21 diciembre 2009

A Portrait of the Soul

By Yosef Y. Jacobson

All of the figures depicted in the Torah are not just physical people who lived at a certain period of time. They also embody particular psychological and spiritual forces, existing continuously within the human heart.

Joseph is described in the Torah as a beautiful and graceful lad, "handsome of form and handsome of appearance," and as a "master of dreams."According to the Kabbalah, Joseph symbolizes the pure and sacred soul of man.

What does a soul look like? What elements of our personality can we attribute to our soul?

In the Tanya, Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi defines the soul as a flame that seeks to depart from its wick and kiss the heavens. "The soul," he writes, "constitutes the quest in man to transcend the parameters of his (or her) ego and become absorbed in the source of all existence."

The sixteenth-century Kabbalist, Rabbi Elazar Azkari, wrote a prayer which describes the soul in these words: "My soul is sick with love for you; O G-d, I beg you, please heal it by showing it the sweetness of your splendor; then it will be invigorated and healed, experiencing everlasting joy."

The soul, in other words, is that dimension of our psyche that needs not self-aggrandizement, dominance or excessive materialism. It despises politics, manipulation and dishonesty. It is repulsed by unethical behavior and by false facades.

What are its aspirations? The soul harbors a single yearning: to melt away in the all-pervading truth of G-d.

The Abused Soul

Yet, how many of us are even aware of the existence of such a dimension in our personality? How many of us pay heed to the needs of our soul? In response to the soul's never ending dreams and yearnings that confuse our ego-based schedules and disturb our cravings for instant gratification, we so often take the "Joseph" within us and plunge it into a pit. We attempt to relegate its dreams and passions to the subconscious cellars of our psyche.

When that does not work, because we can still hear its silent pleas, we sell our "Joseph" as a slave to foreigners, allowing our souls to become subjugated to forces and drives that are alien to its very identity.

Can you imagine how horrified you would be if you were to observe somebody taking the little adorable hand of an infant and placing it on a burning stove? The Chassidic masters describe each time we utter a lie, each time we humiliate another human being, each time we sin, as precisely that: taking the precious innocent spirituality of our soul and putting it through abuse and torture.

Moment of Truth

Yet, in each of our lives the moment arrives when our inner "Joseph," which was forced to conceal its truth for so many years, breaks down and reveals to us its identity. At that moment, we come to discover the sheer beauty and depth of our soul, and our hearts are filled with shame.

The humiliation the brothers experienced when Joseph revealed himself to them did not stem from the fact that he rebuked them for their selling him into slavery. Joseph's mere appearance to them constituted the most powerful rebuke: For the first time they realized who it was that they subjected to such horrific abuse and their hearts melted away in shame.

Similarly, Rabbi Elazar was saying, when the day will come and we will realize the G-dly and spiritual sacredness of our own personalities, we will be utterly astounded. We will ask ourselves again and again, how did we allow ourselves to cast such a beautiful and innocent soul into a dark and gloomy pit?


Tomado de Chabad.org

13 diciembre 2009

Classical Reform: a place for reason in religion

The Classical Reform revival carries a strong intellectual component, too.

Meyer, one of the foremost authorities on the history of Reform Judaism, noted that the movement’s 1999 Pittsburgh Platform, which advocated a more open approach to rituals discouraged by the early Reform leaders, has its own problems.

“It does not deal sufficiently with the problem of evil, and pays insufficient attention to the challenges posed by biology and astrophysics, harmonizing the idea of a personal God with the vastness of the universe,” he said. “We have come to a point in Reform Judaism where we stress the personal, emotional connection more than is perhaps sustainable.”

While Meyer does not view Classical Reform as a growing tendency, he does consider it a valuable check on the movement’s growing pietism.

“There is a place for reason in religion, and sometimes in Reform Judaism today we don’t give that enough attention,” he said.


Tomado de JTA.org

06 diciembre 2009

Sidur UPB, Edición Sinaí, en español

Después de muchos días de trabajo os presentamos la primera edición en español del Union Prayer Book - Sinai Edition -, edición revisada del primer Sidur oficial que tuvo el Movimiento Reformista y que ocupó ese lugar de honor hasta que fue desplazado por el Gates of Prayer ya en la décade los 70, tras 80 años de servicio.

La edición que hemos traducido del Union Prayer Book es la que edita la Congregación Sinaí de Chicago.

Aunque el Sidur no es ya el oficial del movimiento, existen varias congregaciones reformistas que aún lo utilizan como principal referencia litúrgica, tanto esta edición que hemos traducido, como las anteriores a ésta.

En primer lugar, los agradecimientos:

1. A los señores Michael y Karen Hermann por su apoyo financiero a este proyecto.

2. A la Congregación Sinaí de Chigago, propietaria de los derechos de autor de la obra en inglés y sin cuyo consentimiento no habría sido posilbe realizar y publicar la traducción.

3. Al Rabino Jacques Cukierkorn, quien ha dirigido y coordinado el trabajo.

Por otra parte, nos gustaría advertir que la obra se encuentra en su fase inicial y que queda aún un largo camino por recorrer. La traducción está aún en proceso de revisión, faltan por añadir ciertos textos que no se han incluido en esta versión 'beta', está ya con Hebreo y Fonética, en la versión normal. ( Y en unos días en la reducida)

Por ello, nos gustaría que en la medida de lo posible nos hicierais llegar las sugerencias y nos advirtierais de los errores tipográficos, de estilo, sintácticos u ortográficos que detectaseis escribiendo a victorino@javura-iesod.org.

El Sidur se ofrece bajo licencia Creative Commons

Versión reducida: incluye sólo Shabat, diario y rituales para el hogar. Sidur de sólo 41 páginas, cómodo de imprimir y utilizar.

Versión completa: además de lo del anterior, con Servicios para festividades y oraciones para ocasiones especiales

Aquellos que lo encuentren de utilidad y quieran contribuir a apoyar los nuevos proyectos en los que trabaja el Rabino Jacques Cukierkorn o a sostener el esfuerzo que realiza la Society for Classical Reform Judaism, pueden realizar una donación en sus respectivas páginas web:


Para saber más sobre el Sidur Union Prayer Book puedes consultar dos entradas anteriores de este blog:

01 diciembre 2009

Rabbi Einhorn and the Spirit of Reform Judaism

Excerpt from the inaugural sermon delivered by

Rabbi David Einhorn

September 29, 1855

The following paragraphs from that memorable sermon show clearly enough that with Dr. Einhorn's advent in Baltimore a master mind had come to mold and fashion the Reform movement in America:

“In the development of our community we fear no Pharaoh on this sacred soil of religious liberty, no brute force which is used so often in the interest of a court or state religion — where oaths and hearts are equally broken, where the prevailing religion and the masses clinging to it are alike denied the natural unfolding of their powers. Nor within our own fold is the indifference so great as to frustrate our efforts. The sacrifices you have already made to establish a nobler worship, your successful endeavors to lend, provisionally at least, a becoming garb to a religious service that has fallen into such decay, and, finally, the unanimity with which you extended the call to me to repair the breaches of our house — all this gives promise of gladsome and harmonious labor for the high aim we have in view. . . .

The Law of God, with relation to man, consists, like man himself, the child of God, of a perishable body and of an imperishable spirit. The body is to be only the servant of the spirit and must pass away as soon as the spirit ceases to dwell in it. . . . We have here the very essence of the covenant between God and man which is binding for all times, in all places and on all peoples. . . . All other divine ordinances are only signs of this covenant, a fence and hedge around the eternal and universal Law; now recalling holy memories, now proclaiming solemn convocations, and now again urging a whole- some separation from heathen customs. By their very nature they cannot always and everywhere remain the same, as there is nothing in them of an abiding or universal character. Not that man will ever be able to do entirely without objective signs; but their mode an4 degree must conform to the different stages of civilization, to national, industrial and social conditions — in short, to all that is implied by the subjective and objective life of man. The religious idea can no more be held rigidly to the same form through the whole course of its development, from its first blossoming to its full ripeness, than the fruit in the bud, than the butterfly in its chrysalis. And the same alteration that was imperative in the developing process of the religious idea of the Jew in the course of its own growth is demanded also by the Jew's wanderings through the world, by the changes in the stream of life flowing around him. . . .

Our religious history, in fact, shows a transformation of the Biblical religious forms to such an extent that in the past two thousand years by far the largest number of them have completely passed out of Jewish life. True, our pious forefathers went to great pains to keep themselves still attached to these forms from which the spirit had fled ; they mourned over the death of these usages as though Judaism itself had received a mortal wound; and they endeavored to console themselves with the vain hope that they were only seemingly dead, "No," they said, "the glorious house of David has not forever sunk into the dust, nor the wonderful Temple with its sacrifices and priests and Levites; neither has Israel been cast out of his Father's house. A time will come when the Lord will raise up again the fallen tent of David, gather the scattered tribes of Jacob in their ancient habitation, and restore the sanctuary of Zion in full glory." But the lament and the hope alike rest on untenable ground, springing from the attempt to equalize or, more correctly, confound the religious body with the religious spirit. It led them to regard both as equally immutable. Instead of seeking to refine and exalt the body through the spirit, they tried to coarsen the spirit into mere body, applying their standard of ceremonialism even to the sphere of morality. The voices of the prophets had long been hushed who, with indefatigable zeal, proclaimed the spirit of the Law of God as the banner of Israel, around which all peoples would one day rally, by which the pomp of ceremony — sacrifices, fasts, all — would once and for all be rendered useless and un- availing. At the time of the destruction of the second Temple they seemed to call out: "Be comforted! The cerement is now dead, but out of the grave has arisen the unfettered spirit ready to soar over the whole earth in its flight. From the ashes of the Temple of an isolated Israel will gradually arise that mighty edifice for all humanity of which the Lord has said, 'Mine house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations/ Out of the ruins of Judah there shall come forth a Messianic world. Often will you cement the stones in this temple with your heart's blood; but that glorious goal is worthy of those sacrifices, and such sacrifices are more precious than a thousand rams and goats." . . .

Judaism has arrived at the critical stage when it must part company 'with dead and obsolete ceremonies, if it means to keep the Jews within the fold or prevent their moral decay. In consequence of the irresistible stress of everyday life there is a growing antagonism between the activities of the world and our religious convictions — a condition that is gradually robbing conscience of its disciplinary character. No greater evil than the continuance of such a state of affairs could befall Israel. On the one hand, we are wont daily to violate the weightiest ceremonial laws, though as Israelites we acknowledge them as binding; on the other, we give expression in our prayers to pious hopes and aims to which there is not the faintest response in our hearts; which are, moreover, in flat contradiction with the real spirit of the Sinaic Law, It is inevitable that, little by little, our religious sensibilities must either become completely dulled or find expression in other beliefs. In the face of this antagonism, experience has shown that all persuasion and pleading in favor of tradition — to galvanize dead forms into life — is ineffective. Even the praiseworthy attempts to bring back something of the old charm by harmonizing our public service, externally, with modern life are futile and will remain so, because at bottom they only serve to hide the decay within. We have here a flaw which goes sheer down to the very heart of the Jewish faith, which no specious palliation can remedy. The remedy must be thoroughgoing. The evil which is gradually draining our strength and sapping our life must be plucked up by the roots. This we can accomplish only by recognizing whatever is decayed and untenable in our religious life and then, in the name of our faith, by solemnly freeing ourselves from its authority. Thus alone may we effect for ourselves and for our children the liberation of Judaism if we are to prevent a defection from Judaism. . . .

In these endeavors, however, we should never depart from the impregnable basis of the divinely revealed Word. Of this our name, Har Sinai, admonishes us. It suggests the significant injunction:, "Look unto the rock whence ye are hewn — there where the Lord had chosen your forefathers and their descendants as His priests and bound them for all time to His Law." The crumbled ruins of the ramparts that were built about the Law as a defence we may, nay, we should, allow to fall away. We should at once set to work to remove the debris — ^not, however, to destroy, but to build up ; not in a spirit of vanity or self -exultation, nor without that piety which rightfully belongs to holy relics, but with deep reverence for our sanctuary and an ardent desire to shield it from threatening perils. Our repudiation of obsolete religious ideas and usages should bring us with increased and undivided attachment to that real inwardness of our faith which is affected by neither time nor space, which will still endure "when the earth shall wax old like a garment and the heavens pass away like smoke." No, we have no faith to offer that is of our own making, no Judaism tricked out in the approved fashion, no mere polishing of old Jewish customs, no aberrations into a formless void. On the contrary, we want a clean-cut, sharply defined Judaism which, rooted in majestic Sinai, shall yet crown its four thousand years of history by blossoming anew and bringing forth glorious fruit.”*

From the translation of Dr. Einhorn's sermon by Rabbi C. A. Rubenstein. published in commemoration of the Einhorn Centenary Celebration in Har Sinai Temple, November 5, 6 and 7, 1909


20 noviembre 2009

The Positive Power of Negative Thoughts

From Chabad.org

By Rochel Holzkenner

What would you pay for a cognition detector, a mechanism that could read thoughts? What would you pay to stop your friends from having one? Socializing just wouldn't be the same if our thoughts became transparent.

Think about that time your colleague congratulated you on an impressive presentation you made. "Naw, I don't think it was any better than the job you did last week," you responded. "Finally he acknowledges that my work is superior to his..." you think. Or about the time your neighbors stops by unexpectedly. "How great of you to come by, we were just talking about you!" you say with a hug. "How rude of you to drop in without calling," you think. "And what are you thinking about my housekeeping?"

It's uncomfortable to be plagued by an ugly thought. It can erode our self-respectThere is often a significant disparity between the words we speak and the thoughts that run through our mind. Like a shiny apple with a rotten core, we often project an image of humility, graciousness and loyalty, while our inner thoughts look surprisingly ugly.

It's uncomfortable to be plagued by an ugly thought. It can erode our self-respect. What kind of person would have thoughts like these? What kind of friend am I to be so jealous? What moral integrity do I have if I scheme sinful thoughts? What kind of self-progress have I made if I'm still plagued by the same demons? Even if we choose not to act upon them, just listening to our dysfunctional thoughts can be severely demoralizing. Who am I fooling with my charade of piety when the real me is still quite crude and pleasure driven?

In the Tanya, Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi (1745-1812, founder of Chabad chassidism) sheds some optimistic light on dark thoughts. He exposes a conspiracy played out by our yetzer hara (evil inclination). The yetzer hara drops us a thought or an urge that makes us very uncomfortable. Even if we'd never act on the impulse, just sensing its presence is embarrassing and even depressing. And that's exactly where the yetzer hara wants us to be: embarrassed and depressed. Once our spirits are down and our self-confidence is deflated, we're nice and vulnerable for the real attack.

This understanding the yetzer hara's strategy makes it clear that it's always counter-productive to inspect a shameful thought and be disappointed because of it. The key is to simply let it go.

In fact we can actually feel pleased by its arrival.


Rabbi Schneur Zalman takes us to the Zohar, and we listen to a mystical understanding of a conversation that takes place between Isaac and Esau (as recorded in Genesis 27:4). Isaac asks his favorite son to prepare him a meal before he would bless him. "And make me delicacies such as I love," he instructs Esau.

"These words," says the Zohar, "is the message of the Shechinah [Divine Presence] to her children, the Jewish people."

What is the meaning of this Zohar? Why would Gd ask His people to prepare delicacies? And since "delicacies" is written in plural form, what are the multiple kinds of delicacies that Gd enjoys?

Rabbi Schneur Zalman explains: There are two types of delectable foods; the first type is naturally sweet and mellow, while the second type is naturally bitter or sour. Take onions—when raw they are painfully sharp to the palate, but sauté them and they'll enhance every dish. Lemons, garlic, ginger, horseradish—they are culinary necessities and add an irreplaceable edge to an entrée.

And Gd says: Two things give Me pleasure: holy thoughts, and also unholy thoughts—that are ignoredSo, Isaac says, "Make me delicacies"; some sweet, some edgy. And Gd says to His people: Two things give Me pleasure: holy thoughts, and also unholy thoughts—that are ignored. In fact, when an unholy thought is ignored, says the Zohar, "Gd's glory rises… more than by any other praise."

Just like Gd loves perfection, He loves imperfection. He watches in delight as the humiliating thought penetrates our consciousness and we chose to reject it. Not inviting the thought in and not judging ourselves for it, but just simply dropping it and thinking about something else. Apparently this sends Gd soaring.

Our evil inclination will attack us at our weakest point and make us feel thoroughly dysfunctional before luring us into its world. But with a little meta-cognition we can reverse attack by viewing an ugly impulse as an opportunity to serve Gd a well-prepared delicacy.

Based on Tanya Chapters 26-27.

28 octubre 2009

Dos lecturas

Leí ayer en 'Platforms and Prayer Books' p.282, una referencia a un texto de la Pesikta de Rav Kahana en el que se analiza cómo Dios se dirige a cada uno de nosotros de forma personal, individual, incluso en el más comunitario de los acontecimientos de la tradición, el matán Torá - la entrega de la Torá -.Buscando en Internet el texto di con una drashá del JTS.

Por la noche, la lectura del día del Tania, en Chabad en español, hablaba del deber de cada uno de descubrir secretos de sabiduría.

Textos de mundos tan distantes - por una parte un libro sobre los siddurim reformistas; por otra, las enseñanzas del Rebbe de Lubavitch- conectados y desarrollando el mismo asunto.

La paradoja se completa con el hecho de que realizamos el descubrimiento del deber individual al dirigirse Dios a cada uno personalmente en el estudio comunitario de los textos de la tradición antigua y de la actual.

God as a statue with faces on every side

The Sinai event was so powerful in the Jewish imagination that our tradition abounds with interpretations of the revelation at Sinai. Here is one of the most powerful of these traditional interpretations:

R. Levi said, The Holy One appeared to them as though He were a statue with faces on every side. A thousand people might be looking at the statue, but it would appear to be looking at each one of them.

So, too, when the Holy One spoke, each and every person in Israel could say, "The Divine Word is addressing me." Note that Scripture does not say, "I am the Lord your God"; [in the plural] but "I am the Lord thy God" (Exod. 20:2) [in the singular].

R. Yose bar R. Hanina said: The Divine Word spoke to each and every person according to his particular capacity. And do not be surprised at this idea. For when manna came down for Israel, each and every person tasted it in keeping with his own capacity—infants in keeping with their capacity; young men in keeping with their capacity; and the elderly in keeping with their capacity . . .

Now what was true about the manna—that each and every person tasted it according to his own particular capacity—was equally true about the Divine Word. Each and every person heard it according to his own particular capacity. Thus David said "The voice of the Lord is in strength" (Ps: 29:4). Not "The voice of the Lord is in His strength" [as we might expect from standard Hebrew pronoun usage], but the voice of the Lord is in the strength and capacity of each and every person. Therefore the Holy One said: Do not be misled because you hear many voices. Know ye that I am He who is one and the same: I am the Lord thy God. (Pesikta de Rav Kahana 12:25)

One of the most striking things about this text is that, in its opening, God is compared quite literally to an idol! For the Hebrew word used here is ikonin, a loan word from Greek which we recognize from our English use of icon (as in iconoclast, literally "one who smashes idols"). Having fought the long battle against idolatry, it appears the midrash is able to use the metaphor of an idol to speak about God; truly a remarkable turn of events.

Although the use of the metaphor of the statue with many faces here is surprising, it is meant to communicate one specific idea: God is viewed as addressing each individual so directly that standing at Sinai one might have said, "The Divine Word is addressing me." This reading, as we often see in midrash, turns upon an attempt to find a hidden meaning in the Bible' s particular use of language, here the singular pronoun of Exodus 20:2, "thy God," something hard to capture in modern English.

Our midrash here is built as a metaphor (God is like a statue with faces on every side) that is explained by means of another metaphor or analogy (the experience at Sinai was like the experience the Israelites later had with the manna). Of course, it is precisely that orientation toward the individualized dimension of the giving of the Torah that makes this midrash so fascinating. In a sense, such a reading flies in the face of the conventional understanding of the revelation at Sinai as it is described in the Bible. Our natural assumption from reading the biblical text is that Sinai was seen as essentially a communal experience— the person is plural, as it were: all the people say, "We will do and we will obey" (Exod. 24:7).

And yet our midrash here moves in the opposite direction. Sinai, according to both R. Levi and R. Yose, was the individual experience of each Israelite, seen through the lens of the individual's eyes: "The Divine Word is addressing me." Yose's analogy of the manna takes the idea one step further. He is attempting to explain what such an individualized experience of the "Divine Word" might mean. It was not only, as R. Levi saw it, a revelation to each person, as I might feel the Mona Lisa's eyes staring directly at me in the presence of the painting; it was a revelation appropriate "to each and every person according to his particular capacity." In other words, the content of the revelation was specifically appropriate to each individual.

Each of us, in other words, is going to experience God in his or her own way, a way that emanates from who we are and what we want or expect from that encounter with God. In addition, that experience is connected to what we are capable of understanding—it is connected to the competencies, whether they be of mind or of heart, that we bring to it. That is, if even at Sinai, revelation was individualized, certainly in ordinary human life the experience of God is rooted in who we are ourselves. As we enter the festival of Shavu'ot this year, let us remember its centrality to us as Jews. It is the beginning of our people's romance with study and it is the most powerful example of the encounter in life between human beings and the Divine.

Tomado de JTS

El deber de descubrir secretos de sabiduría

"Ahora bien, los seres celestiales no tienen el poder [necesario] para refinar y elevar aquello que está [en exilio] en kelipat noga como resultado de la "rotura de los recipientes". Sólo los seres terrenales [pueden hacerlo], porque están investidos en un cuerpo material, [conocido como] "la piel de la serpiente", que deriva de kelipat noga. Estas [almas encarnadas] debilitan su fuerza [—la de esta kelipá—] quebrando las pasiones, subyugando de esa manera a la sitra ajará, de modo que "todos los obreros del mal [las kelipot] serán dispersados". Por eso los seres celestiales vienen a escuchar las novedades de Torá de los seres terrenales, [para oír] los secretos de sabiduría que ellos innovan y revelan, hasta ese momento cautivos en exilio. Cada judío puede revelar secretos de sabiduría, (revelar) y descubrir un discernimiento novedoso, ya sea en la halajá o la agadá, en los [planos] revelados o místicos [de la Torá], conforme la naturaleza de la raíz de su alma. De hecho, uno tiene el deber de hacerlo, para perfeccionar su alma al elevar todas las chispas que cayeron en su porción y suerte, como es sabido."

Igueret HaKodesh, cap. 26, Rabbi Shneur Zalman

23 octubre 2009

Kabalat Shabat en directo con La Javurá

La comunidad conservadora de Valencia, La Javurá, dirigida por Alba Toscano, ha comenzado a transmitir los servicios de Kabalat Shabat en directo a través de Internet los viernes a las 20:00 (hora de España). Creo que una gran noticia. Es la primera comunidad conservadora que transmite el servicio en español.

Otras comunidades lo radian o lo graban, sobre todo reformistas - por ejemplo Emanu-El, uno de los pilares de la Society for Classical Reform Judaism.

En Canadá existe una comunidad conservadora, Shaarey Zedek , que emite en inglés el servicio de Sajarit de Shabat. Como curiosidad se puede encontrar en su web un enlace a la Responsa en la que el movimiento conservador autoriza estas retransmisiones.

21 octubre 2009

Union Prayer Book, en Google

Creo que una gran noticia. Está CASI al completo la edición de 1940. Revisada en el 1967. E impresa en 1978. La CCAR - Conferencia Central de Rabino Americanos (los Rabinos Reformistas) - han dado la autorización a Google Books para que aparezca. Hay varias entradas ya en este blog sobre este Sidur (buscar 'Union Prayer Book').

En principio puede dar la sensación de que uno echa en falta asuntos importantes que sí están en otros sidurim reformistas o conservadores. Sin embargo, debo decir que en el uso diario privado ha sido un gran descubrimiento para mi: su brevedad y su profundidad, su potencia poética y su claro mensaje de paz y de justicia social, ayudan a mantener la Kavaná - concentración - del rezo en la locura del día a día de la sociedad actual. Es muy probable que quienes lo editaron no pensaran precisamente en que se utilizaría en casa, sino que lo crearan para la Sinagoga. Y, sin embargo, lo reivindico como una excelente opción para el rezo privado.

Y aunque pueda parecer sorprendente e incluso contradictorio por la distancia que en principio separa el Jasidismo del Reformismo, algunos de los textos y la orientación de algunas de las revisiones en relación al servicio 'tradicional' no reformista podrían perfectamente haber estado inspiradas por un profundo sentido místico de la plegaria.

Esta versión ya no la publica el Movimiento Reformista, sin embargo, se puede encontrar de segunda mano en ebay.com o se puede adquirir nueva en la edición de Kessinger Publishing.

Un consejo: para los que hagan rezo de Minjá diario, que utilicen el Ashrei y el salmo 145 del servicio de Minjá de Shabat y completen con la Amidah de Sajarit de diario.

11 septiembre 2009


Coming from the Hebrew word for “forgiveness” and a liturgical poem whose subject is a plea for the forgiveness of sins, Selichot is a service of penitential prayers that are recited on all fast days, periods of special intercession and during the penitential season, which begins before Rosh Hashanah and concludes with Yom Kippur.

The Sephardic community recites the Selichotfor the 40 days from the first of Elul (the month before Tishrei, the beginning of the Jewish New Year) to the Day of Atonement. The Ashkenazic community, on the other hand, begins reciting the prayers on the Sunday before Rosh Hashanah. In America, a late Saturday evening service has become the customary practice. The liturgy and music of the Selichot service are intended to instill a mood of solemnity that serves as a prelude to the sacred themes of the High Holy Day season.

Originally, the Selichot service consisted of several groups of biblical verses, each culminating in the recitation of the Lord’s 13 attributes enumerated in Exodus 34:6. In Geonic times (the sixth to the 12th century), the service was expanded and enriched with the inclusion of the penitential prayers written by liturgical poets.

Tomando de Temple Emanu-El

Selichot: Prayers of Repentance

Selichot, prayers for forgiveness, are ancient prayers already mentioned in the Mishnah. They originated as prayers for fast days. The Mishnah describes public fast days and the order of prayer for such occasions as featuring a series of exhortations that end with the words "He will answer us," recalling the times in Jewish history when God answered those who called upon Him. The Tanna deve Eliyahu Zuta, a midrashic work that dates at the latest to the ninth century, mentions a special service for forgiveness instituted by King David when he realized that the Temple would be destroyed. "How will they attain atonement?" he asked the Lord and was told that the people would recite the order of Selichot and would then be forgiven. God even showed David that this act of contrition would include a recitation of the "Thirteen Attributes of God," a descriptive passage from Exodus that expresses God's merciful nature:

"The Lord! The Lord! A God compassionate and gracious, slowto anger, rich in steadfast kindness, extending kindness to the thousandth generation, forgiving iniquity, transgression, and sin; yet He does not remit all punishment..." (Exodus 34:6‑7).

The name "Lord" [the Hebrew letters YHWH which constitute God’s name] was consistently understood by the Rabbis as referring to the appearance of God in His attribute of mercy, Therefore, its repetition in this passage indicated that God was merciful at all times. As the Talmud put it:

"The Lord! the Lord!"‑-I am the same before one sins and after one sins and repents. "A God compassionate and gracious..." Says Rabbi Judah, "A covenant has been made concerning these Thirteen Attributes. They will never be turned away empty handed..."

The Selichot service also emphasizes the recitation of "The Thirteen Attributes." Over the centuries, special poems embellishing this passage were added to the Selichot. The exact poems to be recited may differ from place to place, but the basic elements of the service have remained the same throughout the Jewish world. Because of its emphasis on God's forgiving nature, this text describing "The Thirteen Attributes" plays an important role in the Yom Kippur liturgy as well.

The tradition of reciting Selichot throughout the month of Elul may stem from the fact that it was customary to fast six days before Rosh Hashanah. Since the Selichot originated as prayers for fast days, it followed naturally that they would be recited at this time.


Tomado de My Jewish Learning

El movimiento reformista ha editado hace años un servicio especial de Selichot. En Google Books se puede acceder a parte de la obra:

Gates of forgiveness

08 septiembre 2009

Four Rungs of the Ladder

Tomado de Chabad.org

The order of the prayers is one of gradual ascent, rising ever higher among the 'Four Worlds,' from one sphere to the next - the higher - one: from

(a) Asiyah, the 'World of Action' of the Birchot Hashachar to

(b) Yetzirah, the 'World of Formation' of the Pesukei Dezimra, to

(c) Beri'ah, the 'World of Creation' of Birchot Keri'at Shema and theShema, to

(d) Atzilut, the 'World of Emanation' of the Shemoneh Esrei.

The faculties of the animal soul relate to this material world.

Their sustenance is from the vital powers in the victuals which sustain the life of man's body and his animal soul, and which have the potential of being elevated to sanctity.

Man, therefore, is bound to 'below' (material reality). Thus he must elevate the soul and bind it unto G-d. He must conquer the sitra achara (the 'other side,' as opposed to the 'side of holiness') and turn it around to "serve Him with all your heart," i.e., with both your spiritual and physical inclinations, to the point of attaining Echad.

The essence of all prayer is the contemplation of Echad - that "G-d isEchad (One)" (Deuteronomy 6:4), the sole reality, even now after the creation of the universe in space and time. He is and remains Echad - east, west, north, south, above and below, and likewise in terms of time (past, present and future).

For relative to G-d it is all the same, the present status with that prior to creation, prior to the categories of time and space.

The gradual intensification of the order of prayers follows the pattern of the ladder that appeared in Jacob's dream, the four rungs of which one is to ascend.

Tefilah is the 'ladder set in the earth, and its top reaches into heaven.'

One begins all the way below: first the Birchot Hashachar, 'Blessed are You who opens the eyes of the blind.' One proceeds from the lowest level until literally reaching the state of "You shall love G-d" - i.e., submitting the soul at Echad.

The ladder of tefilah allows us to ascend. It is the intermediary "uniting the higher with the lower. The one above can descend on it to the one below, even as the one below can ascend on it to the one above."

Of this ladder it is said that "the messengers of G-d ascend and descend on it": by means of this ladder man elevates himself.

His mitzvot (which are referred to as 'messengers of G-d', the observance of which involves matter, ascend and rise upwards on this ladder. In turn, it is by means of this ladder that the Heavenly Grace is drawn forth and downwards.

Tefilah 'reaches into heaven' and establishes a zivug (union) with offspring of a completely new consciousness.

07 septiembre 2009

Iamin Noraim en Bet El

Bet El es la principal congregación Masortí de España. Está en Madrid. Es la comunidad de la que yo soy miembro. Ya hace 10 años que formo parte de esta gran aventura judía conservadora en Madrid.

Estos son los horarios de Iamin Noraim. Si quieres asistir debes ponerte en contacto con Silvio en la dirección de mail que aparece al final.



Viernes/Friday 18 Sept.

Kabalat Shabat……………19:20 p.m.

Sábado/Saturday 19 Sept.

Shajarit……………………..9:30 a.m

Arvit………………………..19:20 p.m

Domingo/Sunday 20 Sept.

Shajarit……………………..9:30 a.m.


Domingo/Sunday 27 Sept.

Kol Nidre……………….…18:45 p.m.

Lunes/Monday 28 de Sept.

Shajarit…………………….9.30 a.m.


For more information contact Silvio at silvio@bet-el.org

Para más información, ponte en contacto con Silvio en silvio@bet-el.org

01 septiembre 2009

Jewish Renewal in America

Excelente serie de conferencias por Chava Weissler sobre Jewish Renewal.

Con una claridad expositiva de primer orden y una profundidad académica más que notable en el análisis, Chava Weissler ofrece una visión completa y compleja de esta nueva forma de entender el Judaísmo que conecta la tradición Jasídica con el feminismo, el ecologismo y el moviento contracultural de los 60.

1. Jewish Renewal in the America

30 agosto 2009

Conversión al Judaísmo - Rabino Jacques Cukierkorn

Puedes ponerte en contacto con el Rabino Jacques Cukierkorn en esta dirección de e-mail: rabbi94@hotmail.com o puedes visitar su página web http://esp.rabbicukierkorn.com/

El Judaísmo Reformista - Rabino Jacques Cukierkorn

10 agosto 2009

Heresy in G-d's Name

They asked the Baal Shem Tov, "The Talmud tells us that for everything G‑dforbade, He provided us something permissible of the same sort. If so, what did He permit that corresponds to the sin of heresy?"

The Baal Shem Tov replied, "Acts of kindness."

Because when you see a person suffering, you don't say, "G‑d runs the universe. G‑d will take care. G_d knows what is best." You do everything in your power to relieve that suffering as though there is no G‑d. You become a heretic in G‑d's name.


09 agosto 2009

Judiaria de Medelim - Judería de Medelim - Portugal

Até ao séc. XVI, viveu nesta freguesia, uma importante colónia judaica, com o seu lugar de culto: a Sinagoga. Desta comunidade, hoje em dia, resta o nome de rua da Judiaria com as bonitas casas típicas de balcão, muitas delas comunicando interiormente entre si. É um dos pontos obrigatórios e dignos de visita. Medelim, A Aldeia dos Balcões


Estudiosos dedicados ao assunto falam em cerca de 100.000 o número de judeus que passaram de Castela a Portugal.

De Pinhel a Portalegre toda a região raiana acolheu milhares de judeus em fuga. Com um movimento desta magnitude, certamente outras povoações da Beira começaram a ter judeus. Belmonte, Penamacor, outras… Desde então os “circuitos de homens e bens” estabeleceram-se na Raia.

Aquando do estabelecimento da Inquisição em Portugal, estes mesmos circuitos ajudaram os judeus portugueses no seu êxodo. Penso que Alcântara terá tido nesse contexto um papel ainda por descobrir, e que a judiaria de Medelim foi importante ponto de passagem e comunicação entre a raia estremenha e a região da Serra da Estrela pontos de importantes comunidades hebraicas ibéricas. O Século XVI veio trazer outros desenvolvimentos em relação à população judaica na Beira.

Primeiro o estabelecimento da Inquisição, e no final do século XVI, as peripécias da sucessão pós Alcácer-Quibir

Em 1580, o apoio da comunidade judaica na região a sul da Serra da Estrela, a D. António Prior do Crato, e pretendente ao trono foi significativo ou não fosse o candidato a “Defensor do Reino” filho desta região, que trouxe para a Beira uma esperança em relação ao fim da Inquisição. A derrota de D. António definiu o fim da independência de Portugal e em certo sentido também das comunidades judaicas na região. Nos RP de Medelim, nada surge no que diz respeito a judeus. Processos da Inquisição que refiram pessoas de Medelim são raros, (conheço dois). Da comunidade judaica de Medelim resta a Rua da Judiaria, com as suas casas típicas.

O turismo cultural é uma das apostas da região. Percorrer a Rota das Judiarias é reviver um passado antigo.

Na rota das Judiarias na Península Ibérica cabe certamente esta região da Serra da Estrela (Estrela de David?). Locais como Covilhã, Trancoso, Gouveia, Belmonte e Penamacor são pontos de referência. Medelim, (espelhando a importância da Judiaria de Monsanto), é uma das poucas aldeias da região que tem uma Rua da Judiaria, e poderá ser integrado nessa rota.

28 julio 2009

Union Prayer Book

Aquí puedes ver una copia digitalizada del UPB 1892

Y aquí la información sobre la última edición por ahora, editada por Chicago Sinai Congregation. De esta edición ya hablamos en un post anterior


The Union Prayerbook, first published a century ago, has perhaps more than any other American Jewish liturgical work defined—for many—the essence of Reform Judaism.

"The Union Prayerbook was the first successful attempt by Jews in America to create a joint liturgical statement of Jewish identity that transcended congregational boundaries," said Rabbi Lawrence Hoffman, professor of liturgy at New York's Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion.

The prayerbook "stated the essence of liberal Judaism," Hoffman said.

Rising to the heights of eloquence, the prayerbook had a register and cadence that rivaled the best examples of Protestant liturgy, offering a progressive view of God and the world with passages like this one:

"Grant us peace, Thy most precious gift, O Thou eternal source of peace, and enable Israel to be a messenger of peace unto the peoples of the earth."

For Rabbi Joseph Gitin, who was ordained in 1932, the Union Prayerbook captured a sense of holiness.

"It had beautiful prayers, and we loved it," said Gitin, rabbi emeritus of Temple Emanu-El in San Jose. "It was very poetic."

But Gitin added that the Union Prayerbook had another quality in its favor: brevity. Services in the book were noticeably shorter than those found in its successor, which is titled Gates of Prayer.

"Even God would like a short prayer," said Gitin, who retired from the pulpit 20 years ago.

Regardless of its retirement, the old Union Prayerbook will always represent an important piece of Jewish history—a merger of Jewish tradition and the new American milieu.

"It was modeled after upper-class English religion as they saw it when [19th-century Jews] came here, an affirmation of high European, Western culture," said Hoffman.

The prayerbook's authors "had to fight a battle for…being modern," he says. "They had to say, `We have a right to use English and pray in the vernacular.'"

By the 1890s, German Jews emphasized what is now called classical Reform to distinguish themselves from Eastern European Jews, Hoffman said.

The prayerbook unified American Reform Jews across the continent, who could expect to find the familiar blue or black volume in synagogue pews wherever they traveled or moved.

In fact, New York's Temple Emanu-El and the Chicago Sinai Congregation continue to use the old prayerbook, while Philadelphia's Rodeph Shalom features it in an annual nostalgia service.

Older Reform Jews every so often still long for their familiar companion, which lies permanently packed away.

"Occasionally, individuals…ex-press a sense of nostalgia and a sense of loss ," Broude said.

Tomado de