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Shabbat Shuvah: Can People Really Change

Do you believe people can really change? Have you ever tried to rid yourself of a character flaw? Do you think that you fully appreciate your weaknesses? The High Holidays are upon us. They come and go each year. We try to anticipate a New Year which will engender a fresh start in our lives. However, immediately afterwards, reality returns in all its glory. We seem to revert back to our original state. One of the most intriguing Chassidic sages, Reb Zusha of Anipoli (1718-1800) gave precious insight on the subject of inner transformation. He made this simple by providing a five part meditation series. Each theme is based on a biblical verse corresponding to a letter of which the word Teshuv

Yom Kippur: A Time Called Home

Do you feel like you’re lost? Can you even be lost without realising it? What are we searching for? Life began a long time ago. It began in a place called home. It started well. We felt like we belonged. We were loved and accepted. We were encouraged and respected. We did venture out from time to time, but we always knew we could come home again. As time went on, we traveled further away from home. Each time, losing our sense of direction a little more. Until we could not find our way back home. Over time we began to forget that magic feeling of belonging. Where we were loved and accepted without reservation or inhibition. The world around us seems indifferent, even hostile. Each individual

Rosh Ha-Shana: Embracing Vulnerability

Are you feeling more vulnerable this year? Are you more exposed to forces beyond your control? Does anything make sense to you? It’s like a thick cloud has descended upon us. Little visibility of the future. It’s hard to make a plan. It all seems surreal. We’re supposed to come together this time of the year. To celebrate with our friends and family, with our people. Yet as if this was premeditated, precisely now, we are being compelled to be separate, alone. What’s going on? What does G-d want from us? What’s his plan? The mystics use a metaphor to describe these times. We are individual sparks seeking to return to our source of light. Like children who have become estranged from their pare

NITZAVIM-VAYELECH: Why Are We Afraid Of Uncertainty

As human beings, we all have a deeply embedded desire for certainty and control. Without these we would feel profoundly disorientated. For many millennia mankind has strived to achieve dominion over the forces of nature. We believe that by finding ways to diminish uncertainty in the future, we will feel more secure about our lives in the present. The mystics were diametrically opposed to this way of thinking. It is told about the Baal Shem Tov that he did not have any savings. In fact, at the end of each day he would encourage his household to dispense of all money remaining to the poor people of his village. Yet in spite of this, or perhaps because of this, he was renowned for being fearles

Ki Tavo: We’re All Children Of One Father

A few years ago I traveled to the United Arab Emirates in order to facilitate a Jewish marriage. I must confess that I was a little apprehensive. My colleagues in Dubai advised that I wear a baseball cap in order to avoid attracting unnecessary attention. As I approached immigration, I handed over my UK passport. As the Emirati official opened it up, I realised that my photo revealed a large black Kippah. Without saying a word, he looked straight up at me. I tried my best to keep cool. To my confusion, he then began to slowly turn the pages of the passport. Finally he found what he looking for. He had come to a page with Israeli stamps. My heart skipped a beat. Once again he looked carefully



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