Ma'asei V'raisheet — The Works of Creation

By Reuven Goldfarb
[This is a poem about Creation — and it’s based on a mispronunciation of the first word of B’raisheet (or B’raishis), which, in his haste and in a rush of enthusiasm, my friend Marc ben Shabbat, who certainly knew better, pronounced “voracious.” I took that word and invented alternate readings for all the words in the primal verse and then continued, with fewer distortions, to interpret the remainder of Ma’aseh V’raisheet — the Works of Creation. -- RG ]


Torturing the Image of God

By Rabbi Arthur Waskow

How are we to respond to a recent report by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life that the more often Americans go to church, the more likely they are to support the torture of alleged terrorists?

According to Pew, 54% of Americans who attend church services at least once a week said the use of torture against suspected terrorists is “often” or “sometimes” justified. Only 42% of people who “seldom or never” go to services agreed.

The study did not include synagogue-attending Jews or Muslims, Hispanic Catholics, or Black Protestants (all of whom might be expected, out of the historical life-experience of their groups with being tortured, to oppose it more vigorously).

A Jewish Perspective on Abrahamic Wisdoms: Jacob, Joshua, Jesus, the Talmud, & Mohammed

by Arthur Waskow

[This article is extracted from Rabbi Waskow's remarks to a Peace Gathering of Christians convoked in January 2009 by the Historic Peace Churches (Quakers, Mennonites, and Brethren), which also invited a small number of Jews and Muslims to act as participant-observers and commentators. This transcript of his talk is appearing in the Friends Journal. Copyright © 2009 by Arthur Waskow.]

I begin with a renewed version of the blessing traditionally offered before learning Torah—sharing wisdom—together:

Blessed are You, the Breath of Life, the Inter-breathing Spirit of the universe, who breathes into us the wisdom to know that we become holy by breathing together, by shaping our breath into words, and by shaping our words so that they aim towards wisdom.

The Eclipse of Wonder: Abraham Joshua Heschel and Our Ecological Crisis

A sermon for Kol Nidre 5768
By Rabbi Burt Jacobson

My fiancé Diane and I set aside the last Sunday in July as a day to spend together. Our plan was to drive to Marin County, and to hike on Mt. Tamalpais. It was a lovely sun-drenched morning. After I woke up, meditated and prayed, and had eaten my breakfast, I turned my cell phone on. There was a message from my brother Stuart who, with his wife Jean, were vacationing in Colorado, staying in a cabin in the mountains.

"Hi! Just calling to say I love you. This morning I was sitting on the porch looking out over the valley a few hundred feet below, and a butterfly came up and landed on my hand. I watched as the butterfly scoped out my hand with his tongue -- for about two to three minutes. Then, it flew away. Within seconds a bee flew up to me, about two feet away and, hanging in the air, wings flapping in a blur, directly facing me, looked at me for a minute or longer, turned maybe 150 degrees and looked into the window of our cabin for another minute or so, turned back to me for another minute or two and then flew off. Well, I love you. Take care . . ."

Before there was a Before

By Arthur Waskow, David Waskow, & Shoshana Waskow

[Copyright © 1984 by the authors. All rights reserved. These stories of the Creation were originally written in 1974, when David Waskow was ten and Shoshana Waskow was seven. They were published in 1984.

[To get a copy of this book, see the note at the bottom of this excerpt. The note at the end also includes comments on the book by Madeleine L'Engle, author of A Wrinkle in Time, and Rabbi Harold Kushner, author of When Bad Things Happen to Good People.

B'reshit - deciding whether to...

Rabbi Arthur Waskow

On Deciding Whether To...

Beresheit/ in the beginning
God was lonely, suffering
though everything in the universe was held within.
Unfulfilled, overpowered by chesed-energy
God breathed out, kissed out, sent it all out,
every possibility that ever was and would be.
I imagine God was frightened.
What a terribly momentous step,
even with overflowing love as catalyst and reference point.
What if something went wrong
if the universe made its own choices at breakneck speed
if there was no breathing any of it back in again.


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