June 1, 2014
This Tuesday evening-Wednesday, June 3-4, the counting of the Omer concludes and Shavuot arrives with our Shavuot Night of Study (7pm). For all of you who have been counting the Omer with us, or tuning in for some of the experience, this is a wonderful time to reflect. What has it meant to turn back to the liberation story of Pesach, to look forward to the revelation story of Shavuot, and to consider on each day, the present moment where you stand?
Judaism offers a great many opportunities to pay attention to the present moment. Some would say that such taking notice is the primary purpose for Jewish ritual. Ritual stops us in our tracks, helps us to notice the bread we are about to eat, the Sabbath about to arrive, the Ten Commandments we are about to embrace. Without ritual we are at risk of inhaling bread, moving into Friday evening, returning from work on June 3, without noticing.
As we celebrate the revelation at Mt. Sinai, consider Exodus 24:12: “Moses went up the mountain and he was there.” A Hasidic teacher notices: “This seems redundant: if Moses went up to the mountain, of course he would be there. However, this is proof that a person can exert tremendous effort to reach the top of a mountain, yet without being there. He may be standing on the mountain, but his head may be elsewhere. The main thing is not the ascent but being there, and only there, and not to be below at the same time.” Read the rest of this entry »
May 27, 2014
What is freedom in a world of obligation? Liberation in a religion of responsibility? As we move further from Pesach and closer to Shavuot, consider David Brooks’ ideas about how we are liberated, only to be bound.
Baruch Ata Adonai, Elohenu Melech ha-olam asher kidishanu b’mitzvotav vitzivanu al s’firat ha’omer. Blessed are You, Eternal our God, Ruler of the universe, who makes us holy with sacred actions and enjoins us to count the omer.
Hayom shloshah v’arba-im yom, shehem shishah shavuot v’yom echad la-omer.
Today is 43 days which is 6 weeks and 1 day of the Omer.
May 6, 2010
Why is the blessing before a meal so short, and the blessing after, so long? Why don’t we spend the time thanking God before we eat the food? Because, we’re hungry! At our Shavuot Night of Study, we’ll focus our learning on Birkat HaMazon: Grace After Meals. Want to do some extra preparation? To review and listen to Birkat HaMazon, click here and choose “Birkat HaMazon, short version” and it’s introduction used on Shabbat: “Shir HaMaalot” in the right hand column. Or, just join us for our Night of Study on Tues., May 18, 7:00-9:00 pm. Biblically, Shavuot celebrates the harvest of the wheat. So this Shavuot, study the way Jews have, for generations, thanked God for such bounty. We will discuss the meaning and commentary of the Birkat HaMazon/Grace After Meals, and then we will learn how to chant it together. Join us for this annual tradition of study, as we prepare to receive the Torah once again on Shavuot!