The first ritual the Israelites ever enacted, the rite of passage that prepared them to leave bondage in Egypt, is one that can be re-imagined every year to guide us in discovering who we are and who we might become.
Like all Jewish festivals, Passover has its roots in Jewish history, in our connection to creation and in the rich spiritual and moral values of Judaism. Additionally, it helps us distinguish between two very different types of freedom.
On this Passover, we have an opportunity -- and responsibility -- to hold in our hearts and minds a grand vision of justice and peace, and to move from the general to the specific, from the abstract to the concrete.
Jews have a special relationship to books, and the Haggadah -- the user's manual for the Passover seder -- has been translated more widely, and reprinted more often, than any other Jewish book. Everywhere there have been Jews, there have been new Haggadahs.
The Torah teaches that the earliest civilizations knew God's unified nature quite well but that there was an unfortunate descent of comprehension over the generations.
Loving kindness has become my secret weapon of choice, for all the times when life gets a bit rough.
Everyone loses touch with their aspiration, and we need the heart to return to what we really care about. All of this is based on developing greater lovingkindness and compassion.
When I first heard the Buddhist teachings on lovingkindness, compassion and forgiveness, I was incredibly skeptical. I saw those heart qualities as undesirable and perhaps unsafe.
People who have converted to Judaism often tell me about holiday overload. They go from celebrating a handful of holidays to almost a dozen. Yet, above and beyond the holidays we have certain practices, one of which I did not learn about until rabbinical school.
According to Jewish tradition, the upcoming festival of Shavuot is the anniversary of the giving of the Torah and the Ten Commandments on Mount Sinai. Oddly though, we find no clear link in the Bible between the Shavuot festival and the giving of the Torah.
When tragedy, illness and accidents occur, our worldview morphs immediately. Stability is shaken as reality turns upside down. The Omer says we must go slowly.
Right now, the Jewish community is finishing up its annual marking of days, as each night we count the Omer, the 49 days between the second night of Passover and the beginning of Shavuot. Immediately after, we'll mark another set of days, one with only despair and no celebration.
The week of yesod in the Counting of the Omer is an invitation to consider pulling down the veil. It's about penetrating to the core of who we are.
Just like a prism that refracts white (really invisible) light into seven colors, the Torah itself refracts the unknowable and invisible truth into a rainbow of possibilities.
The human experience is not always pretty. Sometimes it's very tragic and difficult. Lag BaOmer is a day of joy that stands out in a time of sadness. It is a day that six years ago we forced ourselves to leave our broken hearts behind and participate in The Great Parade.
The story of endurance and eternity is heartbreaking in the wake of the Boston Marathon. There are no satisfiable answers to why these things happen. Just a raging desire to find comfort, any kind of comfort, in the face of a ghastly tragedy.