Cheat Codes to Holiness

The Dvar/article below is also available as a Podcast, simply click any of the following options: Apple, Spotify, Bandcamp, Soundcloud,  &/or Youtube. ________________________________________________________ “My kedushah (holiness) is greater than yours.” – The Maggid of Mezrich People always tell me it’s “so LA” to talk about energy and vibes, but I think perhaps it’s just more openly discussed here. In truth, we all feel and are affected by both. That’s why it’s so important to be mindful of the company we keep. I often place myself in what I call sacred spaces or spiritual environments, because when people are there to reach higher levels of being, it means the base level of what’s expected is generally pretty elevated. I often go to spaces that one Rabbi in particular will be at, and people ask if I am a chassid of this Rebbe, …

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The Transformative Power of Pesach and Sefirat Ha’Omer

The Dvar/article below is also available as a Podcast, simply click any of the following options: Apple, Spotify, Bandcamp, Soundcloud,  &/or Youtube. ________________________________________________________ Radiant is the world soul, Full of splendor and beauty, Full of life, Of souls hidden, Of treasures of the holy spirit, Of fountains of strength, Of greatness and beauty. Proudly I ascend Toward the heights of the world soul That gives life to the universe. How majestic the vision – Come, enjoy, Come, find peace, Embrace delight, Taste and see that God is good. Why spend your substance on what does not nourish And your labor on what cannot satisfy? Listen to me, and you will enjoy what is good, And find delight in what is truly precious. These poetic words are from the notebook of Rav Kook. In these last parshiot (prior to Pesach), we continue …

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G.O.A.T. amongst goats

The Dvar/article below is also available as a Podcast, simply click any of the following options: Apple, Spotify, Bandcamp, Soundcloud,  &/or Youtube. ________________________________________________________ “I visualize what it is, not what is isn’t” – Nas The first pasuk (verse) of this week’s parashah, Acharei Mot, reads:  וַיְדַבֵּ֤ר הֹ’ אֶל־מֹשֶׁ֔ה אַחֲרֵ֣י מ֔וֹת שְׁנֵ֖י בְּנֵ֣י אַהֲרֹ֑ן בְּקרְבָתָ֥ם לִפְנֵי־ה’ וַיָּמֻֽתוּ Hashem spoke to Moshe after the death of Aharon’s two sons [Nadav and Avihu], who drew close to Hashem and died.  Or HaChayim explains that the sins of Nadav and Avihu were very different than sins as we generally understand them. He explains that their sin involved allowing themselves to cling to Hashem so totally that their souls simply left their bodies. It’s written “who drew close to Hashem and died” because it was the drawing close in the way they had that caused their …

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Birds in a Trap

The Dvar/article below is also available as a Podcast, simply click any of the following options: Apple, Spotify, Bandcamp, Soundcloud,  &/or Youtube. ________________________________________________________ Introduction: Winks from Above As is customary, in the first 30 days after my mom passed away, my family, friends and I split the responsibility for saying the full Mishnayiot, for the purpose of my mom’s aliyat neshama (soul elevation). When I read mine, I noticed right away that my mom’s Hebrew first name was right on top of her Hebrew last name in Hebrew— פרידה צפור — right there in the Mishnah. It was a moment when I felt that she was winking at me, and Hashem was letting me know, It’s ok, your Ema is with you for the rest of your life, as light in infinite recursions. I was reminded of this as I sat …

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Becoming a semblance of God.

The Dvar/article below is also available as a Podcast, simply click any of the following options: Apple, Spotify, Bandcamp, Soundcloud,  &/or Youtube. ________________________________________________________ “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, we are entering a new section of Vayikra (Leviticus) dealing with the laws of man. The previous parshiot dealt with the laws pertaining to animals. This follows the order of creation; man (ish) was created last. Rav Samlai explains that the order is such not because man was created last, but for the reason that man was created last.  It’s simpler to understand the sanctification of the animal world. It’s natural for us to make important distinctions between the clean and unclean, taharah (purity) and tumah (impurity), …

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step in rhythm, grow in concert

The Dvar/article below is also available as a Podcast, simply click any of the following options: Apple, Spotify, Bandcamp, Soundcloud,  &/or Youtube. ________________________________________________________ When I can’t sleep, I often free verse / wax poetic about whatever’s on my mind. It’s always interesting reading it the next morning. Here’s one from the other night:  —- The world is full of enough dissonance  produce melody perform alchemy sift the good notes from the bad the serene from the siren song  step in rhythm grow in concert we are all notes in this divine orchestra of existence  —- It seems we all want to be one with our natural state and the spaces we are in — content, fulfilled, thriving. That would seem to be enough, but the truth is we want more than that— we want to transcend this natural state, to not …

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When the Screens of Separation Fall

The Dvar/article below is also available as a Podcast, simply click any of the following options: Apple, Spotify, Bandcamp, Soundcloud,  &/or Youtube. ________________________________________________________ Radiant is the world soul, Full of splendor and beauty, Full of life, Of souls hidden, Of treasures of the holy spirit, Of fountains of strength, Of greatness and beauty. Proudly I ascend Toward the heights of the world soul That gives life to the universe. How majestic the vision – Come, enjoy, Come, find peace, Embrace delight, Taste and see that God is good. Why spend your substance on what does not nourish And your labor on what cannot satisfy? Listen to me, and you will enjoy what is good, And find delight in what is truly precious. These poetic words are from the notebook of Rav Kook This week’s parashah, Tzav, continues discussing the intricacies of …

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Spiritualize Reality

The Dvar/article below is also available as a Podcast, simply click any of the following options: Apple, Spotify, Bandcamp, Soundcloud,  &/or Youtube. ________________________________________________________ There was a time when I stopped visiting Israel, because it was too difficult for me to go there after my Savta passed away. Her house had always been my first stop; I would run there directly from Ben Gurion airport. She would likely have some Yemenite food and mind-blowing schnitzel awaiting my arrival. Back when I was in Yeshiva and lived in Yerushalayim, I would take my friends from yeshiva to my Savta’s in Ramat Gan for Shabbatot (they all called her G-ma;). I remember her waking up at 5 am every day, covering her head and saying the morning tefillah. She would cook Yemenite food and Moroccan salads, and my friends and I would sing Shabbat …

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The Grounding Elements

The Dvar/article below is also available as a Podcast, simply click any of the following options: Apple, Spotify, Bandcamp, Soundcloud,  &/or Youtube. ________________________________________________________ Last week, we discussed the notion that Exile is a state of disconnect, and redemption is the rectification of that state. In Likkutei Sichot, it’s written that the true meaning of redemption is the attainment of a state of transcendence above the boundaries and limitations of this material world. However, it’s essential to realize that the intent of this statement is not that the transcendent state should nullify the world and its limitations, but rather that there should be a fusion of the infinite and the finite. And that Godliness is meant to be revealed in our physical world in a Mishkan, a dwelling for Hashem established in the lower realms. This week, as we read the end of …

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Clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose

The Dvar/article below is also available as a Podcast, simply click any of the following options: Apple, Spotify, Bandcamp, Soundcloud,  &/or Youtube. ________________________________________________________ So many of us feel disconnected so much of the time. Exile is a state of disconnect; redemption is the rectification of that state. We spin stories in our heads, filling in the blanks of desolation that often feels like desperation, because it’s chiyut (the feeling of life and connection) that we all crave and that sustains us.  I’m certainly no exception. Stories spin in my head when I feel uncertain, before I’m able to see things clearly. Anxiety is the feeling we experience when Emunah (faith) and Bitachon (trust) become distant. For interpersonal relationships, there are solutions to lessen the anxiety: communication can deconstruct the stories we build in our heads which are a mix of emotion, …

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