Hanukah: Overcoming Your Darkness

Did you know that Hanukah falls during the darkest time of the year? It is the week of the new moon closest to the winter solstice. Why does Hanukah fall during the darkest week of the year? Hanukah is about standing up when things are darkest and defeating your biggest challenge, the one that has been growing for a while and feels insurmountable. What great obstacle is standing before you trying to convince you to give up and that you … Continue reading

The Importance of the Mundane in Judaism

We are in the middle of the Jewish month of Cheshvan. This is a very special month; it is the only month on the Jewish calendar where we are not celebrating something or doing something different. It is 4 weeks of 6 ordinary days and a shabbat. It is also part of the longest period of mundane-ness in the Jewish calendar. We go two months, starting the day after Simchat Torah (the end of the High Holy days period) until … Continue reading

A Passover Story?

This week we take a break from our regularly scheduled parsha (weekly Torah reading) and read about Pesach (Passover).  Last year I shared some insights on Passover and you can read them here. This year I want to share a story.  It takes place a few hundred years ago in a small town in Russia.  It was your usual Jewish village with a rabbi and a couple of beggars, lots of children and poor people, and a wealthy miser. This … Continue reading

Shavuot: First Fruit of Revelation

Passover has come and gone.  It was the start of a journey.  And Shavuot (this Wednesday, May 15) is the ending of that journey and the beginning of a new and improved journey.  It is the day that we receive Divine revelation.  It is the day that we start to see our hard work over the last several months start to manifest in this world.  It is the day we bring those first fruits to the temple, that sacred space … Continue reading

Counting the Omer: Jewish Personal Growth

First, what is an Omer?  And why do we count them?  And how does counting these… omers lead to self improvement (which I am implying by the title of this post)? The answer to the first two questions are easy.  Omer is the Hebrew word for a sheaf of grain.  The main Jewish sacred text, the Torah, tells us that we should bring sheaves of barley to the sacred place, the place where the divine infinite safely intersects our finite … Continue reading

A Meditation for the New Moon

Tuesday starts the Jewish month of Nisan.  This is the month of spring, the month of freedom.  In 2 weeks we celebrate Pesach (Passover), the time we left Egypt and slavery. However, that is not the only thing to celebrate during this month.  According to our tradition, Moshe (Moses) puts up the mishcan (tabernacle) on the first day of Nisan… which just happens to be… Today! The mishcan is a special structure that allows for the infinite creator to be … Continue reading

So This is Purim

So this is Purim.   Say, didn’t John Lennon sing that?  Maybe it was something close. Today is Purim.  What is Purim?  The Hebrew word translates to lots (like a lottery), because the villain picked lots to determine when his decree against the Jews would take effect.  But that is just a small part of this holiday. Here is another way to look at Purim.  For me, Purim is the gift of a day to see god hiding in the world.  … Continue reading

Tu b’Shvat: The Jewish New Year for the Trees

One of my teachers, R. Raz Hartman gave over the following in a class several years ago.   I hope I do it justice, and that you enjoy it. Before I start, I want to share a few basics.  For those of you who know this already, please bear with me.  According to our family tradition, our man Moshe (Moses) went up on Mt. Sinai and received the Torah.  What he received was not just the written Torah, but also an … Continue reading

Succot: Why Now???

We are about to enter into the holy days of Succot (tabernacles) and I thought I would share a few words on the topic.  When I was in Israel, I heard a lot of talk regarding these holy days as to the meaning of the 4 species of trees that we wave, and with the meaning of the succah itself.  At the beginning of one Succot in Israel, a different type of question came to me.  Why does Succot happen … Continue reading

Yom Kippor: A Time To Answer To Your Soul

Hello everybody, This was originally written on October 11, 2005.  However, it is still relevant today and I hope gives you a fresh and more joyful perspective on what Yom Kippor is really about. Well here it is, the evening before Yom Kippor.  I wasn’t planning on writing anything for the day, but during yeshiva (a school for the study of Torah) today, as we talked about the day, I realized that I did have some thoughts I wanted to … Continue reading