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.

Lag B’Omer, 33 Days of Omer 5782

Today is thirty-three days, which is four weeks and five days of the Omer in the year 5782. הוד שבהוד, Hod ShebeHod, Gratitude within Gratitude. Lag is the way 33 is said transposing the Hebrew alphabet as a counting system… thus the name of the minor holiday of Lag B’Omer!

Gratitude for Dr. Bob Levy, z”l

Lag B’Omer is the second yarzheit, the second anniversary, of Dr. Bob Levy‘s death. I learned of his passing while in a Zoom shiva meeting for a colleague’s mother. Dr. Levy was a passionate historian, an honored B’nai Mitzvah tutor, and a proud Jew. No one has ever taught with such animation and pathos for the suffering of our people. I had the distinct honor of being among his last students. He passed away before our final class, which was supposed to be a reflection point on a year of soaking in his knowledge of Jewish history from the Middle Ages to modernity. Instead, we spent our final class mourning our beloved professor.

I didn’t know Dr. Levy personally. I was looking forward to the next chapter in our relationship, when I could be among the former students that he bear-hugged in the hallways, always eager to know what people are up to. There are so many things about Jewish intellectual history, Jewish professional life, and the future of the Jewish people that I want to discuss with Dr. Levy. I pray one day to merit the opportunity to continue our conversation.

Gratitude Within Gratitude, Splendor Within Splendor

When we are truly able to appreciate our own, individual gifts, we become able to emanate Gratitude.

When we take the time to get out of our heads and make our personal space beautiful, we reflect Spendor.

Love, Healthy Boundaries, Beauty, Truth, Compassion, and Endurance together create Splendor.

When we allow ourselves to be conduits of light, we become beacons of Gratitude.

May you be able to sink into Joyful Gratitude. May we all acknowledge the Splendor of Being.

Previously on Lag B’Omer…

Gratitude in Pandemic Times, 5781 / 2021.

Creating a dwelling place for the Divine, 5780 / 2020.

5779 / 2019: Splendor surrounds us and gives us life.

5778 / 2018: Allowing Splendor to flourish.

5777 / 2017: Three-fold souls and bonding with the Infinite.

Image by sagar pradhan via Pixabay.

Endurance within Gratitude, 32 Days Omer 5782

Today is thirty-two days, which is four weeks and four days of the Omer in the year 5782. נצח שבהוד, Netzach ShebeHod, Eternal Splendor. The pillars of the Temple within each of us. Endurance within Gratitude. How do you create space for splendor within your body? Do you take time to refocus on what matters throughout the day?

Endurance, Not Perfection

We are only human. Despite what some religious writers want you to believe, we cannot become perfect. Striving to live in the world, in relationship with other humans, means we will stumble. The goal of counting the Omer is appreciating the strengths we already have and opening up to the possibilities in front of us. This is not about castigating ourselves for All We Do Not Do.

Sometimes, we yell instead of comfort. Other times, people take advantage of us. Life is not a straight line and the only end is the completion of this material life.

Gratitude through Blessings / Prayer

Jews are encouraged to say 100 blessings a day. This idea is first recorded in a baraita, a story remembered from the time of the Mishna but not included in the Mishna.

It is taught in a baraita that Rabbi Meir would say: A person is obligated to recite one hundred blessings every day, as it is stated in the verse: “And now, Israel, what [ma] does the Lord your God require of you” (Deuteronomy 10:12). Rabbi Meir interprets the verse as though it said one hundred [me’a], rather than ma. (Menachot 43b:15)

The Shulchan Aruch is the most definitive compendium of Jewish laws. Many Jews feel obligated to strive to do all of the positive commandments and avoid all of the negative commandments contained in this treatise, which was written in 1563 in Safed, Israel by Rabbi Joseph Karo. It has four sections, the first, Orach Chayim (“The Way of Life”) includes the following commandment based on the above Talmudic passage:

חייב אדם לברך בכל יום מאה ברכות לפחות:

One must bless each day at least one hundred blessings

This is not about commanding OCD. This is about commanding mindfulness, awareness, and ultimately, soul-expanding, immersive gratitude. When we choose to see the good in every situation, we bring forth light into the universe. We become conduits of God and we reflect holiness through our thoughts and feelings. This is the heart of the Endurance of Gratitude.

Spiraling 32 Days of the Omer…

The essence of being comes from God, 5781 / 2021.

Pop culture as the entrance to eternal splendor, 5780 / 2020.

Rhythm of Jewish prayer opens eternal splendor, 5779 / 2019.

Connecting to pure holiness, 5778 / 2018.

The holiness of community, 5777 / 2017.

Image by Ezra Jeffrey via Pexels.

Truth within Gratitude, 31 Days Omer 5782

Today is thirty-one days, which is four weeks and three days of the Omer in the year 5782. תפארת שבהוד. Tiferet ShebeHod, Beauty of Splendor; אמת שבהוד, Emet ShebeHod, Truth within Gratitude. This is not blind humility or a false front for the sake of appearances. Within true Gratitude, Truth pulses. What Truth guides you towards Gratitude? How can we maintain a positive attitude when evil and chaos exist?

The Rainbow Connection

I don’t have to believe in the Bible as literal truth to appreciate rainbows as a sign of God’s love for living things. The Splendor of a rainbow draws us back to our true selves. That’s why there is a special blessing when you see a rainbow. A rainbow is a reminder both of God’s presence and our ability to be present to values beyond physical reality.

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה ה’ אֶלוֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם זוֹכֵר הַבְּרִית וְנֶאֱמָן בִּבְרִיתוֹ וְקַיָם בְּמַאֲמָרוֹ

Baruch ata Ado-nai Elo-heinu melech ha’olam zocher ha’brit v’ne’eman bivrito v’kayam b’ma’amaro.

Source of Blessing are You, HaShem, our God, Sovereign of the Universe, who remembers the covenant, and is faithful to His covenant, and keeps His promise.

(text for the rainbow blessing with slight translation changes via Chabad.)

What Truth Pulls You Towards Gratitude?

The innocence of children.

The deep thirst for knowledge.

The fierce embrace of a six-year-old.

The anxiety of an eight-year-old.

The love of a beshert, a soulmate.

May you find the Truth that pulls you toward Gratitude.

The Spiral of 31 Days of Omer…

Celebrating Outlander and my beshert, 5781 / 2021.

Pandemic reality, Mother’s Day, 5780 / 2020.

The yoke of the Divine holds beautiful splendor, 5779 / 2019.

Prayer uncovers deep truth, 5778 / 2018.

Soulful community creates beautiful truth, 5777 / 2017.

Image by Cindy Lever via Pixabay.