Friday, June 24, 2011

Parshat Korach: Miracles of nature

Parshat Korach:  Ch. 27:23 – “And it came to pass on the morrow, that Moses went into the tent of the testimony; and, behold, the rod of Aaron for the house of Levi was budded, and put forth buds, and bloomed blossoms, and bore ripe almonds..” 

Miracles of nature are occurring at every moment of our lives.  May we be blessed to recognize and appreciate them.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Parshat Shelach Lecha: Seeing a grasshopper

 Parshat Shelach Lecha:  Ch. 12:32-33 – “And they spread an evil report of the land which they had spied out unto the children of Israel, saying .  .  .  And there we saw the Nephilim, the sons of Anak, who come of the Nephilim; and we were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight.”

When the children of Israel saw themselves as grasshoppers, when we see ourselves as grasshoppers, what if we were able to see not with fear, but with exquisite attention.  What if we were to carefully attend to the self that feels small and fragile? What insight would arise? 

The poet Mary Oliver shows us how to look carefully at a grasshopper:
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean-
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don't know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention...
(see Mary Oliver’s complete poem, “A Summer Day,” and the wonderful insight she gains from careful attention at

A wonderful lyrical rendition of that poem sung by Sophia Smith-Savedoff and Emily Hurst may be found at

May we be blessed to see the grasshopper and the world not with fear, but with attention, as part of this one wild and precious life.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Parshat Naso: Receiving peace

Parshat Naso: Ch. 6:24-26 -       "May God bless you and protect you.
  May God’s face shine upon you and be gracious to you.
May God’s face be lifted up to you, and grant you peace."

Numbers Rabbah 11:7 "Shimon ben Halafta said, Great is peace, for no vessel other than peace can receive blessing."
Another teaching:  “Great is peace, for even at a time of war we need peace, as it says, when you draw near to a city to fight against it, you shall proclaim peace to it.”

It is easy to speak of peace at peaceful times, but how much more difficult—and necessary—to pursue peace in the midst of conflict, in the midst of threat and war.

May we find a place of peace in our awareness even in the midst of great aversion and agitation.
(with thanks to Rabbi Toba Spitzer)