G-d and Us

The Smuggler
From the newly republished classic, 'The Possible Man'
I am a smuggler. It is a habit that I have developed in my attempt to understand and to communicate the eternal relevance of the sacred.
Good Evening!
The power of the Maariv prayer
Slowly and deliberately, the blue sky gives way to the most breathtaking artwork. As if with giant strokes of an invisible brush, G‑d sets the sky as His canvas. He begins softly, gently tinting some distant clouds, but He does not stop for a moment . . .
Faith in a Hut
It is easy to repeat the faith we have been fed from a position of comfort, amid the like-minded and surrounded by smiling blooms. A more demanding task is to construct a fortress from that seminal faith in the great outdoors of our own lives, and not only to espouse, but to actually live faith...
A White Yom Kippur
Do I evoke a hopelessly expired body whose soul has departed for a better existence, or am I the delighted image of a soaring spirit unencumbered by the burden of corporeal casing? Have I been wrapped in shrouds, or did I don a garment of light?
Where I Turn
And maybe for me, my first “drug” of choice should be The Great One, eyes turned heavenward, knowing that He is what makes the chemical in the chocolate pick me up or, conversely, put me down . . .
Finding G‑d in the Flowers
For years, I never made the connection between the customary Shavuot decorations of flowers and any deeper feeling these decorations were supposed to engender. I always noted the presence of a few flowerpots in synagogue, then ignored them...
Appreciating the Rain
The sun had perpetually baked the vulnerable earth under it with its brilliant glare, and the earth had cracked up like shards of glass for want of water. Sandals, black oxfords and people from all walks of life came together in prayer. They wet their prayerbooks with tears and honest begging, for lifegiving drops of water from the sky that could only be deluged from on high . . .
Reverse Psychology
We are a bunch of basketballs. Throughout our lives we are thrown to the depths, with the intention of rising. The harder we are thrown, the greater we can rise. But, we must be full...
Is There More Than One Perfect?
What is a personality? Is it just our imperfections which define us a certain way, whereas if we were to lose our imperfections (jealousy, stress, anger, and the “big one,” low self-esteem), would we all be the same?
The Song of the Universe
I like to believe that there is a song to the universe. That beyond the daily hustle and bustle, there is a tune to which life is playing, and that our task is to learn the rhythm of the Divine plan and fall into step with it.
I met them in my car. There were maybe 10,000 or so of them hovering about. Some looked like Walt Disney cartoon angels, others were straight out of store window displays or greeting cards. Some looked like the plaster angels I used to buy in a Mexican market.
When Do We Stop Believing?
She's only seven years old, and the doctors say she has lost her battle with cystic fibrosis, that she will live only a few more weeks. But for some reason, nobody has stopped praying...
Tefillin on the Berm Between Iraq and Syria
While I was deployed to Iraq, a lone Jewish Marine Corps Officer among hundreds of Iraqi soldiers in a remote region of the Syrian border, I had to live with keeping my religious identity to myself. I couldn't even have "Jewish" on my dog-tags
Believing Again
Walking the paths of Auschwitz, I began to doubt humanity and its Creator. I felt suspended in a world I could not comprehend...
G-d's Back
A rabbinical-student-turned-relief-worker reflects on his time in Thailand following the Tsunami of 2004.
We walked past shops that looked like they'd been bombed away. Smoke was rising from the burning debris. A family looking through a heap of rubble at a place they once called home...
The Voice of the Conflicted Soul
Knowing that You are all-capable, knowing that You certainly could have arranged it that I should reap the intended benefit without needing to experience the pain, how do I justify the suffering that You inflict on me?
The Eternal Jew
A Letter Sent to the Lubavitcher Rebbe
Pamela lit the Menorah for the first time that Hannukah, a little Menorah that Mrs. Shaffer brought us. And then she continued lighting her candle for the Sabbath every Friday. Without fail, ever . . .
Why Do We Smile To Ourselves?
From earliest infancy, we cry and smile as a form of communication. But with whom are we communicating when we weep solitary tears? With whom are we sharing our joy when we smile to ourselves, alone and unseen?
The Caretaker
He'll arrive at dawn, just as my morning coffee begins to percolate. Long after it has grown dark outdoors I’ll observe his familiar figure, as lights throughout the building systematically switch on, tracking his progress from room to room
Punishments or Gifts?
So, we answer the soul’s call. We learn about our roots, about the heritage bequeathed to us by our ancestors, and we make the transition to the Jewish way of life. Yet something is amiss . . .
Sitting in a Café
A strange thing has happened since my diagnosis. It seems that G-d's voice has grown louder. Too loud, sometimes...
"Jay," my friend wrote in his e-mail, "I don’t think you should go to shul and ask G-d for forgiveness. This Yom Kippur you should stay home, and G-d should beg you to forgive Him for what He's done to you"
Does G-d Care When I'm Sad?
Or perhaps it's the other way around: we care, simply and only, because You, G-d, care
Thunder on the Mountain
G-d's appearance at Mount Sinai was not subtle. Mountains shook, thunder crashed. the divine voice reverberated through the galaxies. But He's kind of disappeared since
G‑d’s Treasure Chest
At that moment, the crumpled piece of paper was the most precious thing in the world.
You Warned Me
I have a vision of You that is both magnificent and horrible, tolerable only in Your completeness, bearable only when I remember or occasionally glimpse that in being All, You also blend dark and light
Enter the Beloved
Song of Songs on Friday evening in the little Moroccan shul on Shimshon Street in Jerusalem is a string of multiple solo performances.
There is the shapes of the letters themselves. The dance of black and white on the page. The delight in having these strange lines take on sound. The surprise when, all at once, four or five of these shapes group together to make a word with length, depth and dimension . . .
And suddenly, one night, don’t ask me how or why, the point widened. Suddenly You were everywhere, too many places for me to reach at once, for me to contain....
A Man I Met in Shul
He had his tallit over his shoulder and was obviously preparing for prayer. I gave him little thought until three and a half hours later when I got ready to leave for home. He was standing in the same place with his tallit still over his shoulder...
A Space for Him to Fill
Do any of us possess such simplicity and sincerity, such innocence and whole-heartedness, such impeccability in our bitachon as to eliminate any vestige of doubt or fear?
From Under The Covers
I talk to Him rarely. I rarely even pray for my recovery. I take all this for granted.
Are you hero or victim? The hero who never cries nor feels the fear, the panic, the regrets that are part and parcel of his condition? The victim who never encounters his bravery nor feels the transcendent power of rising above death, if only for a moment? Neither have bitachon...
Heaven's Ocean
The angels have no tickets to this drama. Without knowing what is below, how could they appreciate the mystery of that which is above?
Let's Do Coffee Sometime
I'm actually rather disappointed in you. As I've been keeping up with you, I've come to expect certain standards from you...
Child's View
When a semi-rig got stuck under a low-clearance viaduct, nobody paid much attention to an earnest young boy's suggestion. But what the boy suggested made so much sense that even the experts had to take notice.
Straight Through to G-d
I lifted my eyes and let the gentle wind caress my wet cheeks. It felt so good, like a heavenly hand wiping away my tears.
Chatting to G-d
A fall had left her lying on the floor with her leg cut and broken badly in two places. To their complete astonishment, when EMS arrived, she just smiled, thanked them for coming and said, "Please, could you help me back into bed?"
There Now
Video | 1:32
There Now
A Vacation Meditation
For hundreds of years—perhaps since the beginning of creation—a piece of the world has been waiting for your soul to purify and repair it. And you are there . . . now.
Why I No Longer Hate Religion
"Don’t do this! You must do that!" it made me so angry.