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Jewish Journal

Rabbi Shawn Fields-Meyer

  • Power of Words

    September 22, 2005 | 8:00 pm

    Each night before retiring, the great Chasidic master Rabbi Nachman of Bratslav would make a list. At the end of a long day, he would write down all the wrongs he had committed -- against other people, against God, against himself. Nachman would read the list over and over again,...

  • The See Season

    September 1, 2005 | 8:00 pm

    There is a remarkable place I go to, about once a year. It is a spot on the Oregon coast. And I mean, literally, a spot. When I stand on that spot,

    I can see the whole world -- all of it.

    Straight ahead, I see the Pacific Ocean, waves rhythmically approaching and departing, humming...

  • Strange Fire

    March 31, 2005 | 7:00 pm

     

    The Chasidic Reb Nachman of Bratslav tells of a king's son who goes mad: he believes he is a turkey.

    The boy removes all his clothes, spends all his time under a table and refuses to eat normal food. Distraught and alarmed, his father summons in all manner of experts, but none can...

  • Through God’s Eyes

    December 9, 2004 | 7:00 pm

     

    We call it the Festival of Lights, but Chanukah starts in a very dark place.

    It begins with two stories, each very serious. One

    tells of a severely outnumbered band of Jews who fought a powerful enemy for religious freedom.

    And there's the other, even more painful tale of Jew...

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  • Chametz 101

    March 21, 2002 | 7:00 pm

    In the dark of night, guided only by a slight illumination, we search the house. Carefully, we stride from room to room, investigating corners, checking furniture, examining windowsills. Finally, the search is complete: 'Tis the night before Pesach, and all the chametz (leavened...

  • Serious Play

    December 13, 2001 | 7:00 pm

    We call it the Festival of Lights, but Chanukah starts in a very dark place.

    It begins with two stories, each very serious. One tells of a severely outnumbered band of Jews who fought a powerful enemy for religious freedom. And there's the other, even more painful tale of Jew vs....

  • Counting Our Blessings

    September 6, 2001 | 8:00 pm

    Jewish legal tradition teaches that we should recite 100 blessings every day. This presents an opportunity and a challenge. How might I fill up my quota today? The numbers start adding up if I pray in the morning, afternoon and evening. I can recite benedictions before eating...

  • Soul Care

    June 7, 2001 | 8:00 pm

    I recently visited a hospital patient, an elderly gentleman with a name, a gaze and a life story from the old country. His deterioration had advanced to the stage of inhibiting verbal communication, so he spoke to me instead through gestures, nods and stares. But slowly, we drew...

  • Raising Children

    February 1, 2001 | 6:59 pm

    What's the Jewish way to raise children? Simple: just teach them Torah, model your values and encourage them to be like their ancestors. Right?



    Right and wrong. True, as Jews we are all about education. But what kind of education? What kind of children are we aiming to raise? And...

  • Eyes Wide Shut

    November 30, 2000 | 7:00 pm

    Why did God create us with two eyes? A Chassidic master once asked this question. His answer: One eye is for looking out -- to observe the world, other people, nature -- so that we might observe what is good and cleave to it, and what is evil and avoid it. The second eye, he taught,...

  • Power of Words

    September 14, 2000 | 8:00 pm

    Each night before retiring, the great Chassidic master Rabbi Nachman of Bratslav would make a list. At the end of a long day, he would write down all the wrongs he had committed - against other people, against God, against himself. Nachman would read the list over and over again,...

  • Invincible and Powerless

    July 20, 2000 | 8:00 pm

    On the day of my wedding, my grandfather was on his deathbed. In earlier years, he had been a delight of my childhood, a source of insight and stability, a constant presence. In planning our wedding, we'd asked my grandfather to play some favorite old songs on his violin during the...

  • If Only

    June 15, 2000 | 8:00 pm

    Two words work to keep us from deeper, more spiritual lives: if only. Sometimes it seems that life would be more meaningful, spiritual and religious, if only we could find the time. If only we could separate ourselves from our day-to-day concerns. If only we could tune out the noise...

  • Counting Our Days

    April 27, 2000 | 8:00 pm

    "Ima, how old am I today?"

    My oldest son's sixth birthday is coming soon. Recently, he has developed a near obsession with calculating exactly how old he is on a daily basis, practically down to the hour. Of course he is hardly unique. From our earliest years, we humans feel the...

  • Where the Heart Is

    March 9, 2000 | 7:00 pm

    Take a minute and build your dream house. What does it look like? How big is it? What do the doorknobs look like? The staircase? How many bedrooms are there? What kinds of flowers are in the yard?

    Building, renovating or even just inhabiting a home requires that we pay attention to...

  • Prayer as Introspection

    January 20, 2000 | 7:00 pm

    This week, in a portion filled with dramatic tales -- the escape from Egypt, the parting of the Red Sea, the manna from heaven and Moses' striking of a rock for water -- we are startled by something much subtler: a brief exchange between human beings and God.

    The Israelites, after...

  • Lighting the Darkness

    December 2, 1999 | 7:00 pm

    With the simple act of lighting a candle, you can illuminate an entire room. Add a mirror, and you have twice as much light. So, too with people. We all carry internal sparks, rays of light within. But sometimes it takes another person to show us how to release them to ourselves and...
  • Speaking One Language

    October 14, 1999 | 8:00 pm

    What kind of Jew are you? Reform? Conservative? Orthodox? Secular? Cultural? Reconstructionist? With whom do you identify? With whom do you disagree? What kind of Jew is so different that you would have nothing to share?

    Somehow, we can't resist the urge to put labels on ourselves, to...

  • The On-Ramp to Meaning

    August 26, 1999 | 8:00 pm

    In Los Angeles, the hardest part of starting a big trip can be getting from the entrance ramp onto the freeway. I sit impatiently, watching the cars in the carpool lane flying by, and wait for the line of vehicles in front of me to get past the green light that allows just one car to...

  • Choosing Our Words Carefully

    July 8, 1999 | 8:00 pm

    For the last several months, my 5-year-old son and I have been engaged in a spirited discussion over a four-letter word that he brought home with him from nursery school. The word is "cool," an adjective his peers apply to everything, from "Star Wars" action figures to cheese pizza....