Tuesday, November 3, 2009

A Poem for Moishe on Shlomo's Yartzeit

For Reb Moishe Geller - my fellow "Decemberist" upon the occasion of Shlomo Carlebach's 15th Yartzeit . . .

It's raining in Jerusalem
It's Shlomo's yartzeit
You are missed

I got angry only moments after waking up today
Smelling foul, stale cigarette smoke emanating from my son's room
My son cusping on 25, who desires neither to live nor to die
My son who stays inside, inside, inside his immense, painful body
My son's body which speaks to no one in words, but screams its misery silently
You are missed

People smile at me, I smile back
When I'm exhausted and feeling my lowest
People say the stupidest things to me, like,
"You look radiant," and "You've never looked better!"
Idiots, gevalt.
Am I really that invisible, or is everyone just blind?
Or - worse yet - is my facade SO effective it completely masks my truth?
You are missed.

It's raining in Jerusalem
It's Shlomo's Yartzeit
I never knew him
But I know you
You are missed.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Fear Not, Thou Worm Jacob!

This Shabbat we heard "Lech Lecha," whose accompanying Haftara includes Isaiah 41:14, "Fear not,  תולעת יעקב (Worm Jacob)". Rather unpleasant, being called a "worm," yet Rebbe Nachman says the power of a Jew is in his mouth, like the power of a worm is in it's mouth. A worm can eat away a mountain. The verse continues "I will make you like a new, sharp threshing iron with many blades, you will thresh and pulverize mountains, you will make the hills like chaff." How so? Through the power of our mouths - we open up our lips and our mouths declare the praises of The Lord, the power of The Lord, the promises of The Lord, and The Word of the Lord. This is Jacob's power and why he is called a "worm" in this verse, in which HaShem gives us the Secret of Jewish Success, our holy weapon which crumbles mountains, destroys enemies, brings down blessings, lifts up prayers - our mouths, made to devour deceit, speak the truth, give praise and thanks, and ask to receive the desires of our heart.

Monday, September 21, 2009


...On Rosh Hashanah it is written. On Yom Kippur it is sealed.
Who shall be pierced by envy, and who shall be torn by resentment;
Who shall be tormented by the fire of ambition, and whose hopes shall be quenched by the waters of failure,
Who shall hunger for approval, and who shall be stuffed with selfishness:
Who shall be content with his lot, and who shall wander in search of satisfaction;
Who shall be poor in his own eyes, and who shall be rich in Mitzvot;
Who shall be serene, and who shall be distraught,
Who shall stand out as a Jew, and who shall grind for grades;
Who shall be open-minded, and who shall be tight-fisted;
Who shall be interdependent with others, and who shall be independent and alone;
Who shall be truly alive, and who shall merely exist.
We are flesh and blood. Our origin is in dust and our end is to be dust, but we have been created in the divine image.
Implanted within us is the ability to pray, The urge to do right, the power to repent. The door is not yet closed. We can yet change the decree. For we are a people that does not resign itself to fate. We can annul the decree. We can re-open the future. We can reclaim our lives. We can change the future by changing ourselves....

(Thanks to my friend Eddie Friedman for sending this along)

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Tshuva Means Never Having To Say You're Sorry

To blatently re-purpose the signature quote from "Love Story" ("Love means never having to say you're sorry") - Tshuva, the return to the root truth of one's own soul, means never having to say you're sorry.

On the surface this would seem odd, especially as in popular English-language culture the notion of Tshuva is commonly understood to indicate the word "repent." After all, what's more Elul-ish than repentance? The problem with repentance is the connotation of condemnation, and few things (if any) are less loving than condemnation.

Tshuva is less about repentance than it is about return - returning to one's original pure self, the essence of which remains untouched even when covered with the dirty schmutz of sin. To disconnect from the world of falseness, self-deceit and ego gratification, to sever the connection to knee-jerk negativity, to change one's default setting from self-pity to loving gratitude - this is Tshuva. Tshuva means never having to say you're sorry - no apologies needed here, the gates are wide open, the Everlasting Arms are spread wide to receive us, the Healing Wings of the Most High are unfolded to shelter and shade us from harm - especially the harm we do to ourselves with our negative self-talk, punishing perfectionism, and lack of compassion.

If anyone deserves an apology, it is our own precious Soul against which we sin by denying our own truth, negating our own power, diminishing our own light, subsuming our own passionate truth, being anything less than completely authentic. But the Soul does not want to hear plaintive platitudes. Actions speak louder than words. Your Soul longs for your embrace, not your rejection.

Return again, return again to your Soul ... with deeds, not mere words.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

The Status Updates I DIDN'T Post

Some people obsessively update their FB status, Twitter or Twoozer accounts, and even MySpace Moods, micro-documenting even their most mundane & ubiquitous moments. Here are the last 25 Status Updates I DIDN'T post for the sake of peace on earth & all humanity.

1) Lorelai Kude hates standing behind FSU people at the ATM, being downwind of stale vodka is never fun.

2) Lorelai Kude isn't your girlfriend, and most importantly - you are not her boyfriend. Got that?

3) Lorelai Kude is having a dental floss emergency.

4) Lorelai Kude is going to de-friend you for pilfering her Friends List and sending creepy messages to her single girl friends.

5) Lorelai Kude ... "Don't fuck with me, gentlemen!" (Joan Crawford, "Mommie Dearest" - Joan's response to the PepsiCo Board of Directors when they try to ease her out after the death of her PepsiCo CEO husband).

6) Lorelai Kude is recruiting candidates for the Pharmaceutical Exchange Program. What do you have a Script for?

7) Lorelai Kude loves Moroccan men. Period.

8) Lorelai Kude does not look both ways before she crosses.

9) Lorelai Kude ... Live recklessly but take precautions.

10) Lorelai Kude ... don't bogart that joint, my friend!

11) Lorelai Kude needs new bathroom reading material.

12) Lorelai Kude ... freestylin' with Rebbe Nachman

13) Lorelai Kude needs fresh blood.

14) Lorelai Kude is running for Prime Minister on the Health & Safety Ticket. 1st act upon taking office - revoke all Israeli drivers licenses & not reinstate until mandatory anger management courses are completed.

15) Lorelai Kude wants some credit for never, ever, EVER mentioning or alluding to her 11-week marriage & divorce experience in a social networking environment. Oops!

16) Lorelai Kude misses her children every day, whether they like it or not.

17) Lorelai Kude's impact upon Frum Fashion is reflected in the Bloomers as Outerwear trend currently in vogue on the streets of Jerusalem!

18) Lorelai Kude is not a stalker, no matter what eccentric billionaire Paul Allen might think.

19) Lorelai Kude's date exclaimed, "You are not a kitchen woman!" after watching her attempt to dress a salad. "You are so right my friend, the kitchen is not my room of expertise."

20) Lorelai Kude wonders why the Talmud Bavli and the Talmud Yerushalmi are not equally popular.

21) Lorelai Kude is pirating your wireless connection - thanks, bro!

22) Lorelai Kude can type 90 wpm in a coma.

23) Lorelai Kude wonders if a married guy says his wife doesn't mind if he sleeps around and he won't give me his wife's phone number so I can verify that, is this a sign he's lying?

24) Lorelai Kude's phone is on vibrate.

25) Lorelai Kude has a fallafel hangover.

Monday, August 31, 2009

The Gates Not Entered

"In Elul the important thing is, I am doing tshuvah for all the gates that were open to me and that I didn't enter." - Reb Shlomo Carlebach, zt"l
This is a picture of Ala, the Jewish Temple Mount policeman who (somewhat relentlessly) accompanied me all over Har HaBayet on Tisha b'Av this year. Here is is standing in the doorway to the gate where Jews are asked to exit the Temple Mount (if they can be permitted to enter in the first place, after enduring delays, humiliation and all sorts of patience-trying indignities inflicted simply because they can).
Ala made a big impression on my as he confided the only way he can do his job, day after day, of harassing Jews who eventually do make it up to Har HaBayet by preventing them from praying and hustling them off the scene as soon as possible, is by closing off his own heart.
"I must close my heart, every day, or I can't do my job," he said to me. "What would happen if you opened your heart, to your own people and your own Jewish soul?" I asked with tears in my eyes, seeing the suffering he denied even to himself. "I would die," he replied simply. "And I would lose my job," he said as an afterthought.
What gates are open to me - literally and figuratively - which I didn't go through myself this past year? What parts of my own heart must I close on a daily basis, simply to be able to survive? What chances did I let pass me by, what connections went unmade, what moments of intimacy were possible which slipped away simply because I was afraid I myself would die - die to my own status quo, die to to my own comfort zone, to my sense of autonomy, to my own ego?
What are the gates that are still open, even a crack, before me - even now? Is there an "Ala" in my heart, blocking the way, keeping me disconnected from my own truth?
"Open to me the Gates of Righteousness, I will enter them and thank G_d" - Psalm 118

Thursday, August 27, 2009

It's The Choices We Make that Makes Us Who We Are

It's the choices we make that make us who we are. Elul is all about choosing, sifting, separating, discerning. Elul gives us the opportunity to choose authenticity.

Not surprising that "borer" (separating) is a key attribute of Betula (Virgo the Virgin), the aspect of the Zodiac associated with the Hebrew month of Elul.

The virgin is pictured sifting through handfuls of wheat - perhaps this wheat has been gleaned from "The Field," that place where The King has been walking to and fro, seeking an opportunity to be close to us, on our level.

What does it mean to "choose authenticity"? To be authentic is to be original, real, true to your own true self. That definition is not a free pass to self indulgence ( "I'm not an alcoholic, I'm just being true to my real self by getting drunk all the time" ) - far from it. To know how to choose authenticity is to know the truth about yourself, to be able to discern - right here and right now, for today this very minute - where you're at. You've got to sift through a lot of wheat to get to the real thing - and there's a whole lot of chaff that gets discarded in the process. That's the messy stuff - and nobody hates a mess more than Virgo, and no one is better equipped to clean it up.

Which is why we have the power right now to choose, if we want it. Choice is responsibility, it's saying "this is mine" - my values, my truth, my goodness, my strength - and saying, this is NOT mine - this sleepy blindness, this half-hearted commitment, this restless ego.

We're not alone in making these choices. The King is in The Field and wants to kneel beside us, thrust His hands into the basket and hold our stalks of wheat up to the light. He says - let's look at these together, let's decide together.
Maybe He's here right now.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Elul - It's All About Detox, Baby!

Elul is the month where we say, "The King is in the Field," we note that E L U L is an acronym for the Hebrew phrase "Ani l'Dodi v'Dodi Li" ( I am my Beloved's and my Beloved is mine ), and the theme is Tshuva, which means to return to one's own core integral truth and authenticity. It has come to my attention that Elul is really all about detox - detoxing from Babylon / Matrix perceptions, detoxing from the opiates of false pride and self-deception, taking a reality bath in the sometimes cold light of the very Field where the King is waiting to meet us.
This world contains some very powerful spiritual toxins that work to dull our perceptions, distort our thinking and keep us enslaved to the short-term gratification cycle. Elul is the time to break the vicious cycle - and in the manner of a classic 12-Step program, intervention may be required. This is why The King (HaShem) is "in the Field" now, because only He can discern what kind of intervention may be required. Be assured that if you are indeed on the Tshuva Track you WILL meet The King - whether or not you actually recognize Him will depend on whether He thinks you can handle it or not - but in disguise or completely revealed, our G_d Whom we crown with Kingship daily in our prayers is truly, truly close at hand and He wants us to put down the spiritual crack pipe and take His Hand instead.

Monday, August 24, 2009


Whenever faced with an existential dilemma, it's important to ask one's Self - WWJD - that is to say, What Would Jerry Do? Not just your average, run-of-the-mill existential dilemma, i.e. bong or pipe, 1 paper roll or two. No, we save Jerry for the Big Stuff - life, death, G0d, cheese, New York - these really important questions. Which is why the title of this blog - Morning Dew - is not only a nod to a favorite Grateful Dead song but acknowledgement that the Marinener Rebbe himself would most likely be the first one to tell me to wake up, shake up and take a look around - in other words, too much introspection can lead to mental isolation. It's important to SHARE. Which is why I'm writing this. I'm SHARING, dafka!

WWJD about living in a City where the concentration level of dense energy is the highest in the world? Where silmulteniously competing realities exist side by side and jumping consciousness levels like Space Invaders in the old Atari game is an everyday activity? What would he do about the cognative dissodance between what seems to be and what actually is?

Channeling Jerry via smoke rings ... dance between the pages, make the white space your home, hold on tight to your sense of humor & don't let go, keep connected with those who keep you real, don't forget to always, always, always say Thank You.

And ... breathe.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Sunday is the new Monday

In Israel, Sunday is the new Monday. That is to say, it's officially the first day of the so-called "work" week, but in reality no one works very hard on Sunday, especially those who are still recovering from a vigorous Shabbat. At least that's the way things are in Jerusalem. It's common knowledge that Jerusalem prays, Tel Aviv plays and Haifa works - so boker tov to all my friends in Haifa to whom "Yom Reshon" (the first day of the week, a.k.a. "Sunday") is a real work day. You're already doing whatever it is you do, we're still a little blurry around the edges. We may have dragged ourselves into a place of business to make a cursory appearance, but the level of attentiveness isn't really up to speed until ... Monday. Which is why the beef delivery van double-parked on Agrippas (which itself is now a 2-lane, 1-way street between Nissim Behar and the Shuk) can be spotted right next to the Kotex delivery van - normally a juxtapositon which makes the more machmir amongst us nervous.