Sunday, May 25, 2014

So Easy to Miss / Parshat Naso 2014

Many years ago, we gathered several families together for a Passover seder at our home. The oldest children were nearing three. My husband hid the afikomen in the light fixture hanging above the table, an open, wrought-iron piece we picked up for $3 at a yard sale that looked a lot like this, but was without all the rust:

Imagine a half sheet of matzah wrapped in a napkin sitting on that fixture. Not too hard to find hanging directly over the dinner table, is it? Yet the kids never found it. It never occurred to them to look above eye level. How often is something right before our eyes, yet we completely miss it?

An example is found in this weeks parashah, Naso. Nestled between instructions to the Levitical clans concerning the porterage of the Mishkan (Tabernacle) and the well-known and oft-commented-upon passages about the sotah (suspected adulteress), Nazarite, priestly benediction, and offerings brought to the Tabernacle by each tribe, are three verses that open like a door to disclose a world of values about Torahs view of human nature, behavior, and repentance. Here are the verses:

 וַיְדַבֵּר יְהוָה, אֶל-מֹשֶׁה לֵּאמֹר:  דַּבֵּר, אֶל-בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל, אִישׁ אוֹ-אִשָּׁה כִּי יַעֲשׂוּ מִכָּל-חַטֹּאת הָאָדָם, לִמְעֹל מַעַל בַּיהוָה; וְאָשְׁמָה הַנֶּפֶשׁ הַהִוא וְהִתְוַדּוּ, אֶת-חַטָּאתָם אֲשֶׁר עָשׂוּ וְהֵשִׁיב אֶת-אֲשָׁמוֹ בְּרֹאשׁוֹ
וַחֲמִישִׁתוֹ יֹסֵף עָלָיו; וְנָתַן, לַאֲשֶׁר אָשַׁם לוֹ

The Lord spoke to Moses, saying: Speak to the Israelites: When a man or woman commits any wrong toward another person, thus breaking faith with the Lord, and that person realizes his guilt, he shall confess the wrong that he has done. He shall make restitution in the principle amount and add one-fifth to it, giving it to him whom he has wronged.(Numbers 5:5-7)

As I said, its easy to gloss over this passage without taking in just how extraordinary it is. The wrong committed is generally understood to be theft. On the basis of numerous rabbinic commentaries through the ages, the commentary in Etz Hayim understands the passage this way: The crime consists of defrauding another person and then committing sacrilege against God by denying it in a false oath. This certainly isnt all spelled out in the text and, indeed, the underlying messages of the passage take on greater depth and resonance if we understand commits any wrong toward another person in a more general way.

What lies beneath the passage? Whats packed into these three verses?

First, Torah understands that things go wrong between peoplesometimes we hurt and wrong one another. But the wrongs can be righted and the hurt can be repaired. God does not expect of us perfection and we are not forever ruined or tainted by our mistakes. Just as we are not defined by our mistakes, nor should we define others by theirs.

Second, although the precise nature of the the wrong Torah has in mind is not objectively clear, what is clear is that Torah unequivocally asserts that one who wrongs another person wrongs God, as well. It is not just that God insists upon a certain code of moral behavior. God is hurt when any person is hurt. God is cheated when any person is cheated. God is wronged when any person is wrong. Our actions have ramifications beyond the immediate; we send ripples out into the universe, indeed into the cosmos. We cannot console ourselves by saying, What I did wasnt a big deal, no one will know or be hurt, because on some level, that is never the case. If we can learn to take ourselvesour significance, our choices, and our actionsas seriously as God does, we can become much better people.

Third, the phrase וְאָשְׁמָה הַנֶּפֶשׁ הַהִוא ([when] that person realizes his guilt) affirms the innate goodness and conscience Torah ascribes to human beings. No original sin here. Certainly every society sets boundaries on human behavior by establishing laws and imposing consequences. But Torah knows that we are endowed with moral discernmenta quality only our species enjoysand therefore fully capable of policing and judging our own behavior. Torah does not say, If that person is caught wronging another person…” but rather [when] that person realizes his guilt. This in itself is a glorious affirmation of the human being as moral agent. Those who lived through the Nixon era know that Watergate tainted America culture: a cynical political attitude cultivated by Watergate was not condemnation of the egregious disregard of the Constitution displayed by President Nixon and his minions, nor revulsion at the criminal actions he approved for political gain, but rather expressed most succinctly by G. Gordon Liddy, mastermind of the Watergate break-in and burglary, who to this day maintains that his only crime was getting caught. Even after being released from prison in 1977, Liddy termed his jail term an occupational hazard and explained that, in combat, sometimes you get captured by the enemy. Torah knows we are capable of moral self-reflection, and that the attitude expressed by Liddy is far beneath those created in the image of the Divine.

Fourth, Torah teaches that confession is valuable. The Hebrew term הִתְוַדּוּ (hit-va-du) is a reflexive verb, suggesting that the first, or primary purpose of confession is to admit to ourselves what we have done. Such acknowledgement, in the face of our human proclivity to deny guilt, is often no small feat. Taking responsibility for our actions is crucially important in the process of teshuvah (repentance). Without it, there can be no change and improvement, nor healing on the part of the one we have wronged.

Fifth, Torah demands restitution. What we set asunder we need to set aright. Not everything is reparable, but very many wrongs are, and teshuvah is not complete until we have done what we can to undo the wrong.

In short, the passage tells us:
    Know that many wrongs can be repaired, and making a mistake does not forever taint you.
    Learn to recognize the ripples you send out through the universe and your effect even on God.
    Use the gift of your moral discernment to take responsibility and confess the truth of what you have done to yourself.
    Rectify the wrongset things right.

R. Elimelekh of Lizhensk (1717-1787), a disciple of Dov Baer, the Maggid of Mezeritch, explained the verse that opens the Book of Numbers (of which Parshat Naso is the second Torah portion) in a novel and surprising way. To him, this seemingly bland verse is about the transformation that occurs in our lives through repentance and renewal. Here is the first verse of the Book of Numbers:

וַיְדַבֵּר יְהוָה אֶל-מֹשֶׁה בְּמִדְבַּר סִינַי, בְּאֹהֶל מוֹעֵד:  בְּאֶחָד לַחֹדֶשׁ הַשֵּׁנִי בַּשָּׁנָה הַשֵּׁנִית, לְצֵאתָם מֵאֶרֶץ מִצְרַיִם--לֵאמֹר.
ADONAI spoke to Moses in the desert of Sinai, in the Tent of Meeting, on the first day of the second month [chodesh] of the second year [shanah] since they had left Egypt. (Numbers 1:1)

R. Elimelekh explains this verse, phrase by phrase, in Noam Elimelekh:

With this sentence the Torah is teaching correct conduct. The words the desert of Sinai are a reminder that the Torah was given on Mount Sinai in order to teach you to be extremely humble and self-effacing. Remember that God rejected all the high mountains and chose Mount Sinai, which was the lowest of them all. [Here, R. Elimelekh refers to Midrash Tehillim 69:8 which says that God chose Sinai as the place to reveal Torah to Israel because the other mountains bragged and vied for the honor, while Sinai remained silent and humble.]

But take care that this submissiveness not lead you into depression, for that is a great obstacle to Gods service. The Torah teaches that you should always be joyful. The Shekhinah is not present amid sadness. The words in the Tent of Meeting (bohel moed) imply that you should enter the tent of joy, for the word for meeting (moed) is also the word for festival.

On the first day of the second month (chodesh, renewal). But should you say, how can I rejoice when I have sinned so extensively? The Torah teaches that you should nevertheless engage in repentance with joy. Encourage yourself by saying, I am reborn this very day and I will never return to my foolishness. Renewal (chiddush) is about becoming a new person, and this is alluded to in the words the first day of the second month (chodesh). Indeed this is the second new start: the first was when you were born, and the second is when you repent and are forgiven.

R. Elimelekh tells us that going throughout the process of teshuvah is not one of shame and misery: done right, it is one of joy. We emerge renewed and reinvigorated.

This is a tough concept to wrap our minds around in a society, which records everything and forgets nothing. We either aim for an impossible perfection, or complete denial of our mistakes and wrongdoings because they tarnish what we imagine to be our perfect sheen. Vineet Nayar, writing in the Harvard Business Review, encapsulates our view of making mistakes:

All through school, a mistake indicates the prospect of lower grades. Good students dont make mistakes. At home, mistakes lead to admonishments. Good children follow the rules. At work, mistakes have serious repercussions. Good workers get it right the first time.[1]

I would argue that the same attitude holds true for our approach to specifically behavioral and ethical wrongs. Paraphrasing Nayar: Good people follow the rules of good behavior all the time. Good people get it right every time. Nayar, speaking in the realm of business, points out that there is much to be learned by making mistakes: people grow in their experience. He writes, if you arent making mistakes, youre not learningor, at least, youre not learning enough. While we would not encourage or countenance people hurting and wronging one another in order to learn, it is certainly the case that by going through the process of teshuvah that Torah describes so beautifully we grow into better human beingsbetter versions of ourselves.

© Rabbi Amy Scheinerman

Sunday, May 18, 2014

"Head by Head" / Parshat B'midbar 2014

Many years ago, a dear friend and colleague posed this dilemma: A gentleman was to be called to the Torah for an aliyah two weeks hence when his grandson became a bar mitzvah. The grandfather had publicly announced on multiple occasions that he was an atheist. How, then, my friend asked, could he call this man to recite the Torah blessings, which are said on behalf of the congregation and to which they are to respond “Amen”—if for him, the words, “Blessed are you, Lord our God, ruler of the universe, who has chosen us from among the nations and given us the Torah…” are without meaning? I told my friend that I would wager good money that the man was not an atheist in the least, and suggested a way to find out. 
More on how this little drama unfolded in a moment. Let’s turn now to the Book of Numbers, which we begin reading this week.
  וַיְדַבֵּר יְהוָה אֶל-מֹשֶׁה בְּמִדְבַּר סִינַי, בְּאֹהֶל מוֹעֵד:  בְּאֶחָד לַחֹדֶשׁ הַשֵּׁנִי בַּשָּׁנָה הַשֵּׁנִית, לְצֵאתָם מֵאֶרֶץ מִצְרַיִם לֵאמֹר.  שְׂאוּ, אֶת-רֹאשׁ כָּל-עֲדַת בְּנֵי-יִשְׂרָאֵל, לְמִשְׁפְּחֹתָם, לְבֵית אֲבֹתָם--בְּמִסְפַּר שֵׁמוֹת, כָּל-זָכָר לְגֻלְגְּלתָם.  מִבֶּן עֶשְׂרִים שָׁנָה וָמַעְלָה, כָּל-יֹצֵא צָבָא בְּיִשְׂרָאֵל--תִּפְקְדוּ אֹתָם לְצִבְאֹתָם, אַתָּה וְאַהֲרֹן.

On the first day of the second month, in the second year following the exodus from the land of Egypt, the Lord spoke to Moses in the wilderness of Sinai, in the Tent of Meeting, saying: Take a census of the whole Israelite community by the clans of its ancestral houses, listing the names, every male, head by head. You and Aaron shall record them by their groups, from the age of twenty years up, all those in Israel who are able to bear arms. (Numbers 1:1-3)

Torah proceeds to list tribal heads and tallies, tribe by tribe, all males age 20 and older, those who can bear arms to protect the people. (Total enrollment: 603,550.) We are then told the configuration in which the Levitical clans, and twelve tribes of Israel camped encircling the Tabernacle. Next, we are told that after Nadab and Abihu, the two eldest sons of Aaron died, Aaron and his remaining sons Eleazar and Itamar served God in the Tabernacle, and the clans of the Levites served under them. The duties of the Levitical clans are detailed, as well as where around the Tabernacle each camped. The parashah finishes up with more about the duties of the priests and Levites. Every tribe has its standard, its position, its function. Order and efficiency reign; chaos doesnt even have a toehold.
We might ask whether this is a projection backward by a fractured and fractious Jewish nation at the time of the redaction of the Book of Numbers. In other words, is this an imagined beginning in the Wilderness that features everything those writing the account lacked in their time: strength, security, coherency?

We might ponder the highly patriarchal and hierarchical nature of this parashah and ask: Why are women absent from this parashah? Dozens of men are named; all men 20 years of age and older are counted, head by head; tasks are assigned to the men of each Levitical clan… yet not a single woman is mentioned.
Both are worthy questions to pursue. Id like to focus, however, on the phrase, “head by head.” Torah tells us that God instructs Moses: Take a census of the whole Israelite community by the clans of its ancestral houses, listing the names, every male, head by head (Numbers 1:2).

The Sfat Emet (Rabbi Yehudah Leib Alter of Ger, 1847–1905) writes:
Scripture says: לִתְבוּנָתוֹ, אֵין מִסְפָּר There is no counting [Gods] understanding (Psalm 147:5) [i.e., there is no limit to Gods understanding]. The holy Zohar says concerning the verse, Her husband is known in the gates (Proverbs 31:23) that the word gates refers to imaginings of the heart. Each and every Jew has a particular knowledge of Gods greatness, according to that persons own rung. It can be shared with no other. This is what the Mishnah [Sanhedrin 4:5] teaches: “…this reveals the greatness of God, for each person was stamped out of the stamp of Adam, yet no two faces are alike. Rabbi Pinchas of Korzec adds that because the difference is in minds, not only in faces, each of us becomes excited by a different quality or aspect. This is the meaning of, there is no counting [Gods] understanding. In this count each of us was given that mind and those capacities appropriate to us.

First, a few words about the meaning and implication of the S’fat Emet’s words, and then a few words about R. Pinchas of Korzec and how his philosophical perspective impacts the message of the S’fat Emet. 

The pshat, or contextual meaning, of There is no counting [Gods] understanding (Psalm 147:5) is that God’s comprehension or knowledge are infinite: beyond countability. The S’fat Emet here interprets the phrase, however, to mean that there is no limit to the ways in which people come to understand God, which is to say that each individual has a personal, unique perspective on God that is his or hers alone. The S’fat Emet brings Mishnah Sanhedrin 4:5 to support this claim because the Mishnah eloquently asserts that while we are all the genetic offspring of someone, and in fact all descended from the first human, Adam, we are nonetheless unique individuals. Accordingly, each person’s understanding of God is individual and unique—and appropriate for that person. The implication is that rather than negating or criticizing the view of another and trying to convince them of the superiority of our perspective, we should understand, appreciate, and learn from one another. 

R. Pinchas of Korzec enlarges the message by suggesting that Torah says “head by head” to teach us that each mind is distinct and uniquely engages with God. R. Pinchas was a disciple of the Baal Shem Tov (known by the acronym, the Besh”t), the founder of Hasidism. In the early days of Hasidism an ideological conflict raged that can be described by the difference of opinion between the Dov Baer, the Maggid of Mezeritch, and R. Pinchas of Korzec. Dov Baer was an ecstatic who sought transcendence and communion with God (devekut, in the language of Lurianic Kabbalah). For the Maggid of Mezeritch, this world is an illusion, indeed it is layer upon layer of illusion, blocking our view of what is ultimately real: the unity of all in God. In contrast, R. Pinchas sought self-improvement not through ecstatic communion with God and negation of the world, but rather through moral honesty, humility, and faith. He instructed his followers to engage their minds and to pray for their livelihood and other needs, rather than engage in meditative and ecstatic prayer.

The Jewish historian Simon Dubnow described R. Pinchas this way:

R. Pinhas became a very devoted Hasid, but in his own characteristic way: He was not full of thunder and commotion, nor did he display outward excitement; rather, he expressed his faith in an inward yearning for God, a kind of integrity, and the highest ethical standards. (The Maggid of Miedzyrzecz, His Associates, and the Center in Volhynia, in Essential Papers on Hasidism: Origins to Present, edited by Gershon David Hundert, p. 79.)

In a world that seems ever divided between those whose spirituality is based on meditation, ecstatic experiences, emotions in hyper-drive and new age sensibilities and practices, on the one hand, and those whose thinking is grounded in rationalism and scientific reasoning, on the other, R. Pinchas’ down-to-earth approach can serve as a bridge, confirming the value of a variety of ways of thinking and comprehending what is beyond our horizon but which grounds our lives: God. The S’fat Emet mentions R. Pinchas to bolster his reminder that each of understands the Divine from another angle and hence gets a different glimpse—and that using one’s mind is an entirely appropriate Jewish mode of knowing God.

The S’fat Emet would have well understood how the actor Elliot Gould expressed his understanding of, and relationship with, God:

I pray in my own way every day for peace and harmony, for humanity, nature, and the environment… When I feel I’m being swept away by materialism, by pressures, and by stress, I will stop and pray just to get back in touch with my inner self.

The notion of looking deep within one’s self is at the core of mysticism, including Kabbalah, and especially hasidut. One’s core and one’s ability to to be in touch with that core are mediated by the mind.

I began by recounting my friend’s dilemma concerning the atheist grandfather. I suggested that my colleague invite the grandfather to sit down and chat, and ask him: Tell me, my friend, what do you believe in? What do you think is ultimate, and what do you think is ultimately important? He did, and to his delight, the grandfather articulated a beautiful, cogent and thoroughly Jewish theology. God, as he understood God, did not match the biblical image of God, which is true for a parade of great Jewish Torah scholars, philosophers, and thinkers through the ages.  But his ideas concerning God were a very real and influential presence in his life, a source of life-affirming values. The gentleman had simply never learned to identify what he believed in as “God.”

How many of us are like this grandfather? How many of us harbor a beautiful, potent, and inspiring belief in what is ultimate and ultimately important, yet do not realize this is our understanding of God?

NOTE: Want to learn more? I recommend:
    Rabbi Rifat Soncino, The Many Faces of God and Finding God: Selected Responses

© Rabbi Amy Scheinerman

Monday, May 12, 2014

Is Torah God's Social Contract With Us? / Parshat Bechukkotai

I want to weave a braid of the story of Cornealious (Mike) Anderson, the philosophy of Thomas Hobbes, and this week’s parashah, Bechukkotai.

Let’s begin with Mike Anderson who, at the age of 22, participated in an armed robbery for which he was sentenced to 13 years in prison. Due to a clerical error he was not picked up to serve his sentence until last July—13 years later. In the interim, Anderson turned his life around, became a master carpenter, married, had four children with his wife LaQonna, and by all accounts led a model life. Judge Terry Lynn Brown, who released Anderson said, "You've been a good father. You've been a good husband. You've been a good taxpaying citizen of the State of Missouri. That leads me to believe that you are a good man and a changed man." For his part, Anderson says he turned his life over to God. He told a reporter: "If you do the right thing, good things will happen in your life and in the law, as well."

There are some heavy-duty themes that run through this story, weaving together with the writings of Hobbes, and running through parshat Bechukkotai: Legal authority and governmental power. Reward and punishment. Repentance and forgiveness.

Thomas Hobbes burst onto the European intellectual and philosophical scene in the 17th century with ideas that astounded and amazed, appalled and outraged the intelligentsia of Europe. While he garnered few devoted followers, and cultivated a good deal of antipathy, he did establish Social Contract Theory and founded modern political philosophy and political science. Hobbes was a rationalist to the core. He believed that humans, like everything else in the universe, are matter in motion ineluctably obeying physical laws. Our nature is entailed entirely in our physicality; Hobbes did not believe in incorporeal or metaphysical entities such as an immaterial soul. Every event has a mechanistic cause; the universe operates by cause and effect. The chain of cause and effect includes human behavior. Drilling that idea down to the core, the conclusion is that we have no free will and the universe is deterministic. We humans are, in essence, biological machines that operate by seeking pleasure and avoiding pain; we cannot do otherwise. (In this sense, Hobbes presaged Freud’s pleasure principle.) The greatest human motivators, Hobbes wrote, are fear and hope. It’s easy to envision Hobbes’ commentary on Mike Anderson’s story: the fear of incarceration, and knowing he could be picked up at any moment, inspired (read: caused) Anderson to change the course of his life.

In his most famous work, Leviathan, Thomas Hobbes explicated his theory of the Social Contract, whereby individuals consent either explicitly or tacitly to surrender a portion of their freedoms to an absolute authority—a ruler or sovereign—in exchange for protection of rights the ruler can guarantee. Without such a ruler, the world would descend into “the war of all against all” in which “every man is Enemy to every man” and where “the life of man [is] solitary, poore, nasty, brutish and short.” Criminal behavior, including armed robbery, is an aspect of “the war of all against all” which government prevents by establishing laws and imposing punishments.

For Hobbes, much of Torah reads like a Social Contract. God is the absolute ruler who imposes laws of every type on Israel and, in exchange, promises them protection from their enemies and rain in its season—as well as all the blessings that flow from security and abundance. Legal authority based on divine power; reward and punishment.

Parshat Bechukkotai (and in particular Leviticus 26) illuminates the biblical theology of reward and punishment. The parashah opens:

If you follow My laws and faithfully observe My commandments, I will grant you rains in their season, so that the earth shall yield its produce and the trees of the field their fruit. Your threshing shall overtake the vintage, and your vintage shall overtake the sowing; you shall eat your fill of bread and dwell securely in your land. (Leviticus 26:3-5)

What is more, if you obey God, God’s local address will be in your zipcode. (Recall that Anderson said: "If you do the right thing, good things will happen in your life…”)

If you do not obey God, Bechukkotai continues, your lot will be misery, pestilence, and famine, and you will be overrun by wild beasts and enemies. Torah doesn’t shy away from graphic images, such as this:

If… you disobey Me and remain hostile to Me, I will act against you in wrathful hostility; I, for My part, will discipline you sevenfold for your sins. You shall eat the flesh of your sons and the flesh of your daughters. I will destroy your cult place and cut down your incense stands, and I will heap your carcasses upon your lifeless fetishes. I will spurn you. (Leviticus 26:27-30)

Hobbes argues that the Bible mirrors, or expresses, his Social Contract Theory, and sets out to prove his thesis. But does it? Let’s consider Hobbes’ argument.

In Leviathan 3:40, he argues that Abraham obliged himself and his descendants to God. He goes to great length to point out that God spoke only to Abraham yet all those after him were fully obligated to accept Abraham as “their father and lord and civil sovereign.” This demonstrates for Hobbes that, lacking an individual supernatural revelation, one “ought to obey the laws of their own sovereign in the external acts and profession of religion.” As I mentioned, Hobbes championed the absolute power of rulers.

Continuing with the biblical model, Hobbes notes:

The same covenant was renewed with Isaac, and afterwards with Jacob, but afterwards no more till the Israelites were freed from the Egyptians and arrived at the foot of Mount Sinai: and then it was renewed by Moses… in such manner as they became from that time forward the peculiar kingdom of God, whose lieutenant was Moses for his own time: and the succession to that office was settled upon Aaron and his heirs after him to be to God a sacerdotal kingdom forever. (Leviathan 3:40)

Initially, Moses lacked authority by reason of succession: he did not inherit it from Abraham. On what, then, did Moses’ authority stand?

His authority therefore, as the authority of all other princes, must be grounded on the consent of the people and their promise to obey him. And so it was: for "the people when they saw the thunderings, and the lightnings, and the noise of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking, removed and stood afar off. And they said unto Moses, Speak thou with us, and we will hear, but let not God speak with us lest we die."
There you have several of his key points: the consent of the governed, absolute authority, and governance through fear.

At Sinai, however, God spoke directly and solely to Moses, establishing his supreme authority to interpret God’s word and will. Korach and his minions challenge that authority, and God responds resoundingly. The earth swallows them up and the matter is settled.

In Hobbes’ mind, the Torah establishes the wisdom and legitimacy of the Social Contract in which absolute sovereigns make laws and mete out punishment to citizens. If autocrat rulers operate by the consent of the governed, one must wonder about revolutions across the expanse of the globe and throughout the centuries, including in the realm of religion.

Thomas Hobbes’ interpretation is proof positive that you can read whatever you want into the Bible. The claim of the nihilist philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche fits here: “There are no facts—only interpretations.”

There are those today who would see Torah, the Bible, and all sacred religious writings as a social contract commanded and enforced by God, who rewards and punishes, if not in this world then in the next. This perspective has always bothered me for many reasons. It reduces religion to a harsh legal code with an even harsher enforcer. It suggests, without intending to, that perhaps Hobbes’ rejection of free will in favor of a deterministic universe, is consistent with the world religion too often creates: threat of punishment brings about “spiritual change.”

I would prefer to take Mike Anderson at his word: he recognized how poor his choices had been and chose to change the focus of his life, “turned [his] life over to God” (as he put it) for strength, inspiration, and reinforcement, not as a slave cowering at the thought of divine punishment. I applaud Judge Brown’s decision: Anderson is a changed man—because he chose to change and did the work of teshuvah (repentance) necessary to change. Kol hakavod (all honor to him).

Reducing religion to a legal code by which a sovereign maintains order—which far too often happens in the Jewish world under the guise of halakhah—diminishes its spiritual potency. I prefer to view Judaism as cornucopia of sacred possibilities or, if you prefer, a toolbox for realizing our human potential, connecting with the divine, and meeting in community.

© Rabbi Amy Scheinerman