Rabbi Yael Levy
 Torah Study for the Soul:
1 BA Bereshit
Please note:  For the first five weeks we will send everyone both Jonathan and Yael's Torah Study as a sample (i.e. 2 emails each Friday). After that you will need to be registered to continue receiving the texts.  If you would prefer not to receive the first five weeks, please email sadie@jewishspirituality.org and let her know.  Thank you.


Parshah | Morning Practice | Practice Throughout the Day 

Find us on Facebook 
 Register for 5773 Text Study
Journeying with the Soul


Join rabbis, cantors and leaders across the country and across denominations in -

Journeying with the Torah:

Week by Week, Season by Season, Moment to Moment

Torah study and practice 

with Rabbi Yael Levy


I will walk in the presence of the One in the Lands of Life.  Psalm 116:9

 Welcome to a Torah journey through time.


Each week we will listen into the Torah portion to discern teachings that can guide our intentions, practices, and actions.  Honoring Torah as a "Tree of Life" we will explore how it leads us through the seasons offering insights and questions that can help us live with fuller awareness and compassion. We hope you will join us.


Cost for the year:  $240 



Shabbat Noah: Creating the World Anew



As the beginning unfolds a warning goes forth:

Remember it is so easy to go astray.

            It is so easy to allow ourselves to be ruled by impatience,

            To be shaped by harsh judgments,

            To become uninterested in the lives of others.

            Even with the best intentions,

            Even with the commitment to love,

It is still so easy to go astray.

But always there is an opening, a tzohar,

A way to see differently,

A way to let in visions, practices and insightsthat help us keep turning.

That help us keep turning toward attentive kindness,

            Toward curiosity and interest.

Always there is an opening, a tzohar

That will show us the way to live in reverent relationship with each other

And all the earth.



In parshat Noah we witness the exile of speech. Noah remains silent when God tells him of the plan to put an end to human beings and destroy all the earth.  When hearing this news Noah does not argue, he does not comment. Noah does not ask one question. Noah, the man who walks with God, remains completely silent as creation is shattered. Noah's speech has been exiled, a consequence of the deep disconnection of his generation.


The people of Noah's generation lost interest in their relationships with each other and the earth. They no longer looked toward each other with curiosity or care. Human interactions became like robbery, people grabbing what they wanted for themselves with out any awareness, sensitivity or concern about how their actions might affect another. The generation had lost the ability to act with kindness. They lost the capacity to see the humanity in another, to see Divinity in the world. This experience was the very converse of love.


And God examined the generation and chose Noah, seeing him not just for who he is but more importantly for who he might become.


God told Noah to do three things:

To build an ark,

To enter the ark with his family,

To bring into the ark representatives from the animal world.


In the building of the ark God instructed Noah to make a tzohar, an opening through which new insights, visions and ways of being could appear.

And with this tzohar the ark became a laboratory for curiosity and kindness.


In the ark Noah's perspective shifted and he began to experience life differently. In the ark Noah became a righteous person. His responsibility to care for the animals transformed his consciousness. Through his relationship with the animals Noah relearned alert, attentive kindness. He rediscovered curiosity. He became interested again in diversity and the intricate patterns of creation. Being responsible for the well being of living creatures awakened his concern for others. 


Noah re-experienced the interconnection of all life. 


Sensitivity and kindness reappeared. Love poured forth.


And with this the world was created anew.


            Alert, attentive kindness.

            Curiosity and interest in others.

            Reverent Relationship.


Even with the best intentions it is so easy to go astray and loss sight of these commitments. This week's Torah portion reminds us to seek a tzohar, an opening that helps us return to awareness and compassion. 

Morning Practice Drash



Morning practice: Metta (Loving Kindness) Meditation


We are invited to make a commitment to sit each morning for 5, 10, 15 or 20 minutes. Any amount of time is worthwhile.


There is great benefit in doing a short but consistent practice.


We begin by sitting and bringing our attention to our breath.


Resting our attention on how our body moves to receive a breath and how it moves to release a breath.  After a few minutes we draw our attention to our heart, noticing the breath fill our chest and torso. With gentle kindness we place upon our heart an intention to create a minyan, a circle, of blessing in our body and mind.


We begin by turning toward our self and offering this prayer:


May I be blessed with love,

May I be blessed with peace,

May I be blessed with well being.


We then focus our attention on someone we love fully and easily and we say to this person:


May you be blessed with love,

May you be blessed with peace,

May you be blessed with well being.


We then call to awareness someone we expect to encounter today and we say to this person:


May you be blessed with love,

May you be blessed with peace,

May you be blessed with well being.


Next we bring to mind someone with whom there is a need for healing and pray for this person:


May you be blessed with love,

May you be blessed with peace,

May you be blessed with well being.


We now invite 6 more people to arise in our heart and mind and say these blessings in turn for each of them. We take notice of who arrives to receive a blessing and how it feels to focus our attention on each person. We might have an experience in which a person arises in our heart/mind and our inclination is not to want to offer them a blessing. When this happens it is important to make a compassionate choice. It is OK to let a person go, knowing there will be another time when we can more freely offer them a blessing.


After the 10th person we close the sit by saying:


May all beings be blessed with love,

May all beings be blessed with peace,

May all beings be blessed with well being.

Throughout the Day Remez

Throughout the Day: The Practice of Mindful Speech


This second week in the journey through the book of Genesis, bereshit, is guided by the letter resh. The resh calls forth practices and qualities of ratzon-Will. Ratzon is the Highest Will - the will beyond our own thoughts and desires, the will beyond our stories, habits and fears. Ratzon is the will of the Infinite flowing through all creation, calling us to return to alignment, urging us to stand in reverent relationship with all life.   We create a tzohar, we form openings for ratzon, though our intentions, words and actions.


Through out the day we practice mindful speech. We take notice of when we are speaking out of fear, anger or judgment. We notice what encourages us to speak with kindness and generosity. And we also bring awareness to our silences. We notice when keeping silent is a wise choice and when keeping silent is the result of constriction, worry or fear. We practice noticing all with non-judgmental awareness, using our insights to help us better connect to ourselves and each other.


During the day we ask ourselves:

Am I speaking truthfully?

Are my words helpful?

Are my words kind?

Are my words necessary?



May our practices this week bring forth blessings for us and all beings.



Rabbi Yael