Category Archives: Days of Awe

The Binding Of God

To my mind’s eye, Rabbi Berechiah appeared stoop-shouldered and mournful on Rosh Hashanah as he listened to the Torah reader recite Genesis 22, The Binding of Isaac. Berechiah, a 4th century sage of the land of Israel, was pained by … Continue reading

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Heaven, Holiness, And Harmony

On erev Yom Kippur, 1990, the heavens broke open over kibbutz Bet Hashita. In the moment, after the singing, no one spoke; no one wanted to leave. Later, individual recollections of heaven, holiness, and harmony seemed woven into one story, … Continue reading

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Before and Within

A strange Yom Kippur story was told by Rabbi Ishmael, a High Priest of the 2nd Temple: Once, I entered before and within (the Holy of Holies) to offer the incense and I saw Akatriel Yah, the Lord of Hosts, sitting on … Continue reading

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Beginnings Ripe And Ripening

Rabbi Eliezer asks:  From where do we learn that the world was created in Tishrei? From the verse: God said, let the earth sprout grasses, seed bearing plants, fruit trees of every kind on earth bearing fruit with the seed … Continue reading

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Seeing Life In the Distance

Imagine a life in which repentance—teshuvah—is not necessary; a life in which there is no distance to close between action and ideal. According to the 3rd century sage, Rabbi Hiyya bar Abba, the promise of such a life was beyond … Continue reading

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To Forgive Is Human

How divine is forgiveness? asks the poet, Marge Piercy: It’s a nice concept but what’s under the sculptured draperies? We forgive when we don’t really care… We forgive those who betrayed us years later because memory has rotted through like … Continue reading

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“Pleas” Knock

That place, just above the latch to the left that no one has or ever will touch the place hidden, on which no one has laid a hand the place that does not know how to ask- It is the … Continue reading

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The Pot Becomes the Potter

We are like clay in designer’s hand, As he wills—to contract, as he wills—to expand, So are we in your hand to lovingly define, Look past our designs keep the covenant in mind. An anonymous prayer poet shaped Jeremiah’s image … Continue reading

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More Than Repentance

Teshuvah means more than “repentance.”    “Repentance” asks me to say that I am sorry, once again.  Teshuvah turns on the Hebrew verb that means “turn” or “return.”  The act of Teshuvah holds the possibility of creative, reflective, purposeful turning—both turning … Continue reading

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To Pray with the Transgressors

We grant permission to pray with the transgressors. So ends the prologue to Kol Nidre.  How pompous and unwelcoming, how divisive and polarizing this sounds: “We, the court, permit all of the pure faithful to pray in the company of … Continue reading

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