, the tongue of the flame of holy generation and inspiration, which is also the Godhead (that concentrated chunk of God located in the human soul). “Yad” also literally means “hand.” It is also the little sculptured wand (tipped by a hand and pointing finger) which indicate passages in the Torah, itself considered as one long Name of God.

Fig. 1.

So: Yad is the seat of intuition; it is also the hand guided by intuition, and which points to the Sourceless Source of that intuition (and everything else). In orbis veritas. That it’s on the flour cabinet, proves the divinity in food — and ingenuity.

  • email
  • Facebook
  • RSS
  • Twitter
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Tumblr
  • PDF

Al Tirah – Fear Not

2010.10.29
By

A MOVE TO KICK DESPAIR out of Lower North American political life is taking a Biblical imperative to the 21st century — and “joining” is as easy as deciding not to be manipulated by people who want you to hate your neighbors.

“When the heroes of biblical times despaired, God would speak to them. ‘Al Tirah! Fear Not!’ God commanded. Good advice then, good advice now,” proclaims the website for Al Tirah USA, a project of Jewish Funds for Justice. “Al Tirah America! Fear Not! Time to shake off our despair, and get back in the game.”

We at Metaphorager.Net applaud anyone opting for calm over cynicism, reason over rancor and thought over fear. (And the cool thing is, you don’t even need to believe in anything other than your own free agency. Right?)

  • email
  • Facebook
  • RSS
  • Twitter
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Tumblr
  • PDF

5 Thoughts: How To Preach A Sermon

2010.10.26
By

1. Make ‘em laugh with, but not at, you and your topic. But make ‘em laugh first.

2. Remember that you’re a student too, no more learned (and sometimes embarrassingly less) than those listening to you. Your task is to reveal rather than entertain, to share rather than “teach.”

3. Be honest. It shows.

4. Know what you’re talking about, but don’t be afraid of facing questions which haven’t occurred to you. They are inevitable, and can be miraculous.

5. Care about the people you’re talking to(1). Not as “subjects of ‘God’” (or “dues-paying members” or, especially, “the audience”) but as people — maybe scared or sad or in pain, looking for comfort and inspiration and sometimes a reason to get out of bed. So give that!

___

(1) This is in some ways the most important of these principles. If your care is elsewhere than the people you serve, you’ll only disservice everyone.

  • email
  • Facebook
  • RSS
  • Twitter
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Tumblr
  • PDF

Wreaths of Smiles and Leaves

2010.10.08
By

IS THERE ANY GREATER HONOR than to be beloved by children?

A random thought on realizing this is a teaching day. Mind you, I’m no Dr. Seuss or Mother Goose — that’s beloved — but I can definitely see why they did what they did. There’s something about watching the light come on, in each child’s particular way, that makes the Hebrew/religious teaching experience so rewarding: seeing this happen in connection with Deep Things. I have a friend who teaches science in a public school and who relates similar wonders. They’re not that far apart, science and religion … at least, when they start with or enhance awe and curiosity

  • email
  • Facebook
  • RSS
  • Twitter
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Tumblr
  • PDF

Torah Study Anew Abu!

2010.10.01
By

TODAY’S POST COMES FROM GUEST-BLOGGER Ann Clark and concerns our weekly living-room Torah study. We begin the reading cycle anew tomorrow (technically, yesterday and today) — but do we ever really begin, or end, anything?

France Street Torah Study
Neal and Ann’s House – scoop at sonic dot net for directions
Saturday, October 2, 2010 – 10 am to noon

Torah Portion: Bereshit [Genesis 1:1 through 6:8]
Haftarah: Isaiah 42:5 – 43:11 [Ashkenazim]

I love the endless-loop nature of the Five Books of Moses — every completion is but a beginning, because there is no “end” to Torah. This is so perfectly visualized on Simchat Torah when we unroll the scroll and stand with Genesis touching Deuteronomy…such powerful imagery.

And, yet, as Northern Californians well-versed in psycho-speak, some of us (okay, me), are fond of the concept of “closure,” wrapping things up, placing the final period, writing the journalist’s “30.” We’re a culture of final examinations, final grades, last acts, curtain calls, nightcaps, and closing times (well, except for Safeway). And we’ve brought that notion into some of our most painful experiences — separation, divorce, the end of friendships, and death. Some of us have been taught that we must process these experiences to “closure” — implying that there will come a time when we have dealt with them so effectively that we won’t need to deal with them anymore. However, anyone who has suffered a painful loss (which is to say, all of us) knows that it doesn’t quite work that way — it’s not that linear.

Torah, the wisest psychologist of all, understands and in fact models the circular nature of experience.

David Mamet, writing in “Five Cities of Refuge,” says that “Closure is a concept foreign to Jewish tradition. It is an overwhelmingly secular, modern and arrogant idea — that one, by an act of will, manipulation, or aggression can ‘complete’ a disturbing experience [and declare] triumph over fate, chance, anger, grief, or injustice.” Mamet goes on to say that “the struggle to deal with an unjust, confusing, incomprehensible world does not impede our life, it IS our life.”

Finally, he writes: “Bereshit, the very beginning of Torah, counsels that there is and will be no completion, there is no ‘closure,’ and that this lack is not to be decried but, in fact, celebrated.”

I hope you can join us here at Beit Attinson on Saturday to celebrate the ongoing nature of, well, everything. Starting with Genesis 1:1.
The story continues.

Ann Clark Attinson

  • email
  • Facebook
  • RSS
  • Twitter
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Tumblr
  • PDF

First Day Of School, Again

2010.09.24
By

CHIEF AMONG MY DEEPEST DELIGHTS and terrors is teaching young Jewish people about their heritage.

It’s a delight because I’m a born teacher, meaning that I love to learn things and share what I’ve learned (usually learning more in the process). I also love and grok young folk, especially in the 4th to 6th grade range, since they are old enough to begin questioning things, sharp enough to spot BS and still imbued with the essential sense of wonder.

It’s a terror because they pay attention to, pick up on, remember and react to the slightest word — and because much of what they carry with them about Judaism will be because I handed it to them. It’s a similar terror to the reporter’s eternal “Did I get it right?” insecurity without which none can refine their art, but hundredfolded. Sometimes I feel like the captain of a shipful of precious eggs, which I suppose I am.

This is my tenth year teaching, and my first new class in some time (my immediately previous students were with me for three years). The reason I began teaching in the first place was because my own Hebrew school experience was so stultifyingly hideous that I had to leave Judaism for 23 years before I could learn to appreciate it as one of many complex, deep and mysterious expressions of what some call “God” — one which is mine through inheritance and intent, inextricably intertwined with my world- and self-understanding. My teachers taught me not to ask questions (despite that asking questions is the fundament of both Judaism and childhood in general), and I want “my kids” to know that not only are there no stupid questions, there’s nothing in the world that can’t be — shouldn’t be — questioned.

Including, and especially, the teacher.

  • email
  • Facebook
  • RSS
  • Twitter
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Tumblr
  • PDF

5 Thoughts: EthnoReligiUfology

2010.07.19
By

1. IF YOU DON’T READ THIS carefully, you’ll come away thinking that I think “God” is an alien, Moses a contactee and the Event at Sinai one of the humankind’s first recorded UFO sightings.

2. I really really don’t. But I do “believe” (cf. http://metaphorager.net/four-points-of-contact/) that Something Impressive happened in the Sinai desert 3,200 years ago.

3. As high-integrity weird-event investigator Jacques Vallee writes, however, it’s difficult for someone schooled in biblical and weirdological literatures (e.g., me; e.e.g., the 1917 “Fatima event”) not to notice apparent parallels between the two classes of experience: e.g., bright lights coming down from the sky, booming sounds and voices, messages of cosmic import, experienced sensations of timelessness, et al. That doesn’t mean the experiences are the same — or that they have the same catalyst or purpose — only that the patterns appear similar.

4. I have no idea what this means. The patterns appear similar — and because I accept the validity (though none of the explanations) of the so-called UFO experience, it’s easy for me to accept the validity of (though not necessarily any particular explanation for) Torah. (For some people, it’s got to be the word of God in order to take it seriously; for me, it’s just got to be Inspired Writing. And it is — and a recognizable-to-me genre to boot.)

5. Really, I have no idea what this means. But if you, like me, incline toward theories philosophical, aesthetic and noncommittal, you might agree that it’s kind of neat to think about.

  • email
  • Facebook
  • RSS
  • Twitter
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Tumblr
  • PDF

Saturday Morning Live

2010.07.09
By

Lay Led Torah Study & Service — 7/10/10, 9a to 10:15/10:30 to noonish
Congregation Shir Shalom, 252 W. Spain St., Sonoma

JOIN THE SONOMA VALLEY JEWISH community tomorrow morning at 10:30 for a laid-back, lay-led “Reform Mellow” service at Congregation Shir Shalom. We will begin in the classroom at 9 a.m. with a study of the weekly Torah portion (Mattot, Numbers 30:2-32:42), which covers vows, wars and errant cattlemen) before adjourning to the sanctuary.

Our siddur is the new Mishkan Tefilah; the service will include Shir Shalom-traditional melodies (including Bonia Shur‘s “Kedushah”); a d’var Torah titled “Plugging The Holes: Hands, Vows, and Why We’re Here;” and whatever surprises it pleases God to send us (and/or whatever pleases us to thank God for sending).

Shabbat shalom!

  • email
  • Facebook
  • RSS
  • Twitter
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Tumblr
  • PDF

Recent Tales

Not Like It Used To Was

Mom in the drug store Called out to her son: “Brooklyn!” Am I getting old?

Read more »

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...

Read more »

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...

Read more »

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...

Read more »

Storyteller’s Knot

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

Read more »

Recently

January 2018
S M T W T F S
« Oct    
 123456
78910111213
14151617181920
21222324252627
28293031  

Rewind

Wine Country Weather


Click for Forecast

Ritual Hat Pass

G'bless'ye, sir or madam.

You Can't Stop The Signal:
Celebrating the remaining days:hours:etc until Apophis II. Live it up, Earthlings.

Favicon Plugin created by Jake Ruston's Wordpress Plugins - Powered by Briefcases and r4 ds card.