Text and City

Rabbi Mishael Zion | Text and the City | Bronfman Fellowships | Rosh haShana 2016My favorite book growing up was Arnold Lobel’s “Owl at Home”, especially because of one quirky tale, which always enchanted me. It’s called “Tear-water Tea”, and it starts like this:Owl took the kettle out of the...

Rabbi Mishael Zion | Text and the City | Bronfman Fellowships | Mattot 2016They once asked Hillel where he was going. He answered: "I am going to do a mitsva.""Which mitsva?" "I am going to the bathroom" "That is a mitsva??" "Yes, so the body won't disfunction""Where are you going Hillel?" "I am...

Rabbi Mishael Zion | Text and the City | Shavuot 2016“Few adults, very few, are aware to what extent children watch their parents, constantly on the lookout for some sign of how they should approach the world; how sharp and vibrant their intelligence is in the years leading up to the disaster of...

A presentation delivered at the Wexner Alumni Summit April 2016, Rabbi Mishael Zion “What is American Jews’ relationship to Israel?” is a topic of much debate, discussion and handwringing in recent year. Words like crises, distancing, occupation, religious freedom, BDS and assimilation...

Rabbi Mishael Zion | Text and the City | Purim 2016Anyone who has initiated a difficult conversation knows that moment just before, hand hovering above the doorknob, trying to discern what exactly should be said to gain the desired outcome. Rehearsed lines feel empty, and a chasm yawns between what...

Rabbi Mishael Zion | Text and the City | Purim 2016Chapter Four. A man walks through the city streets, wearing sack cloth and ashes. His entire people have just been sentenced to death by the Grand Vizier. They are to be killed in a day of public violence - in an empire that prides itself on its...

Rabbi Mishael Zion | Text and the City | Yitro 2016“I need not expand on the importance of the theme of authority. Few are the educated people who can exist without depending on others, or develop a truly independent opinion. One cannot overestimate the power of people’s lack of internal decision...

Rabbi Mishael Zion | Text and the City | VaYechi 2015For a few weeks now I’ve been meaning to write about my ancestor, Levi. The mythical father of my own tribe of Levites, he’s been rearing his head a lot lately. Together with his brother, Shimon, Levi is the first Child of Monotheism who...

Rabbi Nehunya ben HaKanah would pray when he entered the Beit Midrash (=House of Study) and when he left, a brief prayer.They said to him: What is the nature of this prayer?He answered: Upon my entrance, I pray that no mishaps should occur because of me; and upon my departure, I...

Rabbi Mishael Zion | Text and the City | Lech Lecha 2015“Suddenly, from Ur Kasdim / the Father of MultitudesShined forth like a star / to illuminate the darkness.You deferred Your anger / When you surveyed his deeds."(Poem for Yom Kippur Avodah service, 7th Century)As the children of Abraham...

Rabbi Mishael Zion | Text and the City | Shabbat Teshuva 2015This High Holiday season I am exploring texts and inspirations about our sensory organs, as a path to approaching Teshuva. Returning to our senses. This piece reflects on the ears. (Check out previous installments: the Eyes and the Mouth...

Rabbi Mishael Zion | Text and the City | Rosh haShana 2015Exploring texts and inspirations about our sensory organs, as a path to approaching Teshuva. This second piece reflects on the mouth. (Check out #1: Eyes).Death and Life are in the hand of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its...

Returning to our Senses #1: EyesRabbi Mishael Zion | Text and the City | Elul 2015Three organs are under a person’s control:the mouth, the hands, and the feet.Three are not under one’s control:the eyes, the ears, and the nose.Midrash Tanhuma, Toledot #12This summer I studied with the 2015 Bronfman...

Rabbi Mishael Zion | Moonshine Sivan | Shavuot 2015If you believe in mythical time, on this coming Saturday night the Torah will be given to you. Again. Shavuot doesn’t celebrate a historical event from the past, but rather a real occurrence that is about to take place. You don’t want to be caught...

Rabbi Mishael Zion | Moonshine Iyar 2015 | Text and the City “From the morrow of the Sabbath you’ll count fifty days,And offer up a new offering to the Lord” (Leviticus 23)Few things are sillier in Judaism than Sefirat haOmer, “counting the days” from Passover until Shavuot. This innocuous spring...

Sharing an abridged and "fast and loose" translation of my favorite modern Hassidic text...“And you shall count for yourselves from the morrow of the Sabbath, from the day of bringing the Omer sheaf, seven whole weeks, until the morrow of the seventh Sabbath you shall count fifty days – and then...

Tonight is the most important night of the Jewish year. It isn’t Yom Kippur, Holocaust memorial day or Hanukah. And it doesn’t take place in your Synagogue, or in Israel, or anywhere where you aren’t. It is Seder night, and it takes place in your dining room.Seder night has a radical claim at its...

I don’t usually write about politics, but thought I’d share some thoughts on the upcoming Israeli elections. Hope this is helpful in making sense of what’s going on and looking forward to learning from other voices that see things differently than I…MishAn Amateurs’ Guide to the 2015 Israeli...

Moonshine Adar | Rabbi Mishael Zion | Text and the City | Purim 2015It’s easy to underestimate the story of Esther. With its burlesque scenes, over-the-top characters and ancient court politics, it can seem uninspiring. Its setting in the child-friendly Purim and its violent ending make it seem...

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