#BlogElul Day 29: Return

The first 15 pages or so of the “Gates of Repentance” machzor contain quotes and ideas which form my first recollection of “the High Holy Days”. Even as a restless teen, dreading the hours of boredom ahead of me and mind already spinning elaborate plans find my way to the freedom of friends and hallways outside the sanctuary, I still took time to read through the quotes, thoughts,... read more

#BlogElul Day 28: Give

Ask any Synagogue Sunday School class what that envelope, or jar, or pushke is – the one the fill with pennies, nickels, and dimes each week – and they will all tell you: “It’s for tzedakah!”. Ask them what “tzedakah” is and you may not get as solid an answer. Here’s the thing: Tzedakah doesn’t mean “charity” …it doesn’t mean... read more

#BlogElul Day 27: Bless

What does it mean, to “bless” something? To give someone “your blessing”? Every Friday night, we “make kiddush” – we say the blessings over candles, wine, and challah. But what is that DOING? I’ve given it some thought lately, as our religious habits have changed. A few years ago, everyone would gather around the table, and we sing the blessings together.... read more

#BlogElul Day 26: Create

Hebrew has two primary words for the idea of creating: borei and asah. Asah is the more mundane form of creation, the one we use when we make a clay ashtray or birdfeeder. Borei is reserved for God. It implies that it was created out of nothing. Despite this divison, the lesson remains that creating is not solely in the providence of God. We can create, and be partners with God in the act of creation.... read more

#BlogElul Day 25: Intend

There’s a saying about the road to hell. But one of the things I love about Judaism is how intention is integral to experience. When I pray, my kavannah (intention) is an essential component of the act. If the intention isn’t there, however, does my prayer not “count”? Of course it does. Developing the skills and habits of prayer carries its own merit. How much is a subject of... read more

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