Articles on the Contemplative Life

 The following is an easy reference index and summary of  articles on this website which are specifically concerned with living a Dedicated Contemplative Life.

Solitude in Jewish Contemplative Practice - February 2012 

This is the most recent  of my articles on Jewish Contemplative lifestyles and it consists of a concise historical and halakhic overview of the place and significance of solitary living and solitary practices in Judaism. It does not contain any autobiographical details or personal reflections and so I recommend it more highly than the earlier articles I wrote on the subject.

You can read it HERE.

Dedicated Jewish Contemplatives Article 2007

The “Dedicated Jewish Contemplatives” article of 2007 is an extended essay originally written for Leo Baeck College. It contains a great deal of autobiographical material and an outline of my (early) arguments for the relevance of both solitary and dedicated lifestyles in contemporary Judaism.
You can read it HERE.

Jewish Monastic Renewal (Oct 2010)

In October 2010, Zeek Magazine in the USA asked me to write an article on Jewish Monasticism and on my own living attempt to experience it.  This page is a link to the full article published by Zeek magazine.  You can access it HERE


Earlier (and shorter essays) relating to the concept of Jewish contemplative life-styles can be found  in the articles listed below.

In the Cave of Elijah (July 2007)
Discusses the emergence of a contemplative “path” inspired by the experience of Elijah in the cave on Horeb. (His encounter with the still small voice)
You can read it HERE.

Jewish Hermits in the desert (Aug 2007)
This is a long and seminal article highlighting the history of Dedicated Jewish Contemplative lifestyles. It makes reference to the Therapeutae, the Jewish Sufi movement, and the Kabbalists and Hassidic mystics who valued and practiced solitary contemplative prayer and extended periods of isolation. You can read it HERE.

At The Heart of Community (July 2008)
This article discusses spiritual community and the paradoxically communal aspects of living as a Jewish solitary. You can read it HERE.

Kedushah-So far and yet so near (June 2009)
This is an article concerning the tasks of a dedicated Jewish Contemplative at prayer. It makes specific reference to the Community of Jewish Contemplatives as being an “Elijan” community with its own distinct “family” character.
You can read it HERE.

New Music for the Birkat Kohanim 2009
This article contains a new choral arrangement of my original setting of the Priestly Blessing. It also contains an exposition of my theory on how the Levite tradition might be expressed in dedicated contemplative lifestyles. It contains the famous quote from Maimonides on the relationship between the Levites and Jewish Contemplatives (from Mishne Torah). You can read it HERE.

Jewish Asceticism in the Room of Elisha - November 2009
This article investigates the nature of Jewish asceticism using references to Elisha and R. Nachman of Breslov. You can read it HERE.

Hanukah Gelt: Trusting in God - (Dec 2009)
This article is a consideration of the place for funding in setting up new dedicated Jewish contemplative lifestyles. It makes reference to the experiences of a Christian monastic founder, Teresa of Avila of the Discalced Carmelite Order...and connects her view to the Jewish concept of bitachon: Trust in Divine Providence.
You can read it HERE.

Contemplative Prayer: Letting God Find Us - (June 2010) 
This article examines the mood swings in the life of anyone living a full time contemplative lifestyle. It makes some simple practical suggestions for the times when enthusiasm is lacking or faith is being tested.
You can read it HERE.

Sons of the Prophets: The Room of Elisha Revisited (Oct 2010)
This article is a commentary on Parshah Vayera and examines the akedah (binding of Isaac) and the healing of the Shumamite's son. It contrasts Elisha and Abraham and asks how they might be viewed as exemplars to Jewish Contemplatives  as the "living b'nei nevi'im" (the living Sons and daughters of the prophetic tradition).  You can read it HERE .

Blessing Our Work-Establishing Success (March 2011)
This article examines the nature of Divine  "blessing" and asks "How can we identify success"?
It is a commentary on Parshah Pekudei. You can read it HERE

The Jewish Retreat Centre-Our Interior Sanctuary (March 2011)
This article contrasts external retreat in physical isolation with the interior kind of solitude found in solitary prayer in the One who is "HaMakom"...the only true Place.  Using texts from Leviticus (Parshah Tzav) and Avraham ben Maimon (ben HaRambam) it makes some meditative suggestions for how we might vist this "Place" and remain there no matter what we are engaged in doing.  It also has some advice for those undertaking formal retreats in Jewish Centres of Prayer.
You can read it HERE.

Fire-Fighting in the Dark - (July 2012)  
This short article takes some thoughts from Parshas Pinchas and relates the task of the dedicated  contemplative to the spirit of Elijah/ Pinchas.  You can read it HERE.

The Yahrzeit of the Holy Ari (July 2012) 
This short essay links the work of the dedicated contemplative to the specific needs of the pre-messianic era, and draws on the enormous encouragement offered by the thought of Rabbi Yitzchak Luria. It features a video from Rabbi Avraham Sutton.  You can read it HERE.


One Thing I Ask (Psalm 27) - October 2012 
This essay is a short meditation on Psalm 27. It interprets its fourth verse as a model definition of the dedicated contemplative's  experience. It was written during the festival of Sukkos and so it goes on to examine the meaning of Divine Shelter in the contemplative's daily prayers. You can read it HERE.

The Ark of Trust and the Altar of Insight – October 2012
This essay,which is reflection on Parshas Lech Lecha,encourages the reader to be optimistic and confident in making choices--so long as all is done "for the sake of heaven".  It makes the fundamental point that Trust in God and prayer for insight are a sure way to make the kind of  spiritual progress we are called to make. You can read it HERE.