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A psalm for King David

Did you wake up in the middle of your life and find yourself in a dark forest?
Did you wonder what happened to the first 50 years? Did you spend so many years being good, being smart, being kind, for nothing? Has death taken you by the hand, and become your friend? Has death said to you: “You do not have forever. The time is now. Do it now. Transform now. Become holy now.”
How is it possible to work so hard, try so hard, and be at the beginning?
It's like climbing a mountain, working for hours: the ground seems further and further away, and the top is no closer. When your efforts come to nothing, turn to Hashem. Give up, like a child holding its arms up, waiting for Daddy to lift you on high, with joy and without effort. Reach up for Hashem--reach without words, reach with longing, reach with a broken heart, and he will lift you, swing you, cradle you, carry you. Why not? You are His. Step off the cliff in one blinding moment of trust, and He will be there. Why not? You are His. Alone it is too hard. How can we purify? How can we pray, and bless and love Hashem, and also take care of ourselves? How can we do the morning prayers, and also take care of the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual? How can we love our family, our friends, and our work? How can we grow and mature and change? How can we do all of this with joy, peace, and trust? It is too hard. Alone, it is impossible.

We need Hashem. We will do our part. The difference is the surrender, the abandonment of ego, the abandonment of illusions. Alone, I cannot even breathe, and I have no power, no wisdom. But I can float in Hashem. I can fill with joy, peace and trust, I can let go of every thought, effort, action. I can surrender and say, “I will do Your will.” I can float in Hashem like a baby in a womb, bobbing along in the sea of life, supported, held up, afloat. And then I can relax, I can let the joy flow in, I can fill with love. I can say, “You are mine and I am Yours. You are my G-d; I am your human.” I can merge with Hashem. I am floating inside, safe at last, free at last, able to breathe at last-- splitting into many beings, a babe with up-lifted arms waiting to be lifted up, and also a woman wrapping her arms around her beloved. I am rising upright through the sky, head falling back, leading with the heart, waiting only to merge with Hashem. Part of me looks like a person cooking, eating, walking a dog, but the rest of me is spinning wildly into Hashem. The wasted years are nothing: one second with Hashem is worth it all. One second of merger and there is only peace and joy. The mountain is still tall, the hopes are never ending, and there is a song in my heart. I know all the patriarchs, sages, and rebbes who have been here before me. I join with them and bless and thank Hashem, and I say, &quotAmen."


A psalm for King David

Why do we love King David? The sweet singer of songs--he is so grand; he is larger than life. Saul killed his thousands, but David killed his tens of thousands. David is Hashem’s warrior. I cannot write about him, I am too consumed with love. All his victories swirl before me; they make me dizzy. When he cried, he cried a cup of tears. When he cried, he soaked his mattress. When he loved Hashem, he loved Hashem. And who am I? When will I learn from David?
I am restrained, quiet; my words are whispers, my wishes are tiny, my hopes are small. Yet I long for David; I reach for David; I merge with David. So, who am I? Is David inside me, ready to burst forth? Who would I be? How would I sing,
dance, move, pray, if I could find David inside me? I long to paint on a large canvas with bold strokes of wild colors. I long to sing sweet and clear.I long to merge with Hashem and not care what anyone who walks the earth thinks. I long to be up all night praying and singing to Hashem. I long to disappear and fill with Hashem and do only His will. I reach out for all of my people in this world and the world beyond who read King David night and day, day and night, and with them I wait to be transformed, enlarged, solidified, dissolved, energized. I wait to go from black and white to color. I want to join with everyone who reads King David and together, as one, to walk into his energy and burst into his gift of love and strength. I thank David and Hashem for this journey and I say, &quotAmen."


A psalm for King David

This year my psalm is 58. It is a psalm for me read every day, for a year. It's about King David's anger. He reminds us that “The wicked are defiant from birth; the liars go astray from the womb.” He prays to G-d: “Smash their teeth in their mouths; shatter the fangs of lions, O Lord, let them melt, let them vanish like water, like a snail that melts away as it moves, like a woman’s still birth, may they never see the sun!” I must read this psalm daily for a year. It teaches me about myself. I am so civilized, so subdued, so eager to forgive, so willing to understand. I have been the perfect victim. Kick me and I will feel sorry for you. Kick me and I will contemplate why you do so. Kick me and I will feel your pain. Kick me and I will think I always had more than you. What a fool I was! So, every day, for a year, I take my medicine. I open my mouth wide; swallow a new vision; taste a new reality. I step into King David, Hashem warrior, eradicating evil before it destroys him. How clean it was then--men with swords. But my enemies come at me with words, twisted logic, murmurings, unspoken demands. They are willing to destroy me without my even knowing.

Now, at age 57, I start to see and hear. I start to reach for David; I start to move towards David. I, too, ask Hashem to let me be free, to let me live. Do I ask Hashem to smash my enemies? To let them shrivel like snails on parched land?
To let them be like a stillbirth? I am still too civilized, but I am intrigued. In truth I am fascinated, excited, amazed. I ask Hashem for protection. What happens to my enemies is in their hands. If they retreat and leave me alone, there is no need for smashing. If they continue to come at me with twisted logic, murmured words, unspoken demands; if they are willing to destroy me, then I beg Hashem for protection. I take David’s hand and I say, “Lord who is my refuge and my stronghold, my G-d in whom I trust, I take refuge in You.” The words thrill me.
I don't altogether know what they mean; but I do know that I am willing to say them. I am moving towards David and moving towards Hashem, with joy and relief. I thank You and bless You and say, &quotAmen."


A psalm for King David

In one hand I hold a note: “You came from a putrid drop.” In the other hand I hold a different note: “For you the world was created.” It’s a balance. I understand the putrid drop--it is so easy to be asleep, to be a spectator, to react slowly, or not at all, to turn into a tortoise--large, prehistoric, slow-moving, observing, sleeping, moving slowly, assuming there is nothing that can be done. “I came from a putrid drop. For me the world was created.” This is hard to say, to write, to think. How can it be? For each of us there is only one person and Hashem. The rest is illusion, lessons, puppets, contracts. I know this.. How can it be? And yet there is some place deep inside me, a soft underbelly, that wonders, that hears it like a story heard before; that remembers from before Time. Some part of me relaxes, feels safe, feels recognized, feels eager to get started and to change the world.

Not a tortoise. But what? A gazelle leaping through the air? A giraffe looking around and seeing endlessly? An eagle flying through the sky? Or, is it a patriarch? Is it King David? Have I picked up his energy? Have I read him enough? Dreamed him enough? Stood in the desert, holding his hand and crying out to Hashem enough? Has his essence started to flow into me, pervade me, penetrate deep into my cells? Am I ready to dare, to hope, to dream, to act? Am I ready to know? As below, so above; as above, so below. Could it be true, even for me? Why not! And, if it were true, how would I act, think, pray? What if my wildest dreams are the tip of the iceberg? What if all this power and energy merges with total humility? What if my truth is your truth? I am not better than you or special or different, because you can do it too. What if I do it, not to out-distance you, pass you, shame you, or confuse you, but to inspire you, assure you, tell you that your path will be different but even higher? Am I so ashamed of excelling? The tortoise has no such torments. How long can I plod in the dust? Why can I not have the splendor I promise others? Sometimes my mind is too small; the box in which I live and think is too tight. Then I give up. I go to sleep and beg Hashem to transform me while I sleep--while my ego cannot fight, while my mind cannot try to “help.” I go to sleep, searching for David, searching for Hashem. Already I can feel it, already I know I will awake less of a tortoise. My sleep will be more--the sleep of night and less the sleep of poppy fields. My courage will rise. I am getting ready to step off the cliff, into the unknown. My terror is transforming into excitement. I am so tired; I long for Hashem. I dissolve into His arms, thank Him and say, &quotAmen."


A psalm for King David

What kind of Jew am I? I am a Jew from another time. I am walking into prayer.
I know not Hebrew. My mistakes could light up the sky. For 50 years I was a secular Jew, a three-day-a-year Jew, a Jew who long ago believed in a G-d with a white beard. Now, I have come home to Hashem. The 50 years without Him make every moment so sweet, so full. I love Him, I adore Him, I long for Him, I merge with Him. I read the Torah; it is His love letter. Of course I care! Most days, I walk alone and talk out loud with Him for an hour a day. Some part of me did this long ago. I was in the hills alone with Hashem, totally happy, filled with peace. Long ago I sang to Him, danced for Him, loved Him, adored Him, longed for Him, in the hills long ago. I cannot explain how I merge with Hashem. I could do it all day, if I didn’t get so overwhelmed by Reality. I, like you, get distracted by family, friends, work--in a word, by Reality. But Hashem is always there for me; for you too. It is simply a matter of tuning in, taking time, slowing down. I can find Him, and so can you. It’s a matter of realizing that to worship Him is Heaven on Earth. Why would we do anything else instead of this? And yet, we do.

I am a Jew who loves Hashem, and then forgets. The return is so sweet. I am a Jew who takes comfort from the prayers, the rituals, the community, and I am a Jew who walks alone and pours out her heart to Hashem. I am a Jew from long ago, walking the hills, alone with Hashem: I saw birds, I heard the sound of water, I watched animals. Everything was Hashem. I loved Hashem. Each day. And the night was even better; at night there were no distractions. In the day, everything was Hashem. At night, there was only Hashem. I loved the dark. I never needed people; I needed solitude so I could melt into Hashem. Today I am the same. I love people, I want to help, I have a big heart. Tug on me and I will respond. But how I love to be alone with Hashem! Isn’t it true for you? If you fall in love, if you are filled with passion, all you wish is to race to your beloved. It is always true. That is how I am with Hashem. The true prayers are secret. To share them, they must be watered down, diluted, and never shared in their full intensity. They can be alluded to, hinted at. I can say, &quotI love Hashem, I adore Hashem, I long for Hashem,” but I could never explain how or why. I would be too bare, stripped naked, without skin. I will tell you that sometimes I say, “Our father Our king!” And, sometimes I say, “Daddy!” I cannot remember being very young. But I can walk into the feeling of it. I can be in a place of total trust, total peace, total safety. My Father can protect me. My Father, My Father--I can sink into those words. He is so large that my smallness is not a problem. He is so smart that my confusion is nothing. He is so farsighted that my blindness is covered. That is how my mind tries to explain it. In my heart, sometimes I say, “Daddy! Daddy!” I let Him lift me high, protect me, cherish me, adore me. And I know that I, His pitiful creature who has done nothing to deserve it, am flying through the air, cooing and gurgling, speechless, laughing, heart bursting with joy. It’s 5 o'clock, and Daddy is home. It’s summertime and the living is easy. It’s every good memory from this life and every other life, all of them rolled into one. I’ve never said it out loud, though in my heart I’ve called him “Daddy.” Secrets.

What kind of Jew am I? It’s late at night. I’ve not read the prayers before going to bed. I’ve not read my psalm for the year or the psalms for the seventh day of the month. I want to write and write and write. I am so in love with Hashem, I am so filled with passion for Him. I ache to be alone with Him. I could do it with ritual prayer or by reading the psalms of my beloved King David or by pouring my passion into my words or by going to sleep and begging Hashem to speak to me through my dreams. What kind of Jew am I? One who cannot even tell you what choice I will make. One who does not even know if one choice is higher, or more proper, or halachically correct, but also one who knows that no matter what I do,
I will merge with Hashem tonight. Wild, wild horses could not keep me away.
Nothing will stop me. Secrets.

Sometimes I call Hashem, &quotMy Beloved." I thank Him and bless Him and as I am about to finish, I remember the most important part. Last week I thought: “Thank G-d, G-d will never die, I could not bear it.” In really good marriages, each person wishes to go first and not be left alone, or wishes to go second, to be there to help the other leave. I was so glad to go first and to leap into Him; I was so glad that I would never have to lose Him. What kind of Jew am I? A Jew who is so happy to know I will go first. I thank Hashem and bless Him and I say, &quotAmen."


On February 11, 2003, my father and I started to talk to Yitzchak Schwartz an hour a week, by telephone, in Jerusalem. We started by exploring the concept of infinity, as explained by Allen Afterman in his book Kabbalah and Consciousness. Yitzchak asked: “How do we access our subconscious mind, our right brain, the huge library of information of what we have learned, that goes back to previous lives and superconsciousness? How do we touch infinity?” He gave me a list of how to get there. He tells me that I dip into it by accident, but he wants me to live there, to notice what makes it happen and then actively pursue that state. On 3/3/03, an auspicious day, Yitzchak is talking about infinity: “The idea of infinity consciousness. A person tries to see how to hook into it in day-to-day life. If you want to write books, what books will partake of infinity? Which writer has his hands on infinity? Make infinity number one. You must shoot for it, pursue it."

How can I pursue this in my life? Who do I see who is a writer, and tuned into a subject that is never-ending? Infinity must be number one. I have a friend who wrote a book called Children Speak About Themselves. But this is going to be my story: this will be able what happened to me; what I did. I must choose something everyone is interested in. I live in a town of 20,000 people--many of them are young, married, and religious. It is a town of Hesed, of people giving of themselves. Everyone works to give time, money, service. One friend plunged into infinity through charity--providing goods and services, lending and giving. Call him, and if there's anything you need, he’ll find a way for you to get it, and for free! Bring infinity down to the day-to-day. Turn everything into infinity. Meditation. Watch the four-letter name of G-d; breathe the name. If I can do it with depth of concentration, I can go beyond myself in 1,000 different situations.

In 1999 I wrote about five psalms per day. Now I have no ability to write. I cannot write a memo. When I wrote those psalms, it felt as if I was “taking dictation,” as if the words were flowing through me and out of me. I showed my psalms to Yitzchak when he came to America. He said, “I can only tell you these were not written on this earth.” Because he said those words, a year and a half later I called and asked if I could learn with him. Now he had given me my first assignment, to touch infinity. I decided to go back to writing psalms, but with trepidation, and with no idea whether they would be mine or whether they would help me touch infinity. In the next week I wrote four psalms. I thought that would be my best shot at infinity.

And so I call R. Yitzchak Schwartz, in Jerusalem. I read my psalms. I have no idea what he will say. Did I (the person) write them, or was I the vessel? Yitzchak says they come from an open, flowing, creating place. “The same place it came from, it went into you,” he says. He asks where they came from. Can I summon that up again? I think, all I have to do is sit down, disappear, and write. I think I can do it again. Together we are learning Allen Afterman’s Kabbalah and Consciousness. On pg. 9, Afterman writes: “Judaism seeks to unite man’s eyes with G-d’s eyes, that man may see as much as is humanly possible as G-d sees.” Yitzchak says: “We can see the world in a low, normal way or in a godly fashion.” He has it when he is teaching on Shabbos, trying to teach from that place where he is a spectator, watching himself teach. Entertained. “G-d created us in His image. A DNA code of the whole universe. G-d took council with the universe, to create man. He plugged in the entire function of the universe into man. That is what it means to create man 'in our image.' We cannot fathom His essence. We can do what He does. It’s a template, a bridge, the Sefirot bridge that He uses as a template for showing what the universe is about. Man is now aligned with all dimensions. All he has to do is tap into it--tap into time and space. Man and the world are both a map. Can plug into the map in me and light up the world. Can plug into time in me and align with that time.”

A psalm for King David.

To see with G-d’s eyes. What does that mean? I tell Yitzchak, “I have never done that, not for one moment. What does it mean?” He does it when he teaches. Yitzchak explains, “I am a spectator. I never know what will come out. I am entertained.” To see with G-d’s eyes. “Instead of seeing people for what they are, see them for what they could be,”says Yitzchak.

To see with G-d’s eyes. Some people want to hide from Hashem. Not me. I beg Him to see me, to look at me. I wonder what He sees. My energy centers? My aura? My connection to the divine? Does He see spinning wheels of color? Has my heart opened? Have my colors become bright and even? Am I moving up from the physical to the emotional? From the emotional to the mental? From the mental to the spiritual? Has He burned away everything that holds me down? Am I transforming? I wonder what he sees. I beg Him to look. I say, out loud, “This is it, this is what we have to work with. What will we do?” I assume we’re a team. I assume there is something that can be done about my confusion, my tortoise self, my drifting into the poppy fields, my anger, my fear, my doubt. Who am I to have a problem so large, so esoteric, that Hashem cannot fix it. No, He will know what to do. He will help-- in more ways than I can know, in more ways than I can count. He will help. But first, He must see.

I reach for my beloved David, Psalm 25: “Do not bring to mind the sins of my youth, nor my transgressions; remember me in accordance with your loving kindness, because of Your goodness, O Lord.” When David sings, my heart breaks and I say, “Me too, Hashem, me too.” My sins and transgressions do not worry me. Of course they are there. When Hashem sees them, He can help me. To see with G-d’s eyes. What is it we all long for? To be seen; to be known. We think we are invisible, plodding through life alone, and then, when we are known--the shock of recognition, the joy! It is inexplicable. Why should it matter so much?

My father is 87. When he looks at me, it is with such pure love. I want to turn away. It is like looking into the sun. How can I mean so much to a person? It is unbearable. It makes life worth living. My son is 20. He is autistic. I look at him like my father looks at me--pure love, an ocean of love, a burning fire of love. What does my father see in me? What do I see in my son? My father does not see the woman who stumbles and falls, the woman who has fears and doubts, the woman who can be paralyzed by the unkindness of others. That woman is there, he just doesn’t see her. He sees someone else: he sees a being of light who does service for her father and her son, to help them and to swim into Hashem. He sees someone who adores him, beyond reason; someone who strokes his soft skin and begs him to stay on the earth for one more minute, one more hour, one more year. He sees someone who loves him and believes that his existence gives her life meaning. And, that woman is there. When I see my son, I don’t see autism; I don’t see what he cannot do. I see his soul, his pure soul: not knowing how to lie, inherently good, connected to Hashem the way infants are. I could go blind looking at the light of my son. So maybe I do know about seeing with God’s eyes. Could I expand it? I talk to Yitzchak once a week. We seem to read one sentence in an hour. I contemplate it for a week. This week I look at people: I wonder how high they might be, what gifts they have, and how their love and character will unfold. I wonder what to say, how to encourage, support, help them. How to let them know they can make it; they can see with God’s eyes.

There are people in my life who will hurt me. I go back and forth between
fear and anger. I'm not proud of either reaction. But their attacks are real, not imagined. And I am not the only one: the world is full of abused women, women afraid to ask for a divorce, women who placate men to avoid their rage. I am not alone. What would it be like to see with God’s eyes! First, I would realize that it’s all a puppet show, with people playing roles so that Hashem can teach me something. I know this. It's not a lesson I am eager to learn; it’s not a lesson Hashem is eager to teach. If I am honest, if I say, “Look at me,” clearly, it’s the only lesson I need. I may hate it, fear it, pray for it to go away, but I will do it. To see with God’s eyes: that means to see clearly, to see what is, to step into reality where there are no lies and no pretending that everything is okay. If someone can hurt me, I must get away; I must distance myself. The hate and the fear are the hate and fear of a child feeling out of control, feeling life itself is threatened. I am out of control. I do feel my life is threatened, but when I feel hate and fear, I am not seeing with G-d’s eyes.

The puppet show: The man who threatens and hurts me, this man evolved the way he did so that G-d could give me the chance to leave Egypt, to walk into the desert, leaving behind everything I know. Every Jew has their personal Egypt. Every Passover is your special time to jump, break free, walk into the sea of reeds, or to get scared and build a golden calf. Not 3,000 years ago but today.
Oh, yes! For me; and for you. Today, seeing with G-d’s eyes the person hurting us, the keeper of the keys. What do you say about the Nazi guard? The husband you fear? That he had a bad childhood? Do you join with King David in Psalm 58, “O God, smash their teeth in their mouth; shatter the fangs of lions, O Lord; let them melt, let them vanish like water; like a snail that melt away as it moves, like a woman’s stillbirth, may they never see the sun!” How I love those words! How I love David, Hashem’s warrior, eradicating evil! Seeing with God’s eyes, I am a work in process. I have no answer. I yield to Hashem. I say: “I don’t know
what You see. I’ll move in that direction. I’ll do better each day with my father and my son; with friends and with strangers. Let me practice. Let me grow into it.
Let the events I so fear come to pass. Let me walk out of Egypt and blow the illusion of family sky high. Perhaps when the dust settles, I will see with God’s eyes.” My inability to do this with those who hurt me makes me determined to do it elsewhere. If I cannot do it yet in the center of my torment, let me not miss a chance to do it every other place in my life.

Do I speak for you? Is anyone else out there like me? Are you trapped and impotent? Does “Egypt” mean “narrow?” Are the bars so tight you cannot break free? Part of me fills with fear and hate. Part of me knows that I cannot see my tormentor with G-d’s eyes. I am blind, but G-d is not. I know that G-d can pull me out. G-d can pull me to safety. I don’t know how; I don’t know when, I don’t know what it will look like. That is always the way it is for everyone leaving Egypt. Otherwise it’s called, “taking a walk.” It’s nothing. Leaving Egypt is once in a lifetime. . Don’t go to sleep! Don’t miss it! Seeing with G-d’s eyes is a journey: once you start, it transforms you. The first issue is, “Am I safe?” My soul says “Yes,” but my body says “No.” My soul says, “Leave or you will die, and the true you will be the stillbirth.”

The Jews go to Egypt as honored guests, and then become slaves. The soul enters the body as an honored guest, and then becomes a slave. My soul, “she is pure.” My soul longs to be free. My mind/body/ego does not feel safe. It is frantic. It does not believe in Hashem. My soul is trapped in my body. My soul is praying for me to evolve and leave my body far behind. My soul says, “You are safe.
Jump! Jump now! You are safe.”

The second issue. Let’s say that I will jump, and in ways beyond my understanding Hashem will catch me. It is ordained, only I don’t know it.
This second issue is this: will He snatch me from the lion’s den, weak and helpless, blind and unknowing, because of His grace, compassion, and kindness?
Or, will He snatch me from the lion’s den with my eyes wide open, watching all the players, my breath slow and deep, as I see with God’s eyes? If my fear and doubt and hatred win, God might have compassion and pull me out. He might yank me out of the unbearable, let me rest and heal until I can calm down and go through the rest of my life, seeing with G-d’s eyes. I would not be ashamed. I would fall down on my face and thank G-d. But there is still time for grace; still time for me to slow down, breathe deeply, and see with His eyes as I am in the lion’s den and as I am yanked out. The answer will not come today. It’s a process;
it’s a journey. I thank G-d for giving me this journey. I thank Him and bless Him and say, &quotAmen."



I speak to Yitzchak Schwartz. He opens with Aryeh Kaplan, “Inner Space,” p 49-50, on the topic of Ani and Ain. “Ani” is “I.” It is the highest level of soul. The deepest level of “me” is “Ain,” which is “nothingness.” R. Kaplan says: “This would seem to imply that the real 'me' is the 'nothingness' within me.” Yitzchak continues: &quotThe essence of Purim is that the Jews were in the most dangerous, vulnerable situation of history. A decree for destruction has come from the king Himself, Hashem. The king in the story, Ahasuerus, is the puppet. Hashem is talking through him. It’s a puppet show. This is a decree that came 3,000 years ago, but we go through it again every year. All holidays, all Torah is like that. When the situation is bleak, dark, hopeless, and the king Himself has said that on such a day we will be wiped off the face of the earth, the only thing that will help us is “Ain,” egolessness, nothingness, the deepest, most godly, holy part of a person. Summon that part to the front line, and you will bring down miracles that overcome the most hopeless situation. Esther knew she could die. She said: 'If I’m lost, I’m lost.' Why does she say 'lost' twice? The implication is as though she said: 'I will be lost in this world and I will be lost in the world to come. But I am willing to do it.' This brought down a saving from a holocaust and a type of miracle accessible to every single Jew for eternity. After the golden calf, Moses spoke to Hashem: 'Now, if you will forgive their sin, well and good; but if not, erase me from the record which You have written!” (Exodus 32:32). Moses went into Ain. We try in our drunkenness to go into Ain and bring down these miracles. This is the essence of Purim. Stand out of the way and let Hashem do it through us. This is another way to see through G-d’s eyes. Then we can bring down amazing miracles, like Purim."

A psalm for King David

Who am I to write a psalm? I, thank G-d, am nothing. I learned, long ago, to step aside, to not be there, to not be. One time this scared me. I did a meditation where I was asked to focus on my feet and then let them go, and then proceed to do the same for my whole body, moving upward. When I got up to my eyes I felt a moment of panic: if I let go of my eyes, my brain, who would I be? Where would I be if I dissolved, disappeared, let go? Would I be in death? In peace? There was a moment of terror, and then a feeling of peace, blissfulness, like I was floating on the sea of Eternity. Purim, Ain--miracles? Saving the people? How can it be? How can it not be? Dissolving--I do it when I walk, when I write, when I pray. It is a blessing. It is not Purim. What is the decree? What death sentence faces me today? What death sentence faces you? Why did Esther come? What is she to teach us, here, today? What is the story of Esther? Mordichai says: &quotIf you keep silent in this crisis, relief and deliverance will come to the Jews from another quarter, while you and your Father's house will perish. And who knows, perhaps you have attained to royal position for just such a crisis” (Esther 4:14). Mordichai is not worried. The people will be safe. The issue is Esther: if she pulls back, she loses all; if she pulls back, she never does what she was created to do.

What were you created to do? Can you see with G-d’s eyes? Do you share His vision? Your soul made a contract with Hashem long ago, before you had a body.
Your soul became trapped in your body/mind/ego. You and I, all of us, are like moles in the dark, in darkness so black we don’t even open our eyes. And yet, like plants that turn towards the sun, we may not have eyes but if we’re quiet, if Hashem’s grace falls upon us, we have vision. Like a child playing a game, searching, with friends yelling, “warmer, warmer, cold, colder,” we try to feel the heat, the light; we try to rotate, to align. When we are warm, when we are hot, time stands still. We breathe deeply and say, “I was born to do this. For this, I was born.” And, to tune in to your contract, you align yourself with Hashem’s will,
you risk the death of yourself as you perceive yourself; you risk the death of your world as you know it. Like crabs in a bucket, climbing on each others’ bodies,
one will flip out, orient, and move towards the sea, towards freedom. The ones left behind will not be thankful. If you give birth to yourself, to the deepest person you can be, you will step into eternity. For a moment you will be beyond time and space, staying still, being so quiet you don’t even breathe, hoping to hear the whisper of Hashem saying, “warmer, warmer, hot, cold, warm,” hoping to orient, hoping to hear something so true that you know you were created just for this moment. Anyone who has done this will bless you, pray for you, support and encourage you. Anyone who has not done this will feel confused, annoyed, betrayed. They will pull you back into the bucket away from freedom, away from the intoxication of the salt air. They will blame you, mock you, attack you, warn you--it is always so. But once you smell the salt air, once you realize you are indeed out of the bucket, out of prison, out of Egypt, you will start to breathe,
your soul will start to feel safe, and the hints of Hashem will become louder and louder as the path becomes more and more clear.

I could fold. I could give up. I could be an ox plodding in circles, in harness
the rest of my life. I could be the crab at the bottom of the bucket, satisfied that someone else got free. Then I would be Esther before she went to the king, before she risked all. Other people would dream and pray and transform and I’d have the illusion of safety and miss it all. Esther could risk death, or she could go back to sleep. She could do nothing and die with all Jews in a few months, or she could
risk everything and die now, living forever in our stories, songs, and dreams.

On September 11, after the Twin Towers were hit, a man in a hijacked plane
called his wife. He had managed to hear what was happening, he assessed the situation, and then he caused the plane to crash somewhere in Pennsylvania. He died. Everyone on the plane died. They died instantly,not in an hour. But hundreds and thousands of people were saved. That man didn’t have a good choice: he would die now or in an hour. He did not go to sleep; he did not wait for someone else to act. He brought down the plane. Each of us has that choice. For him, it was death. For Esther, it was life. There are no guarantees. Each of us can do what we were created for, or we can go back to sleep, plod through life, sleepwalking--an actor in everyone else’s drama, thus canceling our own drama before it even opens. For each of us who turns to Hashem’s vision of us, for each of us who climbs out of the bucket, ignoring the cries of loved ones that warn us we are wrong, crazy, rocking the boat; for each of us who says “Yes!” the world will shift; the whole universe will shift. And this, my friends, is true. It is Esther’s gift. Cherish it and say “Yes” today. Together, let us all step off the cliff, into the life we were created for. I thank and bless Hashem and say, &quotAmen."


Yitzchak Schwartz is talking about Paradise mushrooming. He says, “In Paradise mode, instead of producing things in a painful way, the process of producing is as important as what comes in the end. The process itself is a time to be in Paradise. One is being present, with the totality of higher and lower selves, every moment. In a few days we enter the period of 72 days that culminates in Shevuot, the receiving of the Torah. 72 is the numerical equivalent of Hesed. These are the Hesed days, mushrooming, no holds barred. This is what G-d does for us, what He gives us: abundance and loving-kindness beyond what is necessary. In the winter, we are hibernating. Now, when the Hesed days start, the whole world, all of nature, bursts into life. We blossom, we mushroom, we align with that energy.”

I am a literal person. Tell me to invite the seven Patriarchs for Succot, and I spend a whole night feeling too small to talk to Abraham. I spend the next night longing for Isaac, picking up his energy, taking his dictation. So when Yitzchak tells me about Hesed days, my reaction is not casual. I want to do this. I want to ride on that energy. What 72 days? I ask. Yitzchak is patient. When was the world created? There are two answers. It was created in Tishrei/ Rosh Hashana in the fall and/or it was created in Nissan/Passover in the spring. Six days before the first day of the month is when we start to count. Adam is created on the sixth day. There are three other periods, also with specific energy, with numbers of Kabbalistic importance: 53 days to Tish A’bov, 45 days to the creation of the world in the fall, 52 days to ______. I can integrate none of this. I am longing for Hesed.

A Psalm for King David

In a few days we enter the 72 days of Hesed. Every cell in my body is vibrating--I am so eager for this. Hesed, Abraham, loving kindness. I don’t know what it means, but I am “agog.” I feel calm and peaceful, and at the same time I am vibrating in excitement. I know only good will happen. It is March 26, 2003, and I am contemplating ending my marriage of 33 years. Eriv Pesach, in 23 days. I expect violence and pain, rage, vindictive manouvres. My own personal war complete with desert storms, chemical warfare, everything. It will happen. On some level, I will be in Hesed. So will you. Think about it. Think of G-d releasing loving-kindness for 72 days. Think of it pouring down, permeating every cell of your body. Think of us awash in Hesed, aflood in Hesed. Too literal? Not for me. I love literal. When I bless someone, I like to imagine throwing a pie in their face--chocolate, banana cream, coconut; something gooey that will stick. A blessing. Why not? Think about it. Hashem, with all He has to do, taking 72 days to cover us with Hesed, loving kindness, abundance. My first rebbe, R. David Zeller said: “G-d is like a radio. He is always transmitting. It’s up to you to turn the radio on. If you don’t hear Him, it’s not that He’s not transmitting; it's that you are not receiving.”

Seventy-two days of Hesed. Hashem will pour it out for 72 days. Yitzchak Schwartz. Paradise mushrooming. Will I receive? Will I align? Will I mushroom? In the winter my garden is dormant. Now I have about 200 blooms a day: tiny snowdrops, crocuses, scilla, helleborus--nothing flashy, nothing showy. I can see the clumps of white glowing in the dark, and the blue of the scilla is so intense, so perfect. An old friend, forgotten and suddenly back, heartbreaking in its beauty. Four years ago my dad planted a redwood, here in Cleveland, Ohio. It was four feet tall. Now, it is 20 feet high! My dad, 87, walks to the window every day to see his tree. He lives with me, living mostly on one floor, mostly in one room, mostly in a chair and a bed--turning into pure love, turning into pure Hesed. My dad will align with the 72 days of Hesed. It’s his essence. My garden will align with the 72 days of Hesed. It was created to explode into color, beauty, the fragrance of Eden. Oh, yes, my garden is on board. And me? This poor person, me, burdened with 57 years of sin, error, missing the mark, sleep-walking, falling into the poppy fields--50 years of not knowing there was a G-d. Me, who always notices how long great people lived, especially those who died before they turned 57. Alexander the Great, 19. Not for death, but for taking over the world. Mozart, 33. The Ari, 38. Aryah Kaplan, 48. Allen Afterman, 51. Me, 57, hibernating in my cocoon, hidden from myself. Can I burst into the 72 days of Hesed? Can I mushroom? Can I become who I was created to be? Hesed--it’s my natural habitat; it is what I was born for.

My only child, a son, age 20, is autistic. I am a therapist with a caseload of two--my father and my son. I live a life of service. I love it. It purifies me, burns away
everything non-essential. I love it. I have Hashem: what more do I need? I have two Torah classes in my home each week; I listen to David Zeller on tape an hour a day; my dad and I talk to Yitzchak, who is in Jerusalem, an hour a week. What more do I need? I did not understand Hesed, boundaries, reality. I was pure Hesed--so certain everyone else was good, so certain that problems would resolve
in a minute, in a day. I never set boundaries or limits. I never had Gevurah.. And as for people: some cherished me; some moved in for the kill. Pure Hesed--the perfect victim.

Slowly, for by now I was injured; slowly, for by now the enemies within
had sucked out my vitality, used and abused me, exhausted me, confused me; slowly I crept, defeated, on my belly--I crawled tentatively, in despair, into Gevurah, Judgment, restraint, Isaac. Not to live there, but to visit, to learn, to bathe in Isaac’s energy; to reach out my hand to him and find not a love but a place to rest. Gevurah. And I held out my arms to my beloved King David, begging to merge with him--King David, Malkhut, who crawled to no man. How I long to merge with my beloved David, not just to reach out a hand, but total merger so that I no longer exist as a separate entity. I would be intertwined with King David, who brought me to safety, to life. King David, beyond Gevurah:.
“Saul slew his thousands; David slew his tens of thousands.” King David, my opposite, my heart, my freedom.

It’s an old, old story: to end up in the center, if you go too far to the right then you must go too far to the left. I lived a life of increasing Hesed. I love Hesed. The Torah says that the cow needs to give more than the calf needs to nurse. I lived to give, to serve. I crawled into Gevurah: I stayed a year. Isaac helped me to my feet. He delivered me to Joseph and David; Yesod and Malkhut. Joseph is G-d’s dream worker, who came to teach us: “If you know G-d, if for one minute you merge with G-d, your brothers will hate you, try to kill you, throw you in a pit. If you are good, if you avoid temptation, you will be accused of wrong and thrown in a jail.” My beloved Joseph, Yesod, foundation, helping me form my
relationship with Hashem, warning me of irrational hatred and violence, which, in these civilized times, takes the form of my husband’s quiet rage and the slow withdrawal of my former friends as I find G-d. My beloved King David, Malkhut, kingship; my beloved King David, G-d’s warrior, G-d’s sweet singer of songs. I love him too much to write of him, to him, with him. All my works are for him. And what will Joseph and King David do in the 72 days of Hesed? They will, ever so gently, bring me home, bring me to Hesed, where I started and where I will finish. Now I have King David on my left and Joseph on my right. I will give Hesed; I will be Hesed when I choose, period. And the “period” is Gevurah, which now also lives in my heart. My father can have anything; my son can have anything; Hashem, of course, can have anything. Everyone else can speak to David and Joseph, Joseph and David, before they ask for my energy, time, and love. I have some of that to give. I also have to save some of my
energy, time and love for mushrooming into greater Hesed--Hesed beyond my
wildest dreams--to better serve Hashem. I bless Him and thank Him and say, &quotAmen."


A psalm for King David

What kind of Jew am I? I am a Jew who longs for a home, a community. I am a wandering Jew, going from group to group looking for my home. I learn with the help of six orthodox rabbis. R. David Zeller of Israel, a disciple of Shlomo Carleback, lover of the Mnore Niam, a Jungian, a story teller, a singer of songs, brought me back to Judaism. There is R. Yitzchak Schwartz, a Kabbalist in Jerusalem who, in order to purify his study of Torah, sleeps at night only two hours, from ten p.m. to midnight, and takes a two-hour nap during the day. In America there is R. Yakov Travis, an academic, a Kabbalist passionately committed to helping all Jews. Then there is R. Yuhuda Appel, a beloved teacher who speaks the deepest wisdom and R. Mordechai Mendelson, Lubavitcher, glowing with joy, and said to be a Tzaddik. Lastly, there are Rabbi and Rabitzen Kazen, Lubavitcher, in their 80s, who have moved mountains to help Russian refugees and who feed the poor and teach Torah. They are legends in their time. What do they all think of me? A Jew who loves Hashem, who was an atheist until age 50, who cannot read Hebrew (not even the letters), who is non-observant, not kosher, who is slowly wandering into Shabbos, who does not even know how to dress for an orthodox event. What a mess! And yet I love Hashem. R. Mendelson is clear. He is not interested in warm, fuzzy feelings. He is not interested in your ideas of what Hashem might want. You were given commandments, and the rest is commentary. Yet his life is outreach. He has no interest in preaching to the choir.

Me and six orthodox rabbis--how strange! And yet, I love Hashem! I have 60 of David Zeller’s tapes. The night Purim ended, I put away his Purim tape and started listening to his Pesach tape. Every day, I listen for an hour to the same tape, over and over. I did this last year, and the year before that. Contemplating, learning, struggling--how am I in Egypt? How am I my own Pharoah? For me, this is reality. Anyone can beat me in following the letter of the law. But the spirit, that is different. There, I am a contender. For me, everything is real. At Pesach I expect Elijah to come. I am in relationship with each of the patriarchs on Succot, and with Joseph and King David always. I contemplate Ruth and Esther
as guides who will teach me how to live my life. How do six orthodox rabbis feel about how I'm doing? Another question, which for me is equally real, is: how do Joseph, King David, and Hashem feel? Am I making progress? Am I moving along? Am I becoming the person I was born to be? On this topic I am more clear. I’m not saying I’m finished; I’m not saying my journey is complete. I am so filled with passion for Joseph, King David, Hashem; I am so filled with gratitude that I long for them and hunger for them. I no longer remember my first 50 years without them; I no longer remember who I was last year. I am transforming.

The orthodox rabbis say that Judaism rests on three pillars: Shabbos, Koshruit, and family purity. I do none of this. One, two, three strikes and you’re out--should I take my ball and go home? Let me think about this. I have never eaten pork. And two months ago, I gave up shellfish. I did not make a commitment; it was not a struggle. I just did it. One day someone offered me shrimp and I said, “No, thank you, I’m Jewish.” It was simply true. Two years ago I met a young man when I was teaching meditation at a Jewish retreat. He was orthodox, Yeshiva educated, but alienated from G-d. He came closer and closer to me, telling me his life story. He told me that when I spoke, it opened him up to G-d. Then we talked about me. He said I was a special teacher, but soon they would find out I was not orthodox and then they would not let me teach. He said not eating pork did not matter; I was not kosher. I could take five more steps in, but it didn’t matter because I was not kosher. If he ate a ham sandwich, it would be called a mistake. But not for me, because I was not kosher. He said, “You cannot keep Shabbos in isolation. You need a community. You need people who invite you to dinner and who come to your dinners." But the world I live in is secular. I have a liver tumor, so I don’t eat wheat or dairy. Everything I eat is meat or parve. I don’t mix dairy and meat; I never ate pork; I gave up shellfish. I would say that I am moving towards kosher. My young friend would say that I am not; that this means nothing.

My father grew up in a kosher home. He went to Syracuse University at sixteen and lived in a boarding house to keep kosher. By the time I was born, we never ate pork. He never mixed dairy and meat, though the rest of the family did. We were three-day-a-year Jews. We had large Seders and we celebrated Chanukuh, not Christmas. We were Brooklyn Jews. When my father’s father died, my father said kaddish. He went every morning, for 11 months, and never left. He was the youngest. At the minyon he’d pick up the older men and drive them in winter. He’d be the tenth man. He never left. He became a board member, a lawyer. Passionately concerned with education and youth, he helped create a Yeshivah..
He went to Russia, spoke Yiddish, talked to Jews, and then came back to Brooklyn. He talked about his trip in our shule. He was the man who brought the Russian Jews to Brighten Beach. He started it, organized it, raised the money. He lived it. He did it. This is true; this is real. And we didn’t have the three pillars: there was no Shabbos, no Kashrut, no family purity. My father sent a book to every single person in our family. On the inside he wrote, “I am first and foremost a Jew.” The three pillars. What kind of Jew am I? I am the kind of Jew who would never betray my father in words or thoughts by saying he is not a Jew, or less of a Jew, or not G-d’s beloved, because of the three pillars.

What kind of Jew am I? My relationship with G-d is my passion. Picture me,
living 50 years without G-d, searching for spirituality every place but Judaism,
and then finding tapes of David Zeller. Picture me walking into the College of Jewish Studies, knowing nothing, taking classes on the Masters level, with Jewish educators-- me, like an idiot savant, knowing nothing and having memorized 60 tapes. “You are causing quite a stir at the college,” R. Yakov Travis said. Remember how literal I am. I listen to David Zeller on Hitbodedut, translating from R. Nachman of Bratzlav, suggesting that one should walk alone in the fields at night talking with G-d. R. Nachman says (paraphrased): &quotIf you do everything else, this will make you higher. If you do nothing, this will make you higher.” I do nothing. Clearly, this is the practice for me! Taking my dog, I walk--hoping it’s early enough or late enough so that I won't meet anyone. And I talk out loud for an hour with G-d. Hitbodedut. I am a Jew longing for a home. I’d sort of like
a box to crawl into, a label; I'd like to be something and to have a community just like me. But I don’t even have clarity. About geneology-- I’m not even sure of the lineage, the dynasties. But I love Kabbalah. For me, the Sefirot are real, mostly as Abraham is Hesed and King David is Malkhut. But it is how I organize reality. I love the Bal Shem Tov. As a child I read four books a week--fairy tales, mythology. I love stories. I love the Bal Shem Tov. I read his stories. R. Nachman, the rebbe of Hitbodedut, the rebbe of 'Never Give Up', he is my lifeline. The Lubavitchers--that is the shul in which I pray. The old women
don’t speak English. They stroke my face; they kiss me. I sit behind the mihitzah.
The Rebitzen sits in the front row on the aisle, and I sit next to her. She tells me
when to stand, when to sit, when I should read in English, and when I have to repeat the Hebrew, word by word. She guides me through the service. The first time I went I sat there and wept--I could feel the presence of G-d so clearly. I could not pray, I could only weep. Am I a Kabbalist? A Hasid? A Bratzlov follower of R. Nachman? A Lubavitcher follower of the Rebbe? And, if I could pick (which I cannot), would any of them want me?

What kind of Jew am I? I am a Jew tied to G-d; intertwined with G-d; merged with G-d. My primary relationship is with G-d. I am accountable to G-d; I answer to G-d, though I fail in 100 ways each day. I struggle to reach Him. I would fit in with the Jews of long ago, like King David as a shepherd, living in the hills
alone with G-d. G-d touched me on the shoulder; I wasn’t looking for Him. How could I search for what I didn’t know existed? G-d touched me on the shoulder, and my world went from black and white to technicolor. What kind of Jew am I? A Jew who loves all Jews, who prays for all Jews, who prays that each of them will come closer and closer to G-d. What kind of Jew am I? A Jew who loves humanity, who prays for all people, who prays that each of them will come closer and closer to G-d. I thank G-d for my Judaism. I bless Him and I say, &quotAmen."


I speak to Yitzchak. He reads to me: “What is Paradise? The idea is presence. I summon all of myself, my total personality, my higher and lower self, to be present with whatever I am doing. This includes my total, maximal, pleasure-filled, concentrated focus. To be in a state of total receptivity to G-d, to His working through me, to my doing it all for His sake and in the way He wants it. I am integrated, I am in D’vekut (G-d connected) and I’m focused. IDF. This is Paradise--a state of consciousness. Paradise mushrooming is a transcendent self-implosion. It is a process done in total presence of being and thereby accomplishing the impossible in a painless, ecstatic way.” When I hear these words, I feel like screaming, I am so excited! I want this too. It is exactly what I want.

A psalm for King David

Paradise, Heaven on Earth. Here, now, today, my mind is whirling. Ten days to Passover: I am not thinking of dinners, parties, guest lists; I am thinking of slavery, freedom, leaving Egypt. I am thinking of Hesed, of 72 days of Hashem, covering us with abundant, overflowing love and kindness. I want to live in Paradise-- “To be in a state of total receptivity to G-d, to His working through me, to my doing it all for His sake and in the way He wants it.” Every cell in my body is screaming, “Yes!” This is what I want; this is it. It is perfect. It is true. It is exactly what I want. I wish I could step off a cliff--I wish this was literally the way it worked. This would mean that you are with G-d or not, you step forward or you don't: it's so simple, so clear.. But it is not to be: the cliff is only a metaphor. Reality is never so clear. How will I step off the cliff? The Ari says,
“The soul comes into the body, like Jacob came into Israel, as an honored guest,
and then it becomes a slave.”

My soul could enter Paradise, here on earth. But my self, body, ego, and mind, has no interest in Paradise. It has its own ideas; it is filled with fears and doubts. It ignores, fears, and even hates my soul. My body is Egypt and more; my body is pharaoh, ruthless. My body argues that G-d is everywhere. Like pharaoh, my body feels divine. Like pharaoh, my body knows not G-d. And who am I? Am I my body? My soul? The director of my drama? Who am I? I am the one who fell asleep in the poppy field; the sleepwalker, she who is so burdened--so tired, overwhelmed, and crazed that she spins like a top, dances as fast as she can, assumes someone else will do it, and does not even know what “it” is. I am Cassandra, speaking the truth and not believing my own words.

I, like you, am one who saw the sea of reeds and stood there frozen, mouth open, unable to move. When they called for the Golden Calf, one part of me remembered the miracle, but another part was so afraid, so confused, so lost. I longed for the Golden Calf. Did I sin? Did I participate? No, but only because I was frozen. I, like you, have seen the sea of reeds, over and over. Hashem has covered me with grace, poured loving-kindness down upon me. Over and over I have said the words, “This is what the sea of reeds looks like, here and now, today.” And the next day, I forget. I am tempted by the Golden Calf. I don’t sin because I am pulled both ways. I am pulled one way by fear; the other way by G-d. That is the only reason I don’t sin. I don’t sin and I don’t excel. I don’t exactly step off the cliff. I don’t become she whom I was born to be. My body and soul are in perpetual conflict. There is no “I” to defend my poor soul.

I spoke to Yitzchak on Tuesday. That day I knew I had to protect my soul so that
it could do G-d’s will, every day, all day; so that my breathing in and
breathing out could be dedicated to G-d; so that I could be “of-Hashem” always.
My soul knows how to do this. It never occurred to me to protect my soul. G-d or Golden Calf? Soul or Body? I watched in a state of total passivity, feeling dazed, weak, and frozen. When I was a child, perhaps about eight years old, a man, maybe 20, walked out of his parent’s house, scooped up my dog, and said,
“Say good-bye to your dog; you’ll never see him again.” He walked to his car,
put the dog down, laughed, and drove away. I stood there, frozen. What could I have done? This is a prototype, a template, for me and for you.

G-d and I are partners. I always say to Him: “Look at me, see everything. This is what we have to work with; this is it; this is who I am.” So, perhaps, it works both ways. Perhaps, when I was eight, G-d said to me: “Look at this, there is evil in the world. In the face of evil you will freeze. It is human; it is what we have
to work with. This is it; this is who you are.” And there were words I did not hear: “This is not good enough. It is human, normal, natural; it is not a sin, but
it is not good enough. What that man did to you and your dog is what your body will do to your soul. Be careless with it, threaten it, don't respect, honor, or cherish it, and all the good intentions, all the innate goodness in the world, will not protect your soul.”

Every morning we say, “My G-d, the soul which You have given me is pure...So long as the soul is within me I offer thanks to You, Lord my God...” And what is this “thanks” I offer to “You, Lord my G-d?” Is it a word? A whispered “thank you?” I never thought about it. A word might have been enough before last Tuesday, when I spoke to Yitzchak. The appropriate &quotthank You," for me,
is not a word; rather it is to cherish and protect the gift of my soul, the gift G-d gave me. I just never thought about it. I know how to protect my autistic son. I protected him at birth. I felt like a female lion. I felt I could rip anyone apart with my bare hands if they tried to hurt my son. I protect him now. I protect my father. My bedroom is under his. If he wakes in the night I am there within 90 seconds. I run up and arrive, smiling: whether it is 4 a.m. or 6 a.m. I am always glad to see him, to help. I protect my dog. I protect my garden. I protect my friends. I protect my teachers. Why don’t I protect my soul? Why am I still standing here, as I did at age eight--frozen, unable to act, while people treat me in a casual, mindless way, without respect or honor; or as people in gentle, civilized ways torment and abuse me; or as people cover me with their needs, ignoring mine and implicitly teaching me that I have no needs or no needs worth respecting? And “I” have let people do this, as I did at age eight, never understanding that they were attacking my soul--my soul, which entered my body
with such high hopes; my soul so adored by both my parents; my soul, safe and cherished until age eight, when I was shown the task ahead of me. Who would guess it could take 50 years to decipher the message G-d sent me when I was eight years old?

Today, at age 57, the picture is coming into focus. My soul, like yours, came with such high hopes. My soul entered the body like Jacob entered Egypt, an honored guest who became a slave, and descended deeper and deeper into the narrow plane, falling further and further from G-d. Age eight--frozen, unable to move, unable to speak. Innocence broken. An unknown decision to compensate by being good, pure Hesed; to never injure another that way. This was a decision so hidden I didn’t know it an hour ago when I started to write. Not a bad decision: people gave me unkindness, and I gave back kindness; I took in pain and I gave out love.
I probably did this my whole life. I have done it consciously for ten years. Alchemy, transforming pain to love. But it didn’t work. It did something--I poured out Hesed. I have no regrets. But I did not protect my soul. I never treated my soul like I treated my son, my father, my dog, my garden, my friends, my teachers. I let people trample my soul, desecrate my soul. I did that. In ten days we leave Egypt: I beg Hashem to help me, to protect my soul, now and forever. I bless G-d and thank Him and I say, &quotAmen."


A psalm for King David

I go to sleep and have a dream. In this dream, I came into a house carrying a babygirl infant who is nursing. It is my baby, my milk. There are old friends; also children I don’t know. In my dream, I go to sleep, and in the morning a child comes in. We talk about who is awake. Then one of my &quotcivilized" enemies enters the dream. When I see him eying the applesauce, I tell him it’s for the baby. He still eyes it. I tell him it has my milk in it, and that it's for the baby. That stops him. I want him gone--and the dream ends.

I ask G-d to help me understand this dream. G-d says to me: &quotYou have a baby girl, an infant, nursing--this is your soul. You let people crush you. This is just the same as what happened when you were eight. You thought everyone was good; you assumed that everyone could be trusted. You watched with your own eyes and you saw the face of evil. You then decided to become better to make the world better--this was a choice made by your soul, unknown to your ego/body/mind until yesterday. It was a choice in which your soul plunged into the deepest goodness. Your soul, the honored guest took over--unbeknowst to your eight-year-old body/mind/ego as well as to your 57-year-old body/mind/ego. Your soul took over and did her work. You were asleep. You did not waste 57 years or 50 years, or a day, hour, or minute. Your soul took over. Your soul made a choice. It wasn't a stupid, simple choice, but a good, true choice that worked on the deepest level. As above, so below; as below, so above. You have no idea how many you helped. You have no idea of how often you nullified your ego and let Me flow through you. It was a deep, perfect response. And now, 50 years later, I say to you, “It was great. The only one hurt was your soul. It is time now to transform. Do not be bitter. Be Hesed. Be love. Be David. See clearly and fight to protect your soul. In your dream you talk about who is awake: you are awake, you and the children. Your enemy's evil is civilized; he is eying the applesauce, not caring that it is for your soul. But it is not for him. There is no room for the other. He has over and over tried to kill your soul. It was murder, not manslaughter. He still is walking around free; he still feels he is innocent. This is the face of evil: see it, and protect that baby girl.”

I fall on my face before G-d. I thank Him and bless Him and I say, &quotAmen."


Yitzachak is talking about Pesach. He is quoting the Lubavitcher Rebbe: “If you are not busy leaving Egypt every moment of your life, you’ll always be busy staying in Egypt,” and Bob Dylan: “He who is not busy being born is busy dying.” In comparing the two,Yitzachak has composed a little song, which he sings to me. I am lost in the idea of linking the Rebbe with Bob Dylan. I am lost in the concept. I go to bed and have a dream:
A black family has come to do something and has left all of their kids in my back yard. I look out the second or third floor window and see them in the yard, toddlers and teens. I see a tree in the corner of my yard that has dirt piled around it, burying the lower part of the trunk. (I couldn’t see it when I’m in the garden, but from another perspective, it’s clear). I know the dirt will kill the tree and I must remove it, even if I have to do it by hand. I look for low places in the yard where I could put the dirt. There’s lots of dirt. I realize the kids have to get to an airport. I’m not sure if their parents arranged it. The kids are split and we are going on 2 separate flights. I know they don’t have a car. I go flying down the stairs to organize it. End of dream.


I write the words: “G-d, Please Help Me.” Then I do automatic writing, where I “take dictation. ” These are the words that “I” write:
“Anyone will lean on you, come to you for help, like Abraham with his tent, open in four directions. It is your nature and your pleasure. You are a social being. You’ll take in black kids, why not? Then, you remember, everyone is not like you. Not everyone is planning ahead. Not everyone wants to save the world. How will the kids get to the airport? Maybe the guests, who have no car, did not plan, or maybe they planned but maybe the kids won’t be able to organize alone, so you rush to help. Abraham. In the corner, is a buried tree, the tree of life. You couldn’t see it when you walked the earth. When you elevate, by going up a flight of stairs, by purifying, things clarify. You see it is buried. The dirt is so high on the trunk that it is dangerous. It's choking the tree. You are contemplating places to move the dirt, low spots in the yard that need the dirt. Mostly you are contemplating freeing the tree. Every tree is the tree of life; every tree deserves to be free. How much more so for my people? Each person is meant to be free, so they can take a deep breath, look around, and see how to help others. The slavery of your soul is a desecration of your soul. It hinders your soul from doing My work. You soul has a contract. There is a contract between Me and your soul, a bond, a continuity. You, the body, the ego, the &quotI" of doubt and fear, are in the way. If you elevate, if you see that the tree of life is buried and cannot breathe, if you are determined to remove the dirt, even a handful at a time, you are not in the way. He who is not busy being born, is busy dying. You go left or you go right. For 57 years you’ve blocked your soul. Now, you are ready to fight for her, to clear space for her, to protect her, to keep her far “from an evil person and an evil companion.” You are ready to live the morning prayers, instead of saying the morning prayers. When you say “And may it be Your will, Lord our G-d and G-d of our fathers... keep us far from an evil person and an evil companion... protect me this day and everyday from insolent men...” These are words to live. This is what you say to Me. I have the power. This is what your soul says to you. You have the power. You soul is higher than you. Your ego will die and no longer walk the earth. Your soul is immortal. You have brief glimpses of past and future. Your soul lives outside of time and space. Yet you have the power. You, even you, you, only you, can help your soul. Like you, even you, can serve Me. You are not here to house your soul and passively let life unfold. You are here to serve your soul and protect your soul so she can help Me. He who is not busy being born is busy dying.” Amen.


It is Wednesday night. Next Wednesday is the first seder, Pesach, the day I will leave my marriage. Always, I am torn. Do I write universally, avoiding my private life? Or do I assume that I have my Egypt, and you have yours? I will write about mine, but please know I am writing about yours too.

Hitbodedut. I walk and talk out loud to G-d and to the patriarchs. I am so agitated about ending a 33-year marriage. I ask everyone for help.

Abraham says to me: “You are my granddaughter, whether you walk the earth or not. This life on earth is a small part of who you are.”

Isaac says to me: “Remember the psalm you wrote about me. It is true. My father and I walked with Hashem. I was swimming in Hashem. I was beyond time and space. I was beyond death. I did not care if I lived or died, I was already inside of Hashem. Enter that place. You have been there, you could live there. Go there now. Stop your agitation. Merge with G-d and find peace.”

Jacob says: “I confuse you. Am I Jacob the trickster or am I Tiferet? Did I lie, cheat, and steal, or am I harmony and beauty? Listen, I was a patriarch. Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. It was ordained. It had to be. I was the second born. What was I to do? Honor my contract with G-d, the contract my soul made before I was born? Or honor the conventions of the time, and give everything to my older brother, and betray my contract with G-d? Who am I, to tell G-d what to do? Do you really think this was an accident? Do you think G-d made a mistake? That He could not have made me, the designated patriarch, the first born? I accepted the contract. I betrayed my society. For 3000 years people have been unsure how to view me. Am I a trickster? Am I Tiferet? I came to do this--to honor G-d and betray my society. I did it to lay down a template. I did it so Joseph could do it, and then so Moses could do it. And, I did it so you could do it too. When you leave Egypt, your soul will breathe. You will walk into Hashem and fulfill your contract. And, you will be despised, talked about, analyzed, as I was. That is the way it is. There is no way around it. People who have no idea of who you are will pass judgment on you. Of course I could have been the first born. But then I could not be the template for honoring G-d, above all. I did it willingly. It wasn’t pleasant. I agreed to it. Sometimes I would like a little rest. Sometimes I get irritable. From Sunday school to graduate programs, people discuss my maturation, how I was the first person in the Bible to transform over time, how I am the example of Judaism’s honesty in portraying flawed heroes. It makes me sick. But some people know I was a patriarch and that I stepped up to the plate. My mother knew it! For 3,000 years, some people have known this, looked around, and left Egypt. Not in a Pollyanna, living-happily-ever-after way. Instead, when they left Egypt they caused pain and confusion, leaving both owner and slaves stunned, shocking everyone. They went into the desert and found manna, found miracles, found G-d. They started to protect their souls, all the while hearing the grief, rage, and weeping of those they left behind. I am the patriarch for those who will leave Egypt in that way. I did G-d’s will. I acted for every person who does G-d’s will when for 3000 years some people, many people will say ‘you were wrong'.”

I speak to Joseph, and he replies: “Each of us made a contract, before we were born. We come down to earth for a reason. I know you say that, but do you believe it? I lived my contract. You and David and G-d and I have been merged for a long long time. David and Joseph, Machut and Yesed. We flow into each other. We were close when we were outside of our bodies--both before and after our embodiment. We were happier at those times. Not that that matters. We each came down for a reason. We could have walked the hills, talking to G-d. We would have been happier then. Why, then, incarnate? Because we made a contract, to do G-d’s will. On Succot seven of us are honored. We show seven ways of merging with G-d. We give hope and light a path for seven kinds of people. We deal with the difficulties anyone might have in fulfilling a contract.

&quotYou want my help in leaving Egypt, but I never left Egypt. Perhaps I never even went there. I may look like I was thrown in a pit, sold as a slave, tormented by another man’s wife, and thrown in jail. This was my contract: I signed up for it. I never went into Egypt. I never descended 49 levels. I never lost contract with G-d.

&quotLet me tell you about my dreams: they were prophecy. G-d spoke to me through them. When I interpreted a dream, the proper response was to fall on your face. Not to me, since I wasn’t there, but to G-d. G-d used me. It could have been clear to anyone, even to an idiot. How could any man know what I knew? Clearly it was G-d. Is there a living G-d? Is He present in your life? Does He see the feather fall off a sparrow? My dreams say, 'Yes.' What did people do? My father was afraid for me. My brothers hated me. The baker and the wine steward used me and forgot me. Pharaoh used me, honored me, but could not take the next step and honor Hashem. My job was to bring people to G-d. I nullified myself so that I could let G-d flow through me. I opened a door, gave them a chance to know G-d. Who did so? It is unclear. There is no time; there is no space. I walked the earth 3,000 years ago. People beyond count know my story. If one of them, just one, reads my story and knows that it was not me, could not be me, and there must be a G-d, it was worth it. If just one of them says, 'Use me, G-d, use me like you used Joseph, give me dreams, speak to me, let me listen to dreams and know what they mean,' then it was worth it.

&quotYou want my help in leaving Egypt. But let me tell you, you picked Egypt. You agreed to it. Not the Egypt of an abused woman, beaten and tortured, but the more subtle abuse of being trapped in something that looks different from what it is. Because of this, no one will understand why you should want to leave it. People will think you are mad; they will have no way to process or understand it because you co-created a myth of everything appearing normal. You created your Egypt. And, you did everything you could to deal with it. You talked to therapists, you focused on it, you worked on the rest of your life, you ignored it. You did everything, but nothing worked. This was your contract. To work for 33 years to solve a problem that could not be solved. Sisyphus. There was no solution. You agreed to come down to earth and do this, because for many people there is no solution. Your son is autistic. For 18 years you looked for a solution to this. One day you woke up and admitted, 'He is autistic. Someday I will die, so I must protect him right now--now and for the rest of his life.' Then, you sprang into action.

Sometimes there is no solution. But there is G-d. The lack of a solution must not keep you from G-d. For 57 years you assumed there was always a solution. You bet your life on that. And now, today, I tell you, you were a child. Good and pure and merged with Hashem, and you were a child. You would tell people: “When I see Hamlet, I want to say ‘excuse me, can I talk to you for a minute?’ It’s your own story. That’s why you stayed married for 33 years. And, now, I tell you, you are here to help those, including your son, for whom there is no 'solution' by letting them know that it doesn’t matter if there is no solution, as long has they find G-d. Some sons go to Harvard. Some are autistic. Who is to say which son is close to G-d? Maybe I was thrown into a pit, sold as a slave, tormented by a woman and thrown in jail-- and maybe not. Maybe I went to Egypt--and maybe not. Egypt is the narrow place, where one loses G-d. I never lost G-d. You lived 50 years without G-d. For seven years you’ve had G-d and a not-so-good marriage. Were you in Egypt the last seven years? You had G-d. You were not in Egypt. If you had a great marriage and no G-d, would you be in Egypt? Let me say, you did not waste time. You tried for 33 years, and it is true that this is different from trying for 33 months. You searched heaven and earth to try and make your marriage work. You, the therapist, the dream worker, the mystic--you couldn’t make it work. And, you stayed cheerful, friendly, curious, and passionately in love with G-d. You couldn’t heal your son of his autism. But you could adore him, cherish him, help him, and shift gears to prepare him for the future. You are the template for finding G-d where there is no 'solution.' Ironically, you-- the control-queen, who wanted to save Hamlet, who would try to solve anything--are starting to see your contract. It had to be. If you were not sure you could solve anything, it would have no meaning that you could (1) not solve it and (2) find G-d. It’s the tension that makes it so compelling. You, who woke up every day, determined to heal your son, determined to solve your marriage, suddenly ground to a halt. Then you redirect and prepare a whole world for a person who will always be autistic. You redirected and decided to stun the world and leave your husband. And you do not feel bitter and you move closer to G-d. So many people need to see this. Because there are so many situations with no solutions.

&quotI was not always happy. I was lonely. I am still lonely. I love being with David. He is my brother. I love being with you. I enjoy you as you are. I am selfish. I will enjoy it more when I am more real for you and we talk more. David is waiting to talk to you."

And after this, I go ahead and talk to David--David, my Beloved, G-d’s warrior, G-d’s sweet singer of songs. For a moment I am shy. For a moment I can’t find his energy. I can see him on my left--sitting, facing me, wearing a white tunic. He says to me: “You want my help in leaving Egypt. I will never leave your side. Not for a moment. Look to the left, and I will be here. Always. You will end your marriage. Your son will be stunned; his world will be ripped in two. But you must not be a child. Know this. Know it now, not later. He will lose ground, pull out his eyelashes, cry, and say, “No divorce!” It will drive you mad. In a year, though, he’ll be fine. But not when he first hears about it. What can you do? You will build a new world for him. His dad will build a new world for him. No one will understand why you are leaving. Joseph said there are situations with no solutions. You really did not know this--not until this week. I say there are consequences for every action. Because you tried so hard to solve it, because you were so certain that at any minute things would change, you acted as if that was real and gave your son as well as the world an impression that your marriage was fine. That will be hard to reverse. It was you who created that impression, and now you have to deal with it. How can you undo it?

&quotYou want me to say things that are universal, poetic, Davidic. But I am a realist: I can see my enemies. There is nothing romantic or soft left in me. I never thought for one moment that your marriage would change. I just watched you go through hope after hope after hope. I wanted to kill him, but I did not. I had something to undo. I just watched as you, blindly, fulfilled your contract. If you knew you agreed to hope for 33 years, when there was no solution, it wouldn’t be hope. It would be acting. But you really did hope. I knew it wouldn’t work, and your hope, your goodness, your optimism affected me. I didn’t see you as stupid, naïve, and childish. You shifted my view of reality. You made me contemplate the nature of man, the human potential for goodness. You are spring and I am winter. You make me young. You pull me back from anger. Oh, you affect all of us! Don’t kid yourself and think it isn’t so.

&quotYou want to leave Egypt: but know that your husband didn’t put you there. You put you there. He can’t free you; only you can free you. Should you leave? Of course! You tried for 33 years--a human lifetime, really. You asked all of us for help. You got a glimpse of your contract. Now there will be some bad times and you will need to be with G-d. I know Joseph says, 'Why incarnate if you want to be with G-d?” But he and I are much stronger than you. You need to be with G-d, now, in this body, while you walk the earth.

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