The Box Breath
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The Box Breath
Created with the generous support of the Jewish Community Foundation of Los Angeles.
There is no more fundamentally human act than breaking bread together. On Shabbat we use two, complete loaves of rich, braided bread to symbolize abundance and blessing.
When setting the table, set two loaves of challah on plate, cover with a cloth, and place either a shaker of salt or container of honey nearby.
Remove the challah cover.
Touch the challah or touch someone who is touching the...
Food that is eaten daily can be taken for granted. One of the ways Judaism helps us to keep our sense of appreciation alive is by instituting blessings to be said before and after eating.
Wonder or radical amazement is the chief characteristic of the religious man’s attitude toward history and nature. One attitude is alien to his spirit: taking things for granted, regarding events as a natural course of...
The World of Asiyah - Fruits and nuts with a hard outside and an edible inside
[Pour a glass of white wine, say the blessing, and drink half or more.]
Although seemingly inedible from the outside, each of the foods eaten at the level of Asiyah, when peeled or shelled, hold gifts that transcend their outward appearance. Like winter, where everything lays dormant and hidden, these...
In the days prior to Rosh Hashanah, throughout the Hebrew month of Elul, traditional Jews add Psalm 27 to their daily prayers. Here’s a contemporary translation by Norman Fischer from his book Opening to You: Zen-Inspired Translations of the Psalms
You are my light and my help
Whom should I fear?
You are the fortress of my life
Whom should I dread?
When the narrow ones gather...
In the sixteenth century, the small town of Safed, located in the mountains of Galilee in northern Israel, was a center of Jewish mysticism. Solomon ben Moses Halevi Alkabets was one of the many mystics who lived and studied there. On Friday nights, Alkabets and his colleagues would dress in white like bridegrooms and joyously dance and march through the fields outside town to greet the Sabbath, which...
Nearly all Jewish holiday begin with lighting candles, and so this one will, too. After we light the candles we wave our hands in three big horizontal circles to symbolically bring the light closer to us, and then cover our eyes while we say the blessing. When the blessing is over take a moment of silent reflection with your eyes covered, and then open your eyes and enjoy the beauty of candlelight, bringing you into the...
We all have thoughts and feelings from the past year that we’d like to get rid of or forget. During tashlich, we take some breadcrumbs and sprinkle them into a body of water, symbolically ridding ourselves of the sins and bad feelings that have been weighing us down. Now we can go into the new year with a clean slate.
A beautiful ceremony marks the end of Shabbat on Saturday evening. This ending ritual is called Havdalah, which means separationor distinction in Hebrew. The Torah teaches that God created the world by making distinctions, first between light anddarkness, next between water and empty space, then between earth and water. The final distinction made in that week of creation was between regular time and holy time. Just as...
We wash our hands in the same way that the ancient priests would purify themselves before engaging in the Temple service. Since we no longer have a Temple, today our tables are our altars.
Wash your hands with water, pouring three times onto each hand, and recite the blessing.
Maintain silence until everyone has finished washing, and are ready to break bread together. In place of speech, however, one is...
Introduce yourself to the people sitting on either side of you. Share a blessing that you received over the past week with them (“I had really great luck with parking spots today” “I got a good grade on a big exam this week” “I made it to exercise class three times this week and it felt wonderful and empowering”). If you can’t think of anything, just say, “I made it through the week to Shabbat!” After...