I have been blessed! 

For the past 14 years, I have been able to study (at least once a week) with Reb Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, a great teacher and warm hearted Tzadik.


Lately, we have studied every Shabbos.  I come away feeling the power of the teachings and empowered to create my own understanding of those teachings. 

I am blessed!


I would like to share the blessings!
For the purposes of ‘Elul-ING,’ here is something that we learned together.

It begins with the names

and the concepts of

(Sovev Kal Almim),


(Mimaleh Kal Almim).

We ask ourselves..
How do the two names of our patriarch fit in with
the two deep concepts of Transcendence and Imminence?

The name Yaakov can be separated into ‘Yod Ekev’ which is interpreted as
‘one who recognizes Hochmah’  that momentary flash of insight and then ‘who spends time in Binah’ which is the process by which we understand those flashes.’

Think for a moment of a flash of lighting in the middle of the night.
For a second, the world lights up and the beauty of the power is revealed.
And then, it is gone.

But if we were, perchance, to catch that powerful sight with a camera, we could look at all that is lit up by the lightning and spend time in the awareness of all that is revealed.

To me, this relates to ‘Sechel’ (the hebrew word for wisdom) which I interpret as street smarts or experiential intelligence. As human beings, we have those flashes, the ah ha moments and use our experiences to turn those moments into judgments in life.   In a sense, it is the Sechel acting in accord with our Goof, (the hebrew for our body). I am hungry, so I use my Sechel to make a meal. I am driving and my Sechel says, “stop at the traffic light.”

When I look at this world, my Sechel fills my Goof with awe.

The mountains of Colorado always blow me away.  Watching the bears eat berries fills me with joy. I find it incredible that trees carry the seeds of their future and that insight leads me to the awareness that we humans also carry within us the sacred seeds of our future. When I see pictures of the earth from space, I am amazed and filled with hope. The world is one place, one unit, indivisible. And all the diversity of our planet is part of that oneness. And that for me is Sovev Kal Almim, Transcendence, HaShem God-ING our universe in every moment even though we may not recognize the God in the God-ING. ‘Yod Ekev’  means, to me, following that tiny yod (י) of awareness, body and mind.

After doing battle with, and being wounded by a messenger in the night, Yaakov’s name is changed to Yisrael. In this particular understanding, his name becomes ‘Li Rosh’ by scrambling the letters. ‘Li Rosh’ could mean ‘my head.’   But in this case it represents an elevation of awareness. I feel and need and want God in my life. Like the old prayer; “Dear God, give me patience…NOW!”   I feel the immediacy of God in my life, that imminent relationship referred to as Mimaleh Kal Almin, Imminence.

At the birth of my children, and the death of loved ones, in my lowest moments of despair and the heights of joy,  I discover God God-ING into me and sometimes through me.

When I lose myself in davenin and in so doing find God, I feel the Mimaleh Kal Almin, the imminence and immediacy of being in the moment with the Wholly One of Being.


When I do the small act of Tzedaka by giving a dollar to a person on the street, or share a teaching that touches in an “I-Thou” moment, I feel the God-ING.

When a stranger gives me the right of way on the road, or a friend shares a story that touches my soul, I recognize and am awed by the Wholly One of Being active and activating in my life and I feel blessed.

We all live daily in our Yaakov existence as we should.
But if we strive for it and are blessed with a certain openness to the Thou in our lives, we discover our personal Yisrael, as we are awed by God God-ING in our lives.
And, we are blessed.