Articles on Theology and Mysticism

The following is an index and summary of some of the articles on this website which are specifically concerned with Theology and Mysticism.

Bitachon (hope and trust in God)
The article “Tallit Tefillin and Contemplative Anxiety” discusses how our fears can be driven out by trust in God.
You can read it HERE.

The article Shamash: The ninth light contains a Theological reflection on the servant light of the Hannukah menorah.
You can read it HERE.

The Third temple
The first part of the article “Beit El-The Dedication of the Temple” (Dec 2008) contains a discussion of the idea that the Third Temple is perhaps  a  spiritual concept.
 You can read it HERE.

* There is an article on the angels of Shabbat and their significance as an image of the Keruvim.
You can read it HERE.

* The essay "Shabbos Observance and the Coming of Moshiach-(March 2012) takes a theme from Parshas Tetzaveh to underline our priestly roles when observing Shabbos.
You can read it HERE .

Divine intervention and signs
The latter part of the article “Beit El-The Dedication of the Temple” proposes that the “angels” of the spiritual life are often the apparently ordinary pointers we meet in our mundane lives.
 You can read it HERE.

Religious Pluralism
In the article “Expansive Pluralism and the Knowledge of God” you can read my thoughts on the narrow spaces which prevent our prayer or our religious practice from being open. I am not a Universalist, but I believe that each should follow their own “path” without denying the possibility of other approaches.
 You can read the article HERE.

Tikkun Olam
The article Kedushah-So far and yet so near (June 2009) is an in depth explanation of the imagery used in the “Kuntres M’arat Ha-Lev” concerning the tasks of a dedicated Jewish Contemplative at prayer. It is a poetic reflection on God’s Immanence and Otherness.
You can read it HERE.

Devekut-Cleaving to God
The article Jewish Asceticism in the Room of Elisha - November 2009 makes the comment that much of the study and interest in Jewish mysticism is a potential distraction from the spartan business of simply trying to pray and practice a contemplative lifestyle which is “cleaving to” God.
You can read it HERE.

Unio Mystica- The desire to meet God
The article Contemplative Prayer: Encountering Freedom (April 2010) is a commentary on Moses’ “cleft in the rock” revelation in Leviticus 33 and 34. The article acknowledges the ache which all contemplatives feel in wanting to “see” God. It touches on the immanence and transcendence of the Divine and underlines the realisation that we can say nothing about God Himself no matter how much we might try to theorise- that our prayer is not science but experience.
You can read it HERE.

Divine intervention and Jewish Petitionary Prayer
The article Contemplative Prayer: Praying for Others (July 2010) makes the theological point that we ought not to view our prayers as magic or as ways to manipulate events. It suggests that focus on God rather on any specific petition may actually be more useful to God than our becoming depressed by or pre-occupied with the sufferings and needs we all feel.
You can read it HERE.

Divine Providence and the Path of the Righteous
The  article The Light of the Tzaddik (Dec 2010) is an extended essay on the relationship between Hanukkah and the Joseph narrative in Genesis. It's themes are Providence, Hope, Faith and the way in which prayer can fill the worlds with light.
You can read it HERE.

The Problem of Suffering
The article Yissurim shel Ahavah (Jan 2011) discusses the ways in which our God is perceived as a union of darkness and Light not as part of a battle between opposing moral forces.  We are invited, in this article,  to view our personal struggles as a form of education and revelation.
You can read it HERE.

The Divine: Transcendent and Immanent
Using the texts of the Kedushah and Parshah Yitro, the article "Singing a New Song" (Jan 2011) describes how we might make our prayer a  meditation and a theological statement  at the same time.
You can read it HERE

Petitionary Prayer and Merit
The article "Zechut Avot- The Merit of the Patriarchs (Feb 2011)" examines the  idea of petitionary prayer using that of Moses and Elijah in Parshah and Haftarah Ki Tissa.  It attempts to describe why any  "merit"  is actually not theirs or ours...but a gift of God.
You can read it HERE.

Faith and Practice, Torah and Community
The article "Yachin and Boaz in the Contemplative Mirror (Feb 2011)"  looks at three items from the Desert Sanctuary and Temple and relates them to  three elements of Judaism: Faith in God, Membership of the Holy Community of Israel, and reliance on the Torah.  
You can read it HERE.

How do we know if we are being successful in following God's will?

The article Blessing Our Work-Establishing Success (March 2011) 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

Sacrifice and sacrifices as models of Prayer

The article Korban Minchah: The Finest Flour (March 2011) reflects on the nature of the meal offering in the temple and discusses the significance of sacrifice and atonement in the liturgical life of a Jewish contemplative. It is a commentary on Parshah and Haftarah Vayikra.
You can read it HERE. 

Is Jewish Meditation a "well-being exercise" or "an act of worship" ?

The article "Spiritual Marriage-Lag B'Omer (May2011)  claims that Jewish meditation has to be the latter if it is to be called Jewish.  Meditation outside the framework of the halachah and without an explicit relationship to God may be good therapy, but it lacks authentic Jewishness.  The article is a brief commentary on Parshah Bemidbar.
You can read the article HERE.

Which comes first..our actions or our beliefs?

With help from the Sochatchover Rebbe and  R.Menachem Mendel of Kotsk, the article Sinai: Receiving the Torah in Practice (June 2011) considers the relationship between observing the mitzvot and growing in faith
You can read it HERE

When should we wait and when should we act?

The article "Hishtadlut and Bitachon on the Contemplative Journey (Aug 2011)"
considers the delicate balance between hishtadlut (initiative and action) and bitachon (trust and faith).
You can read it HERE.

In what way is the Torah a personal gift as well as a communal one?

The article called  "The Torah of the Heart - (Aug 2011)" considers the words of the Chiddushei Ha-Rim and is a meditation on accessing the Torah in our own private prayer, notably through the mitzvah of tefillin.

You can read it HERE.

Is Shabbos a gateway to the True Reality?

The article: "At the Gate of Shabbos- (September 2011)" is a brief commentary on Parshah Ki Tavo.It considers the connection between the Friday entry into Shabbos, the sixth day of creation, and the entry into the Promised Land.  It ends with a poetic meditation on the related text of  Psalm 100.

You can read it HERE.

When should we act ourselves and when should we wait for God to act for us?

The short meditation called Poem: At the End of Bereishit - (January 2012)  reflects on the way we are asked to balance our faith in Providence with personal endeavour. It makes the point that there are times when our action is actually the Hand of God at work...its all a question of attitude.

You can read it HERE

Do we use God for our own purposes?

It is said that one should not make the Torah a spade to dig with-- that one should serve God without thought for reward and certainly not with an eye on our own self-promotion. In the article "Crying to God in the Winter- January 2012" I develop a few thoughts on this notion and reminds us that we ought not to pray only when we want something...and that our prayer should always be concerned with attempting to remain open to finding meanings in whatever  fortunes God may send us.

You can read it HERE.

How do the Jewish Festivals stand "Outside and Beyond Time" ?

The short essay "The Spiral and the Beam-April 2012" examines the Festivals as moments out of time in a cycle of re-presented moments of spiritual activity. It also makes the point that the physical and the spiritual are complimentary rather conflicting aspects of the same divine reality.
You can read it HERE. ------------------------------------

See also the Page called  A PARTICULAR SPIRITUALITY which you can view  HERE