Devotional Bible

Concise Conversational Commentary.

Weekly readings.

Book by Book.

Genesis to Revelation.

Each and every year.

Torah to be Discussed Orally

Rabbi  Ari.a Alpern


(Feel free to leap to the Karen Armstrong Quote)



A High-Toned Old Christian Women

(Wallace Stevens)

Poetry is the supreme fiction, madame.

Take the moral law and make a nave of it

And from the nave build haunted heaven. Thus,

The conscience is converted into palms,

Like windy citherns hankering for hymns.

We agree in principle.That’s clear. But take

The opposing law and make a peristyle,

And from the peristyle project a masque

Beyond the planets. Thus, our bawdiness,

Unpurged by epitaph, indulged at last,

Is equally converted into palms,

Squiggling like saxophones. And palm for palm,

Madame, we are where we began. Allow,

Therefore, that in the planetary scene

Your disaffected flagellants, well stuffed,

Smacking their muzzy bellies in parade,

Proud of such novelties of the sublime,

Such tink and tank and tunk-a tunk-tunk

May, merely may, madame, whip from themselves

A jovial hullabaloo among the spheres.

This will make widows wince. But fictive things

Wink as they will. Wink most when widows wince.

On Reading Wallace Stevens With  Merriam-Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary


Poetic allusion must be “recognizable not only to a coterie of poets and gentlemen scholars, but to a whole culture as well.”

                                                                                         John Hollander



Since poetry is the supreme fiction, Sir Wally

(I sit upon my  unabridged Webster;

I rather like the image

Of sitting high  upon language.)

Sitting pretty upon this Arête

I confess I am higher toned

Than your Old Christian Woman

But in the end (when I descend)

A happy Rabbi in an unhappy world)

Humbled by your drow and ord of word

I look up:




Muzzy (my favorite: muddled and fuzzy?)

So I translate:

Poetry is the supreme fiction, madam.

Take the moral law and make a nave of it

And from the nave build haunted heaven. Thus,

The conscience is converted into palms

Like windy citherns

(Spellchecker rejects citherns;

demands citterns, Renaissance guitar)

hankering for hymns.

We agree in principle. That’s clear. But take

The opposing law and make a peristyle

(Which I guess is an Isaiah atrium

When the world becomes Temple.)

And from this peristyle project a masque

(a masquerade?

also danced to windy citherns?)

Beyond the planets. Thus our bawdiness,

Unpurged by epitaph, indulged at last,

Is equally converted into palms,

Squiggling like saxophones. And palm for palm,

Madame, we are where we began.

(And Sir Stevens

The fictive sound of one hand clapping

is the supreme oriental fiction

where words ascend and descend

to listen to silent.

So we give you the palm

to hear the sound of two.)


Therefore, muzzy minds

And wizened widows, singing ; sealah

in a shrill fictive. Bless their  devotion.

And a wink and a wink and no wince.





My beloved Theophilos;

Before ascending to the great ah ha of and on Arete i share with you the bookend poem to the above. For forty years i have recited one of Wallace Stevens poems after candle lighting and before welcoming God the bride into my heart and into my bedroom on Shabbat Shalom.

“Final Soliloquy” is my song of songs and poem of poems. It is one of his last poems, and balances “A High Toned”; one of his earliest. The later is our Shabbat’s Shalom.

In my reading into the fiction i imagine Rebbe Stevens on his friday evening walk and think, stopping in front of his rabbi’s picture window.

From A to Z this Soliloquy contains it all. First the text, and then some commentary:


Final Soliloquy of the Interior Paramour

Light the first light of evening, as in a room
In which we rest and, for small reason, think
The world imagined is the ultimate good.

This is, therefore, the intensest rendezvous.
It is in that thought that we collect ourselves,
Out of all the indifferences, into one thing:

Within a single thing, a single shawl
Wrapped tightly round us, since we are poor, a warmth,
A light, a power, the miraculous influence.

Here, now, we forget each other and ourselves.
We feel the obscurity of an order, a whole,
A knowledge, that which arranged the rendezvous.

Within its vital boundary, in the mind.
We say God and the imagination are one…
How high that highest candle lights the dark.

Out of this same light, out of the central mind,
We make a dwelling in the evening air,
In which being there together is enough.




This is the one and only Final;

written and recited while i was yet in the womb,

learning Herman and Walt and All from A

to Z.

Just this week i learned the central mind in the poetry of the MPFC

The Middle Pre Frontall Cortex;

What this high toned rabbi

and his devout old christian ladies call

The Theo Cortex.




Devotional Meditations on Genesis:

(Talking Points)

1.)“ Human beings are meaning seeking creatures.

Language is mysterious.

When a word is spoken, the ethereal is made flesh.

Language has an inherent inadequacy.

There is always something left unsaid…”

Karen Armstrong

2. ) Genesis does not begin; “In the beginning I created the heavens and the earth. Who is speaking?


3. ) Whose voice are we hearing? Voices?


4. ) Moses? Ezra?


5.)  R.?( Redactor)


6.) Final Edit, R Rabbanu?


7.) P? J?


8.) Y?


9.) Who (w)rote the Bible?


10.) Is Bathsheva J?

11.) Is it possible to dip our devotional spoon in this alphabet soup?

12.) In our day, is K the authoritative Rashi of Genesis?

13.) My beloved wife just informed me that her K on Genesis is Karen Armstrong. Time to listen to the ladies.

14.) Add anything and everything K.aren has written to your library. Book one that is a must own is her The Bible, A Biography, Atlantic Monthly Press, New York 2007. The introduction is superb.

15.) Book two to purchase, my friends, is the Blue Octavo Notebooks, 1991, translated by Ernst Kaiser and Eithne Wilkins. A must for Kafkalogists.

16.) The Bible is a library with many wings and different floor plans. Our discussion will require your patience. Beginning in Genesis, the Bible is the most misread of texts.  If Torah means “Law” begin with the Book of Exodus.

Time to talk again, Theophilos.

Imagine the Book of Genesis as a book you read in one sitting. Then read again slowly, notating your questions.

This study assumes questioning is devotional. In fact, in the beginning of creation, all things are brought into existence by the power of asking “What” and “Why.” With this wisdom God creates heaven and earth.

We add, ask “Who?” “When?” Where?”

17. ) So we begin once again:

O Lord, our God, you have ordered all chaos with great wisdom by saying “Let there be”, inspiring us to order our own lives by words and deeds.

We reflect upon the light you create in the beginning. The Day of the One.

All praise to P!

We thank you night and day for the sun, and moon, and the eons before the fourth day, when Earth time begins.

May we order our lives, as you have ordered words, into worlds.

We thank you for giving our triune brains your three accounts of creation, in the Book of Genesis, one story for the reptilian, one for the mammalian and one for the hovering Theo-cortex. All Praise to R.

We pray for understanding that Torah is more than Commandment.

Genesis is the story of living Torah’s, Patriarchs and Matriarch’s who embody the teachings.

18.) Joshua appears in the beginning of our rabbi’s account of creation. (See Rashi). Joshua teaches that all land be made holy, beginning with the Holy Land. This Joshua is our first prince of peace. Everywhere he stepped became holy ground. His Proclamation was Shalom. This is the best kept secret of western scholarship.

19.)“And God envisioned all creation and, behold, it was very good.” (Verse 31) What do we learn from the adverb “Very”? The perfection of the whole of creation is greater than its separate parts.

20.) We ask that our study of your words always be a stroll through Eden, seeking instruction, inspiration, devotion, and the revealing of every mystery.

21.) May we grasp the Torah as a Tree of Life and have the wealth of its wisdom.

22. ) May every path from, and to, the garden be pleasant, and every destination Shalom.

23.) We hear and obey your original mitzvah, to be fruitful and to multiply and to gently rule and fill the planet with our offspring.

24.) We thank you for the insights of Rebbe  Kafka.

One of his biographers, Pietro Citati, says Kafka, like an old rabbi, incessantly probes and turns the meaning of the first chapters of Genesis.

Yes, and this is our task. I will now comment on some of Kafka’s Zarau Aphorisms, but I ask you to reread the Blue Octavo notebooks and offer your own talking points.

Reflections. Number 82, page 94:

“Why do we complain about the Fall? It is not on its account that we were expelled from Paradise, but on account of the Tree of Life, lest we might eat of it.”

Number 83:

“ We are sinful not only because we have eaten of the Tree of Knowledge, but also because we have not yet eaten of the Tree of life.

Number 3:

There are two main human sins from which all the others derive: impatience and indolence. It was because of impatience that they were expelled from Paradise; it is because of indolence that they do not return. Yet perhaps there is only one major sin: impatience.  Because of impatience they were expelled, because of impatience they do not return.

Each year we will add Rebbe Kafka’s aphorisms to our talking points.

25.) Rav Ari.a teaches : Do not regret that You created us in your image. We are able to imagine you only in our image. We will choose life. We vow to learn how to read your holy scripture. We learn from the first story of the first family that we are all descendants of the same parents. Everyone is our brother and sister.

26. ) Cain knew the choice was his own. God informed Cain that repentance and forgiveness were open to him. This is a guiding principle of Devar Jonah. Sealah.

27.) The final story of the Tower of Babel is about what we will all catch in our internets. Remember, the windows you look out also have a view of you from within.

28.) Noah was righteous in his generation. In our time we are judged with our generation. Miracle of miracle’s, so far we have avoided a flood of fire. We thank you Lord God, we trust in you, and we sing your praises for your trust in us.

29.) We journey with Abraham, without and within.

30.) All praise be to Ezra and/or R   for presenting true characters in the Bible. Abraham and those before and after are never airbrushed into yearbook blemish free stock images.

31.) Biblical heroes are true because they are all too human.

32.) Was  Abraham afraid he would turn into Don Quixote?

33.) Was Abraham the Chosen Person?

34.) As a seer, did Father Abraham know the outcome of his trial?

35.) As a prophet, did he see all future holocaustum?

36.) Would the sacrifice then be, on some level, an act of kindness, saving an entire people from its history of martyrdom?

37.) We pray for the wisdom to know the voice of the one who speaks and brings all things into being. We unbind our sons and declare that our God seeks love and kindness and not the sacrifice of our children.

38.) May this may only be uttered in a prophetic voice?

39.) Remember this devotion; children of Hagar, children of Sarah. You are Cousins.

40.) Rebecca’s children: Meditate on both/and not either/or. The struggle ends.

41.) The greatest devotion to the bible is making its story your own.

42.) May we add to the blessings of Joseph by ministering with righteousness.

In Americka we relive his story.

43. ) Is Lady Liberty holding a Lamp or sword for you?

Is Americka your land of cutoff or connection?

44.) Are we chained to the temptations of Joseph?

45. )How do we just say no when we are lead into temptation?

46.) May we triumph in every struggle like Jacob, and earn the name “Israel” in the struggle.

47.)We pray that every tribe join the nation and every nation be united in harmony and Peace. This is the true movement from biblical to prophetic to

Messianic religion.

48.)We pray with Reuben : We  disavow the presumption of the Rube. Let leadership goes to the tribe of merit.

We pray with Simon and Levy: Our anger has been a curse. Violence will never again be our livelihood.

49.)We praise with Judah: Live in lion love. Let Se(A)lah come.

50.)We praise Zebulon. He joined the navy to support his family.

51.)All praise to Issachar the farmer, his tribe feeds the nation.

52.)Dan demands the law of unity and teaches us to wait for salvation.

53.)We ask of Gad to untwist our tongues, to not be heals, but Israel.

54.)Asher brings his just desserts.

55.)O, Naphtali, words of thanksgiving are your portion, your goodly words our victory.

56.)The Blessings of Joseph add breast to womb. His name still resounds in the everlasting hills.

57.)Benjamin is the right hand man, a strong arm of the Lord.

58.)Ephraim and Manasseh shall weekly visit, the blessing on the head of sons.

59.)And these tribes which once were lost are found in every future nation.

We pray: One day may all nations be one in is real. Amen Se(A)lah

Be strong. Be strong. Let us strengthen one another.


Devotional Meditations on Exodus

(Talking Points)

1.) The Book of Names, as the Hebrew indicates, the melting pot of our nation.

2.) O Lord, our God, who takes us out of the Narrow Place, take our name and tell us yours. The ineffable enigma of Israel is to be a Person, A Place, and a Pariah. Record our Names in the Book of those redeemed from every Egypt. This includes the Egypt spelled Americka. See K.

3.)We pray for the courage and devotion of Shifra and Puah, who were midwifes to our leader, and to our nation. God bless those who practice civil disobedience to save our nation.

4.)May the plagues of Egypt never again be visited upon Egypt. The plagues hardened Pharaohs heart and brought suffering upon an entire generation.

5.)The visible miracles of the exodus did not bring our people to wisdom, knowledge, or understanding.

6.)In our times You did not split the Sea or send us our modern Moses. For over forty years modern Pharaohs continue the oppression. Save us O Lord and we shall be saved.

7.)May we end all of our revelry, the dancing around the sacred cows of our time.

8.) O Lord, we patiently await the fulfillment of your Promise. In the past we were “off” by one day awaiting Moses, and, with impatience, cast a golden calf. You in your great mercy proved to be the God of the second chance. In the heart of your Book of Names you showed us your heart. Send us modern Moses’ and Joshua’s and show us once again your face of mercy. Take our name and give us yours.

9.) Send Egypt a leader who will lead the people to prosperity, tolerance, and an acknowledgement of Israel.

10.) It is about time to bring the history of oppression to an end. Send our promised redeemer to Zion.

11.) Israel will make real the promise of Isaiah that nation will no longer lift up sword against nation nor learn war anymore. Politicians, kindly take note.

12. )From the ashes of the twin towers two mountain peaks emerge. A basic and natural moral law for all of humanity are illuminated in Ten Utterances which I make clear upon the Tablets.

13. ) Dear Lord, our God, of many titles and descriptions, we re-announce you as the Redeemer. You are A God of history who took us out of bondage. We renounce every idolatry and still seek your Name. “Thou”, you were, are, and shall be, once again.

14.) You have hidden the inner and thus the outer meaning of your twin tablets right under our noses. Five teachings fold into five, like two hands praying.

Live  God

Love  Truth

 Give     Praise

  Witness  Peace

   Share       Honor

15. )Let the discussion begin:

Living God

is loving Truth

by Giving praise

to witness Peace

thus Sharing Honor.

16.) The First Set of Commandents said “Thou Shall”

to all people of Yisrael.

17.) Devotion. Be positive. Relight the Seven “Not’s”

18.) Make Yourself a Sanctuary that God may dwell within.

19.) Make your home a Sanctuary, The greatest of All the Commandments.

20.) Make The World a Sanctuary, The Third Temple.

21.) May the world come to honor this hierarchy.


Meditations on Leviticus

(Talking Points)

1.) God calls first to Moses in affection, who then instructs Aaron. The prophet guides the priest.

2.) The Ancient sacrifices have been updated by prayer, for the Jew, and Communion, for the Christians. We will not be returning to the practices of the past. That was then, this is now.

3.) Still, the greatest of all the Commandments is in Leviticus, Chapter Nineteen, verse eighteen. This verse gives life to all of torah.

4.) All of chapter 19 is instructive. Pastor, priests, rabbis  of today pay attention. This Chapter, being fundamental, is addressed to all Israel, Jew, Christian and stranger.

5.) Remember the whole verse. To love neighbor and self, Thou shall not take vengeance or bear any grudge against anyone of any people. Period!

7.) Leviticus ends with a list of If-thens.  If we walk in Your teachings, then the land will yield, the trees fruit, and the bread satisfy. We will have Peace and contentment in our land, and evil beasts will cease. The old will be accepted as the new.

8.) If we deny the cardinal principles of the priestly holiness code, then terror will be rampant through the land until we are afraid of even our own shadow. All seven lights of our lamp will be extinguished.

9.) We have seen the flesh of our sons and daughters devoured and their remains burned into ash. Lord you have exhausted your curses upon us.

Is it not time then, for blessings?



Numbers: In a Wilderness of Words

(Talking points)

1. ) We are caught in a thicket of words, so we are numbered, according to Rashi, to demonstrate Gods love.  May we all come to understand that each and every one of us is precious.

2. ) Only a people who love God would recite the census with devotion and chanting. Once a week. Every single year.

3.) Moses is instructed to teach Aaron how to light the Menorah. The Prophet is the conduit of divine inspiration to Priests and Rabbi’s. Ramban reminds us that the lightings of Chanukah be will trimmed by Zechariah when the children of Israel forget the true meaning of Israelite religion. Not by might do we survive, nor by power, but by Gods prophetic spirit. Priests and Rabbis are not to rule. We await the return of our prophet.

4.)Moses “intermarries” and even his family members are aghast. Mind your tongues my children. The prophet has knowledge and understanding and wisdom.

5.)May the Temple of our times be rebuilt in the spirit of the prophet Zechariah The ancient Rabbi’s understood that a radical rereading of history was in order. The menorah will be more than an emblem. One day, The Star of David will be a reminder of who we were when the new flag of Israel is fringed, and worn on our shoulders, with the menorah as the symbol of Israel renewed, central to this prayer shawl.

6.)We pray for Joshua the Third to construct the Third Temple, a House of Prayer for all nations, united in Israel.

7.)We pray that all modern day Korahs Balaams and Balaks bow to the superior wisdom of the prophet of our time.

8.)The Later Day Chassidim have a point when they insist modern Israel rise above nationalism. One century of nationalism was enough. Give true religion a chance.

9.)Israel as just another nation among the divided nations would have done just as well in Uganda or Madagascar.

10.) We ask and pray, O lord, did you not return us to our land to make it holy?

11.)Is not the completion, the haftorah of your message, in your messengers? The ancient rabbi’s knew. We read every verse of Torah through the lenses of our prophets.

12.)Our devotion, Lord God of Israel, is to Jeremiah, who takes us out of our wilderness of words into the promised land of understanding. The Father and Son speak once again. We are turned to your face, O Lord. We swear , as surely as you live, we will live in a truthful, just and righteous way.

13.)We devote our selves to bringing this message to the nations. As we bless God we will be blessed by God. The glory of the coming of the Lord will transform the grapes of wrath into the wine of sanctification.

14.)We challenge the nations to study this Torah, Sabbath to Sabbath, New Moon to New Moon, Rosh Hashana to Rosh Hashana.



Book Five: Wor(L)ds

(Talking Points)

1.)We, who are devoted to your sacred time, O Lord our God, promise to invite all nations and religions to this study.

2.)We have heard and take to heart your rebuke.

3.)We pray for vision.

4.)We pray for consolation.

5.)We pray, with Isaiah, that we Deuteronomy a way.

6.)We repeat your word into a classic. It is up to us to add the L. Lord.

7.)We pray with Rabbi Moses the son of Nachman (Ramban) that all understand these “Wor(L)ds” begin with the Ten Principle Teachings, uttered at creation and repeated at revelation and etched and carved into the Two Tablets of the Testimony.

8.)The Lord has stopped speaking because it is time for us to listen.

9.)Listen Yisrale Y.H.V.H. is our God. One. We devote ourselves to breaking the code. Learn Hebrew. Listen.

Listen, Y the Lord whose name begins with the Hebrew letter Yould,

YHVH, is our God,in Hebrew Al o ha new, which begins with Aleph.

YHVH is Achad. One.

Meditate on this, the code is now broken:

Listen the Ten are one in Ten. One.

Create worlds from words.

10.)Repeat: The Greatest Teaching is that the Ten Teachings may be reduced to one.

11.)This Torah is given to all of Israel. No secrets.

12.)We devote ourselves to Revelation, not obfuscation.

13.)We call all non-Jews to the Aliyah of Torah.

14.)All Old New and Final testaments are judged by this principle teaching:

Torah means unity. That which separates us from the truth we Passover.

15.)Remember, freedom is written on the Tablets. God felt free to rephrase the Original Ten into our second set of Tablets.  Stubborn and rebellious children are told no no no.

16.)Time for Revelation.

This day.

Upon your hearts.

What will you teach your children?

Your disciples?

17.) Teach this: we honor the opinion of the rabbis who end classical prophecy with Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi. We respect their teaching that the spirit of prophecy passed on, or was left to the mad and to children.

18. )However, are we not children of Israel?

19.) Are you not a bit mad?

20.) Do you respect your own heart?

21.) We do have a deuteronimic dilemma. Prophecy is promised. Moses is followed by Joshua One and then Judges and Kings who seem to lack any prophetic insight. Elijah appears and points the way, and we have Jeremiah and Isaiah and The Twelve, and etcetera.

22.) What about Joshua Two? Will Messiah be Joshua Three? Prophet? King? Priest? Rabbi? Rebbe?

23.) What about you? Is your humility a type of arrogance?

24.) Why not seek your creator face to face?

25.) Why fear inspiration? The ruach hakoddesh?

26.)Listen to this Elijah. I announce to modern Elisha’s: Time for a breath of

fresh air. It is time for a school for prophets.

27.)Why the very sound seems absurd. Are not all seminary’s not for prophets?

28.) But seriously and playfully, where does one turn to become a visionary? A leader?

29.) Do you have the courage to declare yourself a student in pursuit  of wisdom and inspiration and righteous indignation?

30.) May moderns speak in a prophetic voice?

The answers are in the Book of Wor(L)ds.


31.) As Isaiah speaks every week, we get a peak of the gate opening.

The Holy Wars are over.

Violence no longer heard in the land.

Our only walls salvation.

Isreal at Peace amidst the nations.

Every one of us will have a prophetic spirit, our completion,

It is time.

32.) Stand with me today, and be counted.

We have lived the curse. Now we demand the blessing.

33.) If we are not prophets we are, at least, the children of the prophets,

Put on your garments of salvation

And a crown of delight.

34.) The God who shared in our sorrow now declares Ah ha va


The spirit that speaks now is joining in love.

35.) Devotion? Do you hear the Torah as song?

36.) Do you hear the lord singing?

Is your Torah a Song of Songs?

37.) Is God Master?

Is God King?

Commander in chief?

38.) Or is God beloved, spouse, one to whom you speak face to face?

39.) Are you a foot soldier in the army of hosts?

40.) Are you a sheep?

41.) Who your Shepard?

42.)What do you want?

43.) To Be a Pastor? A Priest? A Rabbi?
44.) You will find no schools for prophecy.

Save this one:

The Book of Wor(L)ds ends in Song.

45.) Give birth to yourself, within and without

Israel the person will become a people

Israel the land will see the end of the struggle.

46.) Every true torah ends in Blessings.

See the Original Testament.

47.) This is the blessing:

The song of prophecy once again in the land

A song of Zion and Jerusalem

A Torah of Shalom.

The song of Moses sung

In every congregation

To God our only sovereign

And our only savior.

Even The Rubes redeemed

and Judah sings.

Even the Breastplate of the Priests will say

the way to prophecy.

Benjamin will balance right to left

with harmony.

Joseph and his sons are added in

the blessings of intermarriage upon our sons

and daughters.

47.) All the tribes shall be blessed, even Rome and Berlin

And the far islands of the Earth.

United in Israel. One nation upon Gods Land.

That song yet to be written.

48.) And Moses passed on

The spirit of wisdom

Which is a questioning

To Joshua

And Joshua to the classical prophets

And Elijah to John and Joshua Two

And Joshua Two to Moses Two

49.) Who opened the door to me and to you.


Be strong. Be strong. Strengthen on another.

Live in lion love.

50.) This ends the book of repetitions

Inscrolling once again

To A


Rav Aria

No longer singin alone.


Joshua, General, Prophet, Diplomat

Talking Points

1.)The Book of Joshua is designated the first book of the former prophets by our rabbinic tradition.

How was Joshua a prophet?

2) )Is the Book historical?

3.) Why did not Moses pass leadership on to one of his sons?

4.) How does a warrior become a prophet and diplomat?

5.) How do we live as a holy people in the Holy Land?

6.) Joshua One devoted his life to the pursuit of peace. The bare boned text of the book written in his name is a scandal. More of a scandal is the ignorance of Western scholarship concerning the pacifist transmutation by our rabbis of blessed memory.

7.)Joshua is not willing to follow the Holy War of Deuteronomy. He prays for three days on the banks of the Jordan (The Alenu Prayer) and sends the native Palestinians a proclamation of Shalom. This ignores a direct order in Deuteronomy 20 to wipe out the native inhabitants. Those who bowed to emptiness and the void were to be uprooted. Joshua decided that they were to be converted.  Not to the Torah of Moses, but to The Covenant of Noah. In other words the natives are to be spared if they embrace ethical monotheism. This was more a submission Shalom than a Peace Shalom.

8.) The Holy Warring crusaders were not so enlightened. They murdered Jews and then Muslims in their version of the conquest. Islam followed the Joshua model.  The rabbis also rejected the Maccabean uprising. The Church modeled their holy warriors after Judah Maccabee. The Rabbis refused to enter the Two Books of Maccabees into their holy canon.

9.) This is all like some kind of Kaballahistic secret in western thinking.

We turn to an article in French by Andre Neher for the above insights.

Devotions. V’doke


Judges and The Book of (T)Ruth

Talking Points

1.) The death of Joshua is described in the beginning of the book about the Judges of Israel. Evidently the conquest is not complete. Who will lead?

2.) According to tradition the people of Israel turned to the High Priest Pinchas who divined via his Breastplate of Judgment.

3.) Who would carry on the traditions of the prophets  Moses and Joshua?

4.) What kind of Judges were the Judges? Governors? Tribal heads?

5.) Rabbi Elijah of Vilna counts 436 years from the beginning of the conquest to the beginning of the reign of King Solomon. The era may best be understood from the point of view of the Book of Ruth. The generations judge the judges as lacking in leadership.

6.) Only Deborah is mentioned as Judge and prophetess. What is going on in the devotional life of our ancestors?

7.) Why are they seduced into the idolatry of the natives?

8.) Will the modern state of Israel with hostiles within its borders and surrounding its borders take hundreds of years to achieve peace?

9.) Will the Zion of Washington unite with the Zion of Jerusalem?

10.) Will the lost tribes declare themselves indivisible, under God, the scepter returning to Shiloh? Se(A)lah!

11.) Is Israel, in our time, united in its goal to create a democracy with a separation of synagogue and state?

12.) What the role of religion? Who will speak in Elijah’s voice against the modern false prophets of Baal? Who will speak in Isaiah’s voice as the completion of rabbinic tradition?

13.) Is this all a charade? Will the past repeat, for better and for worst?

May we be devoted to awaiting a personal messiah?

14.) Is this an article of faith? Does modern mosaic rabbinic Judaism even have articles of faith?

15.) What is the individual to do with the mess of religion? How do we stay devoted to our principle teachings?

16.) How do we Judge the Judges of Israel today?

17.) Should Jewish Law rule?

18.) Should we dedicate our misogynous  halacha as the rule of law?

19.) Will we have a Revelation this Pentecost  that the Book of Ruth sets the standard?

20.) May we pray that the wisdom of our ancient Rabbis somehow be heard today?

21.) Do modern rabbi’s grasp the implications of the Book of (T)Ruth?


Samuel and Kings

Talking Points

1.) Our rabbis of blessed memory have Samuel and Nathan and Gad as the authors of Samuel. Modern scholars disagree.

Genre? Historical fiction? Midrashic autobiography?

2.) May we study Samuel and Kings with devotion and questionings.

3.) Samuel bar Channah. The Channah, who sanctifies every new year and teaches men and women alike how to pray. The Samuel, dedicated to the Altar at Shiloh.

The Samuel, Judge, Prophet, and anointer of Kings.

The Samuel, who warns us to this day of the problems of Kingship.

See I Samuel 8, 9-20.

The Samuel, who sets the scene for all future leaders, hidden behind their baggage.

O Lord God of Israel we pray for guidance.

4.) Our great second Moses, Maimonides ends his magnum opus with the Laws of Kings and Their Wars. Is this a hidden prophecy? As long as we have Kings will we have wars?

And what do we say to those who teach a God who is King alone, a Commander in Chief? All are only following orders, religious and otherwise. Who may question the decrees of a King?

Without questioning, where is wisdom?

O God, guide us out of the halachaic  conundrum.

What type of King is Messiah? Maimonides judges (lists) three commands for  the future re-entrance to The Land. First to appoint a King. Second to eradicate the Amalekites. Finally, the Third Temple is to be built.

5.) Is our history to be merely eternal return?

6.) Do we need another building?

7.)Just who are the seed of Amalek in our time?

8.) Will Messiah rule like a King?

9.) Which son will follow the death of the King?

10.) Will Messiah die?

11.) Will a daughter be considered to rule in modern Israel?

12.) Is Maimonides thinking on these matters hopelessly antiquated?

13.) What does an updated model of leadership look like?

14.) May we consider the Presidents of The United States and Prime Ministers of Israel as a continuation of the story that begins with the ancient kings of Israel?

15.) Does the God of the second chance now offer two Zion’s?

16.) Who are our modern David’s and Saul’s? Solomon’s?

17.) Will the ancient model continue with one king being more corrupt than the king before?

18.) Will messianic election become messianic elections?

19.) Who will rule a Zion of Isaiah? America continues to sanctify war, sacrificing the produce of America for the sword of war.

Jerusalem  is a haven for homicide, in the name of “The” prophet.

Will all these ideas be censored from the history of the future?

20.) The conclusion of the Mishnah Torah by our second Moses is so scandalous it is censored, perhaps by our enemies, perhaps by our learned rabbis.

Updates by The Ordered Table of the Future are only helpful to a point. Our sage Rabbi Yechiel Michal Halevi Epstein ignores the censored, and perhaps with good reason.

Maimonides, persecuted by fanatic Muslims, and excluded from the Holy Land by Holy War crusaders has nothing positive to say about Islam or Christianity when he adjudicates on the future of religion under the rule of King Messiah. His legal code becomes fiercely polemical as he judges the teachings of the other monotheisms as “Naught but lies.” The only good thing our second  Moses has to say is that they spread a form of the truth, and in “they  end will recant their lies.”

21.) Moses Three where are you?

22.) Is the idea of the Messiah dead?

23.) Does Muhammad, Peace be Upon him supersede all former dispensations?

Is the Quran the Final Testament?

24.) O Lord God of Israel, hear our prayer:

We pray for a complete turnaround in understanding our history.

We pray for 20/20 hindsight.

We pray that modern Joshua’s proclaim an about face concerning Jesus O.B.M. and Muhammad O.B.M.

We pray that Israel, now in the seat of power, proclaim religious liberty throughout the land.

We pray for a separation of Synagogue and Church and Mosque and State.

We pray for no wars over religious shrines.

We pray for thoughtful and discerning devotion.

We pray for fundamentals.

We pray for the Tikkun of the Original Tablets.

25.) Rabbi Epstein teaches that believing in the coming messiah is fundamental to Torah, and that those who do not believe lose their portion in the world to come; since Messiah is our Hope, and Salvation and the Salvation of God whose great Name is Magnified and Sanctified as King of Kings. King David says, not for our sake, but the glory of God’s name, as an answer to the nations.

26.) Do you think the age of Salvation will be heralded by creed and dogma?

27.) These I believe:

Messiah is a person, perhaps a female, a leader who will disavow all followers.

Salvation is a multi-generational process that might just take generations.

On the other hand, it may all happen in the twinkle of an eye.

I await the voice of Elijah to announce the bigending.

Sanctify our days as of Old? In Hebrew Kakedem?


Only if kedem refers to Eden.

The past is past.

The dream remains.

The future update about Elijah the Prophet  by Rabbi Epstein is a complete repeat of Maimonides. We just do not know the details, but Elijah will come to turn the heart of the Father (Religion) to the son (Religion).

The Days of terrible misunderstanding and genocide have come.

Time to put God back into religion.

The Amen Se(A)lah.


From Kings to Isaiah

(Talking Points)

1.) From Kings to Isaiah, our devotion moves from monarchy to prophecy,

from priestly religion to Ashlamata.

2.) Our Rabbis, of blessed memory, were as devoted to Isaiah as to Moses.

Rabbinic tradition is Isaiahic  as much as Mosaic.

3.) From week to week, new moon to new moon, year in and year out the rabbis complete the Torah reading with insights from the  Isaiahic.

We will turn to Rabbi Abraham Joshua  Heschel to understand Isaiah and prophecy in general.

First, we study Chronicle’s, as ordered by the Christian Bible.

4.) In the Tanach, the Hebrew Scriptures, the bible ends with Chronicles. Jeremiah foretold the restoration of the  Temple, after seventy years, and  Cyrus invites all Israel to the Aliyah, the ascent, to Jerusalem.

5.) Truman proclaimed himself a modern Cyrus and invited all to establish a renewed  Israel. Aliyah once again.

6.) Ending with The Hebrew  Bible with Chronicles is a reminder of hope and renewal and the continuation of the story that begins in the Book of Genesis , into our time.

7.) The Book of Chronicles is one book, divided into Chronicles 1 and Chronicles 2.

8.) Presenting as history, Chronicles is as much Midrash as history.

9.) The Midrash begins again with Adam and rehashes all the biblical begats.


10.) Jack Miles in his God, A Biography , a must read, points out that the order of the Hebrew bible moves, through the holy days, into an endlessly recurring rehearsal and reliving of history.

11.) I offer a reliving of our history in the Alpern Seders.

12.) We spiral towards redemption via rituals and repetitions. Professor Miles suggests that the Tanach defeats its own death, and the death of God in the ending verses of the two books of Chronicles. He has a point. The pattern is set. The First Temple falls and God gives her children a second chance. The Second Temple falls.

13.) Will we be given a third chance?

14.) For Christians Christ is that third chance.

Ending the Christian “Old” Testament, the prophet Malachi announces the “Son” religion.

The very design of the canon announces the different directions of the Israelite religion seeking a new way to fulfill the Torah.

To this days Christians await their second chance in Christ, and the Jews try to make sense of the modern Aliyah back to Jerusalem and how to deal with the latest monotheism on the block and its claim to have the newest  version of the truth and the Final Testament.

15.) It will take an Isaiah to make sense of Zion, but for now we move on to the next books in the churches canon, Ezra, and Nehemiah.



And Ezra: A Second Moses?

Talking Points

1.) Our rabbis of blessed memory romantically think of Ezra as a second Moses. This is open for discussion.

2.)I am sure that Ezra does not measure up to the General and Prophet Joshua.

3.)Joshua married Rahab, a native inhabitant, something most likely, Ezra would have prohibited.

4.) Not even the Book of Ruth comes to the rescue here, for Ezra seems adamant that any native marriage be annulled. Ezra glosses over Joseph and his Egyptian princess and Boaz and Ruth, great grandparents to the lineage of the future leaders of our people.

5.) In Chapter Ten verse three we read that Ezra is the leader of the original haradeim.

The haredi  today tremble with rage that many Jews are intermarrying with Christians.

6.) The Book of Ezra ends with a McCarthy era type black list of all those who intermarried in the time of Ezra. The Book of Ezra implies a group divorce ceremony, with all participating.

I find this implausible and unfortunate. Thank the good lord the rabbis who fixed the canon included the Book of Ruth to counterbalance Ezra 9 and 10.

This does not mean I have an issue with Ezra the scribe. His name is likely from Ezariah, which means “God helps.” On second thought it might also mean “God help us!”

7.) Truth is we know little or nothing about the person or character of Ezra. We have his Book, and some say he wrote Nehemiah and the chronology of Chronicles.

8.) I agree with Abavranel that Ezra is a continuation of Chronicles.

9.) Fortunately the rabbi or rabbis who redacted the final canon ended with the last lines of Chronicles for the reasons discussed above.

10.) As Franz Rosenzweig taught, R, is in the end, Rabbanu, our rabbi or our rabbi’s. First redaction creates the Five books of Ezra. Second redaction creates Tanach, Torah, Prophets, Writings. This is the ta biblia library of the Rabbi’s of blessed memory.

11.) God help us if we were left with the Books of Ezra and Nehemiah without the Book of Ruth.


Nehemiah: The Second Book of Ezra

Talking Points

1.) !Nehemiah is the main character, not the author of this book.

2.) The Talmud wonders about the character of Nehemiah.

3.) Evidently the ban on intermarriage by Ezra did not work, and Nehemiah, growing ever more crotchety, had the offenders flogged and even tore their hair out of their heads.

4.) I wonder if he and Ezra ever considered consulting the shiksa goddesses the Israelites were enamored of.

5 ) Did the Israelite women chase after cute Shagetz men?

6.) I must admit I do empathize with Ezra and Nehemiah.

As leaders they faced Israelites indifferent to the Fourth Commandment.

Sporting on the Sabbath was a temptation none could resist.

I understand. If all the rules of Torah were reduced to one no brainer:

“No shopping on Shabbat!” Moderns would resist observance.

7.) Ezra and Nehemiah reintroduced the Sabbatical and insisted that loans be forgiven and usurious mortgages and taxes on the poor reduced. This does not even fly as a political platform in our times.

8.) History repeats like a yearly Purim spiel, which brings us to the Book of Esther.

9.)Actually, in the Catholic canon we move from Nehemiah to Tobit and Judith before Esther. The Catholic version is a bit more pious than the protestant  reading. While the story about Esther  is a farce, it is also an amazing commentary on Jew hatred, and sets the stage for the saga of attacking the Jews to this day.


Easter and Esther

1.) History is a day like Purim. Drunk from the idolatry of power, tyrants right up  to our present time have crucified the Jews. The Book of Esther sets the stage.

2.) The problem the world has with Jews is the problem of life itself.

3.) Remember, the revenge scene at the end of the book of Esther  is most likely a fantasy.

4.) I recommend experiencing the Book of Esther as a public reading in the synagogue before Easter.

5.) Esther is also an atonement.

6.) Look to modern Persia for the rerun.


The Books of Maccabees

1.) Mattathias unleashed the holy war and the rabbis, with 20/20 hindsight rejected the story as canonical.

2.) We reflect on this wisdom during the eight days of Dedication. (Chaunukah). The Dedication is to the holy peace of Zechariah as he understands the symbol of Biblical religion, The Menorah.

3.) The Mandala of Kabballah, Psalm 67 as a Menorah, and true Magen David,  is a reminder that Chanukah is a universal holyday for all to meditate upon. Se(A)lah.

4.) The Books of Maccabees are not part of the protestant canon and are studied independent of these daily readings.

Finding a Good Job

1.) When my father died I tried to get through Job, and I was defeated by this book once again. Job is work I just cannot get done.

2.) Is Job a type of Jesus, suffering for us all?


3.) As often as I say kaddish for Job he pops up again.

Does Job inspire devotion?

4.) Is Job the prototype of the good person who has bad things happening?

5.) Is he a real or a fictional person?

6.) Was Job an Israelite?

7.) Is Job tragedy or comedy?

8.) Is the ending a “happily ever after?”

9.) Do you experience any consolation reading Job?




1.)The Psalms have become the essence of praise and worship.

Those devoted to the Psalms say all one hundred and fifty every day.

In Jewish liturgy we do selections as a warm up before the formal call

to prayer.

Our focus will be on chanting and singing for meditation in the personal prayer section of this conversation.

Our devotional reading of the psalms is with the help of Kathleen Norris,

Author, poet, and Benedictine oblate.

Her essay is in Out of the Garden, Women Writers on the Bible, edited by Christana Buchmann and Celina Spiegel. This anthology is a must have in your library.

Kathleen reminds us that paradoxes exist in the Psalms. Reading in order the psalms appear to be impenetrable.

2.) Are they all praise and no pain?

3.) What are we to say to all the emotions in the Psalms?

Devotion here is more than reading. The Psalms are for chanting.

4.) The Psalms are for meditation.

5.) Commentary can get in the way.

6.) Practice is the perfection of the Psalms. Practice for Benedictines recite morning noon and evenining time from beginning to end, all one hundred and fifty Psalms. This takes three to four weeks.

7.) Remember, reading is prelude, alone.

8.) For Jews, we have chevroat tehillim, socities for the recitation of Psalms.

Also, when you attend worship ,notice the Psalms.


1. )Devotion demands honesty so we admit none really read the Book of Proverbs. Not in order, beginning to end.

2.) We do note what has been noted in the past, and we hear the end of Proverbs at funerals for pious women.

3.) What is a wife? Aside from poetic images of the marriage between God and Israel we have only one description of what a wife is in the Bible, Chapter 31, verses ten to thirty one.

As we great the Sabbath as a bride, she accompanies us home to our

Sanctuary and  over our ordered tables, (her altar) our tradition is to chant the end of the Book of Proverbs. The metaphors are a bit mixed and the interpretation of the proverbs open to many reviews as some imagine the ideal wife as a Balabusta of the orthodox variety. My idea of Lady Wisdom,

Sophia is found in my rather interpretive translation of the proverb:

“ My Women warrior I  have found

far above rubies in worth

trusted in my heart

nothing lacking.

The  true Bride does good, not evil

All the days of her life…

Strength and dignity her clothing.

She laughs at the future.

She opens her mouth with wisdom

A Torah of steadfast love

Upon her tongue.

Beauty without grace is deceit.

My women warrior

is in awe.

Her fingers are offering of fruit

Her body a Tree of life.

4.) The proverbs are ready for a devotional rereading. If we hear the voice of the divine feminine in proverbs we rethink our relationship to women.

5.) Devotion to wisdoms begins in mastering proverbs and then writing your own.