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We are a community of Hebrew Seminary faculty, staff, rabbinical students, lifelong learners, Kabbalists, scholars, spiritual seekers and kind supporters.

The mission of Hebrew Seminary is to train rabbis and Jewish educators to serve all Jewish communities, including the deaf community. Hebrew Seminary has been an inclusive and egalitarian community for the study and practice of Judaism since our founding in 1992.

We hope that within this blog you will discover moments of insight and inspiration, practical and spiritual guidance, as well as a path to further study.

Along the way, let us know your thoughts!

Rabbi Akibah

There are those who want to learn a new meditation each day instead of learning a new approach to the same meditation. When we do this, we create a special compartment in our mind where we and Hashem meet. Then, together, we work to touch one another. The greatest Rabbi of the Talmud was Rabbi Akibah. He was also the greatest mystic of his time. But did you know that even though Rabbi Akiba was a handsome man, he was completely illiterate in Judaism. He couldn’t read the Hebrew alphabet. He didn’t know any Bible stories.

There are those who want to learn a new meditation each day instead of learning a new approach to the same meditation. When we do this, we create a special compartment in our mind where we and Hashem meet. Then, together, we work to touch one another.

Rabbi Douglas Goldhamer

One day, a shepherd asked him, “When do you do your meditations? In the morning or the evening? When do you do your kavannot?”

Akibah said, “What is a meditation? What is kavannot?” He was 40 years old at that time. He fell in love with a beautiful wealthy man’s daughter who said, “I can’t marry you unless you become a scholar.”

Akibah went to the well. The well was like a singles’ bar. It was the watering hole where not only camels could satisfy their thirst, but so could men, pondering which girl they would marry. Jugs of wine were available to be purchased, at the local watering hole.

Anyway, Akibah went to the watering hole of Lod, and he saw a huge rock, with a large indentation. “Who carved this rock?” And then he realized, “If water can cut through a rock, then the teachings of the Torah and its sacred meditations can cut through my mind.”

We don’t need to constantly learn new meditations; we just need to take a NEW APPROACH to the same meditation. This will bring us even deeper insight, just like the indentation in the rock in Lod.

Twice a month, on the second and fourth Saturdays, at Congregation Bene Shalom, we have Kabbalistic Shabbat Meditation services via Zoom and YouTube. I am always studying and translating different Hebrew texts so that I can share new meditations. Charlene Clinkman (Brooks) one of our Hebrew Seminary students, and the cantorial soloist of Congregation Bene Shalom, has repeatedly said to me, “Don’t keep introducing new meditations. We need to go over the meditations we have learned. It is very important that we know well the meditations you have already taught us.” After learning this story about Rabbi Akibah, I have to admit that Charlene is right. We don’t always need to learn something new – we just need to look at things with a new perspective.

With that in mind, I invite you to join us at our next Kabbalistic Shabbat Meditation service, where we will go over some important meditations, that I think we need to look at with fresh eyes. And, I invite you to join me on June 22, when I will give a Zoom lecture, sponsored by Hebrew Seminary, discussing the importance of “Vibrations: Communicating with the Angels.”
More information here.

Rabbi Dr. Douglas Goldhamer

Summer Spirituality Series

VIBRATIONS:  Communicating with the Angels
Rabbi Dr. Douglas Goldhamer
Tuesday, June 22, 7pm cdt

Rabbi Dr. Douglas Goldhamer, President & Founder, Hebrew Seminary, Professor of Kabbalah/Healing

“If we want to experience the angelic realm, we need to communicate with the Angel’s in their language – the language of Vibrations.  We do this by accessing the energetic power of the Hebrew letters. On June 22, I look forward to sharing with you different modalities to enable us to create a unique relationship with the angels.”

Rabbi Dr. Douglas Goldhamer

Just as Americans speak English to communicate with one another and Israelis speak Hebrew, angels communicate through Vibrations.  So, it is crucially important for us to learn how to enter into a state of Vibration so that we can become a channel for the healing angels and even a channel for the Presence of God, Adonai, within us. The Sefer Yetzirah recognizes that each Hebrew letter is a vibrational element, differentiated from other letters by frequency.  When we learn to raise the Vibrational Level of our cells, through vibrational meditation on the Sefirot, we become in harmony and in balance with God’s corresponding pulsation of Divine Force.     

All Sessions are ASL Interpreted & Free.
Donations are appreciated here.

AWAKENING
Rabbi Tirzah Israel
Tuesday, August 3, 7pm cdt

Rabbi Tirzah Israel, Kabbalah & Meditation Teacher, Hebrew Seminary Alumna

“In our meditative practice the Awakening manifests itself as an undulating awareness into our consciousness of existence. We learn to “let-go” of the fixed constructs of time and space, thus opening the portal for the artistry of your true being”

Rabbi Tirzah Israel

Rabbi Tirzah Israel will share how to enhance one’s spiritual awakening by “simply being.” She will discuss the steps to achieve this goal and demonstrate how to use the breathing cycle as a tool for letting go and allowing oneself to experience the “now.” She will also lead participants in a kabbalistic meditation for this purpose.

All Sessions are ASL Interpreted & Free.
Donations are appreciated here.

Summer Semester 2021

June 22, 2021- August 19, 2021

Course Selection

Rabbi Shari Chen
Bereshit – An In-depth Study of its Defining Stories
Tuesdays 10:30am – 12:00pm cdt  

Rabbi Shari Chen, Hebrew Seminary Executive Director, Professor of Hebrew

The first book of our Torah Bereshit (Genesis) is full of stories that define us as a people. From the Creation of the world through the story of Joseph, Bereshit is full of stories that connect us to our Judaic roots, while at the same time teach us about our relationship with God, our relationships with one another & our relationship with this world that God created, IN THE BEGINNING!

In this course we will read primary texts, from the Torah, we will then not only study the biblical Hebrew used, but also the significance of the who, what, where, when, and most importantly the why behind each story. We will also explore how these stories have been used in the past and are still currently being used to guide us in Judaic ethics and practices.

Cantor Rabbi Michael Davis
Jewish Death: a Jewish Perspective on a

Universal Experience
Wednesday 12:30-2:30pm cdt

Rabbi Cantor Michael Davis, Professor of Midrash

Death is the beginning of Jewish community. The first thing a Jewish community is required to do is set aside a Jewish cemetery. And with the first burial, that community is tied to that place. Cemeteries are the last thing that remains of old Jewish communities. At no time in living memory has our mortality been so much part of everyday concern for such an extended period time at the last year plus. Jewish burial is the most universally observed Jewish ritual, much more than any other Jewish ritual, lifecycle or otherwise. The Jewish textual engagement with the subject of death is vast.

In this course we will study traditional, primary texts about death including Tanakh and Rabbinic literature. We will study texts from the Tanakh and Chazal.

Some questions to ponder: – How odd that the first death in the Tanakh is not a natural one. The first death is a violent one, an act of murder.  Who was the first figure in Tanakh to know he was going to die soon and what did he do with that knowledge? What does Torah teach us about what is a good death? What do the final utterances of the great rabbis of the Talmud on their deathbeds teach us about what is a good life? – How have Jewish attitudes to death changed over time?

                                                            
Rabbi Daniel Vaisrub
Eclectic Teachings of the Talmud
Thursday 1:00-3:00pm cdt      

Rabbi Daniel Vaisrub, Professor of Talmud

Curriculum guided by student’s curiosity, past studies, and the times we live in. An exploration of how the wisdom found in our ancient texts can not only give us insight but can support us through these difficult days in our lives.

With pre-registration, tuition for non-credit, non-enrolled students is $150.
Please note which session you are registering for.

Course Selection

All summer classes are online and open to rabbinic and non-credit students.
To register by phone contact: 847.679.4113 or info@hebrewseminary.org.

Dungeons,Dragons & Divinity

D

JEWISH MYSTICISM: MAKING IT REAL FOR YOUR LIFE   
Dungeons, Dragons & Divinity: Playing Games for Spiritual Growth, Exploration & Healing Rabbi Menachem Cohen

Tuesday, February 23 @ 7-8 pm CT   

When we meditate, pray, do yoga, chant, and encounter sacred text, we enter a space where the rules of daily living are suspended. We have an experience and leave transformed. The same happens when we play games, where this transformative space is called the magic circle. Participants in this session will learn and experience how roleplaying games (like Dungeons & Dragons)—where players create a character with abilities, personality, and powers, and go on adventures such as finding lost artifacts and rescuing kidnapped villagers—can be used to create these magic circles where transformation happens.
REGISTER TODAY
MenachemPhoto 022321
Menachem Cohen is a spiritual director, rabbi, and tabletop game designer, who has played roleplaying games for 40+ years. Much of his work is in the design and use of games for spiritual work and addressing existential questions. He received his rabbinic ordination from Hebrew Seminary in 2003, and is currently Professor of Spirituality and a member of its Board of Directors.  The Forward selected him as one of America’s most inspiring rabbis in 2016.

How One Rabbi Uses Roleplaying Games to Build Community

Spirituality is only one tool in this community leader’s toolkit for bringing people closer together. Character sheets are another. WIRED, 01.21.2021.

AT HIS BAR Mitzvah in his Reconstructionist Jewish synagogue, Rabbi Menachem Cohen hoped to be saved. “I was waiting for God to plunk me on the head and take me on a spiritual trip. A spiritual acid trip, without ever taking acid,” he says.

It never happened. Many of us, especially in our pandemic-induced exiles, hope to be pulled away on a hero’s journey, the term coined and explored by the literary scholar Joseph Campbell in his book The Hero with a Thousand Faces. The arc fits into many media, from books to popular films. According to Campbell, the myth is that the “hero ventures forth from the world of common day into a region of supernatural wonder: fabulous forces are there encountered and a decisive victory is won: the hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons on his fellow man.”

We all want to be the person elected to go out and slay the dragon. Unfortunately, we are relegated to our humdrum work lives.

Cohen started playing Dungeons & Dragons at age 10. After his coming of age ceremony, Cohen was hoping to be called away the same way a hero would. “I was playing D&D and was interested in Big Magic. Fireballs, teleporting, flying, psychedelic spiritual journeys.” But his coming of age ceremony was less than magical. “I read from the Torah and made mistakes and no one noticed.” The ritual consisted of parties and monetary gifts.

He strayed somewhat from Judaism after that, seeking but not finding in religion the magic he found instead in role-playing games.

After years away from home, he returned to his home city of Chicago in 1994, pulling up to his mother’s house on the night of Rosh Hashanah, brought back by a job as a sign language interpreter at a temple for the hearing impaired. Soon thereafter, he was introduced to The Jew in the Lotus by Rodger Kamenetz, a Jewish Buddhist. The bestselling book captured the ongoing relationship between Jews and Buddhists. “I saw that the esoterica I was longing for in the world was in my backyard,” Cohen said.

The magic he sought he discovered in the every day, in prayers and rituals. It was not Big Magic, but small magic. The wonders in the ordinary. He got more involved in the Jewish Renewal movement, attending retreats and week-long gatherings. Cohen eventually took a 4-week intensive on Jewish shamanism, and soon started blending games with his religious practice.

In one of our Zoom calls, Cohen told me the Old Testament story of Bathsheba and David: The Ancient Jewish king saw Bathsheba bathing and desired her so much that he ordered her husband to the front lines of battle, where the man died. David then took his widow for himself. Nathan, the prophet, reached out to David and told him a story about a poor man with only one sheep who he loved like a child, and a rich man had a huge flock of sheep. The rich man then took the impoverished man’s sheep to serve a guest he cared little for. When asked for his reaction, David says the rich man should be punished. 

“Nathan, I always imagine trying not to smile, says, ‘You are the man.’” From this allegory, the king realizes his mistake. “The fictional distance of the story lets David not throw up his ego and defenses and see the truth. And Nathan keeps his head.” This biblical anecdote sets up a framework that leaders and therapists could use when playing role-playing games.

In academic game design theory, there is a theory called “alibi.” According to a paper by Sebasian Deterding, a researcher at the University of York in England, “Adults routinely provide alternative, adult-appropriate motives to account for their play, such as child care, professional duties, creative expression, or health. Once legitimized, the norms and rules of play themselves then provide an alibi for behavior that would risk being embarrassing outside play.” These adult-appropriate motives allow us the separation we need to tackle important issues, or explore ourselves in a way that we’d normally be too defensive to do so objectively.

As Cohen puts it, “It’s not me. It’s just my character looking into, say, my dead parents.” Cohen uses stories to help people get over personal blocks. Someone who is going through a crisis can explore fictitious storylines to explore questions from a healthy distance. Then, they might discover things and learn about themselves along the way. “You can build neural pathways to help release your issues with imposter syndrome.”

Since playing D&D as a child, he explored independent games that offer more flexibility in character creation. He discovered a group game called Dreamchaser, created by Pete Petrusha, and Cohen is adapting it for one on one use. “As soon as I saw this game, I saw how I could use it for personal, spiritual issues.”

At the beginning of the game, each player gets a bunch of notecards. To start, they each write a goal, or dream, on a card. For example, Overthrow the Empire, Befriend a Dragon, Live in the Woods. Then the group votes and picks one to be the Dream for the game. Let’s say they pick Befriend a Dragon. It goes in the middle of the Dream Map. Then each person picks a role, let’s say Hunter/Tracker, Linguist, and Astronaut. Now I know there are an astronaut and dragon in the game. After this, they pick Milestones that would make the game interesting for them. No one gets to veto these, but the group discusses what order to put them on the Dream Map around the Dream. The Milestones and Dream make up the map for the adventure. Players then finish their characters, giving them skills, strategies, health points, etc. Then we set out!

Cohen contacted Petrusha and started beta testing the game with small groups and at board game conventions. Cohen and Petrusha fielded questions from social workers and therapists on how to use the game in their work. Eventually, Petrusha hired Cohen as lead designer, to adapt the game for one-on-one use in short one-hour sessions. Patients can make the dream or goal a central issue—something they are personally working on. Players can play as themselves or play as fantastical charters, like a wizard or a fighter pilot.

“They can use play as metaphor,” Cohen says. There are also similar tactics to help clients on the autism spectrum.

His goal, in his rabbinate, is to help people one on one with their spiritual and emotional journeys. He also works on himself using games. “As a rabbi, the question of serving comes up a lot. What does it mean to serve?” He creates and then plays characters that serve their deity without any questions just to see what that feels like. He also plays characters who have no gender and were gender non-conforming. “I’ve explored myself and who I am in this world in numbers of ways through the characters I have created. I learned I could be a man without limit, without society’s constraints.”

There are also ways of exploring community-building and growth. Cohen mentioned two games, Dream Askew and Dream Apart. Askew is about a queer enclave trying to survive amid an apocalypse. According to the game’s site, players have to find a “place to live, sleep, and hopefully heal. More than ever before, each of us is responsible for the survival and fate of our community.”

A part is about a shtetl—a village of Jews—in 19th century Europe. According to a 2018 Tablet magazine review, “A ragtag bunch of shtetl-dwellers (who seemed to all have a lot of tsuris, from a runaway daughter to a failing marriage) discovered the body of a gentile in the Jewish part of town and feared suspicion would fall on the heads of the Jews. And so, we set out to find who the man was, and who had killed him (and to hide the body, of course).”

As we enter yet another month of our own slow-moving, personal, isolated apocalypse, we too can use games to explore our journeys and build communities, hopefully leaving our exile, eventually, more complete people.

Eli Reiter is a consultant, writer, and educator. His essays have appeared in the New York Times, Slate, Esquire, and the Washington Post, among other outlets. Read more at elireiter.com.

WIRED
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 Menachem Cohen (he/his, they/them)
Spiritual Director, Rabbi, Tabletop Game Designer www.whatmakesyoucomealive.net

Spring Semester 2021
February 8 – June 3, 2021

Spring is Zooming
and Talmud, Zohar and the Angels
are calling you!

Make plans today to answer —
see class details below.

Spring Semester 2021
February 8 – June 3, 2021
(No Classes March 28 – April 4; May 9, 16-18, 30-31)

Wednesdays                  
12:00 – 1:30
Translating Isaiah, Cantor Rabbi Michael Davis
An in-depth study of Isaiah’s language in Hebrew and in English translation

Thursdays
11:00 – 1:00 
Eclectic Teachings of the Eclectic Talmud
Rabbi Daniel Vaisrub
Curriculum guided by students’ curiosity, past studies and the times we live in. This is an ongoing class, all are welcome.

Sunday
1:30 – 3:00
Zohar: Beresheet — In the Beginning
Reb Rahmiel Hayyim Drizin
This is an ongoing class, all are welcome.

3:15 – 4:45 
Angels, Rabbi Dr. Douglas Goldhamer, Rabbi Shari Chen,
Rev. Rick and Mary Mercer
I can’t imagine anyone who doesn’t want to see an angel. Rabbi Chen and I always bring angels down to be with us when we pray with people. This semester we will teach a Jewish vision of the angels- what they look like- where they come from- how God sends them on different missions. We will share Judaism’s vision of angels and how we can be a channel for angelic healing. This class will be taught by Rabbi Dr. Douglas Goldhamer and Rabbi Shari Chen – teaching a Jewish interpretation of angels following the sources. And we are blessed to have Reverend Richard and Mary Mercer joining them to teach a Christian interpretation of the angels. Aren’t they the same? Come and study with us to find out!

All classes are online.
All classes described above are open to rabbinic
and non-credit students.
With pre-registration, tuition for non-credit,
non-enrolled students is $150.
Hebrew and other classes are available for enrolled students.

Fall Semester 2020

October 5, 2020 – January 21, 2021

All classes are online.

For more information info@hebrewseminary.org.

Tuesdays 12:45 – 2:15pm          Cantor Rabbi Michael Davis
Begins Oct 6
Reading the Tanach as a Whole

I once had a teacher of Talmud. He had devoted his life to the study of Talmud. The breadth of his knowledge was encyclopedic. He told us that once his students brought him an end-of-year gift. Before he opened the wrapping his students told him: Rabbi, we know how much you love Talmud. So, we bought you a book that collects one volume all the biblical verses quotes throughout 2,000 years of Rabbinic literature. Every single verse that appears in Mishnah and Talmud, Midrash and Zohar, Medieval and Modern commentators – it’s all in this book!”

So, our rabbi opened the wrapping and holds it up for the class to see It was a Tanakh!

There is a point to this quip. We are so used to reading Tanakh through the Rabbinic lens that we are only vaguely aware – if that – of most of the rest of Tanakh that are not Torah readings, haftarot, liturgy or otherwise included in the rabbinic canon.

The purpose of this survey course is to read all of Torah, Nevi’im and (the non-wisdom parts of) Ketuvim as a whole.

Goals of the course are: 
To become conversant with the Tanakh as a whole.
To develop an understanding of Rabbinic editing of liturgy and the lectionary.
Students will be expected to read the assigned selections and discuss them in class.

Rabbi Davis will present reflections and commentary on the material.


Wednesdays 12:00 – 1:30pm
Rabbis Dr. Douglas Goldhamer and Shari Chen
Begins Oct 14
Pirke Avot

Rabbis Dr. Douglas Goldhamer and Shari Chen will discuss the early ethics of the Talmud, as presented in the classic Pirke Avot, Ethics of the Fathers, written circa 300 CE. Traditional and mystical commentaries will expand your understanding of Pirke Avot and reveal its timelessness and importance in the world today.

Sundays 1:30 – 3:00 pm            Rahmiel Hayyim Drizin
The Zohar on Beresheet — In the Beginning
Begins Oct 14


This Semester we will continue to delve into the beginning of the Holy Zohar, with teachings tied to Creation and the theme of “Beresheet“–“in the Beginning.”  We will learn from the wonderful Pritzker Edition translation by Daniel Matt in English by focusing on the nuances of the original Aramaic text and relating it to our current life.

Please join us as we begin our journey back to our own origins, with purposeful intent to recognize where we came from and where we are holding now.


Sundays 3:15 – 4:45 pm            
Rabbi Dr. Douglas Goldhamer & Reverend Rick and Mary Mercer
A Jewish and Christian Perspective of the Book of Psalms
Begins October 18

Rabbi Dr. Douglas Goldhamer and Reverend Rick and Mary Mercer will interpret a number of the 150 Psalms of David to open a conversation that will include a lively and free-flowing debate in support of understanding both the Jewish and Christian interpretations of the texts.  

In Christian commentaries, the Psalms of David forecasts the advent of Jesus. (Jesus is descended from the lineage of David.) Reverend Mercer is associate minister of the Missionary Tabernacle Baptist Church of Evanston, and Mary Harris Mercer is superintendent of the Missionary Tabernacle Baptist Church of Evanston Sunday school.

Join Rabbi Goldhamer and the Mercers for an entree to understanding how the Jewish and Christian traditions are similar and unique. At the same time, you may find that  you expand and fine-tune aspects of your own personal theology.  

Fall Semester 2020
October 5, 2020 – January 21, 2021
(No Classes Oct 11; Nov 26-29; Dec 20 – Jan 2, 2021)

Open to non-credit students ($150)

October 5, 2020 – January 21, 2021

Study the Wisdom of the Sages Online With Hebrew Seminary’s Contemporary Thought Leaders.

Within the vast inner-spaces of the human body and soul lies divinely inspired possibility. Read and reflect with us. Virtually walk hand-in-hand with the great minds of yesterday and discover new creative and compassionate paths for living today and tomorrow.

Register for one of our classes by June 19 and take advantage of our special online summer registration rate of $100; bring a friend for an additional $50.

Let your mind play this summer!

Summer Semester 2020
22 June 2020 – 23 August 2020

                                    Classes Open to the Public

Tuesdays
         
2:00 – 3:00         Rabbi Daniel VaisrubProfessor of Talmud
         The Art of Talmud
         text from BT Avodah Zarah 40b-41a

We will journey our way through a fun Talmudic sugya on Judaism and Art History. Side trips include visits to Egypt, Iraq, Afghanistan, Rome, Troyes, and Ramerupt.

Topics include:

Intro: what is the Talmud, and why should I care?
Ancient idolatry, modern idolatry
Judaism emerging in the midst of a Graeco-Roman civilization
Judaism as layered, emerging tradition
Reading and rereading our ancestors’ teachings
Changing circumstances, changing practices
History of Science — Tosafot, Maimonides, Alexander the Great, and flat earthers
Art and philosophy: what does it mean for something to mean something?
Post-modernism and the Talmud: did the Talmud really beat European philosophers by 1200 years?

Sundays
         1:00 – 2:30         Rahmiel Hayyim DrizinProfessor of Kabbalah
         
Studies In Zohar
This class will examine classic Zohar sections that appear in the beginning of the Holy Zohar, using Daniel Matt’s wondrous translation as a side text.  Continuing from last Semester, with context provided for new students, we will move through the Zohar with an eye towards meditative connection and personal transcendence. 

For questions and to enroll, call 847/ 679-4113 or email, info@hebrewseminary.org

EGG Meditation

by Rabbi Dr. Douglas Goldhamer

Chaim Vital, borrowing from the early mystics, teaches that the EGG represents the one who attains self-realization – a symbol of truth.  Chaim Vital also learned the following meditation from his teacher Isaac Luria, who taught that this meditation brings you to a conscious at-one-ment – at one with health, clear mind, with the awareness to see the Divine Light within, to experience contact with the large “I” of the Universe, with Hashem and to reunite Hashem with the small I, the Shechina within each one of us.  This meditation, when practiced regularly, results in strong health improvement. Doing this meditation regularly will strongly enhance your awareness of Hashem within you, as well as the Shechina, joining with Hashem.

  1. Sit relaxed, feel flat on the ground. Let your arms drop to your sides.
  2. Breathe in slowly and gently through your nose, and through your mouth. Recognize that you are breathing in the breath of God.
  3. Breathe in slowly through your nose and exhale through your mouth. Do this three times.
  4. Now breathe deeply through your nose down to the lower abdomen. As you exhale, feel all tension leaving and your body becoming more relaxed with each breath. You will feel yourself become lighter and more euphoric, with each inhalation and exhalation. You will feel a slight electrical charge, flowing through the terminals of your fingers and your toes, and right below the surface of your scalp as you exhale.
  5. All these feelings are the feelings of SPIRIT moving through you. There is no need to let it flow out of you. Feel it well up within you. Continue breathing deeply down to the lower abdomen and exhaling.
  6. Imagine a slow series of waves moving through your head. Focus on the waves, and be aware of the waves as they slowly move downward, into your throat, through your spine, through your chest, through your arms and hands to your lower abdomen, through your legs, to your feet.
  7. Now, inhale and exhale. Imagine these waves going through your entire body from head to toe. Stay conscious of your breathing.
  8. Now, visualize yourself within an oval-shaped egg, filled with clean, clear bubbly light. This subtle light is emanating all around you. You are in the oval-shaped egg with the light emanating all around you, and now this light creates a shell around you, a shell composed entirely of light. You are experiencing a light within a light. You are actually seeing your true self, with light emanating forth.
  9. Now, imagine yourself standing or sitting. Continue to breathe slowly and deeply, through your nostrils, the breath of God, and exhaling out through your mouth. You are now becoming one with the light of the shell around you.
  10. Yet, you can always, at any time, separate yourself from the shell. For example, now step out of the shell. Go back in the shell. Now separate from the shell and move out of the shell. The shell has a living consciousness. You and the shell can be one. But you and the shell can also seem like two. You and God are one. And yet, when we pray to God and look at one another, we seem separate from one another and separate from God. And so, move out of the shell. Feel free, feel joyous. And then move back into the shell. Remember the shell too has a living consciousness, as you do.
  11. When you go back into the shell, you bring the consciousness of the shell into your physical being.  When we see one another as separate from one another, or when we pray to Hashem, we bring the consciousness of Hashem into our physical being.
  12. Whether you are one with God, whether you are in the shell, or whether you feel you are separate from God, praying to God, the small I praying to the Large I, you still let the consciousness of God back into you.  Feel God within you, whether you are in the shell or out of the shell. God’s consciousness is always mixed with your consciousness.

When you remember this, when you live knowing this, your health and your spiritual health are highly enhanced. This mean, when you talk outside and share outside and lead prayer outside or do mitzvoth outside, even though you feel separate from God, from the shell, know that God is always within you.  Practice feeling this and living by this.  

This meditation of the Egg and your rebirth is Isaac Luria’s and Chaim Vital’s way of teaching that we are always being reborn in God.

Elevator Meditation

By Hebrew Seminary President Rabbi Dr. Douglas Goldhamer

Here is a short meditation to rid ourselves of anxiety. We have all been going though an anxious time recently, worrying about COVID-19.  

  1.  Close your eyes.  Breathe in through your nose, and out through your nostrils three times.  
  2. Join me in saying this: “TRUST IN HASHEM WITH ALL YOUR HEART. DON’T DEPEND ON YOUR OWN UNDERSTANDING.  ACKNOWLEDGE HIM IN ALL YOUR WAYS. THEN HE WILL DIRECT YOUR PATHS.’
  3. Now put both your hands on your heart and say to yourself silently, as a mantra, again: “TRUST IN HASHEM WITH ALL YOUR HEART. DON’T DEPEND ON YOUR OWN UNDERSTANDING.  ACKNOWLEDGE HIM IN ALL YOUR WAYS. THEN HE WILL DIRECT YOUR PATHS.”
  4. What does this mean?  Don’t worry:  Acknowledge Him means Praise Him. Say blessings. If I trust in Hashem, He will direct my paths.
  5. Now, see yourself entering an ELEVATOR at the 15th floor.
  6. Press the button G for ground floor.  
  7. Visualize the doors closing, and the elevator begins to descend.  See the panel of numbers on the wall of the elevator.
  8. As you pass each floor , the floor numbers light up – 14, 13, 12, 11…..
  9. Visualize and feel the elevator reach the ground floor. The doors open and you emerge from the elevator –your anxiety is gone.  You are anxiety free.
  10. Breathe in through your nostrils and out through your mouth three times.  When you are ready, open your eyes.