Standing at the Burning Bush

א’להי אברהם א’להי יצחק וא’להי יעקב/ Elohei Avraham, Elohei Yitzhak v’Elohei Yaakov/“God of Abraham, God of Isaac and God of Jacob.”  Davening is immeasurably enhanced by knowing the Bible. So much of the Jewish prayer book is built from quotations or allusions the Tanakh. If you know the right passage and detect the reference, the experience of davening the words becomes so much stronger.   Imagine you’re an actor playing Hamlet,… Read more »

Ancestors and the Amidah

The central element of worship in any service is the Amidah, literally “the standing,” which the Sages simply called “prayer,” par excellence. All other elements of a morning service up until the Amidah – “dawn blessings,” “verses of song,” the ritual recitation of biblical passages in the Shema and blessings that accompany them – these… Read more »

Jewish Power and Morals

In the last week, the nation state of the Jewish people came to an extraordinary political crossroads that should terrify and repel everyone who, like me, continues to believe in Zionism and Judaism. As widely reported, in order to maximize the number of right-wing seats in the next Knesset (to be elected April 9), Prime… Read more »

RAV CHESED: THE RIGHT WAY TO BUILD SACRED SPACE

Parashat Ki Tisa Religious communities build holy places and fill them with sacred vessels. American liberal Judaism’s great saint (one-time AC member) Abraham Joshua Heschel claimed Judaism is a religion of sacred time, not sacred space. That’s only half true.  Yes, we treasure holy moments, like Shabbat, but we also feel the power of a… Read more »

ברום עולם מושביך

ברום עולם מושביך ומשפטיך וצדקתך עד אפסי ארץ/ B’rum olam moshavekha, u’mishpatekha v’tzidkat’kha ad afsei aretz. “Your abode is the heights of the cosmos, and Your statutes and righteousness reach the ends of the earth.” When I daven this phrase from the blessing following the Shema, I find myself meditating on natural law. Philosophers of… Read more »