chochmat halev svara
August 09, 2018

Teasing apart the sweet from the bitter

Shabbat Shalom Chaverim— This week’s Torah portion, Re’eh (Deuteronomy 11:26-16:17) begins with one of the great truths of life: “Look, today I am setting in front of you blessing and curse…..” Deut. 11:26 What else...


The fullness of your story
August 03, 2018

The fullness of your story

Julie and I are recently back from two weeks of vacation in the utterly glorious, sparsely populated, traffic free, and fecund Salt Spring Island, BC. Being away from our daily grind—relaxed and virtually stress free—we...


Fallen down with eyes wide open
June 29, 2018

Fallen down with eyes wide open

Maggid’s Musing  Balak  Numbers 22:2 - 25:9  2018 Shabbat Shalom, Chaverim— It is amazing to me that though we read the same, exact, words every year from the same, exact section of the Torah in...


June 15, 2018

Your Unique Holiness

This week’s Torah portion, Korach (Numbers 16:1-18:32) details the first of a series of organizational tests for Moses. It begins when Korach, a well-heeled Israelite whose pedigree places him in the priestly class, contests Moses...


chochmat halev
April 20, 2018

The wholeness of the wounded

Shabbat Shalom Chaverim— This week we have a double portion: Tazria-Metzora (Leviticus 12:1 - 15:33).  And what a doozy it is!!  It has to do with the impact of skin diseases, contaminated clothing, leprous houses...


The irreparable Temple where Divine Presence dwells
March 09, 2018

The irreparable Temple where Divine Presence dwells

Shabbat Shalom, Chaverim— The feature story on the front page of this week’s Sunday New York Times was a wrenchingly beautiful and agonizing piece by Benjamin Weiser called “Nakesha’s Demons.” Mr. Weiser chronicles the descent...


Holy Haute Couture
February 23, 2018

Holy Haute Couture

Shabbat Shalom, Chaverim— This week’s Torah portion, Tetzaveh (Exodus 27:20 - 30:10), comes just in time for the closing ceremonies of the Olympics. As the bespangled, multi-colored, wildly tailored uniforms announce to the world the...


hearts that are moved
February 16, 2018

hearts that are moved

Shabbat Shalom, Chaverim— This week’s Torah portion, Terumah (Exodus 25:1-27:19) contains one of Judaism’s most consistent and widespread practices. It is something that every branch and leaf of organizational Judaism shares, evolves, and tries to...


Between the mundane and the miraculous
February 08, 2018

Between the mundane and the miraculous

Shabbat Shalom, Chaverim— This weeks Torah portion, Mishpatim (Exodus 21:1-24:18) begins with a continuation of the commandments that were initiated with the famous ten last week. To review, Mount Sinai is smoking and rumbling, shofar...


When God meets us halfway
February 01, 2018

When God meets us halfway

Shabbat Shalom Chaverim, One of the less savory fixations in Jewish culture is the notion that there is an “authentic” Jewish life, practice, or knowledge. The dominant attitude has been that anyone wearing a black...


chochmat halev
January 19, 2018

Mature justice

Shabbat Shalom Chaverim— When I was a child I lived in an apartment on the Venice Beach Boardwalk. I was part of a semi-feral bevy of beach-rat kids. We were mostly boys, all about the...


chochmat halev
January 12, 2018

The friction between Spirit and Religion

Shabbat Shalom, Chaverim— There are two conflicting rabbinic concepts that pit the authority of the earliest generations against the wisdom of the most recent. The first, Yeridat Ha-dorot, means the descending of the generations. Basically,...


I will be that which I will be
January 04, 2018

I will be that which I will be

Shabbat Shalom Chaverim— This week’s parasha, Shemot (Exodus 1:1-6:1) is so rich it feels like a holdover of the holiday meals I enjoyed since I last wrote. Being faced with abundance is both satisfying and...


chochmat halev Hanukkah
December 14, 2017

The miracle of the ordinary

Shabbat Shalom Chaverim— Last Tuesday night, a great miracle happened in Alabama. But it was no miracle. It was the natural consequence of a group of ordinary people who exercised their civic duty, got out and...


The spark that glitters under the clutter
December 07, 2017

The spark that glitters under the clutter

Shabbat Shalom Chaverim, This week’s Torah portion, VaYeshev (Genesis 37:1 - 40:23) introduces us to the Torah’s most famous dreamer, Joseph. His dreams portend greatness, disaster, salvation, trouble, and redemption. It is heartening (though a...


Can the Deity of our subconscious be trusted?
December 01, 2017

Can the Deity of our subconscious be trusted?

Shabbat Shalom, Chaverim— This weekend will be a first for the Bay Area. On Sunday, December 3, Chochmat HaLev and Kehilla Community Synagogue are welcoming and hosting SVARA for a full day of Talmud study....


Holiness hides in the folds of human weakness
November 17, 2017

Holiness hides in the folds of human weakness

Shabbat Shalom Chaverim— I met a friend for a glass of wine after work recently.  We hadn’t seen each other in a while and after the preliminary niceties the conversation turned to matters closer to...


berkeley jewish chochmat halev
November 10, 2017

Seeing with the eye of kinship

Shabbat Shalom, Chaverim— I’m back in the cool and misty Bay after a few weeks in the overheated Middle East. Folks here seem a bit chilly, withdrawn, and insular, unlike the Holy Landers who tend...