Rosh Hashanah and the Empty Water-skin

The Akeidah, the story of the binding of Isaac in Genesis 22, is one of the highlights of our observance of Rosh Hashanah. It’s such a rich and compelling story, in fact, that we often forget that it's preceded by the parallel story of the sending away of Ishmael in Genesis 21. The sages portray… Continue reading Rosh Hashanah and the Empty Water-skin

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Repentance: Path to Restoration

Repentance is one of the main themes of this season, culminating in Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement (September 29-30 this year). It's more than a holiday theme, though; it's an essential spiritual practice, and here's a step-by-step guide. Messiah Yeshua taught, “There will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who turns to… Continue reading Repentance: Path to Restoration

Elul: Month of Return and Renewal

The month of Elul, which begins August 22 this year, inaugurates a 40-day period of spiritual renewal and return (Teshuvah) culminating with Yom Kippur, September 29–30. Kiddush Levana, the Blessing of the New Moon, is customarily recited on the Shabbat after the New Moon has appeared. “If possible, it should be said at the end… Continue reading Elul: Month of Return and Renewal

Shabbat Shuvah 5777

In recent years I’ve often taught on Teshuvah, or Repentance, as a four-step process, which can be traced throughout Scripture. It's clearly pictured in Messiah Yeshua’s story of the Prodigal Son, the iconic picture of teshuvah in the Gospels. This year I’m working through an excellent book, Repentance: The Meaning and Practice of Teshuvah, by… Continue reading Shabbat Shuvah 5777

Teshuvah Translated

Last Saturday night I attended a community-wide Selichot service here in Albuquerque. The service itself was to include a talk on teshuvah (return or repentance) by Dr. Louis Newman. Since this was a nice Jewish event, we started out with some nice eating before it began, and Dr. Newman himself sat down at our table… Continue reading Teshuvah Translated

“Return to me and I will return to you”

What is complete teshuva [return or repentance]? When a person has the opportunity to commit the original sin again, and is physically able to sin again, but refrains from sinning—not out of fear, or because of physical weakness, but because of his repentance . . . he is a baal teshuva (‘master of repentance’). Rambam,… Continue reading “Return to me and I will return to you”

Non-theoretical truth

We made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves [and] admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs. From the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous   When truth encounters the data of our lives, it gives rise to confession. Truth itself can be pretty abstract, an… Continue reading Non-theoretical truth