Indwelling of Bonding, 42 Days of Omer 5782

Today is forty-two days, which is six weeks of the Omer in the year 5782. שכינה שביסוד Shekhinah ShebeYesod, Indwelling of Bonding. Memorial Day Weekend is beginning. Ordination is in three days. Our Shabbat table included my parents. Everyone finished the school year — I now have a fourth grader and a first grader and no more rabbinical school assignments. I am so blessed and so grateful for everything and everyone in my life.

Shabbat Rest and Renewal

Sinking into the Flow of Time.

Allowing ourselves a Digital Sabbath.

The horror and anger and frustration and need will be there waiting tomorrow.

Choosing one full day away from the pull of doom-scrolling.

Blissful Shabbat

Snuggle up with a good book.

Take a nap.

Hug someone.

Take a walk.

Nondenominational Judaism

Perhaps the hardest part of graduating is letting go of the intellectual community at the Academy for Jewish Religion, California. I am excited that I will be living closer to one of my favorite professors, Dr. Joel Gereboff.

I am so grateful for my pluralistic and inclusive rabbinical school. We are truly colleagues with everyone at the seminary — cantors, chaplains, Master of Jewish Studies students, as well as rabbis-in-training. I am a better person and a better spiritual leader because of the people I’ve been on this journey with.

AJRCA has existed in multiple locations in the six years I have matriculated. These last 2.5 years have been the hardest, as we’ve only been on Zoom. I am grateful I will be eating dinner with many of these folks in person on Sunday (outside) and will have an in-person (though strictly limited attendance) smicha experience.

Shabbat Shalom. I don’t have much further insight on the Indwelling of Bonding. I pray we all find our way to our truest selves. So that you too can experience this overwhelming need to be quiet and just be.

My Queen, My Mother, Shekhinah showers me with Love with every breath I take.

The world is pulsing with desire for meaning. Let’s dive into the pools of wisdom today. Let’s allow ourselves time to heal and rest. Soon enough, we will start the journey towards creating a beloved future.

Previously on the 42nd Day…

Bonding with the Source of Life, 5781 / 2021.

Honoring our physical vessels, 5780 / 2020.

The foundation of being is ever-present, 5779 / 2019.

Sovereign bonds in life, 5778 / 2018.

Bonding with the Immanent Divine, 5777 / 2017.

Image by sun jib via Pixabay.

Foundation: Grounded and Lifted, 41 Days Omer 5782

Today is forty-one days, which is five weeks and six days of the Omer in the year 5782. יסוד שביסוד, Yesod ShebeYesod. Core of Foundation. I choose to be rooted in my connection to God. Recognizing that Virtues / Ideals / Emanations of the Divine are eternal. Whenever I stay grounded in these truths, my life is lifted and my soul sings. How do you stay rooted?

The End and the Beginning…

There is a comfort in the “student” label. It gives you an out. It reminds people that you are still learning. Nevermind that the core value of the rabbinate is lifelong learning. Spiritual exemplar and all, people forget that clergy are human.

I think the thing I’m happiest about is that I was totally correct when I prayed into this future. This journey allows me to sink into the deepest parts of myself. Every day is a blessing. I am so grateful to be alive.

Turning Towards the Light

I spend a ridiculous amount of time reading the news. That will not be the focus of the final posts in this Omer count. For the coming days, this space will be a respite from outside forces. A place to nestle with the Creative Flow encouraging us towards our best selves.

The Jewish tradition is my rock. I lean on the staff of my ancestors. Their insights guide me into broader insights. I don’t have to throw out the tradition because it is male-focused and rigidly insular. I am incredible grateful that my people maintained the boundaries they needed in order to stay alive. Now, I have the obligation to open up their insights to wider audiences.

I hate filiopietism. I cannot gloss over the difficult parts. I’m also dedicated to reaching beyond my inclination towards criticism. Core truth awaits. Practical application and soul expansion are at stake. I still haven’t bothered getting “higher education” in order to have letters after my name. All of this is in service to my spiritual journey and the souls around me.

What grounds you? Where does the Foundation of the Universe meet the Core of Your Being?

41 Days Omer Through Different Prisms…

Consider the depths calling you, 5781 / 2021.

The Bedrock That Guides Me, 5780 / 2020.

Experiencing the Divine Within, 5779 / 2019.

Rooting Myself in Community, 5778 / 2018.

My Personality is My Foundation, 5777 / 2017.

Image by Frank Winkler via Pixabay.

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.

Harmonious Foundation, 38 Days Omer 5782

Today is thirty-eight days, which is five weeks and three days of the Omer in the year 5782. תִּפְאֶרֶת שביסוד, Tiferet ShebeYesod, Harmonious Foundation. Do you have a personal mission statement? A vision for how you want to be in the world? I’m not talking about a 5 year career plan. Do you know where you want your soul to be in the coming week?

Live Into The Truth Calling Towards You

There’s a very personal, very deep story at the center of my journey to the rabbinate. I’ve told it so many times, it feels cheap and threadbare. One more time, since I don’t have to speak out loud, I’ll repeat it.

At Shabbat morning services, I spent the morning meditating into a single prayer:

Blessed are You, Sovereign of the Universe, Who guides us on life’s path.

What would it mean if I believe that statement to be true? What would be different about my life?

As I sunk into that question, I recognized that I am the best version of myself in synagogue. i wanted to live into that part of myself and help other people live into the best parts of themselves.

And that’s when i gradually started moving towards rabbinical school. It took me six years to accept the call. And another six years to complete the journey. Twelve years have past since I meditated into that prayer.

What Stops Us?

So many things.

Numbing ourselves with good TV.

Numbing ourselves with endless YouTube videos.

Giving our every movement over to the Chinese government by scrolling TikTok (join me and just say no).

Duty. Responsibility. Exhaustion.

Choose Life

Every journey begins with a vision.

The vision leads to a step.

One step in the direction of your dreams. That’s all it takes.

Join me. Let’s embrace the Harmonious Foundation of our Lives: the Truth our souls are calling us toward.

My Strength, and the Song of God, shall be to me salvation. (Exodus 15:2)

38 Days Omer Through the Years…

Waxing poetic about ethical mysticism, 5781 / 2021.

Harmonious Bonding in a Pandemic, 5780 / 2020.

Embracing my life’s purpose, 5779 / 2019.

Witnessing Rabbi Aviva Funke’s ordination, 5778 / 2018.

The truth at the heart of my journey, 5777 / 2017.

Image by Antonio López via Pixabay.

Strength in Foundation, 37 Days Omer 5782

Today is thirty-seven days, which is five weeks and two days of the Omer in the year 5782. גבורה שביסוד, Gevurah ShebeYesod, Strength within Foundation. Where does our inner strength reside? Do my boundaries help me carry out my life’s mission?

Living in Alignment With Ourselves

Right now, we are everything we need to be.

My Strength girds me for life’s ups and downs.

My Boundaries allow me the space to live into the Fundamental Purpose of my life.

I am not afraid to joyfully embrace my strengths.

I allow myself time to enjoy life.

I embrace bonding with other people: this is the core strength of my life.

Rooted in material reality, I soar beyond the heavens.

Previously on the 37th Day of the Omer

Boundaries of Personality Allowing us to Bond to Eternity, 5781 / 2021.

Boundaries during COVID-19, 5780 / 2020.

Boundaries in Bonding, 5779 / 2019.

Don’t lose yourself to the crowd, 5778 / 2018.

Discipline in interpersonal relationships, 5777 / 2017.

Image by Ana Callahan via Pixabay.

Covenantal Love within Foundation, 36 Days Omer 5782

Today is thirty-six days, which is five weeks and one day of the Omer in the year 5782. חסד שביסוד, Chesed ShebeYesod, Covenantal Love within Foundation. Yesod can be described as Foundation or Bonding. Connecting the Flow of the Divine into how we live into each day. Choosing to tie ourselves to ideals beyond the material realm. Today is a day to meditate on our connection to God’s Love.

Choosing Hope

We are living through unprecedented times. It is an act of will to see clear-eyed the dangers facing us individually and collectively while also embracing hope. The dangers from COVID-19 are not over. Russia, a fascist nuclear power, invaded a sovereign nation, Ukraine. Russian soldiers killed many Ukrainian civilians and raped / tortured even more. China continues to practice genocide against the Uyghurs and denies human rights to all of its citizens, including Hong Kongers and Tibetans. The basic right to bodily autonomy in the United States is under attack, with the Supreme Court on the verge of imposing Christian religious law on our secular democracy. Becoming contagious with a debilitating novel virus can be mistaken for catching a cold. Multiple COVID-19 infections increases the likelihood of longterm physical damage.

Nevertheless, I choose hope.

I choose to embrace God’s Love.

God’s Love surrounds me.

I am loved completely for who I am in this moment.

Meditating into God’s never-ending Love, I am never alone.

May the embrace of the Never-Ending Love pulsing through the universe ground you.

May you know how important the worlds within you are.

May the Foundation of your life be built upon the Rock of God’s Love.

Previously on 36 Days of the Omer…

Leaning Into Foundational Lovingkindness, 5781 / 2021.

Covenantal Love in Personality, 5780 / 2020.

Nurturing the child within, 5779 / 2019.

Embracing full-throated love, 5778 / 2018.

Selfless love and covenantal communities, 5777 / 2017.

Image by Frank Winkler via Pixabay.

Indwelling of Gratitude, 35 Days of Omer 5782

Today is thirty-five days, which is five weeks of the Omer in the year 5782. שכינה שבהוד, Shechinah ShebeHod, Indwelling of Gratitude. How do we hold space for Splendor & Gratitude?

I love getting lost in nature photography. I’m not that great in the outdoors, but the expanse of my mindscape is beyond measure. How do you beckon Serenity into your soul?

Welcome a Day of Rest

The conclusion of the week of Hod, Splendor / Gratitude is Shabbat. Day of Rest.

Five Weeks of the Omer is Concluding. Only two weeks remain. Before we conclude this cycle, the tagline of my website will change. On the forty-fourth day, I will become a rabbi.

My gratitude for this journey is beyond words. I’ve been struggling to write something worthy of posting. Perhaps I will add to this post later. Probably, I will simply allow Shabbat to wash over me. This Shabbat and the next one are my last days of rest before ordination. I intend to fully embrace just being.

Shabbat Shalom.

Previously Today…

Reaching Towards Gratitude While Overseeing Distanced Learning, 5781 / 2021.

Grieving the profound loss of Dr. Bob Levy, may his righteous memory forever passionately envelop us, 5780 / 2020.

Splendor gives us life, 5779 / 2019.

Allowing Splendor to Flourish, 5778 / 2018.

Bonding with the Infinite, 5777 / 2017.

Image compiled by Pexels and found on Pixabay.

Foundation of Gratitude, 34 Days Omer 5782

Today is thirty-four days, which is four weeks and six days of the Omer in the year 5782. יסוד שבהוד, Yesod ShebeHod, Foundation of Gratitude. Is there a place where you feel instantly at peace? What nourishes your soul?

Sinking back into the joy of reading

I have one more paper to write and then I am done with my rabbinical school assignments. There are no more books I am required to read. In ten short days, I will be ordained.

Now I get to sink back into the joy of reading. My mind cannot settle on one book at a time. There are too many gems calling to me. I am so grateful for the ability to read.

Understanding Life Through Fiction

As a child, I was a voracious reader. I felt inferior because there are many classic works I’ve never read. Though I did read the entire Sweet Valley High collection and was thoroughly bored with its predictable structure by eighth grade. There were other series I read — some of which were entirely inappropriate for an elementary-school aged kid. I marvel at how innocent my kids are in comparison. It might be difficult for me to handle the things they learn on the internet, but it is better than the aspiring 20+ year-old I became as a small child religiously watching soap operas.

Human Relationships Ground Me

My children, my partner, my family, my colleagues, my communities: these human interactions ground me and fill me with deep gratitude.

I’ve been physically separated from some of the people that mean the most to me for decades at this point. Going to school outside of Boston, having family scattered across the country — my ties have been virtual long before the pandemic.

I am so grateful for all who are on this journey with me.

What grounds you in gratitude?

Books I’m Reading

Previously Today…

Overwhelmed and Searching for Gratitude, 5781 / 2021.

The Enneagram and Personality Types, 5780 / 2020.

The Ethereal Meets the Material, 5779 / 2019.

Pursuing Soul-Nourishing Activities, 5778 / 2018.

Praying to Carry a Retreat Forward, 5777 / 2017.

Image by Element5 Digital via Pexels.

Rabbinic Thesis: Jewish Ethics and Mysticism

As part of my master’s in rabbinic studies, I wrote a thesis titled “Internal Growth, Human Relationships, and Reaching Towards God: The Concurrent Development of Ethics and Mysticism in Early Modern Jewish Texts.” I analyzed Tomer Devorah, Mesillat Yesharim, and Nefesh HaChayim. Here is a vide of my thesis presentation, which basically covers the introduction to my thesis.

If you would like to read a copy of my thesis, please email me. Here are links to some of the books I read.

The above list is not complete. Many of my important sources came from articles available on Academia. My favorite essay is the one that opened up the world of Talmud as literature and the beauty of Jewish mysticism for me: “Four Entered Pardes Revisted,” from the Harvard Theological Review by Alon Goshen-Gottstein.