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how to walk between the worlds. how to keep each foot each center solidly in each realm, simultaneously, while living in and enlivening the loamy starry space between.
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Tisha B'Av was appropriately hard, feeling what I could through the fast of brokenness, shattering, all the ways we destroy the mishkan, or fail to re-build it. Mama and Daddy-o came up cos Bro's having a hard time; they all went home together. I was torn but I'm glad I stayed, because I went to go learn and break the fast with my rabbi and Romemu people. We learned about the teaching that the moshiach is born on Tisha B'Av, born on Tisha B'Av that is, not come, not arrived. Redemption crowning, but not come, our job to give moshiach a good upbringing. We learned, drawing from some wordplay on three rivers mentioned in the Book of Daniel that I wish I could remember, about the possibility of redemption being founded on that river 'maybe,' an incapacity to be content with what was once good enough and set sail on that maybe. We learned more about what translates in Devarim as "turn and go up," or "turn and face it"--- all this stuff so freakishly relevant. 7 weeks-- another sefirah-- between now and Rosh Hashanah. My rabbi talked about the temple not as the literal structure, but as the Earth, the Shekhinah, "the divine mother herself in the trees, in the ocean, in the eyes [of someone reaching out]..." Uch, it was so good. I was still feeling pretty heavy and sad even with the break-fast so I sat down without the energy to fake it, and this beautiful lithe bright-eyed girl came right over to sit by me. She was awesome, and her friend was awesome, and we sat next door at my favorite Cafe Viva with the gorgeous counterboy who flashed his green-eyed grin my way and gave me free food (next time, next time-- it wasn't quite the right time to put out another line.)

And oh, did I forget one of the best parts, my rabbi saying goodbye by calling me "sweetie" in the most loving-kind way and us pulling each other into a good solid hug?

There is lots of pain on this precipice right now but there is tons of love too if I just remember to plug in.
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Today after I went to the gym for an hour and a half I came home wanting nothing more than to eat a big bloody piece of meat, so while my clothes were spinning I walked to the meat market near the train and got some rib-eye, a bag of potatoes and some kale. Then I was struck with the ethical dilemma of how I was gonna eat steak and potatoes without butter (or, without butter and cheddar mashed up into twice-baked potatoes), but I called my mom for moral support and went for it. Instead I fried up some onions in the steak juice, poured in some brandy and didn't miss the mother's milk at all.

The air is light and the light is stretching slow and sparkly this spring, the tree-buds coming out so green I wish early spring could just dilate and dilate out for another little while. The whole way I inhabit my body + the earth changes, opens up. Something about it makes it seem like a really good idea to start smoking again, the pleasure of tobacco smoke sucked down yr throat in the frothy air and late slow sun, but I'm not going there just yet.

The other night I went out to Brooklyn to hang out with Matt + Seth. We walked down the river, talking down the line of the railguard, in a row on a bench, in a row at the counter of the most amazing Montreal-Jewish non-kosher 'deli' that was really an open-kitchen restaurant with cooks who clearly love food. Ohhh my g-d the platter of cured/smoked brisket and mustard and rye, plus pickles and sunchokes and little poured glasses of IPA, so good. But mostly we just got high on the amazing crumbly-dry juicy red meat. Then we drank whiskey and then I went home with Seth to talk and drink more whiskey. I am on a roll, spring is here.
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How does this affect my relationship with G-d Herself?
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So (in Lubavitch circles at least) it's customary to recite the tehillim (psalm) that corresponds to your age. Due to some numerical/counting thing I don't really get, you actually recite the psalm whose number is one year above your current age. So, I got 26 (sticking with the "lord" g-d-language of my translation even though I don't like it):

Judge me, O Lord, for in my innocence I have walked, and in the Lord I have trusted-- I shall not falter.
Try me, O Lord, and test me; refine my mind and heart.
For Your kindness is before my eyes, and I have walked constantly in Your truth.
I did not sit with men of falsehood, and with hypocrites I will not mingle.
I detested the company of evildoers, and with the wicked I will not sit.
I wash my hands in purity and circle Your altar, O Lord,
to give voice to thanks, and to recount all Your wonders.
I love the shelter of Your House, O Lord, and the place where Your glory resides.
Gather not in my soul with sinners, nor my life with men of bloodshed,
In whose hands are schemes, and whose right hand is filled with bribes.
But I walk in my innocence; redeem me and show me favor.
My foot stands on level ground; in assemblies I will bless the Lord.

I think it's actually quite beautiful, and has a strange and wonderful resonance with the pasuk (verse) I picked at SImchat Torah which is Exodus 30:17:
Adonai spoke to Moses, saying: Make a laver of copper and stand of copper for it, for washing and place it between the Tent of Meeting and the altar.
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Ahh, this morning was waking up with a crick in my neck and painful knots down my back saying Modeh Ani in bed anyway, then going into my room with Critter to make Ha and beeswax prayers to Brigid, what I could remember of "ana el na, refana la" along with three dropperfuls of nerve tonic and a couple advil. The boychik and I went outside for a nice walk in the cold crisp sunshine, I saddle-soaped the ocean salt off my engineer boots and conditioned the rest and I feel better already.
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As I draw closer to יהוה through Jewish practices, I can't help but examine my relation to the other manifestations of divinity in my life. On some basic cellular level I don't feel a conflict: the visions of G-d Herself expressed in Judaism as All-That-Is align with my Witchy knowledge of the Star Goddess as one poetic way of naming and experiencing that vastness. All "other" Gods are really not so other, born out of the womb of El Rachaman as far as I can see, "local," Earthly manifestations of divinity as revealed in human community. Even the biblical images of Adonai Eloheinu as a jealous tribal God, simultaneously and supposedly All-That-Is, take place on that level. Why is that tribal (local, specific) God to be identified as a legitimate face of יהוה above all others?

This is hard to put into words though because on some level I don't want to subsume the multiplicity of Gods and spirits to The One. Ultimately, sure, everything emanates/emerges/comes spinning out of Ein Sof Aur, but the worlds are too multi-layered to be evacuated of all the divinities and spirits saturating the spaces between.

chabad joy

Sep. 28th, 2010 07:22 pm
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I got to shake the lulav in a makeshift bike-sukkah on 12th and 5th tonight, repeating the blessings word by word after the young little Hasid who'd slapped a kippah on my head.


Sep. 14th, 2010 09:39 pm
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Sometimes I think I should be in Jew school. Sure I'm a witch and I don't know Hebrew, but there is so much to learn! In some ways it feels similar to philosophy, endless layers, endless learning, the overwhelmed joy in digging.
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The walk home from Shabbat services on Friday night is quickly becoming my favorite, especially now that it's summer and the sun's really just setting as I leave. Last night after I got home I got drunk with our new roommate and I have the haircut to prove it. This morning I'm unpacking groceries and find a disproportionate number of Armenian foods: Akmak and sour cherry jam.

I think I'm going to try to make next Shabbos computer-free.


Jun. 29th, 2010 06:04 pm
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So my mom's got religion now too ever since she started going to this Chabad shul across the river in Clinton. I called her today after getting my throat cultured (strep, again!) and she told me it's the 17th of Tammuz and a little about Tisha B'Av and everything. When she reminded me that Tammuz is a month I said without thinking, "Tammuz was a god, too" and she said, "An idol, but not the real god." Here we go, round two: Chabadnik this time around instead of Baptist!
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I found this in my old bookmarks and sent it to my grandmother, who was trying to remember the correct pronunciation of a Yiddish phrase that she kept making sound like a curse word (maybe it was "chap nit"?):

I am strangely grateful that this is here.
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An Altar of Earth: Reflections on Jews, Goddesses, and the Zohar, by Rabbi Jill Hammer


Sep. 20th, 2009 11:42 am
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Shekinah is She Who Dwells Within,
The force that binds and patterns creation.
She is Birdwoman, Dragonlady, Queen of the Heavens,
Opener of the Way.
She is Mother of the Spiritworld, Morning and Evening
Dawn and Dusk.
She is Mistress of the Seas, Tree of Life,
Silvery Moon, Fiery Sun.
All these are Her names.
Shekinah is Changing Woman, Nature herself,
Her own Law and Mystery.
She is cosmos, dark hole, fiery moment of beginning.
She is dust cloud, nebulae, the swirl of galaxies.
She is gravity, magnetic field,
the paradox of waves and particles.
Shekinah is unseen dark, invisible web,
Creatrix of complex systems,
expanding, contracting, spiraling, meandering,
The beginning of Wisdom.
Shekinah is Grandmother, Grandfather,
Unborn Child.
Shekinah is life loving itself into being.
Shekinah is the eros of life, limitless desire,
Cosmic orgasm, wave upon wave of arousal,
hungry and tireless, explosive and seductive,
the kiss of life and death, never dying.
Shekinah is home and hearth, root and rug,
the altar on which we light our candles.
We live here, in Her body.
She feeds multitudes from Her flesh,
Water, sap, blood, milk, fluids of life, elixir of
the wounded.
Shekinah is the catalyst of our passion,
Our inner Spiritfire, our knowledge of self-worth,
Our call to authenticity.
She warms our hearts, ignites our vision.
She is the great turning round,
breathing and pulsating, pushing life toward
Womb and Grave, End and Beginning.
All these are her names.

(lynn gottlieb)
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Lif’nei b’rei’shit. . .before the beginning,
before the faces of time and space appeared,
before there was even a before,
all that was
was endless mystery, Ain Sof )

Our lives can be dedicated
to finding the holiness in every thing and every one,
or we can ignore the sacredness of the reality about us.
Within our hands is the power
to enrich the life of the planet,
and within our hands is the power to destroy.
U’va’char’tem ba’chayim:
Choose life that you and your children may live.

The holiness which we seek and which we find,
we call kadosh.
And our dedication to holiness, our work to enrich the planet,
we call the path of mitzvah.

Ha’me’ir la’aretz u’l’darim ah’leh’ha
Each morning you awake to the very fire
that created all the stars.
Each day is an occasion to dedicate yourself
to a vision of oneness, harmony and beauty
worthy of our fiery origin.
Sh’ma Yisrael: HaVaYaH Eloheinu, YHVH Echad.
In our work, in our relationships,
We can shape this fire as it has shaped us,
aware of the awesome energy which has provided it.
Or we can waste this fire, and we can use it for destruction.
Our most important mitzvah is to cherish this fire,
the source of our existence,
the power we can use for transformation,
the power to manifest holiness
in our planet, in our species,
in our society, in our community,
in our family, in myself.

V'ahavtah et Yod Hey Vav Hey
Elo'he'chah b'chol l'vav'echa
u'v'chol naf'sheh'cha u'v'chol m'o'decha,
"And you shall love HaVaYaH your fiery power
with all your heart, with all your life, with all that is yours."
This is the fire of the entire cosmos:
We must not waste it on triviality nor on enmity.
We cherish HaVaYaH by standing in awe,
by acting with reverence,
by developing conscience as we use it,
by offering our gratitude.
We have the power to forge cosmic fire.
What can compare with such a destiny?

(by Rabbi Burt Jacobson, found it here)

still ill

Jun. 14th, 2006 07:09 pm
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but here's some stuff from the unfortunately-titled jewish with feeling book that clicked with me:

Contradictions we can live with. Nothing we can say about G-d will survive the rigors of logical analysis. But that shouldn't get in the way of our search for the presence we have felt in our most spiritually open-- or spiritually hungry-- moments. If there is a tension between what we know in our minds and what we feel in our hearts, then let's stay with that tension. If there is a contradiction, let us take it upon ourselves. Only let us press on with our desire to experience the numinous and serve the patterns of the universe in a deeper, more meaningful way.


Faith is not something we can arrive at by careful, step-by-step process. It is not something we can square with our intellect. Faith does not make sense,nor does it feel safe...The quality, the essence, the whatness of G-d-- that we can only reach with the opening-up, the joyful surrender, that is faith. To experience faith even for a moment we must make a leap beyond intellect, beyond logic.

(pg 27-28, Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi)

These passages are really hitting me cos I've been feeling an insistent desire for the old closeness I used to have, the entirely obvious presence of the Goddess, the Gods, G-d Herself that saturated my life, that stirred in the wind or pulsed through the pavement. I think one negative side effect of this philosophy business has been an increased tendency to submit G-d stuff no less than anything else to (albeit not too rigorous) logical analysis that is, to be honest, entirely unfitting the matter at hand.

There's much more to say about this but that's it for now.
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I have been running from it and I know that's not what I need to do. It is so rare that I get self-destructive that it was a tiny bit disorienting and difficult to recognize that that's precisely what's been happening. So, I am going to look at things straight on, and stop a potential tailspin before it starts.

I am researching stuff for the Shabbat service I'm leading this week, and meeting with Rena (the rabbi) in...oh dear me, 20 minutes. I found a transliterated Hebrew version of "We All Come From the G-ddess" which I would really love to use. I have to strike a balance though, yknow? I think my focus is going to be on the Shekhinah, and see how it opens up from there. I want to do some different songs/versions of songs and prayers in addition to the recognizable and beautiful favorites, and I would really like to have short little meditations in between songs. I don't know how it will work. I'm so used to doing ritual where you can at least cast a circle and raise some energy in a really focused and obviou way- so I think one way to do that in this Shabbos context is to create sacred space by means of all of us focusing our intent at the beginning, and raising energy through singing and davening (which I will actually pronounce correctly ;)). Maybe it could even be explicit that what we are doing by praying and singing is simultaneously praising and evoking the divine.

Also I found a not-so-patristic version of Adon Olam called "Elat Olam." It seems cool but I don't know what all of it means--so if any of you (ahem, Ren, Reich, Noah...) would be willing to try to translate it for me I'd really appreciate it.

Okay, I gotta go!


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