Senseless Hatred

Posted by on Jul 31, 2017 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

  On Tisha B’Av we mourn the destruction of the Temple. What does it mean to mourn the destruction of the temple in our days? What does it mean to affect the repair that might allow the rebuilding of that which was lost? The Talmud provides a whole list of reasons for the destruction of the temples but most famously it teaches Why was the first temple destroyed? Because of the three things that took place curing its time: Idolatry, sexual transgression and murder…. But why was the second Temple destroyed, during whose time they...

read more

Climbing the Ladder

Posted by on Apr 16, 2017 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Come and journey with me. Let us climb the ladder together. The limbs, like rungs. Ascending toward the heavens. Together, let us find God. It is not the natural state of a human being to see ourselves in our wholeness. We are masters when it comes to analyzing the various parts of us, chopping ourselves into bits and pieces. But we are a totality. At first glance, we lack the ability to perceive ourselves as such.Spiritual practice combats this handicap. Through worship or mindfulness, we elevate the consciousness, briefly adopting the...

read more


Posted by on Jan 10, 2017 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

* From a neurological perspective, the medial prefrontal cortex may go off line in an evolutionary regression to the survivalist instincts and powers of the reptilian and mammalian brain.

read more


Posted by on Jan 10, 2017 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

One of the earliest Jewish mystical works, Sefer Yetzirah, the book of Creation, offers us insight into the essence of the month of Tevet, the current Hebrew month. According to Sefer Yetzirah, the month of Tevet is endowed with the quality of רוגז, anger. Many people would be quick to classify anger as a “negative” emotion and, in so doing, join an ancient tradition suggesting that anger is spiritual poison and to be avoided at all costs, but Sefer Yetzirah invites us to think differently. We decry anger because we so often lose...

read more

Warriors of the Heart

Posted by on Dec 11, 2016 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

We are in the month of Kislev, the month of Hannukah, the festival of lights. The story of Hannukah is a story of bravery, of rediscovering and reclaiming who we most deeply are as Jews, and finding the courage to live that truth, despite opposition, fear and disapproval. We can also read the story of Hannukah as the story of our practice. In our practice we are asked to be warriors – Maccabees – warriors of the heart who are willing to confront and embrace even that which is most terrifying. And, in that confrontation,...

read more

Reflections, September 2016

Posted by on Sep 5, 2016 in Newsletter | 0 comments

By Rabbi Dr. James Jacobson-Maisels Parashat Shofetim R. Menachem Mendel of Vitebsk’s opens his reflections on Parashat Shofetim by quoting from Torah and the Talmud: [Then the officials shall address the troops, as follows:] “Is there anyone who has built [a new house but has not dedicated it? Let him go back to his home, lest he die in battle and another dedicate it. Is there anyone who has] planted a vineyard [but has never harvested it? Let him go back to his home, lest he die in battle and another harvest it. Is there anyone who has]...

read more

Yom Kippur Retreat 5777 / 2016

Posted by on Aug 8, 2016 in Retreats | 0 comments

Join Or HaLev for our   Yom Kippur Silent Meditation Retreat 5777   with Rabbi Dr. James Jacobson-Maisels and Daniel Yoel Cohen October 10-12, 2016 Kibbutz Hannaton, Israel   Yom Kippur offers the powerful and concentrated possibility of atonement, the coming back into alignment with the soulful essence of who we are, of an honest and purified relationship with the Divine, self, and others. In this two-day retreat grounded in social silence, we will cultivate mindfulness and loving attention, and engage in chanting, prayer,...

read more

Reflections, August 2016

Posted by on Aug 5, 2016 in Newsletter, Online Learning | 1 comment

By Rabbi Dr. James Jacobson-Maisels Parshat Va’etchanan The Vitebsker’s interpretation of va’etchanan starts with Rashi’s reading of one of the parsha’s most famous verses: Rashi interprets the verse “You have been shown to know [that YHVH alone is God; there is none beside Him]” (Deut 4:35) according to the Targum (the ancient Aramaic translation) which renders it ‘You have been shown,’ that at the time of the giving of the Torah [God] tore open for them the seven heavens and just as God tore open the upper regions...

read more

Reflections, July 2016

Posted by on Jul 18, 2016 in Newsletter | 0 comments

By Dr. Rabbi James Jacobson-Maisels Parashat Balak We have just returned from a powerful retreat where it was wonderful to see some of you. We had the opportunity on retreat to be with our experience, such as the craziness of our comparing minds (ie. s/he is a better/worse meditator than I am) and the truth of the ownerlessnesss of our experience (ie. it’s just a thought, I don’t need to identify with it). In R. Menachem Mendel of Vitebsk’s teaching this week on Balak he addresses precisely these two issues through one of the most well...

read more

Reflections, June 2016

Posted by on Jun 5, 2016 in Newsletter | 2 comments

By Dr. Rabbi James Jacobson-Maisels Parashat Nasso / פרשת נשא (This will apply to this week’s Parsha if you are in Israel, or next week’s if you are in the U.S.)  What is freedom? Our consumerist culture would have us believe that freedom is about having access to many choices and the ability to decide which choice to make. It is about what the Vitebsker calls choice/possibility (reshut) and desire (ta’avah). It would have us believe that buying that car, those clothes, that music, or fulfilling any one of the many desires...

read more