Blessing Group Torah Study with Brakhot, Kaddish, and Kavvanah, by Rabbi Arthur Waskow

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? . . .

שמע | An illustrated meditation on the unification of imagination and awareness through empathy

When works are printed bearing shemot, any one of the ten divine names sacred to Judaism, they are cared for with love. If a page or bound work bearing shemot falls to the ground it’s a Jewish custom to draw up the page or book and kiss it. Just as loved ones are cared for after they’ve fallen and passed away, when the binding fails and leaves fall from siddurim and other seforim they are collected in boxes and bins and brought for burial, where their holy words can decompose back into the earth from which their constituent elements once grew, and were once harvested to become paper and books, and ink, string, glue. While teaching at the Teva Learning Center last Fall 2010, I collected all our shemot that we had intentionally or unintentionally made on our copy machine, or which we had collected from the itinerant teachers who pass through the Isabella Freedman Retreat Center on so many beautiful weekend shabbatonim. While leafing through the pages, I found one and kept it from the darkness of the genizah. . . .

תפילת יחיד | Tefillat yaḥid: a prayer for when praying by oneself, by David Zvi Kalman

God and God of my forefathers and foremothers, as I stand here in an innermost room and pray, so too should you in an innermost room heed my questions, my praises and my requests, both from the utterances of my mouth and the utterances of my heart. Even if I am silent, you will know that my tefilla is directed towards you, who is One and whose name is One, alone in all the worlds. My heart is awake and my voice knocks. Open for me, my Lord, my Perfect One, the gates of Tefilla. . . .


בסיעתא דארעא