Category Archives: Talmud

The Fragrance of Paradise

Rabbah bar Abbuha met Elijah standing in a cemetery. He cried to Elijah:  I am too poor to take time for learning as I would like. Elijah led him into the Garden of Eden and said to him: Take off … Continue reading

Posted in Elijah, Talmud | 4 Comments

A Passover Conversation in Four Voices

Four conversed about the pine tree.  One defined it according to genus, species and variety.  One held forth concerning its shortcomings in the lumber industry.  One quoted verses about pine trees in numerous languages.  One struck root, stretched out branches … Continue reading

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Divine Gaze

After the fiasco of the golden calf, a resentful God said to the pleading Moses: You cannot see my face, for no one can see my face and live (Exodus 33:20). So says one ancient story teller: It was taught … Continue reading

Posted in Parshat HaShavuah, Poetry, Talmud | 5 Comments

Overturning A Mountain of Tradition

An ancient story teller uprooted Mount Sinai and held it threateningly over the people of Israel: They stood beneath the mountain (Exodus 19:17). Said Rav Avdimi bar Hama bar Hasa, This teaches that the Blessed Holy One vaulted the mountain … Continue reading

Posted in Parshat HaShavuah, Poetry, Talmud | 2 Comments

Soul Existence

The late James Hillman (1926-2011) taught that soul is our capacity to make meaning, our ability to deepen events into experiences.  Sustaining and nourishing, soul deepens us and raises us, allowing us to travel inwards and outwards.  With all of … Continue reading

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Tall Tales and Worthy Quest(ion)s

Can we allow an ancient story to tell itself on its own terms?  Are we willing to invite a story’s images without insisting upon its meanings?  Can we meet the gaze of a story, assuring it with our questions that … Continue reading

Posted in Elijah, Prayer, Talmud | Leave a comment

Certifiably Kosher

Can I say of myself that I am kosher?  Or, that he or she is kosher? Rabban Gamliel and the 20th century Israeli poet, Yehuda Amichai, might have had an interesting conversation about such a use of the term, kosher.  First, … Continue reading

Posted in Mishnah, Poetry, Talmud | 2 Comments

Guarding Ourselves: A Seatbelt Beracha

Years ago I created a beracha, a blessing, for putting on my car seatbelt:  Blessed are you, O Lord, our God, king of the universe, who has made us unique by giving us commandments and has commanded us to guard … Continue reading

Posted in Blessing, Talmud | 1 Comment

Rising Virtue, Rising Duty, Rising Courage

Here are three voices that join a conversation about the meaning of rising in the morning—a psychologist, a rabbi and a poet: I am lying in bed, says the psychologist William James, and think it is time to get up; … Continue reading

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Holding By Letting Go

The Talmudic storyteller brings us to the room where Rabbi is dying: On the day that Rabbi [Judah, the Prince] died, the Rabbis decreed a fast and they prayed.  They said:  Let anyone who says, “Rabbi has died,” be skewered … Continue reading

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