Carrying Egypt with Us

אמת ויציב/Emet V’yatziv [“true and enduring”], the blessing following the Shema is very ancient. According to Mishna Tamid 5.1, this prayer – or at least the kernel that developed into our version – was part of the very brief liturgy the priests recited each morning during Temple times, long before our prayer book evolved. The… Read more »

Nothing But You

אין א’להים זולתך/Ein Elohim, Zulatekha, “there is none, God, but You.” Mystical Judaism intuits that the One God is present everywhere, fully, at all times, in all existence. לית אתר פנוי מניה/let atar panuy minei, says the Holy Zohar [Tikkun 70, 122b], “there is no place void of God.” Following this intuition brings a soul… Read more »

Davening with Our Ancestors

 אתה הוא א’להינו וא’להי אבותינו, מלכנו מלך אבותינו, גואלנו גואל אבותינו For You are our God, and God of our ancestors – our ruler, and ruler of our ancestors – our redeemer, and redeemer of our ancestors. Deep prayer can often feel like a sacred solitary experience, a lone person confronting God. We properly treasure… Read more »

Every Bone in Your Body

Jewish sages are sometimes called sofrim, literally “scribes.” However, the same word, lispor, means “to count.” So, in addition to loving words, they also liked math, finding meaning in important mythic numbers, like 7s, 49s, 613s and others. They hunted for cool numerologies or gematriot¸ assigning numerical values to Hebrew letters. And they loved to… Read more »

Thread of Heaven

The third section of Shema [Numbers 15.37-41] commands Jews to attach fringes to our four-cornered garments, to remember the Exodus. Ancient Israelites did this on their regular clothes, which must have been something like capes or ponchos. As styles changed, the mitzvah of tzitzit came to apply to ritual garments, either the outer shawl or… Read more »