The Other Side (genesis: toldot)

This week with what we can learn from Jim Morrision & Annie Hall, & of course some wisdom and inspiration that we can tap into via the holy tzaddikim – Rebbe Nachman, Rashi, & The Rebbe! It seems that in almost every moment of our lives we are caught between two choices: the easier or more selfish choice & something a bit harder, a selfless choice. Sometimes safek blurs the lines between the two, but often, if we tap into emunah & our gut, we know which is the one for us. Every action affects every other action. The fact that it takes so long to break a habit shows that every single action has ramifications beyond it. That’s why it says in Pirkei Avot, the reward for a mitzvah is a mitzvah, because if doing good begets doing good, …

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The Future is Female (genesis: chayei sarah)

The Future Is Female The Talmud teaches that “In the merit of righteous women, our ancestors were redeemed from Egypt”. Redemption is intrinsically related to women, malchut (sovereignty), and the Divine feminine dimension. God’s Infinite Light originates at a level that is beyond this world, physically inaccessible to us, but it is filtered down through the Sefirot until it reaches the Malchut (sovereignty), out of which it shines onto us in our finite world. Infused in our tefilot (prayers) is the concept of moshiach and the final redemption, and redemption is intrinsically related to women. Kabbalistically, the sefirah of malchut renews all of existence and reflects the feminine dimension. We are now in exile, so malchut is in a state of descent and does not receive direct influence from the other sefirot. One can look at it like a woman …

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Greetings From The Edge Of The World (genesis: vayeira)

The more I get real with new people that I meet, the more I hear about the variety of struggles that seem to hit us all at various times. It makes us realize how each of us are our own complex universes & each universe is affected by the other. It’s why spreading joy and light is such an important part of life, as each person has the ability to ignite the other person’s light and positive outlook, or God forbid, diminish it. There are two acts that we actually complete for Hashem/God. Giving to the poor – Hashem’s love for the poor is evidenced by their Temple sacrifices being valued just as much, no matter how small they may be. So, you might ask why the poor are not taken care of in this world if Hashem loves them …

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Go To Yourself (genesis: lech lecha)

GO INWARD – This Shabbat is the yahrzeit of my mom (Frida Levona bat Shalom), so with her neshamat aliyah in mind, I wanted to share some thoughts on this week’s parashah. Most of us find it challenging to truly go inward. With life’s endless stream of distractions, our desire to be loved and to fit in keep us focused outward. Avraham discovered the Truth by searching what it meant to be his true self and the responsibilities that come with being one’s true self, while those around him had fallen to worshipping desires and false idols. As we see from this Parashah, sometimes to go further in, you have to go further out. This week in the Torah is the first time Hashem mentions blessings explicitly, right after telling Avraham to go to the land that Hashem will show …

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Found A World So New (genesis: noach)

As you may know, this week is the famous story of Noach and the flood. The entire generation had fallen to the sitra achra (the other side), and Hashem calls Noach righteous and perfect. Noach built an ark and rain fell for 40 days. Hundreds of days later, after a dove was sent out and returned with an olive branch in its mouth, Noach knew redemption had come and it was time to fully move forward. This story represents something that everyone faces at one point or another in their lives. How much each of us has to become the hero in our own story, building our own ark, filling ourselves with hope and reaching redemption. It’s up to each of us to strengthen ourselves continually to do so. It says in Talmud Sanhedrin, “the World Was Created for Me,” …

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Just Keep Me Where The Light Is (genesis: genesis)

This parashah/Torah Portion of Bereishit/Genesis, especially the first aliyah, contains almost all of the mind-blowing kabbalistic concepts of the Light of Infinite in it. When Hashem said, Let There Be Light…. And It Was Good, it clues us into the purpose of Creation– to reveal light and goodness in this world. King David says in Tehillim/Psalms, “The world was built with chesed (loving-kindness).” Our sages teach that “The light that was created on the first day shone from one end of Creation to the other.” In Kabbalah we learn that this was the light of chesed— “an infinite, uncompounded light that filled all of Creation.” The light of Chesed is at the heart of everything. Chesed and giving are at the root of creation and at the root of joy. Spreading light is done by giving joyfully, just as when light …

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And Never Become That Which Is Not God (deuteronomy: v’zot harerachah)

It is only by finding one’s purpose and living in alignment that we find our true happiness. For this week, I dove into my middle name which is the same as the mountain Moshe ascended and I touched on some of the secrets of creation, and a bit about what I learned the other week at a Brittany Howard concert! Creation involves concealment. The word olam, universe, is semantically linked to the word neelam, “hidden”. To give mankind some of His own creative powers – the use of language to think, communicate, understand, imagine alternative futures and choose between them – God must do more than create homo sapiens. He must efface Himself (what the kabbalists called tzimtzum) to create space for human action. No single act more profoundly indicates the love and generosity implicit in creation. God as we …

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The Secret To Being In Harmony With Each Other & The Universe (deuteronomy: ha’azinu)

For this week’s article/dvar, leading up to Yom Kippur – I wrote about the secrets to being in harmony with each other and the world, bringing in wisdom by Pharrell, Rebbe Nachman, David Sacks and the Ramban. Meanwhile, Yom Kippur last year marked the last day I was to say Kaddish for my mom who passed away almost two years ago. In some ways, it was a relief to not have to say it. As her only son, having this sole responsibility weighs heavy, but, at the same time, it makes the ritual that much more meaningful, and so the connection, born of the ultimate need, is one that is very transformative. As I have said Kaddish leading up to this week, it always ends in the same way, just as the Shemona Esrei ends, Oseh Shalom Bimromav (“He who …

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The Song That Saved My Life (deuteronomy: vayelech)

The Rashbam says the entire book of Devarim is called שירה, “Song,” We see this week that Torah is synonymous with Song. For this week, I wrote about how a song saved my life. Music has been such an important healing tool for me over the years. Feeling good comes in waves, so if you hit a funk, it’s important to have ways to get yourself out. For some it’s being in nature, seeing the grand grace and epic beauty of creation, for others it’s exercising, and for others it’s staying connected to loved ones. For me, staying happy and connected is certainly tied to maintaining a daily spiritual practice, but also an important and key part is music. Music transcends current moods and creates universes to jump into; it’s a powerful way to shift perspective and feelings. @BonIver‘s self-titled …

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Greener Where You Water It (deuteronomy: nitzavim)

As we touched on in parashat Ki Teitzei, another way to think about our collective Oneness is through water. We know that water is fundamental to all life; our bodies are mostly water, and the brain and heart, in particular, are composed of 73% water. That means we have 73% in common with every person in the world. Which gives new meaning to the saying, “the grass is greener where you water it”. On top of that, people mirror each other’s inner belief systems, so if we aren’t “watering” ourselves and those around us in connectedness and positivity, then individually and collectively we can’t grow. Continually giving yourself and others life-force is essential to being in a blissful and connected state. It takes work, because on the other end of it is being unhappy, which is a vicious cycle and …

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