Your Spiritual DJ: Curating insights into the weekly Torah portion and the infinite light of Kabbalah

“As physical creatures, we can’t fully defeat the forces of fate; we’re constricted by time and space. But our souls-- the parts of us that are infinite-- can reach beyond these constrictions. It’s only when we choose with our souls to surpass our limitations that we can connect to the true, everlasting, joyful freedom that can only be found in the Light of the Infinite”

Cheat Codes to Holiness

“My kedusha (holiness) is greater than yours.” –  The Maggid of Mezrich  When the Maggid said this, he wasn’t saying “I’m holier than you are.” He meant, “My kedushah stems from your kedushah.” This connects to a fundamental Torah concept: מצווה גוררת מצווה (mitzvah goreret mitzvah), which means that one good deed always pulls another one in its wake. The Maggid takes this idea into the realm of kedusha: if someone else does a holy act, it inspires you to be holier for yourself and for others, and so your holiness increases beyond the initial act. So, the Maggid is saying that your kedusha makes his kedusha greater, because each of us has the power to make others holier.   This week’s parashah, Kedoshim (“holy ones”), was my Bar Mitzvah parashah, and, as Rashi points out, שׁרוב גוּפי תוֹרה תלוּיין בּה, …

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Becoming a semblance of God.

“Everyone must have two pockets, with a note in each pocket, so that he or she can reach into one or the other, depending on the need. When feeling lowly and depressed, discouraged or disconsolate, one should reach into the right pocket, and, there, find the words: Bishvili nivra ha-olam– “The world was created for me” (Sanhedrin 37b). But when feeling high and mighty, one should reach into the left pocket, and find the words: V’anochi afar v’efer “I am but dust and ashes.” (Gen. 18:27). -Rabbi Simcha Bunim, Polish Chassidic master “The sign of circumcision is, as I think, so important, that I could persuade myself that it alone would preserve the [Jewish] nation forever.” – Spinoza  In this week’s parashah, Tazria-Metzora, we are entering a new section of Leviticus dealing with the laws of man. The previous parshiot …

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Your Spiritual DJ

This weekly Light of Infinite project began on the Yartzeit (yearly memorial) of my ex wife’s mother’s passing, and it’s inspired by both her (Yehudis Chava bat Yakov Dov) and my mother (Frida Levona bat Shalom), who passed the same year. When I think of these women, I think of tzedaka and chesed, words that are hard to translate because they capture the real depths of words like ‘generous’, ‘giving’, ‘loving’, and ‘kindness’. These two women embodied and exemplified these qualities to an angelic degree: so full of life, love, warmth, and light, at every turn, every single moment. Being around them inspired me to be more loving, more giving, more full of a zest for each moment in life. My goal with this ongoing project is to spread that inspiration and Light that I received and still receive from …

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The CountUp!

This year, I spent Second Seder with my chevruta and his family, the Ben Yehuda’s, who have become like my second family. Two years ago, when they got to the part of the Seder when we invite Eliyahu (Elijah, the prophet) into the home, one guest asked, “Wouldn’t it be amazing if Eliyahu actually showed up this year?” Just then, they actually heard a knock at the door and went to greet the prophet and asked, “Who is it?” and immediately heard a response in a high voice, “It’s Eliyahu.” This year, I was sitting at the Seder table thinking, tonight is the first night of the counting of Sefirat HaOmer. In some years past, I would forget to start the count on the first night. If you forget the first of the 49 days, it’s a big disappointment, because …

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The Transformative Power of Pesach

Growing up, Pesach (Passover) was always a big deal– preparing our home and our meals and our spirits for the holiday to an almost obsessive degree. There are so many little details to the holiday, but once guests started to arrive and the Seder began, there was always an incredible feeling in the air, one that tends to frequent holidays that are enriched by meaning and community.  My dad was a Rabbi and Chaplain in the Navy, so we celebrated Pesach all over the world, including Japan and Italy. Whenever possible, he would invite military personnel to the Seder, as well as friends and family. My dad grew up in a kosher home and attended services, but was not fully observant until he started studying in yeshiva during his second year in Jerusalem. He also met my mom a”h and …

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Spiritualize reality

Yemenite Jews are our strongest link to the ancient Holy Temple. They settled in Yemen while the Temple still stood and have maintained their Hebrew pronunciations and Jewish practices in a completely unique way. Whereas most every other Jewish tribe has traveled and assimilated into the larger cultures around them, Yemenite Jews have stayed in Yemen up until the last hundred or so years. Even the great Eastern European Gadol V’Posek HaDor Rav Moshe Feinstein said that the Yemenite Jews pronunciation of Hebrew is closest to that of Moses, Moshe Rabbeinu. The photo above is of my mom from her Yemenite wedding ceremony. Now to the parashah which centers around the Holy Temple and its practices and how these pertain to our lives.  The Hebrew word kabbalah means “parallel” or “correspondence.” So Kabbalah is the mystical teaching of the parallels …

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Clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose

The Torah goes into an incredible amount of detail about the Mishkan, spending thirteen chapters to describe every element of the tabernacle and how it should be constructed. To put this in perspective: only three chapters are devoted to the revelation at Mount Sinai and only one chapter to the creation of the universe! In the Zohar, the essential book of Jewish mysticism, it’s said that the language used to describe the building of the Mishkan in Exodus is identical to the language that describes how G-d created the universe in Genesis. And Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi writes in the Tanya that “This [the Mishkan] is the purpose of [G-d’s] creation and of the creation of all the worlds, higher and lower—that there be made for G-d a dwelling in the lower realms.” There’s something essential to G-d’s purposes …

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When to abstain from creating and meditate on being created

I love to daven/thank/celebrate Hashem (or as Jim Morrison would call it, petition the Lord with prayer) when I’m surrounded by his handy work, the nature that surrounds. This photo is me in Joshua Tree earlier today, before heading into the national park.  In this week’s Torah portion, Ki Tisa, we are commanded to keep the Shabbat, which is the only Jewish ritual mentioned in the Ten Commandments and the one commandment mentioned in the Torah more than any other. There is no more elevated bridge between this world and the next, it is the finite in time and space where our soul feels tapped into the infinite, its splendor is ineffable. We read, “Hashem said to Moshe, saying: And you, speak to the children of Israel saying: ‘Just observe My Sabbaths, for it is a sign between Me and …

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The living revelation of the concealed

In last week’s Torah portion we learned about the Mikdash; “They should make Me a mikdash [a Temple], and I will dwell within them.” This being the first appearance of old adage, ‘if you build it, He will come’, going into great detail over the laws of how to build the Mishkan (Tabernacle) that dwells within, including precise measurements, and how each and every person can give in order to create. To this day, we still face towards the Temple in Jerusalem, “the gateway to heaven,” where all our prayers ascend On High, the meeting place between the finite and the infinite. R’ Simcha Zisl of Kelm says of the Mikdash’s function, quoting the Ibn Ezra who likens the idea of holiness being concentrated and confined to a set “place” to a person’s sense of smell, which is confined to …

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The love you take is equal to the love you make

“Tzedakah and acts of kindness are the equivalent of all the mitzvot of the Torah” – Jerusalem Talmud, Pe’ah 1:1. Where we are at now in the Torah, is a place where we are coming out of everything being taken care for us, being taken out of Egypt, the splitting of the sea, even our food (the manna), we didn’t have to do anything, as if we were children, because we are, the Children of Israel. We were just given everything. This parsha (Terumah) teaches us how to give and the only way to grow is to give. The parsha (weekly Torah reading) goes into great detail over laws of how to build the Mishkan (Tabernacle), this includes precise measurements, and the three kinds of Terumah; Shekalim – annual contribution of half a Shekel The one time payment of half …

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