This blog is not a standard-format web journal. It does not follow the usual format of a blog in so far as its posts are comparitively rare and focused on one particular topic:- The "Dedicated Jewish Contemplative" and the "isolated Jew" in relation to the rest of the Jewish Community.
This "Jewish Contemplatives" website asks the following questions:
- Is it possible to live a Jewish life if there are no other Jews living anywhere near you?
- Is there a place for dedicated contemplative lifestyles in contemporary Judaism?
- Are these two questions potentially related?
The "Cave of the Heart" (in Hebrew: M'arat ha-Lev) is a short pamphlet (kuntres) which I wrote in 2005 to consider these questions. Its second half contains a simple method of receptive prayer. You can find the text of this kuntres on the sidebar in installments, under the header The Cave of The Heart- or you can view the entire booklet HERE.
In October 2007 I wrote an article called "Dedicated Jewish Contemplatives" to promote the renewal of the Jewish monastic and eremitic traditions. The article was originally written for use in an adult education course led by Rabbi Lionel Blue at Leo Baeck College, and as requested, it contains a detailed account of my current lifestyle. It has subsequently appeared in print as part of the Spring 2008 edition of the Berghahn Journal "European Judaism".)
You can read the original article HERE. It might be a good place to start if you are new to this website.
The “Appendices” of 2007 contain additional material on the same or related topics, sometimes including musical scores or illustrations from my own homemade prayerbook. For example: The updates for July and August 2007 focus on dedicated and solitary contemplative lifestyles in Judaism. The updates for June, September, and October are concerned with living a Jewish life if you are far from a congregation.
The “Jewish Hermits in the Desert” article of Aug 2007 makes a special mention of the Therapeutae, the order of Jewish monks and nuns which provides a model, or at least an inspiration, for a renewal of the Jewish monastic-eremitic tradition. The article also includes thumb-nail sketches of some of the "hermits" of Jewish tradition.
Having thus attempted to describe and promote a "Dedicated Jewish Contemplative" life-style… I am getting on with the doing of it. This means that I now return here to post much less frequently. These shorter and most recent posts are archived under the heading "Recent Brief Updates" on the sidebar.
Since September 2008 a related online Community of Jewish Contemplatives has been in existence. Our "Congregation Beit El" is a small but growing internet-based congregation for Jewish solitaries, for Jews living far from accessible congregations, and for contemplative Jews who would like to pray along with them. Members are invited to unite in prayer, and to use the notice-board to post prayers, reflections, and commentaries for the benefit of the group.
I am happy to give interested potential members more information on request.
(The group also maintains a "Page" on Facebook as a way for members of the general public to express solidarity with the aims of this Jewish Contemplatives website and to support the activities of the Beit El community. You can view that Facebook page by clicking HERE.)
Your general comments and responses to this site are also welcomed,and you can contact me via the email address on my profile.