The Real Alternative

Leave a comment


By Rabbi Allen S. Maller

Once upon a time a King went out to hunt on a very warm day in the Fall of 2007. After a few hours he felt very hot and tired, so he decided to stop for lunch. His servants unpacked a large picnic basket they had brought with them and set up a table.

Now the King didn’t want to eat together with his servants, nor did he want to eat alone. The King told one of his servants to find someone to come and eat lunch with the King. The servant walked to a nearby road, saw two 13-year-old boys walking along, and told them that the King wanted to see them.

The boys were very surprised, and a little frightened, but they went with the King’s servant. When they arrived at the picnic, the table was set with all kinds of wonderful foods and drinks. The King told the boys to sit down next to him and eat. The boys sat down next to the King, but they did not eat.

After a few minutes the King said, “Why are you not eating? My food is prepared by the best cook in the Kingdom. It is the best tasting food in the country. Doesn’t it look good to you”
“It looks great, and I am sure it is the best food I will ever taste,” answered one boy, “but I can’t eat it.”

“Did you just finish eating lunch? If so you do not have to eat a whole meal, just have some of these great deserts” said the King.

The other boy replied, “Actually we did not eat lunch today, but we cannot eat anything, not even one of those really good looking chocolate covered candies.”

The King was surprised and asked, “Are you sick? Is that why you have lost your appetite?”
“No,” said the boys, “We are not sick and we haven’t lost our appetites.”

“Then why are you not hungry?” asked the King.
“But we are hungry” said one boy, and his friend added, “Neither of us ate lunch, and I did not eat breakfast. We are very, very hungry.”

The King looked bewildered and shouted, “Then why don’t you eat since both of you are hungry and the food is delicious?”

“Because this month is Ramadan* and I am a Muslim” said one boy. The other boy nodded and said, “And today is Yom Kippur* and I am Jewish.”

The King was astonished and said, “Why shouldn’t you enjoy yourselves? This is the best tasting food you will ever eat and you are hungry.”

“That is true, but that makes it even more important for us to fast,” answered the boys. “It is easy not to eat food you do not like. The test of a person’s self-control is best when the temptation is greatest.”

“Do you think God cares if you eat or not? Go ahead and eat, I will not tell anyone, especially your parents.”

Both boys said, “No thanks. Even if you don’t tell anyone else, we will know that we failed to live up to our religious duties to God.”

The King thought for a moment and then asked the Muslim boy why the Muslim God made Muslims fast for a whole month while the Jewish God only required one day of fasting.
The Muslim boy answered, “Muslims fast on Ramadan because that is the month that Prophet Muhammad received the first verses of the Holy Qur’an. Fasting brings us closer to God, inspires us to seek to reconcile with our adversaries, and stimulates us to give charity to the hungry.

Jews praying in the Synagogue on Yom Kippur. (...

Jews praying in the Synagogue on Yom Kippur. (1878 painting by Maurycy Gottlieb) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Jews fast for one day because that is what the Torah requires of them. There is only one God. Jews and Muslims obey the same God, but God asks each religious community to do different things. God judges us according to how good we are in our own religion, not according to somebody else’s religion.

The Holy Qur’an in Surah 5, Verse 48, says: “If Allah had so willed, He could have made humans a single people, but He tests you in what He has revealed to you, so strive to compete in all virtues.”
My father says that this is one of the most important teachings of the Qur’an for both Muslims and everyone else in today’s world. Muslims fast everyday for the whole month of Ramadan, but only from sunrise to sunset. We can eat dinner after sunset and breakfast before sunrise. Jews have to go without food or drink for a full 24 hours on Yom Kippur. Each community must be faithful to its own religion.”

The King asked the Jewish boy, “What is Yom Kippur?”

“Yom Kippur teaches us that we must improve ourselves each year by changing some of our bad habits or behavior. We must admit we have done bad things and hurt people. We have to go face the people we hurt and make peace with them. This is not easy to do.

My father says that to improve oneself takes lots of self-discipline. Fasting is good training in one of the most basic and difficult self-disciplines; dieting. It is easy to eat food that tastes good. But to limit yourself by restricting your diet every day, and not eating at all on Yom Kippur, is a real challenge and helps Jews improve their self-control and spiritual self-discipline.

All faithful Jews who are 13 years or older, are commanded by God to fast on Yom Kippur, so I have not eaten since dinner last night. I knew fasting 24 hours on Yom Kippur would be a test of my will power, and my commitment to be a faithful Jew, but I never thought I’d be challenged by being tempted to eat a meal fit for a King.”

The King was very impressed by what the boys said. He was even more impressed by the boys’ self-discipline and commitment to be faithful to their own religious teachings. So the King told the boys to come to the palace the next evening, along with their entire family, and have dinner with the King and the Queen. And that is what they did.

One year, the King also tried to fast on Yom Kippur, but he was only able to fast until 4 pm when he gave up, saying “I couldn’t do it for even one day. I guess if you don’t start when you are young it is a lot harder than it sounds.”

*Ramadan: Both the Jewish and the Muslim calendars are based on the moon; so the dates of Muslim and Jewish holidays change each year in terms of the solar calendar, The Jewish calendar is connected to the solar calendar so the changes are not cumulative. The Muslim calendar’s changes are cumulative so Ramadan falls 11 days earlier every year. In every generation (31-31 years), Yom Kippur and Ramadan coincide at least 2 or 3 times; and September 22, 2007 was the third year in a row that Yom Kippur coincided with Ramadan.

*Yom Kippur: The Day of Atonement, the last day of the ten days of Awe during which Jews examine their hearts and minds and seek out people they think they have hurt or ignored during the last year to make amends and reconcile. God will forgive their sins when they have both reconciled with others, and reformed themselves to not repeat their bad behavior.

Rabbi Maller’s web site is:

Leave a comment

Jewish Souls In Bodies That Do Not Look Jewish

By Rabbi Allen S. Maller

(RNS) Sandra Lawson, a former military police officer turned personal trainer, wasn’t religious about anything (except maybe fitness), she also wasn’t looking to convert to Judaism, and she certainly never aspired to be one of the first black, openly lesbian rabbis, according to Religious News Service.

But in May Lawson finished her fourth year at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College outside Philadelphia. She plans to marry her girlfriend and spend the fall semester in Israel. If all goes according to plan, she will celebrate her ordination as a Rabbi in 2018.

“Sandra,” explained Rabbi Josh Lesser, the rabbi who prepared Lawson for her conversion, ”is an ‘all-in’ kind of person.” When Lawson, now 45, told him that she wanted to become a Jew 11 years ago, he said he felt that “some kind of leadership would emerge from this.”

No one has been purposefully mean to Lawson, but not long ago, a stranger saw her in a store, noticed her yarmulke and asked her if she was Jewish. She said she was and asked him the same question. “He looked shocked,” Lawson said of the man who turned out to be Jewish. “Like I was not allowed to ask him what he had just asked me.”

There was a picture of M. L. King in her parents’ home while she was growing up; there was no picture of Jesus’. Her family was not particularly connected to her father’s Baptist roots, and her mother didn’t talk about religion. But as a child, she was drawn to a story her mother told about an Ethiopian Jewish ancestor. “I don’t want people to think I grew up searching for this Jewish identity,” Lawson said. “It was just a story.”

But through a Jewish girlfriend in Atlanta, she was exposed to a full year of Jewish observances and holidays. At Shabbat dinners, Lawson loved how parents blessed their children. At the family’s Passover seder, she felt what Jewish tradition wants participants to feel — that in telling the story of the liberation of the Israelites, they are telling their own liberation story.

The relationship eventually ended. Then in 2001, she met Lesser, who hired her to be his personal trainer at the Urban Body gym in Atlanta. At first, Lawson knew her client as Josh Lesser. Later she found out he was Rabbi Josh Lesser. He invited her to Bet Haverim, a Reconstructionist synagogue in Atlanta founded by gay Jews.

The congregation was laid-back but serious about issues she cared about — gay rights and inequality. “I was looking for a community and I thought: ‘I want to be Jewish. And I want to be Jewish here,’” Lawson said. After her conversion, and when she felt herself more drawn toward leadership in the Jewish community, she found out that “there is a school that trains people like Josh.”

Although Sandra Lawson would probably be surprised , there is a good chance she has always had a Jewish soul. There are hundreds of thousands of people from Africa with Jewish souls. Their Jewish ancestors came to Africa during Roman times. Most of them lived in the area around Ethiopia and never lost their connection with the Jewish people. Almost all of these Ethiopian Jews now live in Israel.

Many other Jews who lived in smaller communities in east and west Africa eventually lost contact with the Ethiopian Jewish center and assimilated into African pagan culture. In later centuries these assimilated Jews were drawn to Islam and Christianity because it reconnected them to their Jewish origins. In the last century some of their descendants inherited a Jewish soul from one of their original Jewish ancestors.

This led them to return to the Jewish people by forming separate Black Hebrew sects (both in Africa and in America) or by individual conversion (like Sammy Davis Jr, the grandfather of opera singer Marian Anderson and Julius Lester, author of Lovesong: Becoming a Jew). How can one know if he or she has a Jewish soul?

Signs of a Jewish soul.

1- You like to ask questions? But when you asked them as a child, you were told faith is a gift from God and you shouldn’t question it. This never satisfied you, although others didn’t seem to have a problem with this view.

2- The trinity never made any sense to you even as a young child.

You couldn’t believe that people who didn’t believe in Jesus couldn’t go to Heaven.

Even though you were told to pray to Jesus, you preferred to pray to God the father, rather than Jesus, the Son of God.

3- You always related to the stories in the Hebrew bible more than to the stories in the New Testament.

4- You found you related well to Jewish people you met at work or at school even though they were very different culturally and religiously from your own family.

5- When you first learned about the Holocaust you reacted more emotionally than did other members of your own family or your friends.

6- When you started to learn about Judaism; you felt Jewish ideas and values were very reasonable, and Jewish traditions and heritage were very attractive. You felt you were coming home.

If most of these statements apply to you, you probably have a Jewish soul. If you can find a possible Jewish ancestor you definitely have a Jewish soul.

To learn more about Kabbalistic beliefs in reincarnation, and the reincarnation of Jewish souls in the non-Jewish descendants of Jews who were cut off from the Jewish People, read God, Sex and Kabbalah by Rabbi Allen S. Maller or visit Rabbi Maller’s website:

1 Comment

Non-Jews or Pre-Jews

Jews praying in the Synagogue on Yom Kippur. (...

Jews praying in the Synagogue on Yom Kippur. (1878 painting by Maurycy Gottlieb) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

By Rabbi Allen S. Maller

For more than 2,000 years, the Jewish People have been a small and often persecuted minority. So it is not surprising that less than ten thousand non-Jews convert to Judaism every year.

But very surprising is when an Israeli newspaper (HaAretz) reports that British historian Tudor Parfitt, an expert on Judaizing movements, and a keynote speaker at a Jerusalem conference in early November. claimed that the number of non-Jews who believe they are descendants of Jews or ancient Israelites, about equals the total number of Jews who are counted in official international censuses.

Twenty five hundred years ago the prophet Zachariah declared: ‘This is what the LORD Almighty says: “In those days (to come) ten people from every language and nation will take firm hold of each Jew by the edge of his robe and say, ‘Let us go with you, because we have heard that God is with you.'” (8:23)

In many cases, Parfitt said, this voluntary identification with the Jewish people is a relatively new phenomenon, which only began in the five decades following the recreation of a Jewish state in the Land of Israel.

Members of these newly identified Jewish communities could be found in places as diverse as northeastern India, Papua New Guinea, Nicaragua, the jungles of South America and southern and central Africa, he said.

In many cases, the global spread of Evangelical Protestant Churches, with their emphases on eschatological thinking, in the decades after the resurrection of a Jewish State in the Land of Israel, has stimulated a self selecting group of the ‘locals’ to relate so strongly with ancient Israelites, that they have found vestiges of Jewish identity within their own souls.

For example, Matthew Fishbane reports in Tablet Magazine (July 8, 2010) that he traveled to Medellín, Colombia to see how a part of an evangelical megachurch called the Centro de Terapia Integral Para la Familia, or the Center for Integral Family Therapy, has morphed into a Hebrew-speaking, Sephardic, Orthodox Jewish community complete with daycare, a Hebrew school, a self-managed kosher market, and claims to an ancestry that makes them more returnees than converts.

But other Judaizing communities in Africa have an even more amazing connection with Jewishness. Parfitt, an emeritus professor of modern Jewish studies at the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies, says, “I think one of the interesting, paradoxical things is the effect of the Holocaust on the way that people want to identify as Jews. You’d think that it would be the opposite, but in the case of both the Igbo and the Tutsi tribes in Africa, for example, they both had their own genocides, and they increasingly perceive themselves as Jews as a result of that.”

Among these millions of Judaizing non-Jews are small communities in Asia and Africa that see themselves as descendants of the 10 lost tribes (the part of the original 12 Hebrew tribes deported from the Kingdom of Israel after it was conquered by the Neo-Assyrian empire in about 720 BCE).

Shalva Weil of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, an expert on the lost Israelite tribes, said the growing worldwide Judeophile phenomenon was motivated partly by a desire for economic improvement. since many of those claiming this status were members of impoverished and marginalized communities.

But, Weil said that this was not the primary motivation and that globalization in general was a more important factor. In particular, she noted the tendency of young Israelis to explore remote corners of their world, including places where locals may not otherwise have had much interaction with Jews.

Thousands of backpackers go forth from Israel each year on post-army trips, “where they come into contact with exotic and wonderful people and begin to see similarities with their own religion,” Weil noted.

Another factor explaining the proJewish identity she said, was the worldwide rise of evangelical fundamentalism, with it’s messianic fervor. “Eschatological visions have always been associated with the 10 lost tribes,” she said.

While some of these communities, like the Bnai Menashe of Israel, have undergone official conversion processes so they could emigrate to Israel, most of them have not been driven to move to Israel as part of the realization of their Jewish identity.

In Africa, among groups I work with, there doesn’t seem to be a large number that want to come to Israel,” noted Parfitt. “They love Israel, they support Israel, they want to study, but they’re not dying to come.”

I myself think they would be happy to just be welcomed into the worldwide Jewish community without the traditional Orthodox suspicion of potential converts, in fulfillment of the Biblical prophecy of prophet Zachariah: ‘This is what the LORD Almighty says: “In those days (to come) ten people from every language and nation will take firm hold of each Jew by the edge of his robe and say, ‘Let us go with you, because we have heard that God is with you.'” (8:23)

Rabbi Maller’s web site is:


What is Kabbalah?

The Medieval era began esoteric circles of Kab...

The Medieval era began esoteric circles of Kabbalistic dissemination in French Provence, Andalusian Spain and Germany-Ashkenaz (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

By Dr. Jennifer Howard

The word Kabbalah means “to receive” and flows out of the Jewish mystical tradition. The Kabbalah systematically breaks reality down into a clear understanding and a potential path to wholeness. Most religions have a mystical tradition, but they don’t necessarily break it down into bite size concepts. By “mystical” we don’t mean some weird magical or supernatural “ooga booga,” but rather attaining an experience of union with God, Spirit or Universe.

It is the pursuit of achieving communion with the divine, spiritual truth, or God through direct, personal experience rather than rational thought. It is an experience of the existence of realties beyond perceptual or intellectual comprehension. The Kabbalists would call it “G-d-cleaving.”

In the Kabbalah, we learn about the creation story. In the creation story, we come into manifestation from what the Kabbalah calls the great Ayn-Sof (Ein Sof or Ain Sof), which literally means without end or boundlessness. This is the unknowable nothingness aspect of God. In this understanding, we then differentiate from the oneness of the Ayn-Sof into duality. This is the creation of opposites. That is how we have night and day … happy and sad.

Most of the focus of religions is the belief in a Supreme Being. Belief itself means you believe in something and that automatically separates you from the something in which you believe. Much of the content of most religions has the emphasis on a God that is still separate and distant or looks at ideas about God.

The Kabbalah is the mystical interpretation or the hidden meaning of the Torah. The word Torah means “teaching”, and is a key document of Judaism. For the Christians, it is the first five books of the New Testament. The Muslims’ believe that the Torah is one of the fundamental tenets of Islam.

In contrast, any mystical path connects us with our direct experience. This is usually out of one’s ordinary experience and in the most profound sense is a direct embodied experience of unified consciousness or oneness. Other traditions might call this enlightenment. This experience of wholeness, which Kabbalistic studies and other mystical traditions can provide, is not just to be intellectually understood. These teachings are considered to be transmissions of the embodied experience of the teacher. This is why the Kabbalah was originally an oral tradition and not written down.

The Kabbalah is a spiritual framework that can aid you through to your spiritual growth and contentment.

About the Author:

Jennifer Howard, Ph.D. is an internationally known licensed psychotherapist, Integrated Kabbalistic Healer®, Integrated Energy Healer, life coach, author and professional speaker. She is a co-founder of the Healing Path Center and maintains a private practice with offices in New York City and Huntington, L.I., New York, as well as an extensive phone practice. As a psychotherapist, Dr. Howard brings together her more than 20 years of experience, extensive training and expertise in mind-body psychology, meditation, and a variety of the healing arts. She has been a faculty member of the graduate studies program of A Society of Souls and is currently a supervisor.

Article Source: ArticlesBase.comWhat is Kabbalah?

Leave a comment

Who is really important?

The Count Potocki and his sons via Wikipedia

By Rabbi Allen S. Maller

Who are the really important people in our world? Some people are influencial. Some people are powerful. Some people can shut down a government or start a war.

But these people are not the most important people in God’s world according to Jewish tradition. This tradition claims that there are 36 unknown righteous men whose existence sustains the whole world.

But this is not entirely correct.

First of all these righteous people are not all males. In Hebrew, a mixed group of men and woman are always called men even if 35 of the 36 are women.

Second, there are always at least 36 righteous men and women, but usually there are many more, and often there are many righteous Gentiles and converts to Judaism among them.

For example, Count Valentine Potocki, a young Polish nobleman who went to Paris to finish his education, There he became close friends with another Polish nobleman, Zarembo, Both of them met a Jewish teacher and asked him to teach them Hebrew. After some time each independently decided to become Jewish.

Potocki went to Amsterdam where it was safe to convert to Judaism. Zarembo returned to Poland where he married into the Tishkewitch family. After some years, Zarembo took his wife and 5 year old son to Amsterdam where it was safe to become Jewish. Then the family went to Israel as Zarembo’s friend Count Potocki had done previously.

The Zarembo family remained in the Land of Israel, but Count Potocki grew homesick and took the dangerous step of returning to Poland. He settled in Ilja/Ilia in the Vilna district of Belarus posing as a born Jew, and spent all his time studying Torah.

When the police found out he was a convert to Judaism he was arrested and sent to Vilna. There the bishop tried to save his soul with reason, followed by torture, and then by being burned alive in the center of Vilna in 1749.

The following month, when the Baal Sham Tov (the founder of the Hassidic movement) heard what had happened to Potocki, he said two things. First, Potocki’s soul was a Gilgul (reincarnation) of parts (sparks) of the soul of both Sarah and Ruth, who also were not born of a Jewish mother. Ruth was the most famous female convert to Judaism.

According to a Midrash the souls of all future converts to Judaism were also standing at Sinai. According to Sefer HaPliyah a 14th century Kabbalistic text, most converts to Judaism are gilgulim- reincarnated Jewish souls from previous generations that were lost to the Jewish people, who are now returning home to their original people.

Since Potocki left no children, his soul would be reborn in a Gentile body who would someday return (convert) to the Jewish people again. Jewish mystical teachings relate that the souls of Jews who were cut off from the Jewish people, without leaving physical descendants to propagate their Jewish lineage, will reincarnate in later generations in the bodies of close friends or extended family, who 3-7 generations later will revert to Judaism.

Second, according to the Baal Shem Tov, Potocki was one of the 36+ hidden saints. These 36+ hidden saints- Lamed Vav Tzadikim (ל”ו צדיקים or “Lamed-Vav(niks”) refers to a special group of at least 36 unknown righteous people whose devotion to Judaism keeps the civilized world from being destroyed by all the evil in it.

Hasidic schoolchildren in Łódź, circa 1910s.

Hasidic schoolchildren in Łódź, circa 1910s via Wikipedia

In the 19th and 20th centuries Hassidic Judaism and Yiddish proletarian writers expanded this Jewish tradition of the 36+ righteous people whose simple role in life justifies the value of mankind in God’s eyes; by adding that if even one of them was missing, the world would come to an end. Their identity is unknown, even to each other. The lamed-vavniks are scattered throughout the world.

On rare occasions, one of them is ‘discovered’ by accident, in which case the secret of their identity must not be disclosed. The lamed-vavniks do not themselves know that they are one of the 36+. In fact, if a person claimed to be one of the 36, (as bar Yohai did-see below) that is proof that he or she is certainly not one, since the 36+ are each great exemplars of anavah, (“humility”).

The 36+ are simply too humble to believe that they are one of the 36+. This is similar to the reaction of almost all Gentiles who rescued Jews during the Shoah; who deny being heroes and think what they did was only natural.

For the sake of these 36+ hidden saints, God preserves our world even if the rest of humanity degenerates to the level of total barbarism. This idea is based on the story of Sodom and Gomorra in the Bible, where God told Abraham that he would spare the town of Sodom if there were at least 10 righteous people in it.

Since nobody knows who the 36+ Lamedvavniks are, not even themselves, every Jew should honor and respect all the simple, honest, unselfish, hard working and long suffering people around us, for one of them may be one of the 36+.

Unlike the rich, the famous, the pious, the scholars, the powerful, the beautiful or the successful, who everyone else thinks are very important, the 36+ are the really important people, because without even a few of them the world could destroy itself.

It is important to note that Rabbi Abaye said that there must be at least 36 righteous people in each generation. Usually there are more, lots more. The full Talmud text is as follows: Abaye said; The world must contain not less than thirty six righteous people in each generation who receive Shechinah’s face, as it is written, “Blessed are all they that wait for him.” (Isaiah 30:18); the numerical value of him -‘lo’ is thirty six.

Is there a maximum number of hidden saints? The Talmud discussion continues. Did not Hezekiah say in the name of Rabbi Jeremiah, that Rabbi Simeon bar Yohai said: I have seen the sons of heaven,and they are limited; if there are a hundred, I and my son are included; if a dozen, I and my son are included; and if only two, they are myself and my son? (Thus proving that Simeon bar Yohai and son are not among the 36+ )

There is no difficulty (says the editor of the Talmud): the former number (1,000) refers to those who enter (experience Shechinah) with permission i.e. by self sacrificial Mitsvot; the latter (100) to those who enter without permission. i.e. by Mitsvot and great force of prayer.

Also Raba silenced Rabbi Simeon bar Yohai with proof from the Prophets: The front row (of righteous people) before the Holy One, consists of eighteen thousand, for it is written (Ezekiel 48:35), “it shall be eighteen thousand round about” Sanhedrin 97b.

A Yemenite Jew at morning prayers, wearing a k...

A Yemenite Jew at morning prayers, wearing a kippah skullcap, prayer shawl and tefillin via Wikipedia

So there are between 36+ and 18,000 unknown Jewish and Gentile saints in the world in every generation. When the number is high as in the generation of the 1860’s, millions of American slaves and Russian serfs were freed. When the number dips below 100 the world is in big trouble. When it sinks close to 36; holocausts occur.

As I wrote above, in Hebrew grammar a mixed group of men and women, even a group of 99 women and one man, are referred to as men. Many thoughtless people refer to the 36+ righteous as men, although there is absolutely no evidence that there are no female humble saints.

Indeed, women are more likely to fit the 36+ mold then men are. Clearly the 36+ are both men and women. Reform Rabbis teach that the 36+ are composed of at least18 men or 18 women who keep the world (Hai) alive.

Or perhaps there are 3 sets of 12+. The first third are from the tribe of Levy; half of them are descendants from Aaron, the first high priest, and half are descendants from Miriam, the first female prophet.

The second third are from Judah with at least half of them descendants of Ruth, and at least half descendants from David.

The last third are descendants from Noah, half of them are righteous Gentiles (many of them among the 24,000+ rescuers of Jews during the Holocaust recorded by Yad V’Shem in Jerusalem) and the other half are converts to Judaism (among the tens of thousands of converts in North America and throughout the world).

When the numbers of righteous saints are much higher than 36+ the number of righteous Gentiles and converts to Judaism becomes very high.

These unknown righteous people have great influence with God, although they do not know it. A folktale from Syria illustrates this theme. Once, in the land of Syria, there was a great drought. A rabbi called all the Jews of his village to the synagogue. They prayed day and night, but still no rain fell. Then the rabbi declared a fast, and asked God to answer their prayers.

That night he heard a voice from heaven, saying, “God will send rain only if Rahamim, who always sits in the back corner of the synagogue, prays for it.” “But he’s an ignoramus,” protested the rabbi and I am not sure how kosher his home is.” Silence was the response.

When Rahamim came to the synagogue the rabbi said, “tomorrow you will lead the congregation in prayers for rain,” “But I do not know how to pray,” said Rahamim. “There are so many others who know more than I.” “Nevertheless,” said the rabbi, “it is you who must lead the prayers.”

The next day the rabbi called all the people together to pray. The synagogue was filled to bursting. All eyes were on the bimah, where everyone expected to see the rabbi leading them in prayer. How great was their amazement to see poor Rahamim standing up there before the Holy Ark, holding a clay jar with two spouts in his hands. “Now I ask that you pray with all your heart,” he told the congregation.

So they opened the Ark and the people poured out their hearts to heaven, wailing bitterly and beating their breasts. Then Rahamim lifted up his jar, first placing the one spout to his eye and then the other to his ear. Instantly there was a rumble of thunder and then the sky opened up, drenching the earth with rain.

The rabbi later asked Rahamim, “Why did you bring that jar here? What did you do with it?”

“Rabbi, I’m a poor, ignorant man,” Rahamim replied. “What I earn as a cobbler barely feeds my many children. Every day they cry for bread and I have little to give them. When I hear their cries my heart breaks, and I too cry. I collect my tears in this jar. When you asked me to come here to pray, I looked into the jar and said, ‘Master of the Universe, if you do not send rain, I will break this jar in front of the whole congregation.’

Then I heard a voice that said, “Ask again when you stand before the congregation” “So I did and I heard a voice saying: ‘Do not break the jar’.

And then it began to rain.

Rabbi Maller’s web site is:


Changing Gender, Religion and Reincarnation

Image via Tumblr

By Rabbi Allen Maller

If people reincarnate, they usually do so within their own religion, gender and culture. But there are always some who change one, two, or even three of these categories.

According to the Kabbalah -the Jewish mystical tradition – some Jewish souls are born into non-Jewish families, because one of their parents had a Jewish ancestor three or four generations previously.

When those people return to Judaism they of course, change religion and culture. And sometimes they change their gender too; for when a Jewish man marries a non-Jewish woman and helps to raise his children in a non-Jewish religion, after his death, his soul will reincarnate (Gilgul in Hebrew) in one of his own female descendants three or four generations later, and then be drawn toward becoming a Jewish male again.

Take as a example Kadin Henningsen, who grew up female and Methodist in the Midwest. As a preteen she was inexplicably drawn to Judaism, empathizing with Jewish characters in Holocaust documentaries on TV.

Then in junior high, Henningsen had a revelation while reading Chaim Potok’s “The Chosen”: “I remember thinking I was supposed to grow up to be a Jewish man.”

Less than two decades later, the premonition came true. At 30, Henningsen transitioned genders and converted to Judaism, all within the span of a single summer. “It was a circular process,” he said. “The more entrenched I became in Jewish knowledge, the more comfortable I started to feel with my masculine identity.”

Henningsen’s conversion certificates were the first documents that referred to him with male pronouns. Today, at 35, he is an active member of Temple Beth Chayim Chadashim, a Reform congregation in Los Angeles.

According to Naomi Zeveloff’s article in the Jewish Daily Forward (8/16/13) Henningsen is not alone in his trajectory. Transgender converts constitute a growing minority within the small community of LGBT Jews. For some transgender converts conversion was intrinsically linked to gender transition; the process of soul-searching unearthed one insight after another.

For others, Judaism was a lifeline during a time of immense vulnerability and isolation. When friends and family members grew distant, transgender individuals found community at the Hillel House or at a local synagogue.

Some transgender converts to Judaism came from strong Christian backgrounds and wanted to supplant their childhood religion with one that would be more accepting of their new gender identity. Others came to Judaism from a nonreligious background.

“In one way it is a search for personal authenticity,” said Rabbi Jane Litman, a congregational consultant with the Reconstructionist movement who has converted close to two dozen transgender Jews. “People who are transitioning in terms of gender are looking for a way to feel most authentically themselves.”

Jesse Krikorian, a 24-year-old engineer, began exploring Judaism as a senior at Swarthmore College, shortly after she began her gender transition.

Unhappy with her decision to take hormones, her parents threatened to withdraw their financial support. “I wasn’t sure what was going to happen, and there was a lot of chaos and uncertainty,” he later recounted. “I found that I really needed community and ritual and all those good things.”

Though he was raised Methodist, Krikorian was always interested in the Old Testament. A visit to the campus Hillel confirmed that Judaism might provide him with the community he was seeking: The Hillel director at the time, Jacob Lieberman, was also a transgender man. “I didn’t have any questions of whether I could be transgender and Jewish,” Krikorian said. “It was really clear that the combination could work.”

Krikorian attended Friday night services at Hillel each week and began to recite a prayer about transformation each time he bound his chest to appear more masculine. After graduating from college, he moved to Philadelphia. There he joined Kol Tzedek, a Reconstructionist synagogue. He converted in June, and hopes to go to rabbinical school.

Unlike Buddhism and Hinduism, Kabbalah does not teach that reincarnation (gilgul) occurs over the course of millions of years to millions of different sentient species.

According to Kabbalah, only the souls of self conscious moral creatures like human beings reincarnate; and they reincarnate only when they have not fulfilled the purpose of their creation in their present incarnation.

Since Judaism is an optimistic religion, Kabbalists teach that most people can accomplish their life’s purpose in one or two lifetimes. A few souls may need as many as 3-7 lifetimes.

The bright souls of great religious figures like Moses or Miriam can turn into a dozen or more sparks that may each reincarnate several times.

The tragic souls of Jews whose children or grandchildren have been cut off from the Jewish people, either through persecution or conversion to another religion, will reincarnate as one of their no longer Jewish descendants.

These souls will seek to return to the Jewish people, and a majority of people who end up converting (or reverting) to Judaism and the Jewish people have Jewish souls from one of their ancestors.

It is possible to see this form of reincarnation occurring in the world today in the experience of thousands of non-Jews who become Jewish.

Image via Tumblr

Every human on earth has 8 great grandparents and 16 great great grandparents. Each of these 24 individuals contributes an equal amount of genetic material to each of their descendants. Nevertheless, brothers or sisters who share the same 24 ancestors do not have identical genomes.

Unless they are identical twins their physical, mental and personality traits always differ, sometimes greatly, from their siblings who share the same physical genetic heritage.

This difference is the result of the unique physical combination of genes that occurs at conception; and the unique soul-personality that enters the body sometime during the second trimester.

Every year many hundreds of people find out that one or two of their 24 great grandparents and great great grandparent ancestors might have been Jewish.

For most of them this discovery is an interesting fact of little significance. For many of them it might be an embarrassment to be ignored.

But for some of them; initial curiosity becomes a life changing discovery. They feel drawn to Jewish people and seek to learn about Jewish music, food, literature, culture and religion. They feel more and more attached in some mysterious way to the Holocaust and the struggle of Israel to live in peace in the Middle East.

Many of these people eventually are led to become Jewish either by formal conversion or by informal reversion within Reform synagogues.

According to a mystical 14th century Jewish Kabbalistic teaching found in Sefer HaPliyah, those people who do feel this powerful attraction to Jewish things and Jewish people, have a Jewish soul that is a reincarnation (gilgul) of one of their own Jewish ancestors from 3-7 generations in the past.

That explains why they react to the discovery of some Jewish heritage in such a unusual way. It also explains why some people who do not even know that they have Jewish ancestors follow a similar path; and only discover a Jewish ancestor years after they have returned to the Jewish people.

The Hebrew word for reincarnation- gilgul, means recycling. Many people are born with new souls; they are here for the first time. Others have a soul that has lived on this planet before. Most people do not reincarnate after their life on this earth is over.

Of those who do reincarnate, most do so in one of their own descendants. Most non-Jews who end up becoming Jewish; especially now after the Jewish people have experienced several generations of assimilation, marriage to non-Jews, or hiding from anti-semitism , are descendants of people whose children, in one way or another, have been cut off from the Jewish People. Among their non-Jewish descendants a few will inherit a Jewish soul that will lead them to return to the Jewish people.

Leiah Moser, a 31-year-old student at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, wrote on her blog about why “being transgender is a lot like being a convert to Judaism.”

Many people who convert to Judaism do so out of a sense that they were born with a Jewish soul and that only now they are finally coming home,” she wrote. “Being trans is also all about that uncomfortable separation between your truest soul and the outward circumstances of your birth.”

Moser, who grew up in a secular home, traces her interest in Judaism to reading “Yearnings” by Rabbi Irwin Kula. The book describes Judaism as a faith that embraces rigorous skepticism and questioning, a tenet that resonates with many trans folks.

When she moved to Tulsa, Okla., she sought out a Conservative synagogue to begin the process of conversion. “That initial period of finding a synagogue community and getting plugged in and becoming engaged in the Jewish traditions sort of had an air of inevitability, of rediscovery of something I had forgotten, even though I had never discovered it before,” Moser said.

“I think that is an experience that a lot of Jewish converts have, the uncanny experience of feeling more at home in this environment that they were incredibly new to.”

Moser began her gender transition last year, after her first year of rabbinical school. She began to experience her new religion in a new way, shedding certain traditions that were typically assigned to men, and embracing aspects of Jewish femininity.

Rabbi Maller’s web site is:

Leave a comment

Kabbalah Numerology In Jewish Religion

Author: David Azulai

Jewish religion, or Judaism, explains how transcendent controlling powers of the invisible world affect our material, tangible existence. In this respect Jewish religion resorts to the help of Kabbalah sound. Kabbalah numerology explains how names can affect our reality and daily routine. Names – or sound vibrations – are a source of powerful energy that people are often unaware of. Decision making is the main factor that can change a person’s life.

Names may have a great effect on the human subconsciousness, modify our thinking and behavior, and influence the way we make our decision. By studying these sound variations and the meanings that are associated with them in Kabbalah numerology, you can have a better control of your life. It has been proven that people’s names control the yang and yin (male and female) natures, bad and good emotions, light and dark powers in most individuals.

Certain sounds of a name may also attract certain energies, both positive and negative ones. That is why most events and accidents in life are related to the person’s name and caused by the energies that represent particular sounds of a name. Therefore, it is also important to choose the right name for a child that would vibrate harmonically with the child’s personality and environment. Many curious individuals have started exploring Kabbalah numerology in Jewish religion now.

By knowing the meaning of your name you will be able to activate the powers of the kabbalistic Tree of Life (frequently described by adherents of this Jewish religion as a map that shows connection of all living creatures and animate objects with each other) within yourself and reach your personal predestination. You can focus your attention on the sounds of your name, let them guide you and use them in concordance with the main numerological methodologies that teach you how to apply this knowledge in life. This new life style that Kabbalah numerology revealed is the way of adjusting to your name for a particular purpose or predestination you desire to achieve.

Article Source:

About the Author

Rabbi David Azulai, the great-grandson of the illustrious Rabbi Yosef Abraham Azulai, was born in Fez, Morocco in 1958. Rabbi David Azulai is the scion of a family of great “Talmidei Chachamim” (Torah Scholars) and “Ba’alei Mofes” (individuals who have the ability through prayer of performing miracles).