Sovereignty of Divine Presence, 49 Days Omer 5782

Today is the forty-ninth day, which is seven weeks of the Omer in the year 5782. שכינה שבשכינה, Shekhinah ShebeShekhinah, Malchut ShebeMalchut, Sovereignty of Divine Presence. As we are enveloped by the Sabbath Queen, we anticipate the day after today: Shavuot, Weeks, The Day of Revelation. During this Omer, I became a rabbi. How are you called to acknowledge God? Do you bind yourself to something beyond your ego?

Iguazu Falls: Largest Waterfall Chain in the World

Over 275 individual water falls. On the border of Argentina and Brazil. This is the natural wonder I most look forward to visiting one day. Water is essential to life. The flow of water reminds us that life continues to flow, beyond heart ache, beyond horror, and beyond our individual time in this life.

Making Space for the Sovereignty of God

There is nothing that makes my heart sing more than recognizing the truth of God’s existence. These seven weeks of meditation are about how I implement godliness into the world. What are the Emanations of God that I can see refracted in this material reality? How can I make myself a better conduit of goodness? What do I need to do to be a servant of God?

Remembering Those We Have Lost

One of the kindest souls I’ve ever known, Gloria Jean Delia, left the world too soon. She knew with great certainty that one day I would be a rabbi, even before I was committed to the path. I think about a conversation we had during a late-night Shavuot study session when her delicate spirit confirmed my future for me.

I think about the wisdom and dignity of Rabbi Yaniv Dotan, z”l. And of course, of Dr. Bob Levy, of righteous memory. Ben Telushkin. Sheldon Minster. Kenny Minster. And Katie Cerullo. These are only the people whose passing have touched me deepest. I am still in search of Bar Mitzvah videos, trying to hear the voices of my grandparents one more time. The past is so elusive. Perhaps that is why time travel is an enduring fantasy.

My Prayer For the Days Ahead

Breathing fully into each day.

Committing to the future we want to create for ourselves and our communities.

Embracing eternal wisdom.

May we each reach towards El Shaddai.

May we feel embraced by the Unending Love enveloping us.

49 Days Omer Previously…

Enveloped in the Divine Presence, 5781 / 2021.

Indwelling Divine Presence in a Pandemic, 5780 / 2020.

Completion, Reflection, Expansion, 5779 / 2019.

Moving Towards a Coherent Philosophy, 5778 / 2018.

Acknowledging the Shadow Within, 5777 / 2017.

Books for the Journey


Image by José Machado via Pexels.

Gratitude within Bonding, 40 Days Omer 5782

Today is forty days, which is five weeks and five days of the Omer in the year 5782. הוד שביסוד, Hod ShebeYesod, Gratitude within Foundation. Three years ago, I was celebrating my eldest completing kindergarten. This year, my youngest has two more days in kinder. And in four / five days (Jewish / secular time), I will be ordained. I am so grateful for my family, the foundation of my spiritual practice. What binds you to living fully into life beyond the internet?

Finding Space for Joy

The world is frightening. The fractured nature of the United States is disheartening. The death of children and teachers, along with the murder of grocery shoppers and the attack on people in church, is overwhelming. The choice to ignore the ongoing pandemic and very real threat of longterm COVID could break me.

I choose to allow space for joy. For laughter and love. I cannot be somber and serious 24/7.

The ending of “This is Us” landed differently than it would have a few weeks ago. I couldn’t help thinking of the nineteen children and two adults who lost their lives yesterday. No neat ending. No chance to linger before leaving the material world. Just alive, celebrating accomplishments in the morning and dead by 1 p.m.

Even as I declare my choice to lean into joy, reality keeps tugging at my thought train.

The Cusp of Change

In less than a week, I will be an ordained rabbi. My thoughts will turn from counting the days left in school to sorting / purging / packing my home. (More on that later.)

Anxiety surrounds me. My family is nervous. Change is hard. Letting go of friendships, embarking into the unknown. Changing schools and communities. All of this would be hard without Evil rampaging through the country.

I am so grateful that the soul of my home is portable. Wherever my family is, I am surrounded by home. May we all find the people who ground us. May we each have the space to live into ourselves. May we continue to gather. And may our collective pain lead to collective action.

May we stop sacrificing children on the altar of guns.

40 Days of the Omer Previously…

Allowing Our Souls to Awaken, 5781 / 2021.

Holy vessel of grief and isolation, 5780 / 2020.

Celebrating kindergarten graduation and family, 5779 / 2019.

Blissful, total presence with one another, 5778 / 2018.

Loosening material bonds to allow Divine splendor in, 5777 / 2017.


Image by Torsten Kellermann via Pexels.

Enduring Bonding, 39 Days Omer 5782

Today is thirty-nine days, which is five weeks and four days of the Omer in the year 5782. נצח שביסוד, Netzach ShebeYesod, Enduring Bonding. What binds us to the path, even in the face of evil? When children are slaughtered at school and Black shoppers are murdered by a racist, how do you stay connected to the Divine?

Brokenness Surrounds Us

My website was originally called “broken rabbi.” I was so full of joy for the depth of Jewish mysticism that I wanted to shout from the rooftops how impossible perfection is. I swam in the truth that “there is a crack in everything; that’s how the light gets in.”

And yet, that understanding cannot make sense of the death that we are surrounded by.

U.S. culture is broken. Yes, we need stricter gun laws. We also need to face our brokenness.

I’m not an expert on mass shootings or school safety.

I know that people are scared. Politicians, internet platforms, gun sellers: they’re all making hefty coin from our fear.

I was a member of Women’s International League for Peace & Freedom because all of these issues are interconnected. You cannot stop war without resolving racism. The environment will not be saved without eliminating nuclear power and nuclear weapons. Racism and fascism cannot be explained by the phrase “white colonialism.” (I had to leave WILPF when I realized their position on the Israel / Palestine conflict was an existential threat to my own existence.) Everything is interconnected.

We must face the pain directly. We must acknowledge that evil exists. We must make space for mourning while simultaneously challenging politicians to get control of the guns in the U.S.

Turn Towards the Light

The Enduring Foundation of our collective soul is cracking. We must band together against the forces of darkness clamoring to take over. Together, we must turn towards the light.

I held my kids tightly this evening. Like every night, my husband and I put them to sleep chanting the Shema. We are committed to raising our Chinese Jewish kids with compassion, love, and belief in the Divine. Yet, we know those principles do not guide all people in the world. Let us do our parts to help bend the moral arc of the universe towards justice and create a future worthy of the inspirational people who preceded us, like Rev Dr King, Jr. and Emily Greene Balch.

39 Days of the Omer through time…

A bridge to the future and remembering R Yaniv Dotan, z”l, 5781 / 2021.

Familial, Spiritual, and Intellectual Bonds, 5780 / 2020.

Eternally Bonding to Judaism, 5779 / 2019.

Eternal Community and Personal Responsibility 5778 / 2018.

Eternal Foundation within Family, 5777 / 2017.


Image via Pixabay.

Splendor of Foundation, 40 Days Omer 5781

Today is forty days, which is five weeks and five days of the Omer in the year 5781. הוד שביסוד, Hod ShebeYesod, Splendid Holiness of Foundation. Hod is the vessel of holiness, while Yesod is the foundation of personality and outward demeanor. Bringing together the energy of these two sephirot allows us the opportunity to root our actions in the depths of our souls.

The breadth of my being calls to me

It’s been a difficult week. Unexpected death forces me to confront how deeply each day is a blessing. I am struggling mightily with the forces within me that want to distract me from this pain with retail therapy. My husband often asks me why I’m in such a rush to finish school. Losing a professor and three colleagues, along with my beloved uncle, in the last few years deepens my reflections. I thought my desire To Finish was rooted in my ego’s need for validation. I cannot deny that is a part of it.

The underlying truth is that spirituality cracked me open in ways nothing else ever could. And I am anxious to help people waken to the souls within them. Simultaneously, the breadth of what I do not know, and how much I need to grow, takes my breath away. I’ve always been a voracious learner. I am grateful to find a calling that allows me to continue learning every day I am blessed with life.

Take a moment to make space for holiness today.

Ground yourself in the reality of splendor.

Appreciate your own breath.

Acknowledge the wonder of your body.

And revel in the opportunity to fully live into this day.

Previously today…

Holy vessel of grief and isolation, 5780 / 2020.

Celebrating kindergarten graduation and family, 5779 / 2019.

Blissful, total presence with one another, 5778 / 2018.

Loosening material bonds to allow Divine splendor in, 5777 / 2017.


Image via Pixabay.

Eternal Foundation, 39 Days Omer 5781

Today is thirty-nine days, which is five weeks and four days of the Omer in the year 5781. נצח שביסוד, Netzach ShebeYesod, Eternal Foundation. What keeps you rooted to your path, regardless of the adversities in life? What keystone habits help you weather every storm?

Building a bridge to the future

This week of consolidating my foundation and defining my core values weighs heavily on me. My tendency is to look at all I have not done, rather than celebrating how far I have come. And the ticking clock of mortality keeps getting louder.

Simply writing about the ideas that breathe meaning into my life is not enough. I choose holding myself accountable to transform my thoughts, feelings, speech, and action to align with these ideals. My commitment begins with journaling. As I read The Power of Habit, I recognize that consistent, daily journaling accompanied all of my most productive seasons.

Remembering Yaniv Dotan, zichrono livracha

My fellow rabbinic student, Yaniv Dotan, passed away Monday night on the 22nd of Iyyar. He kept his illness private, and most of us did not realize the depth of struggle he faced. Yaniv blessed us with a beautiful sermon at our Monday morning minyan two weeks before he passed. Guided by fellow Israeli Yeshayahu Liebowitz’s thoughts on Aharei Mot – Kedushin, he implored us with the ever-present call to holiness. Despite our obvious differences, we shared so many similarities.

Yaniv was quick to point out whatever he found wrong in a lecture or a fellow student’s comments. He had no time for his time being wasted. An engineer, logic reigned supreme. Unless he cracked open the hidden doorway to his soul, and let you know how seriously he believed in mysticism. Connecting with the Divine was Yaniv’s primary goal. He also built our community, with his incredible harmonica skills and his big smile. The world loss a true light this week. May we forever learn from Yaniv to never be complacent. Always strive towards deeper truth. Hold our teachers to high standards. And never stop learning.

Previously today…

Familial, Spiritual, and Intellectual Bonds, 5780 / 2020.

Eternally Bonding to Judaism, 5779 / 2019.

Eternal Community and Personal Responsibility 5778 / 2018.

Eternal Foundation within Family, 5777 / 2017.

Books for the Journey


Image via Pixabay.

After Death…Holiness, 5781

I had the honor of giving a d’var Torah, thoughts on the weekly Torah portion, for Temple Beth Israel of Highland Park and Eagle Rock today. The names of the portions for today are Acharei Mot — Kedoshim. After Death — Holiness. I added subheadings to my reflection to help the reading process. May we continue to sink into being and strive towards holiness.

It seems quite incredible that two extremely important and idea-filled portions are combined this year. This is the same conundrum Yeshayahu Liebowitz faced when writing his pithy commentary, Accepting the Yoke of Heaven. Indeed, there is no way to work through the breadth of the narrative, so let us dispense with that idea at the outset.

Instead, let’s nestle into the name of this double portion: After Death, Holiness.

After the death of Aaron’s two sons

The text is referring to the deaths of Nadab and Abihu, Aaron’s sons. Which actually happened in chapter 10 and we are now in chapter 16. Previously, their actions were described. Nadab and Abihu approached HaShem in the Holy of Holies unsanctioned and perished.

The connection between these names and our lived experience feels very concrete for me. There has been so much death in the world. Yet, we have struggled to find our way to holiness. Whether in the Bronze Age or the postModern age, our access to holiness is not a given.

Making sense of death today

Sometimes, our political leaders have stumbled in trying to parse meaning from those deaths. Recently, Speaker Nancy Pelosi thanked George Floyd for sacrificing his life for justice. Obviously, it would be far better if Mr. Floyd had lived through his encounter with the police, rather than being murdered. And he had no choice about being killed. This episode reminds me that no matter how advanced society becomes, we strive to make sense of death, to justify it and make it holy. Acknowledging the depth of tragedy in death can be hard. Protests against George Floyd’s death were an inflection point in the national conversation about policing and the conviction of his murderer furthered the walk towards justice. Just as Aaron’s sons did not have to do die to bring us towards holiness, George Floyd did not need to die to move us towards justice. 

Similarly, it seems difficult to fully empathize with those mourning the loss of loved ones to COVID-19. So many people have died and so many people continue to die. Yet, what I see most often is anger about the changes made to communal life in order to protect public health. From the California gubernatorial recall to arguments about re-opening face-to-face learning to whether masks are necessary: our conversations are consumed by how this pandemic continues to affect the living. It seems impossible to truly hold space for the emptiness left by three million deaths worldwide, or the 570,000 deaths within the United States.

Moving towards holiness

So how, after all this death, do we dare assert space for holiness? I believe we need to take guidance from our Torah portions.

Here is my theory on the lesson of Nadab and Abihu, Aaron’s sons:

Attempting to connect with the Source of Life is truly potentially dangerous. I have known far too many people who were lured by the false sense of clarity gained from drugs, who chase a mystical high over the cliff with catastrophic consequences. We must allow ourselves to be guided on our search for holiness, so that we don’t lose ourselves to the pursuit. This is the purpose of the instructions for priests on Yom Kippur found in Acharei Mot and the holiness code of Kedoshim. Guidelines keep us safe. Otherwise, we run the risk of becoming Aaron’s sons.

Holiness through Jewish technologies

We no longer have Temple sacrifice and priests. Instead, we have rabbinical Judaism and a multitude of opportunities to hold space for what is greater than ourselves. We can use the temple in time, Shabbat, to connect with eternal values. We build holy community in synagogue. Our communal prayer has the ability to deepen the holiness within us individually more completely than individual meditation. We weave the words chosen by our ancestors, thereby connecting our spiritual elevation with hundreds of generations before us. And reflecting on our own mortality, we can choose to break free of the habit of living and truly sink into the holiness of each moment.

Holiness is not an attribute that can be conquered or experienced continually. It is an ideal to aspire towards. Step by step, we can choose to align ourselves with holiness, to live towards emanating holiness through our demeanor, our words, and our actions. Our most obvious signposts to help us become vessels of holiness are prayer, kashrut, and Shabbat. Daily setting aside time to refocus on Divine connection and personal meaning. Consciously choosing what we put into our bodies, and verbally expressing gratitude for the gift of food. And delineating between regular time and sacred time. These are our technologies to walk towards holiness. 

27 Days of the Omer

Another Jewish path towards holiness is counting the Omer. Each day, one can reflect on a different aspect of the Sephirot and deepen one’s connection with the concepts that bring holiness into the material world. Today’s Omer count amplifies the Jewish path of holiness. Today is twenty-seven days, which is three weeks and six days of the Omer in the year 5781. יסוד שבנצח, Yesod ShebeNetzach, Bonding within Eternity. We choose people to form deep community. We prioritize bonding on an emotional and spiritual level. And through our bonding, we touch the eternal.

Shabbat Shalom.


Image by Marion Wellmann via Pixabay.

Splendor of Compassion, 19 Days of the Omer 5781, Hod ShebeRachamim

Today is nineteen days of the Omer, which is two weeks and five days, in the year 5781. הוד שברחמים, Hod ShebeRachamim, Splendor of Compassion.

In 5778 / 2018, I wrote: The strength of Gevurah makes its way to material reality through Hod, piercing the veils of lies we cover ourselves with. Lies take many forms. In the United States, refusing to confront and overturn the systemic racism in healthcare and policing is killing people.

Last year, I wrote about the death of Rana Zoe Mungin, may her memory be a blessing. Too many Black women and men died from COVID-19 because their symptoms weren’t taken as seriously as white people. This year, I am surrounded by the weight of death of Black / Latinx boys and men by police officers. Adam Toledo, thirteen and murdered by a police officer with his hands in the air. Daunte Wright, age 20, trying to keep his mama on the phone to provide car insurance information, murdered at a traffic stop. George Floyd murdered in police custody, begging for air and his mama.

The United States lied to itself when a Black man was elected president. White people took it as an opportunity to stop confronting racism, proclaiming a post-racial era. You may not agree that systemic racism exists, but we need to be real about something: you will never stop seeing my husband’s race. Whether Asian, Black, Indigenous, or Latinx — ethnic / racial differences will always exist. We must learn to treat everyone with respect, and honor the sanctity of their lives, regardless of who they are.

Lives Cut Short

Source of Life, Eternal Womb, El Shaddai,

Help us to stand in solidarity with the mourners of your lost children.

Ease the shock of transition for those whose lives were cut short by cops and those who died under the weight of systemic racism.

May we have the strength to break down the veil of lies surrounding us. Help us to build truly just institutions that honor the dignity of each soul on this planet.

May the Splendor of Your Compassion flow through us and help us create a better world.

Help Create a Better World

Learning for Justice from the Southern Poverty Law Center (formerly Teaching Tolerance)

Teaching 6 Year-Olds About Privilege and Power, part of the KQED Mind/Shift podcast on the future of learning and how we raise our kids.

Ibram X. Kendhi’s anti-racist reading list in the NY Times

An Anti-Racist Reading List from Book People

Anti-Racism Books beyond the ones selling out, Time Magazine

7 Anti-Racist Books, listed in the New York Magazine

Previously on this day…

COVID-19 death of Rana Zoe Mungin, 5780 / 2020.

Splendor of Beauty, 5779 / 2019.

The temple of my body, 5778 / 2018.

Holy splendor of learning Torah, 5777 / 2017.


Image by Quang Nguyen Vinh via Pexels.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg and 5781

Lighting storm over water, expressing shock of the day and the year

Beloved Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died on the eve of a new year. As we all struggle to make sense of this year, it is capped with the overwhelming loss of a giant legal mind, and a formidable member of the Supreme Court. Nevertheless, 5781 arrives: with expectations for returning, reflection, and resolve.

Elul, the Jewish month preceding Rosh HaShanah, the Jewish New Year, ends. My Elul broke and shattered by COVID-19 before this news. It is hard to be upbeat and joyous when it has been months since you’ve hugged someone who doesn’t live with you. The last time I saw a significant number of family members was during my uncle’s passing from this world to the next, in early June. 

Choosing joy

And yet, despite my anxiety regarding the future of my country, I am determined to find joy in this spiritual New Year. I am profoundly grateful to know my children on a deeper level than was possible before. Sinking into the depths of their innocence is a revelation. I do not remember ever being so pure and naive — perhaps because my siblings are five and seven years older than me; perhaps because James Bond and Poltergeist are two movies I distinctly remember from when I was their age. 

So we will dip apples in honey and wish each other a sweet year. We will continue to dream of all the adventures we will go one once this virus passes. The idea of a vacation involving airplanes and restaurant food for every meal enamors them.

A prayer: turning towards ourselves

I will have grace with myself and the world. Our lives turned upside down. Especially to my fellow parents: may we roll into each day with gratitude for the people around us and the village we know is near us spiritually. Let us not judge ourselves by the social media vision of other people’s lives. Let us resolve to be the best versions of ourselves we can be in this moment. And as we mourn what cannot be, let us find a way to relish in the companionship that is. 

Image by Benjamin G.E. Thomas from Pixabay

Indwelling of Eternity: 28 Days of Omer 5780, Shekhinah of Netzach

Today is twenty-eight days, which is four weeks of the Omer in the year 5780. שחינה שבנצח. Shekhinah of Netzach. Indwelling of Eternity, Presence of Endurance.

Sinking into Netzach is hard during physical isolation. The only eternity that seems real is my ennui.

Seeing both mortality and eternity with clear eyes

With over 250,000 COVID-19 deaths worldwide, it is hard to stay focused on the importance of every human life and the tragedy of every death. Compassion fatigue sets in. We begin to rationalize the world as it is, rather than remembering what should be. 

Tonight I forced myself to fully see the tragic death of Ahmaud Arbery. Made myself fully understand the fate of an unarmed black man jogging in broad daylight in his own neighborhood. He was murdered by his neighbors. Most news stories only detail the murderers’ claim of a “series of break-ins in the neighborhood.” Actually, there was just one robbery reported in the neighborhood: a gun was supposedly stolen from one of the murder’s car. None of the stories I read contained any details of the dead man’s life. 

To save a life is to save the world. For each person contains a soul and in that soul is an entire world. 

The news is not providing clear guidance on the importance of each soul lost. Nor is mass culture doing a good job of helping us navigate the meaning of life and death. 

Westworld v Mamet: What would you do for the ones you love?

Mostly I hate-watched Westworld this season. It is a familiar narrative. I made it through the exhaustion of watching humans murdered with abandon last season. And this entire season was devoid of emotional investment. At the end, I realized why: philosophical inquiry without soul is torture. I cannot care more for the death of a robot child than I do about the death of a human child. Being expected to have extreme sympathy for the loss of a robot child while accepting the death of a human child as a necessary, character-building, empathy-laden plot point broke me. 

On the other hand, one of the last plays I was able to see live, The Christopher Boy’s Communion, placed a sharp spotlight on what it truly means to be a mother during an unspeakable tragedy. I do not claim David Mamet’s latest play is perfect. Rather, he successfully focused the spotlight on people other than a crime victim. 

Westworld pretends to care about philosophical inquiry, but dismisses the notion of God. Conversely, Mamet is concrete in his belief and his spiritual foundation. If the Divine is merely a creation of men, then nothing is ultimately important. If Goodness and Justice exist beyond human mortality, then the choices we make in our lives have infinite meaning. For me, this is the difference between Westworld and Mamet: playing with infinite resources to create a world devoid of infinite meaning vs playing with finite resources to uncover the eternity underneath each moment. 

Prayers to make space for the Indwelling of Eternity

May we each be inspired by our cultural consumption to swim in pools of depth. Let us find meaning in our daily grind. I pray to remember my eternal embrace of my children, regardless of how irritating I find their penchant for mischief.

Indwelling of Eternity before COVID-19

5779 / 2019: Contemplating the Indwelling of Eternity through Shabbat and The Way.

5778 / 2018: The truth I am discovering was meant for me.

5777 / 2017: Your body is feeding the universe and will continue to do so after you die.

Splendor of Beauty refracted through COVID-19 death: 19 days of Omer 5780, Hod ShebeTiferet

Today was nineteen days, which was two weeks and five days of the Omer in the year 5780. הוד שבתפארת, Hod ShebeTiferet, Splendor of Beauty.

Meditating into Beauty While People Die

An incredibly beautiful soul gave up her fight with COVID-19 today. Rana Zoe Mungin, 30, was ignored twice before finally being admitted to a hospital. So it took three attempts to receive medical care for this brilliant Black woman to be seen. And then it took the full force of the Wellesley alumnae network to get her experimental treatment to have any sort of chance at survival. But it was too late. The racism she encountered in her fight against this virus took her life. 

Read Rana Zoe Mungin’s description of her life on the Wellesley Underground, an alternative Wellesley alumnae blog. Her sister, Mia Mungin, tweeted Rana Zoe’s fight for her life. Mimi Maciel, her best friend, posted a tribute to Zoe.

Nothing tells you more about my privilege in this pandemic than the fact that I can share this story with you, take several deep breaths, and talk about anything else.

Hod: creating a place to meet the Divine

In my imagination, the Divine Mother is not waiting for immaculate living rooms and sparkling bathrooms. She is praying for us to use our eyes to truly see the souls who surround us. The people whom we do not treat as fully human. The animals whom we treat as if they solely exist for our benefit. The earth we are shattering to gather more oil, not even stopping when we cause earthquakes far from the edges of tectonic plates. 

Splendor of Beauty: Deep Resilience Honoring the Spark of the Divine within Everything

True art sparkles with the spark of the Divine.
Deep love nourishes our recognition of the Divine.
The truth of being truly seen showers us with Divine energy.
Eternity reminds us that She exists beyond and within all that exists.
Discipline gives us the eyes to see the patterns of the Divine flowing through all. 

May we honor El Shaddai, embrace the Shekhinah, and always remember the importance and worthiness of each living being.
Rest in power, Rana Zoe Mungin. 

Other thoughts on Hod ShebeTiferet

5779 / 2019: The splendor of beautiful prayer envelops me.

5778 / 2018: Awakening to the temple of my body.

5777 / 2017: The holy splendor of learning Torah.