1. A Tribe of Storytellers

Jews are a tribe. Like all tribes you either are born into it, marry into it, or get adopted by it (we call this conversion). Our tribe is made up of many races and ethnicities; we speak many languages, some of which we borrow from the countries in which we have lived or currently live, and some we make up, blending our mother tongue, Hebrew, with Spanish, Arabic, and German, to name but three. We call these languages Ladino, Judeo–Arabic, and Yiddish, respectively. In the same way we create d … [Read more...]

This Blog is Dead. Long Live this Blog!

This blog was supposed to be a clear and simple statement of my understanding of Judaism. It has morphed into something complicated and confusing. I think the numbering of paragraphs has something to do with this, but it is more than that. The problem is that I was trying to impress myself with my own brilliance. I wasn't writing for you but for the ages. Very narcissistic. Very silly. And very exhausting. I started to dread writing each post. I have enough things I dread, and have no need to … [Read more...]


4.6 Physics and Torah tell us creation is vibration—Elohim spoke the world into existence (Genesis 1:3). The universe is a speaking, a vibrating, a singing. This is why we Jews call ourselves Yisrael, not just Godwrestlers—yisra/wrestle El/God—but Godsingers—yashir/sing El/God. We are singing what is even as we wrestle with what might be.4.7 There can be no song without silence. Music is a dance of notes and rests, otherwise all you have is noise. Elohim is the note. YHVH is the silence. The … [Read more...]

Chaos and Creation

4.0 According to Torah, the universe is tohu va–vohu: wild, chaotic, unstable, and incapable of holding form (Genesis 1:2). God does nothing to calm the chaos, but merely calls forth form from out of the formless, “And God said….” God speaks the world into existence (Genesis 1:3).4.1 Chaos is the fundamental reality over which we spread a veneer of order through the power of speech. The world that you and I know, the world we inhabit, the world in which we seek to find meaning and purpose is … [Read more...]

God and Nature

2.9 The relationship between God and nature is like that of the sun and the rays of the sun. The sun doesn’t choose to shine; it can do nothing else. It is the nature of the sun to shine; indeed a sun that doesn’t shine is not a sun at all. Shining isn’t what a sun does, it is what a sun is.3.0 And because the sun shines there are rays of the sun extending out from the sun. The rays of the sun are the expression of the sun’s nature. They are not different from the sun, or other than the sun, … [Read more...]

Faith in the New Security State

[The following essay is in response to a question posted on the Patheos Public Square: www.patheos.com/Topics/Faith-in-the-New-Security-State.html. I will continue with the JudaismNext book on Wednesday.]I find it curious that we are asking people of faith to speak out about NSA spying: when it comes to surveillance the NSA has nothing on God. While the NSA may be reading my email, monitoring my phone calls, and hacking my computer and smartphone, God is collecting my every thought, word, … [Read more...]

God, Part One

2.1 “God” is a word, and words need definitions if they are to be of any value to us.2.2 There are many definitions of the word “God,” and you cannot speak meaningfully about God if you fail to define what you mean by the word “God.”2.3 For some God is a man, often a white man, who resides up in heaven. This God created the universe, and humanity in particular. God judges the deeds (and in some religions the thoughts) of human beings, and rewards or punishes them for these either in an af … [Read more...]

3. Our Story, Our Selves Part Three

1.11 For too many Jews today Torah is a fetish be to worshipped, but for the ancients it was a Rorschach blot to be turned and turned and turned again until the imagination was on fire with new wisdom and possibilities for God and godliness.1.12 This wild and deliberate misreading of our texts—Torah, Talmud, Siddur, Zohar, and others—is what it is to be a Jew. We are the People of a Book that disappears and reappears new with each reading.1.13 If we are taught well, and we rarely are, we … [Read more...]

2. Our Story, Our Selves Part Two

1.7. Our story was once oral, and made fresh with each telling. Storytelling is intrinsically anarchic, creative, and liberating. Print is fixed, and when an oral story becomes trapped on a printed page the authority of the storyteller gives way to new authorities, often armed, terrifying, demanding, and life–smothering authorities.1.8 To keep this from happening to our story we invented the art of deliberately misreading our story, helping the story say what we need and not what we are t … [Read more...]