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.