God desires the heart

I was asked to write for the Jewish Journal’s “Table for Five: Rosh Hashanah Edition.” They chose 5 writers/teachers/rabbi’s to write 250 words about the following verses: Behold, I stand here, impoverished in good deeds, perturbed and frightened in fear [of Him,] Who is enthroned upon the praises of Yisrael. I have come to stand and to plead before You in behalf of Your people, Yisrael, who have appointed me their messenger, even though I am not worthy or qualified for the task. – Hineni, From The Rosh Hashanah prayers Here’s what’ll hit newsstands on Thursday: When Leonard Cohen released what he knew would be his last album, he titled the song to begin his parting opus, “You Want It Darker.” On it, he sings “Hineni, hineni, I’m ready, my Lord.” Rosh Hashanah is a moment in time where we …

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The Transformative Power of Pesach and Sefirat Ha’Omer

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 discussing the intricacies of the Temple sacrifices and touches on chametz (leavened bread). Learning the parashiot, we can draw connections between the …

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Miracles and Revelation

Soon we will be reading the Megillah (scroll) of Esther this Purim, which is also Le’galot Ha’ester (meaning “to reveal what’s concealed”). The word Esther is related to the Hebrew word, “I will hide,” which is said in Devarim when God says, “I will surely hide my face.” (Deuteronomy 32:15) The Megillah is one of the only books in Scripture not to mention Hashem’s name at all. It’s a story that took place in the Persian Empire long after the Biblical stories in which the miracles and revelations took place. Purim, like the present, is a time in which Hashem, Melech Ha’olam (King of the Universe), has hidden himself in the universe (Olam / עולם). The root of ‘Olam’ is also something that is unseen, hidden or disappeared (Ne’elam / נעלם). Hashem has hidden himself in the universe so that …

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