Openhanded, Openhearted

Thursday, September 18, 2014 0 No tags Permalink 9

Today is my Hebrew birthday, the 23rd of Virgo. I’m not telling you this because I need everyone to know it’s my birthday, but rather it’s a great opportunity to connect with others on a day I feel greatly connected to. People always ask, ‘what would you like for your birthday?’, and this question got me thinking. I really wanted nothing of the physical or material world, rather my birthday wish is for everyone to have a year where we set aside our judgment and show true kindness to each other, that we give the people in our lives the benefit of the doubt, and that we treat each other with respect and human dignity rather than using others as a means to our own end. I want this to be a year of openhandedness. Openhanded like a slap? Not quite what I meant, but sure, yes! Wake up! What I mean by openhanded comes from this verse in the Zohar: "If you find that there will be a man in need in any one of your cities and where you live, it says do not harden your heart, do not close your hand, but rather you should open your hand." It means simply, ...

The ‘Perfect’ Road to Rosh Hashanah

Thursday, September 11, 2014 0 No tags Permalink 8

Before anything comes into existence there is a moment of perfection that precedes it. Kabbalist Rav Ashlag compares it to an architect who wants to build a beautiful house. Certainly he doesn’t begin to pour the foundation for a house that he hasn’t even thought of building yet! In those moments of inspiration when we have the idea of the house we would like to build, or the thought of any creation for that matter, included in those thoughts is the entire perfection of that structure even though it may take a year to build it. However imperfect that final house may be, the thought that preceded the beginning of the building was perfect. In the architect’s thoughts the roof did not pitch 5 degrees too flatly and water did not pool on the laundry room floor. Even through the imperfections, delays, problems with building, ultimately the house is somewhat as the architect imagined it. The first day of the month of Libra is the anniversary of the day the world came into existence. Not coincidentally, the first day of Libra is also the first day of Rosh Hashanah which means ‘head of the year’. Kabbalists teach that on Rosh Hashanah everything of ...

The Road of Return: T’shuvah

Monday, September 8, 2014 0 No tags Permalink 0

Imagine that you loan out a sizable amount of money, let’s say $10,000, but when it comes time to collect repayment you only remember loaning $100. Because you only remember loaning $100 that is all you request and that is the amount you are paid. In real life would you ever forget having loaned out the other $9,900? Very unlikely! In preparation for the New Year (Rosh Hashanah) we are given the opportunity of this month of Virgo. We are to use Virgo as a time to take a long look at the year past and make an unflinching appraisal, an accounting if you will. What are we counting? All the things we did that we wish we hadn’t and all the things we wish we had! If you’re anything like me there are a few words that you’d rather had remained unsaid, some thoughts left un-thought and some opportunities that you wish had been taken. We dredge up all this unpleasantness because the damage can be corrected, not because we like to beat ourselves over the head with our past mistakes! Like money loaned out, we can get back what we lost. It’s a process called t’shuvah, which means ‘return’ and ...

Virgo: Completely Different

Friday, August 29, 2014 0 No tags Permalink 0

Welcome to the month of Virgo! This is my birth month, so I have a little insight into what it’s like to be a Virgo. First, let’s talk about the good: No other sign of the Zodiac possesses Virgo’s logical, analytical, and methodical capabilities, which is what makes them the perfectionist that they are. They are reliable, responsible, and hard working. If you want to get something done, and done well, just ask a Virgo. Need help with the details? Call a Virgo. Virgos’ view of the world is physical and practical. They desire order and perfection and seeking perfection is part of their journey, as well as their purpose. That’s it! Have a great month! (joking) Here are the not so positive aspects of a Virgo (of which I possess none (just kidding again)): They have a critical eye and are always aware of what is wrong or missing. The constant quest for perfection can become so overpowering as to rob joy and satisfaction from the process of life. They often miss the big picture. Rav Berg explained, “Virgos’ view of the world may be reduced to a grain of sand when the entire beach is what should be taken into account.” Virgos have a propensity to judge, easily seeing the flaws in ...

What’s your motivation? God or your ego?

Wednesday, August 20, 2014 0 No tags Permalink 1

Imagine you are carrying on with your day, it's a typical Tuesday afternoon and perhaps you are walking to catch a train or headed to your car when a black sedan pulls up alongside you and stops. Three secret service agents approach you and inform you that the president himself would like to speak to you. Then you find yourself being whisked away in the posh sedan. Upon your arrival, the President greets you warmly, like an old friend. He tells you that he really needs to hear your ideas, you're the only person he trusts and furthermore, he knows beyond doubt, that you are going to be elected to succeed him as President. He gives you a secure phone, so he can call you when he needs your advice or just wants to chat and insists that you dine with him several evenings a week and so that you can be close to him he prepares a guest room for you! The first few days you would doubtlessly feel overwhelmed and confounded, but very quickly you would accept your new role and position. Would you allow all these new changes in your circumstances to change you? Would you still be friends ...

Defining Love: Tu B’Av

Thursday, August 7, 2014 0 No tags Permalink 0

This week, we celebrate the kabbalistic holiday of Tu B’Av, the 15th day of Leo, and more commonly referred to as the ‘Day of Love’ by the kabbalists. It is one of the most powerful days in the year; when the union between the sun and the moon begins, the male and female aspects close in together, like two soul mates reuniting as one. The kabbalists explain that the reason there is so much pain and chaos in the world is because we personally, and globally, have created separation between the supernal male and female. When we understand this, we begin to see just how important our personal relationships are, not just to ourselves, but to the world! Being on a spiritual path means striving to replace judgment with mercy, hatred with love. Ironically, it is often in our closest relationships that we find this most difficult! Any long-married couple can tell you that no one has the ability to push buttons like a husband or wife. But it is in these relationships where we have the ability to create the most change for ourselves and the world. It is the unity of the male/female aspects in this world that determines ...

Stop Complaining!

Thursday, July 31, 2014 0 No tags Permalink 0

When we think of the person we love the most, romantically speaking anyway, would we put the word ‘evil’ in the same sentence? Most of us would not consciously undermine our most precious relationship, yet we are usually unaware of the kind of negative energy we unknowingly subject our partners to. My friends, meet your enemy, complaining, an insidious form of evil speech — it’s the uninvited guest that wreaks havoc on our relationships. Sometimes we talk about things to make it better. There is no doubt that talking over a problem with a close friend or advisor can lend clarity to the situation and defuse some of the negative thoughts and emotions surrounding it. Other times, we are just complaining for the sake of being heard with no intention to create real change. Often, we just want someone to validate our feelings. People do this ALL the time. It may begin innocuously enough, "I asked them to close the lid on the toilet because the dog drinks from it when it's left up and it's absolutely disgusting. I even left a reminder sign! Yet, every other day they leave the seat up! Why am I not being heard?!" Maybe the first ...

Road Trip Anyone? Packing not required

Thursday, July 24, 2014 0 No tags Permalink 0

For a millennium, kabbalists have known the gifts of transformation that the calendar presents us with each month. To discover what is in store this month, let’s begin by observing the personality of those born under the sign of Leo, with the intention of understanding how that energy expresses itself for every individual. Since their biggest challenge is trust, Leo's are sometimes emotionally hindered, and because opening up is not easy, they think their vulnerability will be read as a sign of weakness; like their animal namesake, they are known to hide their wounds, suffering in silence until the hurt is gone. Wanting to be loved is a natural desire for a Leo - it is the root of their happiness as well as their sadness. They must learn not to let their sense of self be dependent upon what others think of them. Unlike other months, the first half of Leo is heavier, meaning that the energy can feel very negative, while the second half is very positive. This darkness and Light is a metaphor for our spiritual process. Kabbalists teach that to get the fulfillment we desire, we first have to go through difficulty; in essence, we have to ...

You Make Me Feel

Thursday, July 17, 2014 0 No tags Permalink 0

People will forget what you said. People will forget what you did. But people will never forget how you made them feel. -Maya Angelou When we think of our favorite people we are filled with a sense of being loved. While we may recall a particularly thoughtful gift that they gave us, a profound bit of advice, or an act of great kindness, the reason that we hold them in such high esteem is because of the positive feelings that being with them produces. Imagine that a friend threw a surprise birthday party for you. They arranged a beautiful cake, invited all of your friends, decorated the venue, bought you a wonderful present, but then spent the entire evening talking on their mobile phone. Chances are you won’t remember the cake or the decor, but you will remember feeling ignored and disappointed. I know a woman who is utterly committed to her children. She’s a stay-at-home mom by choice who is constantly in search of the best foods, best extracurricular activities, healthiest ways to communicate, and on and on. The problem is that she’s so focused on the idea of raising well-rounded children that she forgets to really be with her children. Once, for example, she was racing ...

3 Weeks of Opportunity

Wednesday, July 16, 2014 0 No tags Permalink 0

Kabbalists teach that during certain times of the year unique energies are available to us. A particularly powerful time of year is upon us and I want to share with you the challenge and the opportunity so that you can face the next few weeks with the consciousness of love and sharing, rather than reactivity and uncertainty. We are about to enter into a period known as Ben HaMetzarim or The Three Negative Weeks which begins July 15, 2014 through Tisha B’Av (this year August 5, 2014). Tisha B’Av, which means the 9th day of the month of Leo, marks the anniversary of several calamities throughout both biblical and modern history, most notably the destruction of both Holy Temples. This is a time when our selfish natures tend to awaken. It is harder than usual for us not to react negatively. Some of us will face challenges; our certainty will be tested and many will discover more negativity within ourselves than we ever wanted to see. Our initial reaction to this news might be that it sounds like a good three weeks to stay at home and not leave the house! Why go out in the world and face these extra challenges when it would be ...