Reflections, May 2016

Posted by on May 9, 2016 in Newsletter, Online Learning | 0 comments

By Rabbi Dr. James Jacobson-Maisels “I will run on the path of Your mitzvot for they widen my heart” (Ps. 119:32). Do not we all want that widened heart? The Vitebsker in parshat Emor tells us that joy is accessible to us all. The path is the practice of letting go of ego, and the compassion and joy this engenders. It is our practice of Yom HaAtzmaut, of becoming free and independent, precisely by surrendering what we think we own, by releasing our tight protective sense of self. And this is the very nature of the mitzvot the Vitebsker...

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Reflections, March 2016

Posted by on Mar 28, 2016 in Newsletter, Online Learning | 0 comments

By Rabbi Dr. James Jacobson-Maisels “This is the law (Torah): When a person dies in a tent” (Num. 19:14). How do we want to die? What kind of death do we desire? R. Israel Hopshtein of Koznitz, the Maggid of Koznitz uses death as a way of talking about life and uses two ways of thinking about death as ways of thinking about life. On the one hand, death is the opposite of life. It is stagnation, resignation, being trapped and frozen, apathy and shutting down. This is the death of self-satisfaction and this is the death of shame and...

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Opening the Heart: A Jewish Mindfulness Meditation Retreat

Posted by on Mar 10, 2016 in Retreats | 1 comment

  Join Rabbis James Jacobson-Maisels and Nancy Flam as we together explore how the practice of meditation helps us cultivate the qualities of well-being, contentment, gratitude, forgiveness, compassion, and wisdom. This six-day experience held in social silence includes daily instruction in meditation to guide both beginning and advanced practitioners into the sacred space of the retreat, which also incorporates daily periods of prayer and yoga. The form of weekday communal prayer consists of chanting excerpts from the liturgy,...

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Reflections, February 2016

Posted by on Feb 17, 2016 in Online Learning | 0 comments

Reflections, February 2016

Ki Tisa By Rabbi Dr. James Jacobson-Maisels Judaism, for the most part, prescribes behavior; not thoughts or feelings. For a religion of laws, this is wise, as how can one demand that a person think or feel a certain way? But R. Menachem Mendel of Vitebsk, in his teaching on Ki Tisa challenges this approach and argues that while only behavior can be commanded, acting properly is not a sufficient test of who we are, of our spiritual progress and of who we may become. In our spiritual practice, we need to work on the roots of the ways we...

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Reflections, December 2015

Posted by on Dec 3, 2015 in Online Learning | 0 comments

By James Jacobsen-Maisels, Founder and Spiritual Director There are times when we feel overwhelmed, helpless, as if life is closing in on us, like it is all just too much. In many ways, it’s the atmosphere of this time of year: the days are getting shorter, the darkness longer. What are we to do? Yet precisely at this time of year; precisely on one of those days, or in one of those fleeting moments when we feel closed in, we light the lights of Chanukah. We affirm that we are never helpless, never abandoned, never trapped. This is the lesson...

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Reflections, October 2015

Posted by on Oct 20, 2015 in Online Learning | 3 comments

By James Jacobsen-Maisels, Founder and Spiritual Director Earlier this month, a new baby girl was born to our family. She is our third child and hers was the third birth I had been present for. It was wondrous, emotional, extraordinary and simply miraculous. It isn’t surprising that it was so wondrous and emotional for me, nor is it that surprising that her birth felt as miraculous as my first child’s birth. But after, I asked our midwife (who herself appeared emotionally impacted) if each birth still moved her every time. “Yes,”...

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Torah Study for the Soul: Pri Ha’Aretz

Posted by on Oct 8, 2015 in Online Learning | 4 comments

Join in the expanding circle of those who share in the profound and spiritually uplifting world of Torah study with the Institute for Jewish Spirituality. Enrich yourself, deepen your experience of Torah study and expand the sources from which you teach by participating in the Institute’s text study program. Join us in mining these sources for useful and powerful teachings, informed by a contemplative, mindfulness-based approach. IJS is  offering two year-long text study options; one with Rabbi James Jacobson-Maisels, the other with Rabbis...

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Reflections, September 2015

Posted by on Sep 9, 2015 in Newsletter | 2 comments

By Rabbi James Jacobson-Maisels, Founder and Spiritual Director On Yom Kippur, we let go. We let go of food, drink, sex, comfort. We try to let go, not hold onto our normal ideas and practices of what we need. On Yom Kippur, we reenact the Temple service of the High Priest and his entry into the holy of holies. This entry has an important lesson for us. The deeper you enter into the temple, the less there is. The display, sacrifice, songs and crowds disappear as you enter inwards until, in the holy of holies, there is little left, no...

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Or HaLev featured in Ha’aretz

Posted by on Nov 5, 2014 in Media | 0 comments

“Shut Up, Sit Down: Reflections on a Jewish Meditation Retreat in Israel” A weekend of meditation based on Hasidic mindfulness practices that were almost wiped out in the Holocaust proved to be unexpectedly transformational. Read the full article by Brian Blum here.

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