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Shema-Nic Journeys: The Shema In Spiritual Practice

Zoom 4

Elliot Ginsburg
University of Michigan, Professor of Jewish Thought and Mysticism

Rabbi Dr. Elliot Ginsburg is a professor of Jewish Thought and Mysticism at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, the founding Rabbi of the Pardes Hannah minyan, as well as a senior teacher in the ALEPH (Jewish Renewal) Ordination Program. He is the author of two books and numerous articles on Jewish Mysticism and combines intellectual engagement with a commitment to spiritual practice.

Of all the prayers in the Jewish tradition, perhaps none is sunk deeper into our consciousness than the Shema. Often the first prayer we learn as a child, and the last offered on our deathbed, it is a reminder that beneath all the variation, all the distinctions and separations, there is a deeper Unity. In this session, we will explore key interpretations and practices of the Shema, and the range of meanings associated with the proclamation of Oneness. We will briefly explore rabbinic practices and philosophical affirmations—study text—before moving to the mystical Shema and a few powerful contemporary practices. Among the teachings we may explore are (1) a guided kabbalistic meditation wherein the first verse of the Shema serves as a Ladder to the One, as well as a map of consciousness; (2) the Shema as a call to “deep listening”—a bearing witness (“withness”!) to the interconnectedness of our world; and (3) the forgiveness and "letting go" that punctuates the traditional Keri’at Shema al ha-Mitah, the Bedtime Shema. Text study, meditation, chanting, and personal reflection: This is learning to grow with and to take home: to integrate into your daily practice.