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May love alone—love, which results in faith and trust—be the tender and magical language that unites us in God and provides a common ground on which we can stand and endure before God, man, and ourselves.

Rabbi Isaac Lichtenstein

(via Vine of David)

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Every year at this time, we visit Spectrum Fantastic Art Live at Bartle Hall in Kansas City. It’s amazing and inspiring. The artists are friendly and seem to get better every year. This year our purchases came from Annie Stegg and Omar Rayyan (who are both favorites from previous years) as well as Rovina Cai (a newcomer with amazing pieces).

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…it is a matter of the practice of faith — and in Hebrew, the root word for both practice and faith is the same — to gain faith (emunah) one must practice (imun) and thereby acquire ever increasing proficiency.
The Long Shorter Way by Adin Steinsaltz

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Project Naptha: A Chrome Plug-In that lets you copy text from images...

The “post your original poetry/prose as a gif” crowd is going to love this…

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Do you not know that [the world to come] is like the Sabbath and that [this present world] is like the eve of the Sabbath? If a man does not prepare his meal on the eve of the Sabbath, what will he eat on the Sabbath?
Ruth Rabbah 3:3 - but I sourced it from the Love in the Messianic Age workbook at ffoz.com.

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I really enjoy our library trucks…

I really enjoy our library trucks…

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Loki endorses Natalie Portman and the new Miss Dior fragrance…

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The Torah… provides man with the tools to experience the Divine, even if, at times, in a rudimentary fashion. As some Chasidim used to say: “We study…, learn about the existence of other worlds, angels, seraphs, and heavenly beings; but I don’t see any heavenly beings, and I don’t believe that anyone who studies more is able to see more. Nevertheless, the difference between the one who studies and the one who does not study is that, in the future, when these things are made manifest, the one who studies will be able to recognize them better, to relate them to what he has learned.”
Adin Steinsaltz - The Long Shorter Way

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Today

I’ve been reading The Seven Beggars: & Other Kabbalistic Tales of Rebbe Nachman of Breslov with commentary by Aryeh Kaplan. In the first story there’s a blind beggar who states that he is very old and, yet, very young. I’d like to share a few gems from the commentary at the end of the chapter. Of the blind beggar’s youth, Kaplan says that his secret was how he approached each moment of every day:

"Since [He was] always making a new beginning, it [was] as if [his] life were just starting. God thus speaks of the commandments "that I command you today" (Deut 6:6), and the sages teach "The Torah should always be like something brand new" (Sifri). Likewise, Moses told the Israelites, "Listen, Israel, today you are becoming a people to God, your Lord" (Deut. 27:9). Rashi comments that this means that one’s serving God should always be as if one were starting today (Likutey Halakhoth, Tefillin 5:5)."

He goes on to say that in God’s creation every moment is completely rejuvenated. As of this moment, you must begin anew serving God. All that is in the past is gone, good or bad. There is no left over merit in the service of the past, we must serve God with a heart and an enthusiasm that is fresh.

As we grow older, we become more set in our ways. Our beliefs and practices can become so ingrained that we can’t see another path. Kaplan writes about our enemy, Satan, as a king who is old and foolish (Eccles. 4:13):

"He is given this name because the foolishness that he teaches people is that one is old and weak and cannot change anymore. But here we see that true old age is being able to look at life as if it were just beginning."

For some, old age may set in during their twenties, but none of us has to stay old.

"Moses thus told the Israelites, "You, who are attached to God, are all alive today" (Deut. 4:4). When a person is truly attached to God, then he is in a constant state of renewal, just as God is constantly renewing creation. His life is just beginning "today".

This redemption, again, can only be brought about through repentance. This is the concept of beginning anew, and particularly, a new start each day. This is the concept of the youth of the blind beggar.”

My mom used to ask pastors about New Year’s Eve services. They’d say… oh, people never keep those commitments. It just causes discouragement. Likewise with altar calls to re-dedicate your life to God. It always frustrated her, because she had seen good things come of it.

But if we can truly see each moment as new, forgetting what is behind us (Phil. 3:13)… If nothing good or nothing bad from the past matters, but only what we’re doing now. If we can see that God sees us like that, constantly renewed by His mercy… constantly in future tense. That He constantly delights in us without regard for our failures. That He only sees the end, the one with Him in eternity… How different could we be? At least for me, this has poignance…

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I’m really liking Waterlogue.

http://www.waterlogueapp.com/