1. Epic

     


  2. Josh Feigelson’s Rosh Hashanah sermon, powerful as ever. “As the shofar sounds today, as we sing together today, I urge us all: Listen. Really listen, really open. There is hope, there is possibility. But it will require an incredible effort on our part. God will not do it for us, but God will do it with us.”

     


  3. Elul, Day 28 - כ״ח באלול

    Dear Friends,

    When, in the midst of the aseret yamei teshuvah - the ten days of teshuvah, you come to the inevitable thought that you are just repeating yourself. When it feels that each year you return to the same mistakes, the same inadequacies, the same failings; in this moment, I ask you to remind yourself of the following teaching of R’ Tzadok haKohen:

    Sometimes it seems to a person that he has done teshuva and his sins have been forgiven, and then after some time he is aroused once again to bitterness over his sins, and he feels that these two thoughts are incompatible. But in truth both are genuine, for we hold that sins for which one confesses on Yom Kippur must be confessed again the next Yom Kippur - and this holds true even for sins which are forgiven immediately upon repentance… Just as there is no limit to the levels of a person, so is there no limit to the levels of teshuva.
    —Tzidkat Hatzaddik, 134

    When it feels that we are stuck in a cycle that we can’t break free of, it is nice to remember that there is this ongoing ascent. How might we confront our challenges this year? What knowledge and insight does “present me” have that “past me” lacked?

    Prompt:
    Write a letter to yourself for the eve of Yom Kippur. Coach yourself through the feelings of being stuck in an endless cycle. Help yourself see through fresh eyes the challenges that you face.

    Jordan

     

  4. So legit.

     


  5. Fantastic article by Rabbi Nancy Flam on the state of Jewish prayer and its potential as practice.

     

  6. Composed and produced by Noah Aronson (www.noaharonson.com)
    Vocals by Noah Aronson and Dena Trugman

    Lyrics:
    בְּרִיך רַחֲמָנָא מַלְכָּא דְעַלְמָא מָרֵיהּ דְהַאי פִּיתָּא
    Brich rachamana, malka d’alma, marei d’hai pita.

    Translation:
    Blessed are You, Source of Mercy, for You are the master of
    this bread.

    The words are an abbreviated blessing to say after eating a meal. It’s in Aramaic, based on a line in the Talmud

     


  7. Elul Days 7, 8, & 9 

    Elul, Day 7‎ - ז באלול‎
    Chaverim,

    On the seventh day of Elul, let me be the first to wish you mazel tov on completing the first week of our month-long journey.  I would love to hear what personal writing been most elucidating thus far, and if anyone has ideas or comments or questions that they would like to share, please send them my way.

    For some, it has also been one week of living in conversation with Psalm 27, the theme-psalm of this season of our year.  As we end our davenning, we say the words “Achat sha’alti m’eit Adonai, otah avakeish - There is just one thing I ask of my God, that I shall seek.”   And, what, you ask, is that one, small request?  The psalm continues, “that I can dwell in Your house all the days of my life, and behold the divine sweetness of the Holy One and contemplate God’s holy abode.”  It is not exactly a small ask.

    For those of us living outside the Book of Psalms, there might be more than one thing that we would ask this year of the Holy One of Blessing.  

    Prompt:
    Formulate the one question or request that you would like to make for yourself this year.  Don’t be afraid to be as bold as the psalmist and ask for just what you need.  I encourage you to hold this question in your heart when you come to Psalm 27 in the liturgy or just to speak that request out loud in the morning.  

    Goodnight and good writing,
    Jordan  

    Elul, Day 8‎ - ח באלול‎
    Hi Friends,
    For those of us in the States this day after Labor Day has become a day with great symbolic significance.  This is the day when we return, not in the teshuvah sense of the word, but more in the begrudgingly dragging ourselves back to the routines of daily life sense of the word.  In many ways this is a return to the same; not to the changed or transformed, but to the frustratingly fixed.  This is a type of return that we must flee.
    Though we might take some solace in the fact that now not every piece of correspondence we send will be met with an away message, during Elul we would be wise to aspire to maintain that summer-like distance from our habits and routines. How might we hold on to a sense of being away, and communicate that state of being to the world?
    Prompt:
    For today’s piece of reflective writing, I invite you to write an away message/out-of-office reply for this season of the year.  Where are you?  What are you doing?  Who will you be upon your return?  Can we expect to hear from you?  

    Laila tov,
    Jordan

    Elul, Day 9‎ - ט באלול
    Chaverim,

    In the past few days I’ve heard from a few of you that, while you’ve been enjoying the daily emails, it’s been a struggle to make room (in both time and space) for the writing.  I felt like this was a moment to take advantage of the fact that we’re in a community to hear how others have incorporated a writing practice into their lives.  So, if you are (somewhat) regularly writing, please drop me a line and tell me how you are carving out space and time for it.  I’ll be happy to share some reflective best practices!

    In the second chapter of Rambam’s Hilchot Teshuvah, he lists a variety of paths towards penitence and return.  The list includes: giving generously, calling out in earnest to the Holy One, and distancing oneself from the transgression.  All of these seem advisable, if somewhat intuitive.  Yet, the final path is a surprise.  Maimonides writes of this final path,v’goleh mimkomo/ to exile oneself- exile, he argues, is a means of kaparah or atonement. It is a pretty remarkable thought, to consider a self-imposed exile as a means of achieving teshuvah.

    This line from Maimonides made me think of the many great novelists who have spoken about the transformative power of exile, and in particular to an article by the great Chilean writer, Roberto Bolano.  In it, he writes, “All literature carries exile within it, whether the writer has had to pick up and go at the age of twenty or has never left home.”  

    Prompt:

    On the ninth day of Elul, write yourself into a different place.  I encourage you to consider how the act of writing is a means of departure from home and comfort.  Reflect on how the experience of exiling yourself onto the page might be a means of achieving atonement.  (This is particularly abstract, sorry!)

     


  8. Elul 6 - ו באלול

    Dear Chevre,

    Today, while hundreds and hundreds of freshmen piled into Tufts Hillel for bagels, smoked fish and a cappella, I stole away to my office for fifteen minutes of quiet and writing. This is Elul at its best; a refuge from the commotion of a busy life, the nervous energy of social interactions and the insane peppiness of college a cappella.

    While in my office I pulled the collection of poems The Dream of a Common Language by Adrienne Rich off my shelf and happened upon a pertinent piece. In the twentieth poem of her cycle of 21 Love Poems, she writes:

    That conversation we were
    always on the edge of having,
    runs on in my head.
    At night the Hudson trembles
    in New Jersey light.
    polluted water yet reflecting,
    even sometimes, the moon
    and I discern a woman I loved.
    Drowning in secrets,
    fear wound round her throat
    and choking her like hair.
    And this is she with whom I tried to speak,
    whose hurt, expressive head
    turning aside from pain,
    is dragged down deeper
    where it cannot hear me,
    and soon I shall know I was talking to my own soul.

    It seems to me that the month of Elul is all about “that conversation we were always on the verge of having.” The words that might set us in motion towards change and growth are always on the tip of our tongues. During this month of reflection, we take the courageous step of speaking them (or at least writing them!).

    Prompt:
    Tonight, I encourage you to write down the words that might launch the conversation that you are always on the verge of having. How does it feel to express yourself? If you are so inclined, write down the entire exchange as a dialogue. And, though you may just be talking to your own soul, that might not be so far from the point.

    Happy writing!

    Jordan

     

  9. denatrugman:

    #elul #חשבוןנפש #jfk (at John F Kennedy Park)

     


  10. Elul 5 - ה באלול

    Shavuah tov, friends.

    My teacher, R’ Arthur Green, often quotes the teaching of R’ Isaiah Halevi Horowitz (the SHaLoH) on the significance of the order in which we blow shofar.

    We begin with the full blast of tekiah in a place of wholeness and sure footing. The three-part sound of shevarim demonstrates the fault lines that lie just below the surface, recognizable upon even a cursory examination. Digging deeper, peering into the depths of our souls, we must come to terms with our utter brokenness. It is this experience that is represented in the alarming and fragmentary call of teruah. Then, when we are completely broken down, we hear tekiah again; a reminder that this work is for the purpose of being rebuilt, of becoming a more whole individual.

    Each motzei Shabbos, as Shabbat goes out and we begin our week, I will invite us to focus in on the cycle of the sounding of the shofar.

    Prompt:
    As we start this new week, I invite you to write that first blast of tekiah for yourself. Recall a moment of wholeness from this past year. What experience made you feel like your most full self? Sing the song of that moment!

    Laila tov,
    Jordan