God appears, Vayeira 5782

The weekly Torah portion, Vayeira, includes Genesis 18:1-22:24. The first two verses are as follows:

The LORD appeared to him;“וַיֵּרָ֤א אֵלָיו֙ ה֔
by the cashew trees [terebinths] of Mamreבְּאֵלֹנֵ֖י מַמְרֵ֑א
he was sitting at the entrance of the tent וְה֛וּא יֹשֵׁ֥ב פֶּֽתַח־הָאֹ֖הֶל
as the day grew hotכְּחֹ֥ם הַיּֽוֹם ׃
Looking up, he sawוַיִּשָּׂ֤א עֵינָיו֙ וַיַּ֔רְא
and look, three menוְהִנֵּה֙ שְׁלֹשָׁ֣ה אֲנָשִׁ֔ים
standing near him.נִצָּבִ֖ים עָלָ֑יו
As soon as he saw them,וַיַּ֗רְא
he ran from the entrance of the tent to greet them,וַיָּ֤רָץ לִקְרָאתָם֙ מִפֶּ֣תַח הָאֹ֔הֶל
bowing to the ground. וַיִּשְׁתַּ֖חוּ אָֽרְצָה׃

The first sentence includes the Tetragrammaton, the four-letter proper name of God. Rather than writing out that holy Hebrew word, I replaced it with a ה״, indicating “HaShem” — “The Name” is the way this word is referred to when not praying or formally studying holy scripture. When praying or studying, Jews do not pronounce this name and replace it with the word “A’donai,” which is usually translated as “The LORD,” though it actually means “my Lord.” The word A’donai is often used as a name of God, even written in the Hebrew text using the letters of that word (as in the formula for a Jewish prayer). It can also be used to refer to human rulers. As my Hebrew professor, Rabbi Avraham Greenstein, is fond of reminding us: context matters.

Recognizing the Presence of God

When we choose to see what is around us and within us, we have the opportunity to bring holiness into the world. Avraham Avinu, Abraham our forefather, felt the presence of God. He paused from his busy day to connect with God. The content of that conversation is not provided — instead, we swiftly move to Avraham interrupting that holy moment in order to greet strangers approaching his tent.

Getting wrapped up in myself

These two simple lines have torn me open in the last week, as I have wrestled with the implicit expectation within them. Perhaps, like me, you have heard that Judaism prioritizes welcoming the stranger. Yet, can you imagine interrupting your prayers in order to offer a stranger food and drink? When you are in the flow of creation, or in a rhythm at work — are you able to graciously stop yourself and joyfully welcome an interruption?

For much of my life, I prioritized becoming “the best me” I could be. I relentlessly pursued knowledge. I wanted to completely understand the world of work. So, when working as a secretary for a magazine, I religiously read Ad Age magazine. Then, when Twitter came along, I drank in the fire hose of information pouring through that medium.

I walled myself off from other people. Never intentionally. I listened to podcasts while walking with my kids. I read a book while waiting for a class to begin. These simple actions, which were full of good intentions, left me separated from the people surrounding me. Our current time of relative isolation woke me up to the ways in which I was already separated from the physical world.

Making space for God in the age of smartphones

So I choose to follow Avraham Avinu’s example. Whatever I am doing, it can wait. Choosing to be fully present to the people around me, deepens me. Experiencing a six year-old’s inner logic is a truly enlightening experience. You might notice that prayer is not my husband’s jam. Whereas, I’m happiest spending a full day, or a full week, immersed in prayer and study. Living into the beauty of traveling through life deeply connected to people unlike yourself can be soul-expanding. In addition to reflecting on Vayeira, I’ve been pondering how fast the last decade went by. Tomorrow is my tenth anniversary and yesterday was my son’s sixth birthday.

What does “God” mean?

I started by chanting the beginning of this week’s Torah portion. Most of the time, Jewish sources claim that there are many barriers between human experience and God. This portion begins by declaring that God, using God’s unspeakable proper name, appeared before Avraham. Do you think God was more fully present in the world during the Bronze Age than today? Do we have the ability to sense God’s presence? Looking down at our phones, is it possible to sense spiritual shifts?

Define God to make religious experience possible

For a long time, these questions never occurred to me. Stories of our forefathers did not pierce my consciousness. The Bible felt unrelated to modern life. I avoided Jewish religious practice because I was certain that I did not believe in the judgmental God of the Bible.

Until adulthood, I did not know there are a multitude of ways to describe God from a Jewish perspective.

No single set of beliefs in Judaism

Jewish understandings of the world and God changed over time. Our civilizations were influenced by the people around us. Our intellectuals constantly communicated with Christian and Muslim scholars. Since Judaism began before the Christian idea of “religion,” we are not tied to a single set of beliefs. Instead, our culture defines us. What we do distinguishes us from other people.

Thus, it is perfectly reasonable to be an agnostic Jew. Or even an atheist Jew. My goal is not to convince you to believe like me. Rather, I hope that together we can make space for questions and disagreement. 

For me, I am constantly seeking more precise ways to understand God. Yes, I want a definition of what I believe. I also need a coherent set of descriptions of God in order to sink into prayer. God is likely to be spoken about in every Jewish prayer service. So what does all the God language in prayers mean? And how does the God in prayers relate to my lived experience?

Describing God allows us to sink in prayer

Let’s try to define God.  Do you see God as directly responding to prayers?

Do you think our spiritual energy can help heal the people around us and the souls within us?

Does prayer help you connect with God?

What does the formula of Jewish prayers mean to you?

Our prayer formula begins:

בָּרוּךְ אָתָּה ה״ אֱ-לֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הַעוֹלָם

“Baruch atah A’donai, E’loheinu melech ha’olam”

Traditionally, this is translated as: “Blessed are You, Lord, Our God, King of the Universe.” 

Those same Hebrew words can be understood as: “Source of Blessing are You, Ground of Being; Our God, Sovereign of spiritual reality.”

When we make space for alternative English translations of well-known Hebrew phrases, we open ourselves up to the worlds contained within each word. May we each find a word or phrase to meditate into this week, so that we can recognize when the Divine is appearing in our lives.

Shabbat shalom.

Go to yourself, Lech L’cha 5782

Several people at Temple Beth David let me know that my weekly d’var Torah does not have to follow the weekly Torah portion. I deeply appreciate the latitude this provides. On the other hand, the portion can be such a rich jumping off point for an important aspect of Judaism. Personally, there is nothing more important than sinking into the first lines of Parashat Lech L’cha. Genesis chapter 12 verses 1 and 2 are a synopsis of how I view Judaism.

This week, we step forward from understanding the purpose of humanity into understanding the purpose of the Jewish people. We begin with God’s call to Avram, the man who will become Avraham.

The first two verses of chapter 12, the beginning of our Torah portion read as follows:

וַיֹּ֤אמֶר ה֙ אֶל־אַבְרָ֔ם לֶךְ־לְךָ֛ מֵאַרְצְךָ֥ וּמִמּֽוֹלַדְתְּךָ֖ וּמִבֵּ֣ית אָבִ֑יךָ אֶל־הָאָ֖רֶץ אֲשֶׁ֥ר אַרְאֶֽךָּ׃

The Ground of Being said to Abram, “Go forth from your native land and from your father’s house to the land that I will show you.

וְאֶֽעֶשְׂךָ֙ לְג֣וֹי גָּד֔וֹל וַאֲבָ֣רֶכְךָ֔ וַאֲגַדְּלָ֖ה שְׁמֶ֑ךָ וֶהְיֵ֖ה בְּרָכָֽה׃

I will make of you a great nation,

And I will bless you;

I will make your name great,

And you shall be a blessing.

We could speak for hours just on these two verses. Let us begin to unwrap this origin story by recognizing the emphasis placed on moving forward. Avram is told “lech l’cha,” which could be translated as “Go to yourself” or “Surely you shall go” or, as JPS states, “Go forth.” The first significant words in this portion are a command to begin a journey.

Perhaps, like Avraham, you have completely changed your surroundings during your life. Maybe where you’re living now is nowhere near where you were born and raised. Or perhaps you’ve taken a spiritual journey and have arrived at a completely new understanding of God. Maybe you’ve been on an emotional journey and have better insight into who you are and why you’re here. As Avraham teaches us, being willing to put aside all that you know and all that makes you comfortable is the first step towards a more expansive way of being. Going on that journey — making your ego smaller, while sinking into your deepest self — can be a way to be a blessing to the world. 

Let us also remember that this command to go, lech, is intricately connected to halacha. They share the same shoresh, which means that the same three-letter root connects the verb with the noun. Halacha  means “the way.” Lech is the command form of the word “go (on foot), walk, depart.” So, while we have come to understand halacha as an impenetrable set of behavioral rules, its origin is as an attempt to create a Jewish way of being. In fact, for centuries halacha  was not codified in a book, or described with certainty. Variations have always existed between communities. This is why so many progressive Jewish teachers consider themselves halachic Jews — they are not willing to cede the term to a particular sect of the Jewish people.

As modern seekers of community and meaning, we have the opportunity to forge our own way into the depths of the Jewish tradition. We can choose to hear the call of the Divine, to walk in the path of Avraham — to go away from what we know in order to become who we are meant to be. Avraham modeled kindness. Our next portion will begin with Avraham leaving a conversation with God in order to welcome strangers into his home. 

In this portion, several people are named by God. First, He names Hagar’s son, Ishmael. That name, Ishmael, means “God listens.” The Hebrew Bible recognizes that it was not right for Hagar and Ishmael to be treated poorly. The name is given when Hagar runs away from the camp after Sarai speaks badly about her. When God appears and names her son, she is convinced to return to the camp. Later, God says to Avram, “I am El Shaddai. Walk in My ways and be blameless.” This is when God makes a particular covenant for Jews. He renames Avram as Avraham. The extra “hey” is a form of God’s name, to signify that God is always with Avraham. God instructs Avraham to circumcise himself, Ishmael, and all of the males in the tribe as a physical sign of the covenant. While giving the instructions, God renames Sarai, adding a “hey” to her name as well, and she becomes Sarah. 

Here in this portion is the pure description of why I choose Judaism. It is not because it is better than other ways of living. For me, Judaism is a coherent way of approaching life: as a member of a community dedicated to walking a path of goodness and truth. I am responsible for greeting people with kindness, even if they are interrupting me. It is up to me to become a blessing for my family and my community. And it is up to me to honor my foremother and live fully into my soul’s name. My name is Sarah bat Fayge Rivka v’Moshe, and like Sarah, my goal is to help the Jewish people walk the path of goodness and be a blessing to the world. 

Shabbat shalom.

Shabbat Shuvah, 20th anniversary Terror Attack in the United States

Last night, I co-led Kabbalat Shabbat services at Temple Beth David of San Gabriel Valley with Cantor Orly Campbell. We tried to hold space for the spiritual meaning of both the Shabbat of Return in the midst of the High Holy Days and the twentieth anniversary of the terror attack on the United States.

Shabbat is not a time of mourning

Jewish tradition tells us to set aside our mourning on Shabbat. That the holiness of the day takes precedence over our personal grief. It is why we do not bury people on Shabbat (or any Jewish holiday). And it is why mourners are asked to leave their homes and attend services at synagogue.

Yet, even though we elevate Shabbat, we do not ignore the reality of death. The Mourner’s Kaddish is included in all Jewish services. Some holidays include a special service in remembrance of the dead, known as Yizkor. We make a point of remembering people on the anniversary of their death, their yarzheit. So, it is meaningful to hold space today to honor the anniversary of the passing of so many of our fellow citizens. 2,977 souls lost their lives that day. As Steve Buscemi elevated, we are approaching the same number losing their lives to cancer caused by helping to sort through the debris from those horrific events.

Attack on United States soil

One thing that can get lost in the discussion of the twenty years since that attack, is the fundamental reason for its significance: we were not in a major war and the United States was attacked by an enemy. While Pearl Harbor has its own place in the history of the U.S. officially entering the Second World War, that was a military target. The 9/11 terrorists were targeting the centers of American capitalism, military, and government. At no other time in our history have we come so close to seeing devastation to the symbols of our institutional coherence.

Flight 93 aimed at the White House. But the 40 brave passengers on board fought back and ultimately took down the plane in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

Twenty years is a long time. I remember watching the World Trade Center Twin Towers burn and collapse on the Today Show. But the details are fuzzy. The Washington Post republished their coverage of the surreal day.

Not about a victim count

On Twitter, folks are quick to point out 656,318 Americans died from COVID-19, yet we have not united to tackle the pandemic. So why should the anniversary of people dying in a terrorist attack evoke more collective mourning than the deaths we are currently living through?

This is not only about the 2,977 people who lost their lives to terrorist attacks twenty years ago. This anniversary is about reflecting on the moment when our collective identity fundamentally shifted.

Remember Amalek

Deuteronomy 25:17 demands that Jews remember (zachor) Amalek, the one who attacked us from behind. It is elevated beyond its place in Parshat Ki Teitzei and is read again on Shabbat Zachor, the Shabbat of Remembrance before Purim. Haman is described as a descendant of Amalek. The Hebrew Bible connects all of our enemies in the same clan of people.

This is why 9/11 is so important. It clarified for a generation who their enemy is: terrorists. Not simply people with different beliefs, who choose to make women second-class citizens and disparage representative democracy and free market capitalism. These people make it their mission to murder us and encourage individuals to instigate terrorist attacks on civilian targets throughout the world. These terrorists are Amalek.

Islamophobia and the War on Terror

In the past, I was quite reticent to fully acknowledge how life altering this attack was to the American spirit. It was hard to hold space for the depth of pain felt by the families of the victims. Instead, I turned my energy to fighting Islamophobia and challenging the War on Terror.

Ten years ago, I wrote a resolution for the U.S. Conference of Mayors, calling on Congress to end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and to bring the money home for the needs of our cities. It was the culmination of my activist career. I wrote the resolution in such a way that it was debated by the Metro Economies committee, rather than the International Affairs committee. The resolution became the lens through which the media covered the annual mayors’ meeting.

I chose to step aside from activism because having that as my core identity meant that I never stopped fighting. My goal has always been to help the world become a place that is open to the breadth of human experience and to prioritize life-affirming activities. Now, I tackle those issues from a spiritual perspective.

Honor Difference, Turn Inward, Challenge Amalek

This Shabbat Shuvah, this Ten Days of Return and Renewal, I choose to honor our differences. My Judaism is quite different from other people’s Judaism. I choose not to disparage them. Our disagreements are for the sake of Heaven. My core beliefs are distinct from Christians, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, atheists, and countless other spiritual seekers. At the end of the day, my path is not about proclaiming that my way is the only way to be good and experience holiness. We each have a spark of the Divine within us. Our souls connect us across our differences.

My soul cries out for all that we’ve lost. I graduated college in 2000. I am one of the last people who did not experience terror during my childhood or formative years. My international relations courses at Wellesley College posited the end of history and the peaceful future of globalization.

I reflect on how difficult it is for me to physically be around other people. My fear of the Delta variant and my concern for the health of my unvaccinated children is more disorienting than collective memories of a terrorist attack.

Amalek: people motivated by evil intentions, still exist. My patriotism and love of the United States is built on my belief in representative democracy and our collective power to support human flourishing in our country and throughout the world. May we honor the souls around us and gird ourselves for the continuing fight.

Rosh HaShanah 5782: Allowing Grace to Transform Us

I am the rabbinic intern at Temple Beth David of the San Gabriel Valley and I had the honor of giving a sermon today, reflecting on my journey, God’s Grace, and using descriptions of the Divine as a blueprint for how we can live into the best versions of ourselves. L’Shanah Tovah U’Metukah. May we co-create a good and sweet year.

A PDF of the version of this sermon that I delivered at Temple Beth David is available if you click these words.

Indwelling of Compassion, 21 Days of the Omer, Shekhinah ShebeRachamim

Today is twenty-one days, which is three weeks of the Omer in the year 5781. שכינה שברחמים, Shekhinah ShebeRachamim, Indwelling Presence of Compassion.

Shekhinah is the Immanent Presence of the Divine, the Spirit Who nourishes us on the journey through material reality. Traditionally, in the androcentric understanding of conception and divinity, she is a passive receptacle for Yesod, and all of the previous sephirot he represents.

I choose to see Shekhinah as the Daughter of Binah, the Heavenly Mother of Understanding. Gevurah, Heavenly Mother of Boundaries and Strength also provides her vital energy. Shekhinah is the still, small voice within. She urges you to trust your instincts and become the person you were meant to be.

Indwelling of Compassion: Heart of Joyous Community

Today, I have the opportunity to relish how beautiful life is when I make space for compassion to flow through me. I choose to see the world with compassionate eyes. Balancing my inclination towards judgment with the flow of Divine grace and love, I become a conduit for deep community.

Everyone wants to see themselves as elevated and evolved. The truth is, it is very difficult to surmount our habits and obstacles. …

We call to our soul: Come out, my beloved, my friend. Come, let us feely deeply and act accordingly: with faith, with love, with awe.

Conscious Community: A Guide to Inner Work, by Rabbi Kalonymus Kalman Shapira, translated by Andrea Cohen-Kiener. p23 and 27.

It is relatively easy to count 49 days. It is much more difficult to walk forty-nine steps towards spiritual liberation.

This is why we need to gather in conscious community. Let us support one another as we each grow into ourselves. May we have the strength to lift each other up through the struggles of life. I pray we never forget how necessary our souls and our spirits are on this journey through material reality. May the Indwelling Presence of Compassion guide us on our journeys.

Essential books for the journey

Previously today…

Diving presence guiding beautiful truth, 5780 / 2020.

Indwelling of Truth, 5779 / 2019.

Shabbat and clarity, 5778 / 2018.

She whispered truth to me, 5777 / 2017.


Image by Tatiane Herder via Pexels.

Strength within Strength, Day 9 of the Omer, Gevurah ShebeGevurah

Today is nine days, which is one week and two days of the Omer in the year 5781. גבורה שבגבורה, Gevurah ShebeGevurah, Strength within Strength, Judgement within Judgement, Discipline within Discipline.

Not quite as lost as last year

I still do not live up to the discipline in my head. My perfectionist brain castigates me for failing to stay focused on re-reading Tomer Devorah and writing my thesis. Mostly, I don’t listen to her anymore.

Today was a victory because I did not take it personally that my kid didn’t do his homework. I wrote his daily checklist and accepted that this would be another week of slowly catching up to the daily assignments. The younger one went denied he could do his work, thrashing about. Then, as happens most days, he settled down and completed his work. We all took the dog on her afternoon walk. I spent a few hours cooking dinner.

Yom HaShoah is coming…

Tonight I watched the magnificent Jewish Federation of the San Gabriel and Pomona Valley‘s Yom HaShoah presentation. It reminded me how important contextualizing the Shoah, the Catastrophe, is. You may know the Shoah as the Holocaust. I choose not to use that name because I do not believe my Jewish brothers and sisters were burnt completely as a sacrifice to HaShem. Rather, I believe this Jewish genocide proves that evil lurks in every society. Humans are not infallible. Only by turning towards the Source of Goodness and Holiness can we have the prospect of bending the moral arc of the universe towards justice.

The Jewish day of remembrance for the Shoah and Heroes, גבורה, Gevurah, is situated on the lunar Jewish calendar on 27 Nisan, a week after Passover and eight days before Israeli Independence Day. It is during the time of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, which began the day before Passover.

The heart of strength is being

In reality, no habit or discipline defines strength. There are many ways to be strong and it doesn’t always come together on a daily basis.

Define your path.

Clarify your values.

Attach yourself to something beyond yourself.

Be a conduit of Goodness.

Meet each day with love-filled eyes and search for hope and meaning.

This is the Being that I hope to resonate today and every day.

Books for the Journey

The Spiral of 9 Days

The heart of discipline during a pandemic, 5780 / 2020.

The lion within pursues me, 5779 / 2019.

Internal battles, 5778 / 2018.

Spiritual discipline and parenting a toddler, 5777 / 2017.


Image by Reynaldo Brigantty via Pexels.

Four Days of the Omer 5781: Endurance within Flow, Netzach within Chesed

Today is four days of the Omer in the year 5781, נצח שבחסד, Netzach ShebeChesed, Endurance within Flow.

Interrogate your story

There is a beautiful explanation of this day in Benji Elson’s book, Dance of the Omer. Elson suggests picking up the rocks, the stumbling points, within your life. Examine each rock with a child’s curiosity. Try to see it from a new angle. Try to create a new version of your story, wherein the stumbles are not roadblocks. Rather, they are stepping stones.

Brené Brown provides clear detail on the power of story and the way in which transforming our stories helps us to become our truer selves in her newest book, Rising Strong: How the Ability to Reset Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead. Perhaps the hardest thing I have ever faced in life is the stranglehold that my internal narrative had on me. Paying respect to the way those stories helped you become the person you are today, holding the rock and giving it permission to sink into the flow of the river — that is deep work.

Prayer for Enduring Flow

Holy Mother of the Universe, Fount of Blessings, I embrace You. I welcome Your Shefa, שפע, Your Divine Flow, into this day. Every moment, I pray to stay connected to Your Enduring Flow. I pray for the discernment to know that cynicism is a trap of the inclination towards destructiveness. May I remember that the child within is neither naive nor helpless: she is willful and determined to be a conduit of Goodness and Holiness, Joy and Inner Wellbeing.

Guideposts for the Journey

The Spiral of Four Days of the Omer

Enduring will to nurture covenantal love: Day Four, 5780 / 2020.

Enduring prophetic love: Day Four, 5779 / 2019.

Choose grace in every moment: Day Four, 5778 / 2018.

Honoring the triumph of enduring love: Day Four, 5777 / 2017.


Image by Kai Vogel via Pixabay.

Two Days of the Omer 5781: Boundaries within Grace, Gevurah within Chesed

Today is two days of the Omer, 5781. גבורה שבחסד, Gevurah ShebeChesed, Boundaries within Grace. The human soul expands beyond its previous limits through spiritual discipline.

This immersive week of flowing within the light of the Divine requires clear boundaries. If you try to only catch the flow, you’re more likely to succumb to a mirage. Far too many people have been lost to the false messiah of hallucinogenic drugs. True freedom requires discipline, strength, and the ability to say no. May you find comfortable limits and gentle discipline to help you expand into yourself.

Spiritual discipline in unprecedented times

To be clear, I am no saint. If you are looking for advice on parenting during a pandemic, look elsewhere. I am treading water as I stumble towards becoming a better parent, and helping my children grow into themselves. Similarly, my spiritual discipline has waxed and waned in the last year. Recently, health issues broke me away from my daily prayer practice and I am struggling to regain my footing.

One thing is clear: I know how to help myself move into the flow. Jewish prayer has always swept me away. Before I understood a single word, the tradition spoke to my soul in a way I have never been touched by human speech or writing, regardless of the number of books I read. Experiencing the flow — whether in daily prayer, daily meditation (which, frankly, my prayer is my meditation), daily yoga, or daily woodworking: that flow is the Holy Mother of the Universe reaching towards us, encouraging us to be our best selves.

Give yourself the gift of recognition.

Choose a spiritual practice

Commit yourself to one spiritual act for the rest of the Omer count (beyond the counting itself). Whether that is conscious breathing for five minutes a day, or mindful stretching when you wake up and when you lie down: choose something. Accept an activity that will require your full body’s attention. Set aside your phone. Ignore the people around you. Choose to Be with yourself and with the flow.

Prayer for strength within the Divine Flow

I pray for the strength to stay within the Divine Flow regardless of what is happening around me. I pray that my resistance will lessen, and I will be able to outsmart my Inclination towards Destructiveness (my Yetzer HaRa). May the Divine Flow speak through me and help my children recognize that discipline is necessary for true joy.

The spiral of this day…

Discipline in Covenantal Love, Two days of the Omer 5780 / 2020

Clear Vision Beyond Existential Anxiety, Two days of the Omer 5779 / 2019

Healthy Boundaries in Love, Two days of the Omer 5778 / 2018

Boundaries in love? (Beginner’s mind), Two days of the Omer 5777 / 2017

Guidance for the journey


The North Platte River in Wyoming, photographed by 1778011 from Pixabay.

One Day Omer 5781 Flowing into Being

Today is one day of the Omer in the year 5781, Chesed Shebe Chesed חסד שבחסד, Covenantal Love within Covenantal Love, Grace within Grace, Loving Kindness within Loving Kindness. The Omer begins with stepping into the Divine Flow and allowing the river of being to engulf you.

As with every single year, I am hesitant to begin. Counting the Omer is one of the most meaningful parts of my spiritual year. Nevertheless, my pandemic malaise / anxiety would rather keep me staring at streaming videos rather than digging into truth.

Companions on the journey

Two new books are with me to help me on this journey. My dear friend, Erev Rav Debi Lewis, gifted me Color the Omer: 49 days of beauty & reflection. Another sister on the road to spiritual leadership, Tamy Jacobs, encouraged me to seek out the book Dance of the Omer: A Step-by-Step Guide to the Transformational Journey of Sefirat Ha’Omer. This book, by Benji Elson, seems to be a spiritual sibling of my journey. It is deeply rooted in traditional sources, a choice that might be off-putting if you are looking for a source that honors the feminine and nonbinary aspects of being as completely as it does the masculine.

Nevertheless, I have not met another book that feels as important to this spiritual practice as Dance of the Omer. I think it is a particularly easy to read primer on the Sephirot generally, alongside their connection to davennen (prayer), meditation, and embodied spirituality.

Flowing into Being

As Elson suggests in Dance of the Omer, today we sink into The Flow. Recognize that who we are is exactly who we need to be. This journey towards ourselves is not actually about changing — it is about letting go of the thoughts, feelings, and actions that keep us from being the best versions of ourselves.

Today, I choose to flow into myself. I will accept my need to let go and sleep and read and be. The path seems clearer than it did a year ago. I am blessed to have an appointment for my first vaccine dose. I am blessed that none of my family members were lost to this virus. Today, I choose to be.

Prayer for Day One, Chesed: Divine Flow within Divine Flow

May I release myself from guilt and anxiety. Circumscribe my speech, softening myself into the Divine Flow. Letting myself play with the people near me physically and spiritually. Oh, ever-flowing river of Divine Love, gently move us away from this plague and towards the future unfolding.

New Books

The spiral of this day…

One day of the Omer 5780 / 2020 / Covenantal Love in pandemic year one

One day of the Omer 5779 / 2019 / A meditation on grace

One day of the Omer 5778 / 2018 / Sink into grace and love

One day of the Omer 5777 / 2017 / Hesitant first steps of public counting

How to count the Omer


Image by Monika Iris from Pixabay.

Entering the first month

Traditional Jewish time recognizes multiple years within a year. Based on the flow of agriculture, spring is the natural beginning of the year. So the first month of the Jewish year is Nisan, which we have just entered. Yet, our spiritual year begins in the seventh month, on Yom Zikhron Teruah, more widely recognized as Rosh Hashanah.

Rather than get in the weeds of how to understand Jewish time, let me offer a pandemic analogy. A day can feel like a year and a month goes by in an instant. Therefore, we need multiple reminders of the journey we are on. The journey towards our core selves, towards deep knowledge and wholeness.

Now we enter the season of physical rebirth. Surrounded by the physical and animal world coming back to life, springing forward into new possibilities.

Personally, I am cautiously optimistic that the coming year will allow more occasions to be together physically than the previous year. My immediate family remains cautious, as we are not eligible for vaccines. Deeply grateful that our parents are fully vaccinated.

May the month of Nisan bring the winds of change into our souls. May we make space for change and may we rejoice in our own rebirths. Taking nothing for granted, reveling in the marvel of being alive, my soul expands into this first month of the rest of my life.


Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay