Friday, November 25, 2011

Toldot - The wellspring of spaciousness

Parshat Toledot Gen 26: 17-22: “And Isaac departed, and encamped in the valley of Gera and dwelled there.  And Isaac dug again the wells of water, which they had dug in the days of Abraham his father, for the Philistines had stopped them after the death of Abraham; and he called their names after the names by which his father had called them.  And Isaac’s servants dug in the valley, and found there a well of living water.  And the herdsmen of Gerar strove with Isaac’s herdsman, saying ‘the water is ours.’  And he called the name of the well Esek; because they contended with him.  And they dug another well, and they strove for that also.  And he called the name of it Sitnah.  And he removed from there, and dug another well; and for that they strove not.  And he called the name of it Rehoboth; and he said: ‘For now the Lord has made room for us, and we shall be fruitful in the land.’      

Isaac called the first well – Esek – signifying an objective conflict between Isaac and the Philistines.  He called the second well – Sitnah – the anger and propensity for conflict that lies within.  He called the third well – Rehoboth – spaciousness, for once Issac became aware of the struggle within, he was able to find the means within himself for resolving his outer conflict with the Philistines.

May we find the spaciousness within to become aware of our inner conflicts, allowing new solutions to arise.   

(thanks to Rabbi Alan Lew Z’el)

Friday, November 18, 2011

Chayei Sarah: Living Life

Parshat Chayei Sarah.  Gen 23.1: “And the life of Sarah was one hundred years and twenty years and seven years; these were the years of the life of Sarah.”

Why does the Torah twice repeat the span of Sarah's life?  We live at least two lives.  The first is primarily physical, habitual and reactive.  But we also have the capacity to live with great awareness.

By telling us two times that Sarah lived 127 years, we learn that Sarah lived every year and every moment, with awareness, and with her spirit completely engaged.  
May we all aspire to this level of devkut.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Vayyera: Compassion and Justice Unite

Parshat Vayyera:  Gen. Ch. 22.  The Akedah, the binding of Issac, tests the faith of Abraham, the devotion of Isaac, and the compassion of God.  In the first part of the narrative, God is referred to as Elohim, the God of Justice, five times.  In the later part, God is referred to as Adonai, the God of Compassion, five times.  At the conclusion of Ne’ilah, we say Adonai Hu HaElohim seven times.  The God of Compassion and Justice are One. 

May we be like Abraham, rising to the challenge, by being faithful but sensitive and responsive to the compassion within us.  And may we be like Isaac, devoted, yet receiving the blessings of a just and compassionate God.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Lech Lecha: Moving into the open

Parshat Lech Lecha:  Gen. Ch. 12. v. 1.  Now the Lord said to Abram: “Get you out of your country, and from your kindred, and from your father’s house, to the land that I will show you.” The Hebrew for land, eretz, shares a common root with the word for will, ratzon.  Like Abram, we need to leave behind the land of desires,  ego, and narrow sense of self to see and feel the deeper and sacred land and present moment available to us all.   

May we have the faith and courage to leave our smaller selves and open to the unknown holy source of being.