New Kinds of Blessings

"What questions does this whole matter of blessings raise for us?

• How do we focus our bodies, minds, and emotions on what it means to turn food into our muscles and our life energy? Are washing our hands and saying words the best ways to do this?

• Does the pattern of blessings help us make conscious choices of what, how much, and how quickly we eat? If not, what practices might do this? How can we best restrain our tendencies toward gluttony or self-starvation? . . .

• Are there other things we ingest that would feel important to recognize and hallow? Air, for instance? Could we imagine a system of blessings over different kinds of breath as elaborate as this one over different kinds of food? Or perhaps blessings over different forms of light and different forms of warmth? Would we want to bless sunlight, fossil fuels, wind, tides, nuclear radiation as different sources of energy?"
Down-to Earth Judaism: Food, Money, Sex, and the Rest of Life

Wrapped in the Robes of God

"I remember the words of a Hassidic rebbe from the doomed town of Chernobyl, who taught two hundred years ago:

"What is the world?
The world is God,
Wrapped in robes of God,
So as to appear
To be material.
And who are we?
We too are God,
Wrapped in robes of God,
And our task is to
Unwrap the robes and
Dis-cover that we and all the world
Are God."

"I look at this web of earthiness that feeds me, and I see its strands as aspects of the God Who is both One and Infinite.

"And I know that what I want is to be able to see this fully and to say it fully and to act it fully."
Down-To-Earth Judaism: Food, Money, Sex and the Rest of Life

A Just and Loving Treatment of the Stranger

"These commands of Torah about just and loving treatment of the stranger are repeated thirty-six times, more than any other precept. Why? It must have been a hard command to obey. Imagine: Just out of slavery, what would we feel? Very likely, that never again would we let any stranger gain the whip hand over us — and so we would subjugate all strangers in our land. No, says the Torah; you must learn precisely the opposite. You know the heart of the stranger, and so you must identify with the stranger — not with your own oppressors. Since this is a hard path to walk in the aftermath of slavery — or of Holocaust — the command must be repeated, over and over.

"Thirty-six times! Twice, chai, the word that means 'life,' the word whose letters add up to eighteen. Was this a quiet message? — For the sake of two lives, your own and the stranger's, you must follow this difficult path!"
Godwrestling—Round 2: Ancient Wisdom, Future Paths

The Education of a Mensch

"Whatever the moment that calls out to you in your own journey, marking it with awareness and joy can enrich your own life and that of your community. A series of such moments, if you can see them as jewels strung on the spiral of your life, can become the education of a Mensch.

"And if your moment of awareness stirs a whole community of friends and family to weave such moments in their many lives together? Such a weaving can help enrich the Jewish people in taking up its own share in the sacred task of healing and hallowing the world. Giving a clearer shape to your own future can help to give a more decent shape to the future of the planet."
A Time For Every Purpose Under Heaven: The Jewish Life-Spiral as a Spiritual Path