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Showing posts from November, 2009

The Gateway to Heaven

Not long ago, I googled the question ‘What is prayer?’I got some lovely answers.‘The act of communicating with a deity,’ said one source.Another source said that ‘prayer is the practice of the presence of God.’Lovely!Another Catholicsource said that prayer is‘…a form of … talking to God or to the saints.”What struck me as most interesting about googling prayer was that it wasn’t until the fourth page of google entries that I came to a Jewish definition of prayer.I saw lots of Christian definitions, lots of New Age definitions, Muslim definitions, Sikh definitions.Finally, I came a Jewish definition that simply referred to prayer as ‘a pouring out of the heart.’A nice definition!A good start.We can all sense, in all religions, that prayer is some form of communication between the heart and the Divine.We all can sense that prayer is deeply personal.But what exactly makes prayer Jewish prayer?So many of us come to synagogue wondering about Jewish prayer.We open our siddur.Ancient and com…

Eternity in Disguise

We have a very strange relationship to time in our society.I once read somewhere that we use exactly the same language and metaphors to refer to time as we do to money:we save time, we waste time.We spend time, we invest time.Time is precious and must be put to good use and not squandered.It’s very interesting!Money is so concrete.Yes, there are many abstract elements in our monetary system, but by comparison, money is something based on resources in the physical world.It’s something that you could, at least theoretically, hold in your hand.Time, of course, has nothing concrete about it—but we assign it concrete status, as if the watch on your wrist actually tells you how much time you “have.”But is time, like money, something that we ever actually have at all?Strangely, the more you think about it, you realize that the answer is ‘no:’There’s nothing material about time at all.It’s never, in fact, a commodity in our lives.And yet we all very unconsciously assume that time is ‘somethin…

Finding Peace in the Eye of the Storm

I have an article in the latest issues of Moment Magazine....
http://momentmag.com/Exclusive/2009/2009-12/200912-Spiritual_Moment.html

The Face of God in the Face of the Stranger

The name Avraham means ‘exalted father of many nations.’Avraham lives and acts in the primordial history of our people, and all the peoples of the world.His life IS Torah.His actions serve as the template upon which later commentaries and code books would canonize sacred law and righteous behavior for all generations to come.Watch him closely, emulate his every act, and you too will be a tzadik, a righteous human being.Just look at him in parashat Vayera.He has just circumcised himself, showing his commitment to God, and is recovering, in pain, in the heat of the day.Looking up, he sees three strangers approaching in the distance.Without skipping a beat, he leaps up—and even the text of the Torah is filled with quick action-verbs: he runs from the entrance of the tent.He bows.He hastens to the tent to summon Sarah.He runs to the herd to get a calf to be served, and then he waits on his guests.He is all flurry and action for the sake of total strangers.Watch him!Notice his total alacri…