Friday, July 29, 2011

Massey - return to our noble selves

Haftorah Massey
Jeremiah  Ch. IV: 1-2: The second of the three readings of admonition before Tisha B’Av, ends with the consolation:  “If you will return, O Israel, says the Lord, Yes, return to Me; and if you will put away your detestable things out of My sight, and will not waver; and will swear: ‘The Lord lives in truth, in justice, and in righteousness; then shall the nations bless themselves by Him, and in Him shall they praise.

How do we return to the Lord?  First, we must return to the most noble parts of ourselves.  Then the blessings we receive can flow to others.  May those blessings flow freely and lead to praise.  

Friday, July 22, 2011


Haftorah Mattos: Jeremiah  Ch. 2: 1-3: The first of the three readings of admonition leading up to Tisha B’Av, concludes with the consolation:  “And the word of the Lord came to me, saying, Go, and cry in the ears of Jerusalem, saying: Thus says the Lord: I remember for you the affection (chesed) of your youth, the love of your espousals; how you went after me in the wilderness in a land that was not sown. .  .  .”

May we hear the voice of the Lord, reminding us of the loving kindness within us, giving us the courage to open to the unknown.  

Friday, July 15, 2011

Parshat Pinchas - Turning from anger to peace

Num 25: 10 - 13. The Lord spoke to Moses, saying:  Phinehas the son of Eleazar the son of Aaron the kohen has turned My anger away from the children of Israel by his zealously avenging Me among them, so that I did not destroy the children of Israel because of My zeal.   Therefore, say, "I hereby give him My covenant of peace. It shall be for him and for his descendants after him [as] an eternal covenant of kehunah (priesthood), because he was zealous for his God and atoned for the children of Israel."

Haftorah: Kings 19:11-13. The LORD said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by.”  Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave. Then a voice said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

Why is the story of Pinchas split between two different parshiot? Last week we read that Pinchas killed two people engaged in idolatry. The parsha ends. We pick up again this week to learn that Pinchas’ zealous action is rewarded with an eternal covenant of peace and the priesthood.  What was Pinchas doing in that time between killing and receiving the covenant of peace?

Midrash tells us that Pinchas and Elijah were the same person. Therefore, the haftorah gives us a clue as to what Pinchas/Elijah was doing in the interlude. He was trying to move from anger to peace. To do so, he had to turn inward and listen intently. Did he hear the
sound of silence, the continuously gentle vibration of the energy of the universe?  From carefully and patiently listening to the calm stillness within, Pinchas was transformed.

The break in the story itself teaches us something more about the place of righteous anger.  It shows us that angry action, while sometimes needed, brings the story to a halt. Anger begets only an ending.  In contrast, peace is a beginning. Peace creates a power that flows continuously from generation to generation.  

May we be granted the discernment to take strong action when absolutely necessary, and the wisdom to then let go of anger, and listen intently to find and connect to the source of peace.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Parshat Balak - the patience to see

Parsha Balak
Num 22:31-32: Then the lord opened the eyes of Balaam and he saw the angel of the Lord standing in his way, with his sword drawn in his hand and he bowed and fell on his face. And the angel of the Lord said to him "wherefore have you smitten your donkey these three times? Behold I am come out to thwart you, because your way is contrary to me."

The donkey within us is a secure, strong, steady and patient force. May we be blessed to experience and act from our own donkey nature, so that our eyes will open and we will  see the angels of the Lord along our way.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Parshat Chukas

Parshat Chukas:  Ch. 20:7-9. "And the Lord spoke to Moshe, saying, Take the rod, and gather the assembly together .  .  .  and speak to the rock before their eyes; and it shall give forth water .  .  .  And Moshe took the rod from before the Lord .  .  .  And Moshe lifted up his hand, and with his rod he smote the rock twice: and the water came out abundantly .  .  .  And the Lord spoke to Moshe and Aharon,  Because you did not believe in me, to sanctify me in the eyes of the children of Israel, you shall not bring the congrgation into the land which I have given them. "

What kept Moshe's from entering the promised land?  What keeps us from entering the promised land both physically and in our hearts?

Happy are those who dwell in your house.  May we be blessed to realize that while smiting the difficult places within ourselves us may bring temporary peace, lasting peace arises when we allow our minds to quiet sufficiently to hear the still small voice within and to speak gently to the suffering in our lives.