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Posts Tagged ‘Living Torah’

My entire being has grown raw.

50 dead!

And we are now starting are next political crisis. Progressives vs Conservatives. Both defending their views while hundreds of children, partners, and loved souls are no longer alive in this world.

AGAIN!

One man causes terror in the name of his radical beliefs and many are ready to condemn all Muslims.

I am so sick to my stomach. 50 dead. 50 people who were tragically murdered. 50 human beings who never got to say good-bye to their loved ones. And thousands of people, hopefully millions are now mourning for 50 now dead souls.

Tragedy strikes again.

This is not ok!

 “AR-15 Rifle Used in Orlando Massacre Has Bloody Pedigree. it was used to slaughter first graders at Sandy Hook, murder Batman fans at Colorado movie theater, kill county workers at a holiday party in San Bernardino.

Now the AR-15 semi-automatic rifle has the dubious distinction of being the weapon of choice for a homosexual-hating gunman” CORKY SIEMASZKO

Something has to be done.

This afternoon Aryeh lit a candle in honor of those lost to this brutality and to the beautiful soul that opened up this bar in honor of her brother’s life journey.

Tomorrow I will go to a vigil. There I will hopefully meet the right person, the person who will open the door to my activism around making sure that an aggressive bastard has no legal ways of carrying a gun or rifle of any kind!

My heart is breaking. So many people lost in the name of mental illness, radical beliefs, or simply because of some of their deep seeded desires.

Years ago, my friend Susan Windle referred to me as a Spiritual Warrior. It is time for me to birth the Warrior’s spirit and better learn how to sit down at the table with those who have different roles so that we can really stop the massacres that keep happening.

And to my friend that shared the horrific rhetoric of one Muslim shiekh, I want to say that I have heard some repulsive words come out of both rabbis and other faith based leaders. In fact there are those people that firmly stand with the following Judeo-Christian teaching that is found in the bible. It says in Leviticus 20:13, within the Judeo-Christian Bible, “If a man has sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They are to be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads.” Sometimes religion sure focuses on narrow minded thinking. I am so happy to stand with those that seek understanding and healthy ways to interpret or maybe re-frame some of the difficult texts that our part of all faith based traditions.

Without modern day interpretations or a respect for when ancient texts were written, all of our teachings can lead to darkness. The reason I left Orthodox Judaism so many years ago was because I did not believe the Torah was written or inspired by God.  I see the Torah as our guide to life. And like any good book, we learn to synthesis the information and then grow as we study. As a progressive Jew, I think of our Torah as the Living Torah, it is my job to find meaning in the teachings and practices. It is my guide and I treasure it. But do I believe all of it’s teachings are just? ABSOLUTELY NOT!

Before I understood the complete ramifications of prejudice, there was a persOne_race_human_eV2on in my life who was extremely prejudiced. For the first time in my adult life, I encountered someone that repulsed me because of their  core beliefs, so I found passive aggressive ways to cope. While this wasn’t a fabulous way to move forward, it felt right at the time. One thing that I did was to engage in conversations so that I could enlighten this man. As you can imagine, that didn’t go over too well. And then one day, I found the most wonderful t-shirt. And thanks to Google images, I found it again. I don’t know who made this, but I do know it was the final way that I knew, at that time, to cope with hatred. Until it fell apart, I wore it every time I saw this person. My guess is that he wondered if I owned any other t-shirts. 🙂

I am now a little wiser than I once was. With that in mind, I realize that it is time to navigate the very real realities that exist and do my part to help things evolve. Lighting a candle was introspective, going to a vigil is supportive, but perhaps I need to connect with some of the organizations doing good work with gun violence issues. Here is one important link, I know I have a few friends that have worked with Everytown for Gun Safety, http://everytown.org/act/.

50 human beings dead, let’s not pause any longer.

There are so many layers to taking care of the human race. Let’s make connections with one another and  do our part collectively. We can make a difference.

“If you want connection, it’s because you are connection. Be what you want, and then it happens all around you. If you want love, be it. You’ll have more love than you know what to do with. Whatever you are inside, you receive a thousand fold on the outside.” ~ Adyashanti

Onward – Now & Always,
Chava

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Honor Yourself

Courtesy of Terri St. Cloud of BoneSighArt.com 

One of the most powerful transformations that I have made since the fall Jewish holidays has been learning Torah twice a week with two groups of passionate woman (by coincidence). Both have become the highlight of my professional and healing journey. I am processing life with others and the Torah is fully becoming my guide to living more fully. Simply put, I have found a new way to honor myself differently than I ever have before now.

Last week in my Thursday afternoon Torah Study, we spoke about Jacob’s devastation over the loss of Joseph, the son who who he loved “best of all”.  While I don’t understand what it means to love one son over another son or to have one of my children die, I do understand that losing a child is perhaps the worst kind of loss that any of us can imagine.  So after Joseph learns that his son was devoured by a beast, his reaction is totally understandable:

Jacob rent his clothes, put sackcloth on his loins, and observed mourning for his son many days. All of his sons and daughters sought to comfort him; but he refused to be comforted, saying, “No, I will go down mourning to my son in Sheol.”  (Genesis 37: 34-35)
The conversation that followed our reading of the above verse was heartbreaking and enlightening.  One person understood such a loss and allowed us a window into her experience and I finally understood more clearly why in traditional shiva houses, houses of mourning, we do not supposed to reach out to the mourners until they initiate a conversation.

Going to Sheol after learning of a death of someone you adore makes sense – always. Even if we are surrounded by loved ones, we are also feeling desolate and alone. And with that discussion came an enlightening discussion about mourning practices within the traditional Jewish world. Torah came alive.

Today’s Torah study was a fountain of flowing energy that ignited my soul – it always does. While we explored the difference between being a sage and showing discernment, we grew to understand what it means to have knowledge and the ability to impactfully work with others.  We also spoke about our health journeys and how we need to take care of ourselves. We also spoke about the mourner’s kaddish and the problem with how many progressive congregations do it today. How can we support mourners when we all rise together? We spoke about the options.  Finally, we wrapped up with how we say perhaps the holiest prayer in our tradition. We spoke about how we say and teach the Shema, our communities proclamation that we have One God. (Note: In Progressive Judaism there are many ways to see God and Godliness. What I LOVE about our tradition is that even if some of us see this a little differently, the Shema is a central prayer for all of us.)
Woven through every discussion was a thread of knowledge that came from the way Joseph interpreted dreams and how he, his father and his brother lived their lives. There is so much to learn from the tangents that are all part of Torah.
Each and every time I learn Torah my heart feels broken open differently than it was before we started.  My Monday morning Torah Study has strengthened my connection with five people. I can not imagine this connection ever fading. For one hour women from all corners of the United States talk Torah, education, and life.  Individually we are broken vessels that somehow emerge more whole when we grow/learn together.  Another way that my friend and study partner Iris Koller articulated our experience was that, “We each bring our fragments of lights that shine through”; our time together creates one of the most beautiful rainbows that I have ever seen.
On a side note, it has only been in the last 15 or so years that I have developed close connections with women. Before that time, I was rarely close with more than a couple of women at a time, but now I am so much more balanced because of the many soul sisters that have touched my life. Wow – I feel blessed.  I find myself thinking and opening up different that I ever have and it makes me want to cry.  I love that Torah is coming alive as it is.

There is so much holiness that comes alive when the two groups of women I study with bring our many moving parts together            in order to study together. The learning of life’s lessons through our study of Torah is making me more whole.

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The Torah is often referred to as ‘The Living Torah’ in part because so many of the timeless stories weave together the Jewish ethics and values of the past to those of today.

Life is full of journeys.  Personally, I have traveled great distances to seek what I am looking for; I have made choices that have empowered me to navigate myself out of hot water; I have had to tread high waters for periods of time before finding calmer waters.  Within each and every journey I have received messages from the universe or perhaps from God that have enabled me create stronger foundations within my life.

As I studied Parshat Vayaytzay, I found that I, like others are following in Jacob’s footsteps as we have all navigated life and sought that which we are looking for.

Here are a few examples of what one can learn from Jacob’s journey.

  1. Upon leaving home to both run from Essau and to find a wife, Jacob stopped for the night to sleep.  After he laid his head upon a rock while sleeping, he gained insights and believed that God would protect him.  After a long day, we often come to our strongest realizations when all is quiet in the world and we are left alone with our thoughts.  I find it intriguing that Jacob used a rock to lay down.  Rocks are often used as a metaphor for life and for building strong foundations.  I often keep a rock in my pocket as a symbol to remind me to hold firm to my values and to work towards creating stronger foundations within my life.
  2. Once Jacob arrives at Haran, he goes to the well to care for himself and his animals.  At this point, the wealthy Rachel who herself has her own servants, gathers water for the stranger and his flock.  May each of us remember that regardless of what we have or don’t have, we have the power to reach out to others and to help in any way we can.
  3. Jacob falls in love with Rachel and even though he has worked for seven years in order to marry her, he is deceived into marrying Leah, Rachel’s sister, instead.  Jacob then works another seven years in order to be granted permission to marry his beloved Rachel.  Waiting is a challenging part of life, my hope is that none of us have wait fourteen years to marry our beloved, but sometimes it takes years to reach our goals.  Only through actively pursuing our dreams do we have a chance of actualizing our personal ambitions or hopes.

In his book, The Bedside Torah, Rabbi Bradley Shavit Artson, shares that through the power of imagination each of us has the ability to transform the world and ourselves.  When Jacob laid his head on the rock, little did he know how that one dream would transform how he walked in the world and the effect it would have on others to this day.

May each of us be blessed with a moment that empowers us move forward with inner strength and to make positive choices in our lives.

Shabbat Shalom

 

 

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