Rabbi James Jacobson-Maisels

Rabbi Dr. James Jacobson-Maisels

strong>Rabbi Dr. James-Jacobson Maisels is the founder of Or HaLev: A Center for Jewish Spirituality and Meditation and has been studying and teaching meditation and Jewish spirituality for over fifteen years. He received his PhD in Jewish Studies from the University of Chicago and teaches Jewish thought, mysticism, spiritual practices and meditation at the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies and in a variety of settings in around the world. He strives to integrate his study and practice and to help teach and live Judaism as a spiritual discipline. James can be reached at jamesmoshejm@gmail.com.

Shoftim

Parshat Shoftim is concerned with the structures of governance of biblical society and their just operation: the government and its military, the courts and the religious authorities. Having emerged from the foreign slavery of Egypt and now attempting to maintain the freedom achieved in the Exodus, the parshah is concerned with ensuring the fair functioning …Read More

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Dvarim

The Book of Dvarim is the beginning of a transition in the lives of the people of Israel. About to cross over the Jordan to the Promised Land, Moses recounts the laws and life of the Israelites in their wandering in the desert. Moses recalls that the people have been carried by God through the …Read More

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Vayelech

We read Parshat Vayelech this year on Shabbat Shuvah, the Shabbat of repentance between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. Fittingly, this parshah deals with sin and repentance, with becoming lost on our way and returning to our true selves. In the parshah, God foretells Israel’s future sins and their consequences, how they will turn to …Read More

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Shlach

In Parshat Shlach, we are told the story of the spies who investigate the Land of Israel before the people enter and settle there. They return and report that though the land is bountiful, the people who dwell within it are strong, terrible and cannot be overcome.[1] Despite the lone protests of Caleb,[2] who insists …Read More

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Pinchas

Just before Parshat Pinchas begins, Israelite men have begun sleeping with foreign women. These relations have brought the Israelites to worship foreign gods and have caused, in response, a Divine plague to break out in the Israelite camp. God and Moshe then command the Israelites to slaughter the idol worshipers among the Israelites. In the …Read More

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Behar

This week’s parshah, Behar, lays out perhaps the most socially radical element in the Torah, the laws of the Sabbatical and Jubilee years. Paralleling our personal rest and liberation from work every seven days on Shabbat, we are commanded every seventh year to cease our productivity, our work, and not only to rest ourselves, but …Read More

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Tazria

In this week’s parshah, Tazria, we read about the disease tza’ra’at, commonly translated as leprosy. What is peculiar about this skin disease is that it not only afflicts humans but also clothing[1] and houses.[2] It is not only people’s bodies that are struck with tza’ra’at, but also their possessions. What is the significance of this …Read More

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Vayakhel

Our parshah, Vayakhel, describes not only Moshe’s call for donations to the construction of the Tabernacle, the mishkan, but also the community’s generous response. What is the role of the mishkan in the lives of the Israelites that caused them to respond so generously? The mishkan, literally “dwelling-place,” is the place where God and Israel …Read More

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Vayechi

Our parshah, Vayechi,[1] is bookended by two deaths, those of Jacob and Joseph. Both men make their successors swear to lay their bones to rest in the land of Israel, and these promises are ultimately fulfilled.[2] What is the significance of this return of Jacob and Joseph’s bones to the land of Israel? Our answer …Read More

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Toldot

In this week’s parshah, Toldot, Jacob, our wily ancestor, swindles his brother Esau out of both his birthright and his blessing.[1] Jacob (later known as Israel), perhaps even more than Abraham or Isaac, is the father of the Jewish people—we are, after all, called the children of Israel. Yet this swindle hardly seems an auspicious …Read More

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