Impossible Love

lovers quarrel

Love is impossible. That’s just the way it is. Love stimulates growth and change, so love never sits still or stays put where you set it. If love, that is, the act of loving, becomes static, you can be sure something will appear to disrupt it. A chaos, a jealousy, an abandonment, a misunderstanding — some third thing that threatens the harmony of the two lovers. This threat doesn’t necessarily […]

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Chesed: Love and Kindness

Sefirat Ha’omer: seven weeks of reflection on the sefirot, archetypal spiritual qualities. Last year I reflected in dialogue with the writings of the Ramak, Kabbalistic teacher Rabbi Moses Cordovero (1522-1570). This year, I am exploring the names of the sefirot as they appear in their original contexts in the Tanakh, Hebrew Bible. Each exploration showcases a different facet of the week’s quality, and suggests a different focus for spiritual self-questioning, action, and growth. Below, I […]

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A Dog at the Seder

Dog Silhouette

As a child, the great Jewish philosopher Emmanuel Levinas noticed that dogs appear in Torah at a crucial moment. On the night of the tenth plague, Torah says, “not a dog was barking” (Ex. 11:7). Young Manny wondered at this. Why do dogs deserve to be mentioned? How could they have known what a momentous night it was for both Israelites and Egyptians?  Are dogs really “man’s best friend”? What […]

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Fifty-five Alive!

Eighth birthday party

Today is my 55th birthday. It’s a bittersweet day. Today I receive my small inheritance, half the proceeds from the sale of my late parents’ house. From our parents’ perspective, this is a precious gift. Something that they, children of penniless immigrants, really wanted us to have. Something that would last longer than their lives. A gift of love, so that we would not have to struggle physically and emotionally as […]

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Spiritual Intercessor

Bergit Stadem by Bart Lindstrom

At a Jewish funeral, you might hear the prayer, “May she (or he) be a melitz yosher for her family.” Literally, melitz yosher means “ambassador of righteousness,” but in colloquial English it means, “spiritual intercessor.” A spiritual intercessor is someone who prays on behalf of another person. There are many different ways to pray on behalf of another person. You can challenge God’s decisions, you can ask for mercy and […]

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