Jewish Media Review ● Dov Peretz Elkins
Have you ever questioned the purpose of our earthly existence? Why am I here? What is my role in the overall scheme? And what should I do to make that purpose meaningful and fulfilling? The answer, explains Psychologist and Mindfulness Meditation teacher and consultant Benjamin Epstein, is by “Living in the Presence.” Living in the present has become a therapeutic cornerstone; living in the presence transforms the technique into a life-changing experience. With exquisite simplicity, straightforwardness, and heartfulness, “Dr. Benjy” presents an approach culled from the teachings of the great Jewish spiritual masters that span thousands of years.
This approach demonstrates how Jewish tradition is extraordinary in conjoining the Divine and the mundane, essentially postulating that the present moment–each present moment– holds the key to connecting to the Divine. Imbuing workaday life with transcendent meaning, this book demonstrates that our awareness of the divinity manifest within the present moment consecrates the present with presence, and makes it both meaningful and holy. This book is designed to introduce you to who you are, as God made you, and to the gift God has placed within you. Living in the Presence – a Jewish Mindfulness Guide for Everyday Life provides a practical and hands-on roadmap to discover purpose in your life, to capture and experience some of the benefits of the world-to-come…right now, in this world.
Rabbi Benjamin Epstein, Ph.D. is an experienced psychologist, author, and speaker who blends traditional Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) with cognitive behavioral, spiritual, and acceptance techniques. Dr. Benjy works effectively across a broad spectrum of age groups to enhance well-being by teaching how to live more mindfully and in the present. In addition to his private practice and mindfulness seminars, he spends his summers as the Director of Staff Development and Clinical Research in Camp HASC.
Written by Nathan Lopes Cardozo, taken from the David Cardozo Academy. Originally posted on September 21, 2016.
In memory of Aaron Shmuel ben Menachem Mannes – Samuel Stern
The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference.
There is probably no greater curse in our world today than the curse of indifference. While we are surrounded by abundant beauty and have much to be thankful for, millions of children and other innocent people live lives of ongoing war, hunger, displacement, and other disasters.
Demonic forces that we cannot control, or do not care about because they are far away from our lives of comfort, strike our fellow human beings all over the world.
While we Jews have our share of calamites, it is our duty as the chosen people to care not only for our fellow Jews but for all of humanity.
Here is a prayer, in Hebrew and English, which I suggest we say in all our synagogues on Shabbat, when saying the prayer for the State of Israel and our soldiers, or when praying at home.
This is not just a prayer to God; it is also meant as a reminder to us not to remain indifferent to all the pain in our world and to what requires our care and serious attention.
I invite all of you to ask your rabbis, and your gabbaim who assist in the running of the services, to add this short payer to the synagogue Shabbat service, and send it out to your friends, Jews and gentiles alike.
I suspect that if God were to give the Torah today, He would add an eleventh commandment:
“Thou shalt not be indifferent”
The beginning of the Jewish New Year, less than two weeks away, gives us a unique opportunity to start saying this prayer.
Shana tova to all good people!
Nathan Lopes Cardozo
With special thanks to my dear friend Shimon Kremer for helping me formulate this prayer.
Download a PDF version of the prayer
תפילה לשלום העולם
“מָה-רַבּוּ מַעֲשֶׂיךָ ה’, כֻּלָּם, בְּחָכְמָה עָשִׂיתָ, מָלְאָה הָאָרֶץ קִנְיָנֶךָ”
אָבִינוּ שֶבַּשָמַיִם רִבּוֹן כָּל הָעוֹלָמִים
רַחֵם נָא עַל כָּל הַסוֹבלִים מִפִיגוּעֵי טֶרוֹר וּמִלחָמוֹת בָּאָרֶץ וּבחוּץ לָאָרֶץ.
הַגֵן עַל כָּל בּרִיוֹתֶיךָ מִפנֵי אַלִימוּת, תּרַפֶּה ידֵי בּנֵי בּלִיַעַל,
ותַנחֶה אוֹתָם לדֶרֶך הטוֹבָה ולִתשוּבָה שלֵמָה.
מנַע אסוֹנוֹת טֶבַע:
רעִידוֹת אֲדָמָה, מַיִם גוֹעשִים, וגַלִים רוֹעֲשִים,
אֵש מִשתוֹלֶלֶת או רוּחַ סוֹחֶפֶת.
רַחֵם עַל נטוּלֵי מָקֹום, חַסרֵי בַּיִת וּמזֵי רָעָב בּעוֹלָמֶךָ.
חֲמוֹל עַל מַעֲשֶיךָ, נַחֵם אֶת הָאֲבֵלִים ורַפֵא אֶת הַפצוּעִים.
פּתַח אֶת ליבֵּנוּ למַעַן כָּל יצוּרֵי אֱנוֹש בּכָל אַרבַּע כַּנפוֹת הָאָרֶץ.
ותִמחֶה רוֹעַ מכָּל יוֹשבֵי תֶבֶל אַרצךָ.
(הִרְכַּבְתָּ אֱנוֹשׁ, לְרֹאשֵׁנוּ: בָּאנוּ-בָאֵשׁ וּבַמַּיִם; וַתּוֹצִיאֵנוּ, לָרְוָיָה”(תהילים סו:יב”
נתן לופס קרדוזו
Prayer for World Peace
“How abundant are Your works, Hashem; with wisdom You have made them all; the earth is full of Your possessions.” (Psalms 104:24)
Our Father in Heaven, Master of the Universe,
Have mercy on all who suffer from terrorism and wars, in Israel and the world over.
Protect all of Your creatures against violence; weaken the hands of villains, and lead them to the path of goodness and complete repentance.
Prevent natural disasters:
Earthquakes, hurricanes, tsunamis, raging fires and tornadoes
Have compassion on all the displaced, homeless, and starving people in Your world.
Have mercy on your creations. Comfort the mourners, and heal the injured.
Open our hearts to all human beings in all four corners of the earth.
Eradicate evil from among all the inhabitants of Your world,
As is written:
“You allowed people to subjugate us; we went through fire and water and You brought us out to a place of abundance.” (Psalms 66:12)
And let us say Amen.
Nathan Lopes Cardozo
The Rav On The Holidays
By: Ben Rothke
Title: Moadei HaRav: Public Lectures on the Festivals by Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik
Author: Rabbi Dr. Shlomo Pick
Publisher: Urim Publications
There is no need to state in these pages that Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik was one of the greatest Talmudists of the past few hundred years. But for English readers, there has long been a dearth of books in English that captured the depth and breadth of R’ Soloveitchik’s Talmudic genius.
In Moadei HaRav: Public Lectures on the Festivals by Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik, Rabbi Dr. Shlomo Pick has written a fabulous work, based on his notes from the Rav’s shiurim. Rabbi Pick is a former student of the Rav, who now teaches Talmud and Maimonidean thought at Bar-Ilan University in Israel, and brilliantly captures the Rav’s ideas in these lectures.
The book begins with an introduction to Rav Soloveitchik’s methodology of Torah study. Rabbi Pick then writes 17 chapters on various Talmudic issues. For me, the most startling point in the introduction is that while the Rav, who studied in Berlin and was familiar with the methodologies of academic Talmud research, was fundamentally opposed to it. Rabbi Pick writes that the Rav felt that way as he thought academic Talmud both focuses on insignificant matters, and puts too much significance on the consequence of socio-historical or psychological processes.
By Rabbi Johnny Solomon
Like many young men and women, I was introduced to the Nefesh HaChaim while in Yeshiva, and I recall the sense of wonderment when introduced to some of its most basic concepts. Nefesh HaChaim provides a roadmap towards living a life of spiritual exaltation, and there are parts in this work where one can catch a glimpse of the blueprint for creation. But like many of those same young men and women – and in contrast to most of my other sefarim – my copy of the Nefesh HaChaim has been opened on very few occasions since then – primarily because I did not feel confident that I had the necessary skills to grasp the depth of this great work. Like all areas of Jewish mysticism, true comprehension of the Nefesh HaChaim demands a guide – someone who has toiled in Torah study and who has pursued a life of Avodat Hashem; someone who is already using the roadmap and someone who has been able to fathom those parts of the blueprint that have been revealed to them.
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Last week I wrote a book review of The Conversation, by Joshua Golding.
I now have the honor of hosting Dr. Golding’s response to my review, discussing some of the issues I raised and questioned in my review.
Joshua Golding responds: