IJS e-letter 

We are excited to introduce you to this, our first monthly e-letter.  You are receiving this because you have attended a retreat with us, signed up for this newsletter, are a Hevraya member, have had some recent interaction with IJS or indicated an interest in being updated with IJS news. 

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Intention: monthly, brief, and useful
Our intention for these e-letters is to send them once a month, keep them short, and include at least one practice piece in each.  E-letters may also include new podcasts, teachings, other resources, or announcements about upcoming retreats.  We hope you will find them useful and enjoyable.

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Practice Piece:  Energy in Action
Myriam Klotz

Rabbi Myriam Klotz


I am currently teaching an eight month training program entitled And You Shall Be a Blessing:  Jewish Yoga Training for an Awakened Life in Westchester County, NY.  We are enjoying an exploration of middot (qualities or attributes, such as lovingkindness or equanimity) and yoga through study and practice. This month, we are learning about the quality of zerizut-enthusiasm or swiftness, sometimes understood as 'right effort.'  What follows is a teaching and practice from this study.


Zerizut  is the energy  that we exert to begin an action.  It is that which enables us to get up with alacrity in the early morning hours, the wherewithal to move through inertia, slowness, through lethargy and the kind of heaviness which is sometimes called 'sloth.'  If we were of the 'sloth' family truly, we would be animals from South America who hang by their claws upside down in trees and move very  slowly.  It is hard to motivate a sloth to move quickly.  This earthy state of heavy, dull, slowness is helpful when we are drawing things to a close, be it a day, a project, a life.  Yet, if it is imbalanced in our lives it can subvert our aspirations to grow and refine ourselves on the spiritual path. When it becomes the energy which dulls our capacity to feel, sense, act and respond to life with freedom in each moment, there is a deficiency of zerizut.  It says in Orchot Tzadikim, an anonymous, instructive 15th century text examining middot:

Authentic zerizut then is this: one's heart is alert, her mind is wakeful, and her limbs are light for the performance of her labor, but not in over-hastiness in any matter.  All of these matters require great discernment for deciding when to be quick and when to delay.

As we move through this first month of 2010, when the days are shorter and for some, the air is cold outside, and when we might imagine ourselves sitting by a warm fire sipping tea, hot chocolate, or another beverage of choice, how do we maintain that alert, wakeful, light, balanced state of discerning zerizut?  How, perhaps, can we cultivate zerizut to generate more energy to pursue our spiritual practices such as prayer, study, gemilut hasadim (acts of lovingkindess), and the like? 

The help can actually be quite simple and easy.  The rabbinic tradition offers this practical and embodied wisdom:  get moving!  Our sages tell us that when we notice we are feeling dull in mind or in the body, when we are lost in thoughts or simply 'spacing out' or are feeling down, or feel no motivation to study or interact, it can be as simple as clapping our hands; going for a walk; singing a song with our full hearts; going into nature and breathing deeply, especially around the running water of a stream, a waterfall, or the ocean.  We can influence our minds and hearts towards greater energetic aliveness when we begin with our bodies, and in so doing return to a more alert and relaxed state of mind which is filled with zerizut.

Thank you! Rachel Cowan
Thank you for taking a few minutes out of your day to be with us.  L'shalom, Rachel.
New Podcast!
Sheila Weinberg
We've just added a new teaching, In the Divine Image, by Rabbi Sheila Weinberg to our podcast collection.


February E-letter Preview

We are excited to announce that Sheila's new book, Surprisingly Happy is coming out this month, we'll profile Sheila and the book in next month's newsletter.

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Breathe.  Linshom.