What Kavannah? From 6/5/10

This is the first of monthly posts that will share notes of our ongoing monthly meetings, as we meet and learn together, exploring in depth a topic that will be our kavannah for our Passover Village 2011. We welcome comments, responses, and discussions on this blog. We hope to have a lively inquiry into the kavannah of choice over the next 8+ months leading into our next Pesach retreat. Anyone wanting to join our monthly gathering is more than welcome.

What Kavannah?


Present:, Dan, Larry, Devorah, Marc, , Sandra, Dale, Michael


It was clear from the checkins that there was some very scattering energy present, as we tried to gather to begin our study for this year. Every checkin, with one exception, spoke of being scattered, unfocused, at the end of a cycle where the energy was dissipated. Even chanting, breathwork, holy words holy breath, failed to fully bring us present, with ourselves, with each other. Spinning and twirling, jumping, helped a bit, and we settled down to see what was present.

Possible kavannot

A discussion over the next hour or so, slowly moving from our scattered state to more focused, on the following suggestions for possible kavannah to study together for next Pesach:

Ecclesiastes – a book of wisdom teachings, a non-narrative, through which we could explore our ancient wisdoms and learn from that of things within and about us. But without the narrative, how would we bring that into Magid?

Hezekiah – King of Judah during the Assyrian invasion which scattered the 10 northern tribes into oblivion. But for him and his defense of Jerusalem (with a little help from a Friend in high places), so might have the people of Judah been dispersed and the Hebrew people would have disappeared into the pages of history and ceased existence as an identifiable people (interesting to consider what would have been then – no Jesus, no Christianity, no Islam . . . ). Surviving a near-fatal illness, Hezekiah became a healer as well. The story of Hezekiah would lead us into the words of the prophet of Isaiah, who was to Hezekiah as Samuel was to Saul, Nathan was to David – every king has his prophet! It would also lead into an exploration of the geopolitics of the time - shifting empires, shifting alliances, strained relations between Israel and Judah – fascinating stuff. But is this the right path for us as a community now, coming off our intensely intimate experience of the Feminine this past year?

Sarah and Abraham. Masculine and Feminine, Father – Mother, HaKadosh Baruch Hu – Shechinah, union, intimacy, generosity, hospitality, relations with neighbors, polyamory, ancient wisdoms, the division of the Ishmaelites from the Yitzhakites, offerings of healing at personal, relational, communal, and inter-tribal levels. These are just some of the possible teachings that might flow from a study of the first Hebrew couple. Maybe learning the lessons within the story of our first archetypal ancestral couple could even open up a path to world peace. Im tirtzu . . . (if you want it . . . )

Conscious community. Literally risen from the ashes of the Shoah in the rubble of the Warsaw ghetto, these words from a mystic teacher offer a path to building intimate spiritual community in service to HaShem. Reb Zalman Schachter-Shalomi said “this book needs to be translated!” Now it is. But is it right for the Pesach group? How could it be brought into our annual gathering? Maybe this calls for a different mode of study and growth, for those particularly interested in developing spiritual leadership. Some suggested they would rather read it on their own, then perhaps there will be a place and a way to delve its depths in the future. (If you’re interested , it can be found on Amazon or at Abesbooks.com – “Conscious Community: A Guide to Inner Work” by Rabbi Kalonymus Kalman Shapira, translated by Andrea Cohen-Kiener)

The Next Step.

Not really sure if there was absolute consensus, but the discussion clearly leaned towards the Abraham-Sarah kavannah. Over next month, it was suggested we each read or explore the story a bit on our own, and next time we gather we each bring in a piece of the story that struck us, that we would like to discuss in the group.

Next Gathering: Saturday, July 10, 10AM – Noon

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