Kabbalah, the Amidah prayer, and the Spiritual Progression of Shabbat

August 23, 2017

If you can, download the KABBALAH & AMIDAH PDF and refer to it.  It's a three part folio I created that uses color to track Kabbalistically significant parts of the Shabbat Amidah prayers, and shows the progression of God sefirot/attributes/emanations on Shabbat.

In this presentation, I look at the Amidah, called "The Prayer" (ha-tefillah) in the Talmud, in its evolving Shabbat version.  This Amidah is an enigma inside of an enigma, a silent meditation inside of a public pronouncement, a fixed prayer which suddenly changes (in a revealed yet concealed way) on Shabbat.  Full of Kabbalistically significant references, I trace a mystical, cosmic progression that accompanies each and every Shabbat, from free-flowing Chesed Shabbat evening with a focus on Nature, intoxication, forgiveness,love, blessing, and the home, through Revelation/Power/Law/Direction/Distinction/Path on Shabbat morning, to Redemption/Balance/Wholeness/Oneness/Renewal Shabbat afternoon.

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The Pre-Talmudic Temple Spirituality of Conditional and Unconditional Vows

August 15, 2017

Aren't New Year's Resolutions some kind of recent thing?  Well, actually, resolution vows are a central part of the Temple offerings, and are expected to play a major role in your High Holiday prayers and spiritual work leading up to the shofar blast ending Yom Kippur.  We know why the Talmud played them down, but maybe we play them down today for another reason altogether: namely, they don't fit with modern conceptions of "spiritual."  But that's where we are completely mistaken:  the core Shema spirituality of loving God with our "me'od," our excess, as the proper reciprocal response to Blessing, relies on being open and clear about the role money, good fortune, and our own wishes and desires play in our lives.

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Owning Your Voice (Part 1) - Moses to God

August 2, 2017

Chapter 6 of Exodus concludes a long process of distraction by Moses from the revelation and mission given him by God in chapter 3.  It concludes with his infamous "speech impediment."  Is this really a speech impediment as taught in Sunday schools by fundamentalists?  Or do we need to say such things because it reflects a deep aspect of ourselves that it is too uncomfortable to confront?  Why do we neglect opportunities to speak in this world and turn down leadership --let alone even find excuses not to ask a question or write a thank you note-- because we "are not good at speaking"?  Why do we tell others, "Well, if you read some website or book... or if you just listened to what 'they' (experts) say... then you'd know..." instead of taking ownership of our positions and our own voice?  How do we follow Moses' path from "I'm bad at speaking" to "Words [the fifth book of the Torah]" where Moses owns his voice in an entire book of lectures?

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Owning Your Voice (Part 2) - Moses to Pharaoh

August 2, 2017

With the long process of avoiding his speaking role by Moses now concluded, God tells Moses that when he speaks, he will be "God" to Pharaoh.  Drawing on a teaching I learned from the great Conserative rabbi Rabbi Brad Artson. this single line may contain the most concise expression of religious ethics ever.  We can go from avoiding our voice to finding out how to live your voice.

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