The four teachings above are connected with the Four Worlds that the kabbalists saw as the architecture of the universe. When the Kabbalistic community of Tz’fat created the Seder for Tu BiShvat/ Yah BiShvat, they unfolded these Four Worlds in four cups of wine and four sorts of fruit and nuts (one sort so ethereal it was invisible and untouchable). This year, the full moon of Shvat will fall on Shabbat Shira itself, January 24-25. . . . → Read More: Rebirthing the Tree(s) of Life: Four Teachings for the Four Worlds of Tu BiShvat/Yah BiShvat
A midrashic translation/ interpretation of the second paragraph of the Sh’ma. . . . → Read More: A Prayer in a Time of Planetary Danger
May the words we are with Your help sharing today, Speak deeply –- with Your help — to our nation and the world. Help us all to know that the sharing of our breath with all of life Is the very proof, the very truth, that we are One. . . . → Read More: Prayer for the Earth, Air, Water, Fire of our Planet in Memory of Barry Commoner
As we move not just toward a new “year” (shanah) but toward a moment when repetition (sheni) becomes transformation (shinui), I hope we will remember — the roots of Jewish renewal in the upheavals of the 1960s as well as the upheavals of the 1760s, the roots of Judaism in the great “political” speeches of the Prophets, and the teachings of Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, who said that in a great civil rights march his legs were praying, and who argued again and again that “spirituality” and “politics” cannot be severed. As Heschel also said, “Prayer is meaningless unless it is subversive.” . . . → Read More: Haftarah for the Fast of Yom Kippur (translated by R’ Arthur O. Waskow)
We are grateful to Rabbi Arthur Waskow for contributing his expansion of and meditation on the Shema, originally composed the 6th of Tishrei, 5764 (October 2nd, 2003).
Sh’ma: An Interpretation for the 21st Century
Sh’sh’sh’ma Yisra’el — Listen, You Godwrestlers! Pause from your wrestling and hush’sh’sh To hear — YHWH/ Yahh
Hear in the stillness . . . → Read More: Shema by Rabbi Arthur Waskow
Tisha B’Av (the midsummer day of Jewish mourning for the ancient Temples in Jerusalem, and of hope for a transformed future) falls this year, 2011, on Monday evening/Tuesday, August 8-9. In our generation, it can be focused on the endangered Earth as the sacred Temple of all Humanity.
Through The Shalom Center, Tamara Cohen has . . . → Read More: Lament & Hope for Earth: Tisha B’Av for Our Generation (by the Shalom Center and Tamara Cohen)
What the Rabbis taught about teaching and learning was that all Torah study should begin and end with blessings, just as eating does. Often, in liberal Jewish circles today, these blessings are not done. But without them, it is easier for Torah study to feel like a mere academic discussion, devoid of spirit. And where the blessings are said but only by rote, it is easier for Torah study to feel merely antiquarian and automatic. In Jewish-renewal style, how can we bring new kavvanah — spiritual meaning, intention, focus, intensity — to these blessings — and therefore to the process of Torah study itself? . . . → Read More: Blessing Group Torah Study with Brakhot, Kaddish, and Kavvanah
Jews use the Kaddish to mourn the dead, though it has in it only one word — “nechamata,” consolations – which hints at mourning. And this word itself is used in a puzzling way, once we look at it with care. As we will see below, it may be especially appropriate in time of war. The interpretive English translation below may also be appropriate for prayers of mourning and hope in wartime by other spiritual and religious communities. In this version, changes in the traditional last line of the Hebrew text specifically include not only peace for the people Israel (as in the traditional version) but also for the children of Abraham and Hagar through Ishmael (Arabs and Muslims) and for all the life-forms who dwell upon this planet. . . . → Read More: Mourner’s Kaddish in Time of War and Violence