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some sayings of ר‘משבצונה“ל

For many years I have worked hard, and struggled with mastering virtuous. Now, in addition, I’m working on becoming more virtual.
This is an expression of that effort.
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השיבנו ה‘ אליך ונשובה חדש ימינו
כעוד לא היו
* * * * * * *
ומביא גאלה…

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All photographs are by Mark Hurvitz unless they are obviously not (or credit otherwise is given).

The photos in the banner at the top (only a shallow sliver of a much larger photo) are either from our home or our travels and are offered for their beauty alone (though a brain-teaser for me: "Where was that?").

#blogexodus : future (tweet #torah at sinai)

aiming toward the future

How do I long for Your presence? Let me count the days:

הִנְנִי מוּכָן וּמְזוֻמָּן לְקַיֵּם מִצְוַת עֲשֵׂה שֶׁל סְפִירַת הָעֹמֶר.

Hin’ni muchan um’zuman l’kayem mitzvat aseh shal s’firat ha’Omer.

I am ready to move from freedom to responsibility, as I count the Omer days.

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ אֱלֹהֵנוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, אֲשֶׁר קִדְּשָׁנוּ בְּמִצְוֹתָיו וְצִוָּנוּ עַל סְפִירַת הָעֹמֶר.

Baruch atah Adonai, Eloheinu Melech ha-olam, asher kiddishanu b’mitzvotav, v’tzivanu al S’firat Ha-omer.

Blessed are You Adonai our God, Sovereign of all space and time, who has made us distinct through Your directives and has directed us to count the Omer.

הַיּוֹם יוֹם שֶׁהֵם שָׁבוּעוֹת וְ יָמִים לָעֹמֶר.

Hayom yom sheheim shavuot v’ yamim la’Omer.

Today is the day which is weeks and days of the Omer.

פסח points to שבעות

Consider Pesach and the Seder as pointers to Shavuot, the time when we receive the 10 Commandments at the foot of Mount Sinai. We begin counting the Omer at Pesach.

Many Omer calendars exist. Imagine a different one here. It follows the color wheel. Begin counting in the upper right corner on the first day of Sefirah with the “bright red of rebellion” and end forty-nine days later at the “brilliant violet of royalty” ready to receive Torah. Each day of Sefirah focus on that color (and its qualities) as it appears in our world.

"roygbiv" omer calendar

"roygbiv" omer calendar

and if it is a pointer…

tweet #torah to the top

Once again I prepare to count the Omer online. Once again, I expect that some of my friends will also be counting the Omer on Twitter and Facebook. I enjoy seeing this counting and all the different ways we do it. Last year I felt momentum build as we neared the moment of Revelation.


In 2009 Reconstructionist Rabbi Shai Gluskin organized an attempt to bring Torah to as many people as possible on the evening of Shavuot, using Twitter. As he expressed it then (on Twitter):

Are you in? A 49th day of omer prep for Shavuot #Torah fest. Goal: get many tweeting Torah and see #Torah trend in top 10 during the day.

Some people wonder why we might do this. Did not Hillel say that among our primary tasks is (Avot 1:12) loving mankind (all of humanity), and bringing them (all) close to Torah. אוהב את הברייות ומקרבן לתורה?

That year (5769) we were able to Tweet #Torah to the mid-30s among trending topics. I do not know how “high” we reached in 5770 or 5771. I propose we give it our best again this year.


The “day” of May 25 2012 is “erev” Erev Shavuot. I suggest that we prepare as many 133 character Torah lessons as we can to “release” on that day. If you have been sharing #Torah Tweets through the year… Torah does not go bad or stale. You should feel free to “recycle” those thoughts. I would like to begin tweeting at sundown Jerusalem time on the 25th. Does anyone know how to calculate that?


I think this is a great way to encourage awareness of Torah. I’m sure we each have many simple “Torah thoughts” that can be expressed in 133 characters. (Don’t forget to leave room for the final space and #Torah, that’s 7 more characters.) If you think that 133 characters is not enough for a profound thought from Torah, consider that the following sentence is only 102 characters (also from “Hillel the Tweeter”):

If I am not for myself, who will be for me. if I am for myself alone, what am I. And if not now, when?


Or consider these:

  • #Torah is not in heaven, that you should say: Who shall go up for us to heaven, & bring it to us, & make us to hear it, that we may do it?
  • Neither is #Torah beyond the sea, that you might say: Who shall go over the sea, & bring it to us, & make us hear it, that we may do it?
  • But #Torah is very near to you, in your mouth, and in your heart, that you may do it.

I’m sure that some of us still have Joseph L. Baron’s A Treasury of Jewish Quotations which can serve as a little goldmine of tweetable thoughts.


I suggest we each prepare a number of “tweets” in advance. Set up a text file and then simply copy, and paste them into our preferred Twitter tool about once or so an hour (depending on your “capabilities” (schedule, etc.)). For those who use Twitter with your congregations, your congregants, too, can join in… either with their own thoughts, or questions about #Torah, or re-tweeting yours. Let’s get everyone involved in thinking Torah as a lead-in to Shavuot.

If you expect to be busy on May 25, you can use any of a variety of *free* tools that have been developed that enable you to prepare your tweets in advance:

You can learn about more similar tools here (they may, or may not, still be functioning):

If any of you are active on other listservs you think might be interested in participating, please spread the word.

Some additional thoughts about this project. In 2011 JPS offered a tool to “shred” the book of Ruth. We may be able to do something similar this year. This enabled people to easily share tiny bits of the actual text of TaNaKh with little effort.

But, Twitter has limitations on how frequently any one individual (account) can tweet. Therefore, and for general “encouraging broad participation” reasons, it would be good to have as many people tweeting as possible.

  • I don’t know at what age people get their accounts, but, Bar and Bat Mitzvah students could be encouraged to tweet a thought or two about their Torah Portion.
  • Confirmation students could be encouraged to tweet a thought or two about the Ten Commandments (as well as, the Torah portion from their Bar or Bat Mitzvah). They might also consider what it means to be “commanded” or to “receive Torah”.
  • Any adult education class could tweet their favorite Psalm, Prophetic thought, Rabbinic maxim.
  • Anyone can tweet a thought about: what it means to be commanded; what “revelation” means in a world of information overload.
  • In 2010 David Levy of Succasunna prepared a tweet for each of the Parshiot. I know that some of us write haiku, others write limericks. These short forms often fit quite well as tweets.
  • If you have sermons that are online, shorten the URL using a service such as <> and add that short URL to a phrase that describes the sermon’s theme.

you get the idea….

After Shavuot 5771, one of the participants wrote (on that year’s Facebook event page):

What an amazing experience for me! Although we never quite reached the “top”- I was moved by the learning, the community and the incredible opportunity to learn from my friends and colleagues! Thank you for creating this chance to stand at the foot of a virtual Sinai and count me in for next year’s program!

Others wanted to know how “high” we climbed…

The big question some asked:

How far did we get to the top of the trending list?

is a bit harder to answer, than:

  • Did you learn something?
  • Did you meet someone new?
  • Did someone else’s #Torah tweet cause you to think in a way you had not thought before?
  • Did your understanding of #Torah grow?
  • Did you feel a bit more a part of the revelation we celebrate at Shavuot?

Please help us broaden the participation as much as possible. I think you and your congregants will gain from the experience. If you feel so moved, let us know on the Facebook event page for this year that you plan on attending. Check the sidebar on the right “Preparing for שבעות” for more thoughts on this project.

how will you move from celebrating our freedom to accepting our responsibilities?

what is “#blogexodus”?

This is the last post in the series “#blogexodus”. My friend and colleague Phyllis Sommers has thought of yet a new creative way to prepare for Pesach. You can learn more here.

#blogexodus schedule

blogging the exodus

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