Lech Lecha – A Poem In Search of Oneself
November 13, 2016

By Rabbi Royi Shaffin
Lech Lecha
Go to you 
Go for you
You! Go out yonder.
Lech Lecha
Walkety walk
Walkie Talkie
Lech Lecha
Go out
Go in
Go deep inside yourself
To find your self 
Turn yourself
Inside
Outside
Like Origami
Twist and turn
Wear your inside on the outside 
Lech Lecha
Show your emotions 
Be real
To yourself
And to others
Lech Lecha
Go to a place you have never been before
A place you have never seen
Trust in God
Lech Lecha
Try new things
Explore the world 
Meet new people
Find commonality with people you think you have nothing in common with
Lech Lecha
Feel emotion 
Feel other people’s emotions 
Be an open heart
Lech Lecha
Be like Abraham
Do that which is right 
Smash idols of apathy and immorality 
Lech Lecha
Don’t just sit there
Don’t just sit in one place 
View life as a gift, a journey, an adventure 
Sieze every moment 
Lecha Lecha
Dream
Pray
Hope 
Go out and make your most fantastic dreams come true 
Lech Lecha to a place that only God can show you… and you shall be a blessing.

Interview With A Sinner
October 14, 2016

Rabbi Royi Shaffin

Yes, I was there. I was one of those who committed the sin, but it is not fair that only Moses gets to tell the story. I want you to hear it from another perspective. Here is my story:

I was finally able to see God face to face. All my life I had dreamed of being in God’s presence and now it had become a reality. I starred into God’s beautiful captivating golden eyes. I lost any sense of reality, looking into those eyes. I was at a spiritual high.
We were dancing and singing. We were also placing all kinds of plants in our mouths and smoking them and smelling them as the air was filled incense. The drumming was hypnotizing. The wine flowed by the bucketloads. We were rejoicing. We were finally free. After 400 years of slavery in Egypt, we were free. Free. Free at last. And Moses, so strict and so serious, was not here.
It was hot and the dancing in the hot Sinai sun made it even worse. People were wearing less and less clothes and pretty soon it became a free love fest. We were making love with everyone in front of God. Doesn’t God believe in love? Aren’t we supposed to love each other? It was a glorious time.
After a few hours my vision was blurry and I couldn’t think straight but I didn’t care. It was better than listening to that man Moses always preaching and punishing.
He had gone up the mountain to receive something from God but was late. We saw, on top of the mountain, thunder and lightening and fire and smoke and shofar blasts. He was surely dead. God had killed him.
Now God had come down from the mountain to be with us, the people. Actually, God came out of the pot of gold. We asked Aaron to bring God to us. We all threw our gold into the pot and out came God.
God was large and powerful. God’s huge, sharp, majestic horns were enough to place fear and awe into any person, but they were also the symbol of lust. We lusted after one another, expressing our God-given biological drives.
God was a fierce animal, majestic and made of gold. And yet, in the form of a calf rather than an adult cow or bull, God inspired a form of wonder and playful enjoyment. There, in front of God, we played.

We are the CHILDREN of Israel after all.  
God was perfect. We danced and played and sang and danced and made love in front of the beautiful golden God of Israel and then…

we heard the sound of stone, smashing into thousands of little pieces. Two tablets of stone lay shattered to pieces at the foot of the mountain.

Bilam’s Debate
October 14, 2016

Rabbi Royi Shaffin

Oh God of the Israelites, you must be very powerful, for every time I wish to utter a curse, you change it to a blessing.  
Yes. I do and I will. You will not curse my people.
I do not know you, Oh God of Israel, but according to what they told me, you created the world and you gave humans free will. By what right do you now withdraw that right for me to make my own decisions?
I cannot let you curse them.
But what difference does it make? Why does my curse matter? I am a prophet, not a god. Why would my curse even come true if you oppose it?
Words matter.
What?
Words matter. Blessings and curses are real. Words carry power. Every day, people bless or curse one another. Those who bless are blessed themselves. Those who curse are cursed themselves.  
But what does this have to do with me?  
I am helping you to be blessed.
By removing my free will?
I never removed your free will. I’m just placing an obstacle in your path. Just as I hardened Pharoah’s heart so too am I softening your heart.
“How lovely are your tents Oh Jacob, your dwelling places Oh Israel.”

The Seductive Prisoner of War – A Modern Midrash for Parashat Ki Tetze and for the High Holidays
September 16, 2016

Rabbi Royi Shaffin

The Israelite soldier called out to his captive, ” I want you!!!”
The beautiful captive replied, “You can’t have me. I am a woman of the enemy camp. I am a part of your yetzer hara, your evil inclination. You have done such a good job of conquering my troops. Why suddenly do you want me?”
“You are beautiful,” he said, “and attractive and seductive.”
“The shechina is more beautiful. You should bond with her. I will make myself less seductive. I will remove my finger nails and shave off my hair and put on sack cloth. I will mourn for the death of your evil inclination from which I sprung. I will mourn for that part of you that you so enjoyed but knew was wrong. I will mourn for your greed, your gossip, your theft, your lies, and your disloyalty. I will mourn for you. And by the end of my mourning, I will look like a corpse. Then we will see if you still lust after me.”
The soldier retorted, “I will. I will lust after you. What is wrong with lust?”
The captive, the bald headed, hairless, pale, skeleton figure, the ugly guiding angel replied, “Does not the Torah say, 
״לא תתרו אחרי לבבכם ואחרי עיניכם״
“Do not go out after the evil inclinations of your hearts or the lust after forbidden things that can be seen by your eyes?”
“Yes,” he replied.
“So honor the words of the Torah. They are wise,” the angel, the corpse dressed in a white kittel taught, “so why do you still lust after me?”
“Your pull is too strong. I cannot break free of you, my beautiful, seductive yetzer hara.”
“Then you must marry me,” she said, “and remain married to me all of the days of your life.” “You will not be able to break free,” she continued. “You thought you had conquered me but you shall become the conquered. You will lose your free will. Your heart will be mine. Your mind shall be mine. All of your actions shall be mine. Your ability to think for yourself shall be imprisoned. You will move further and further away from God and the Torah and the right and the good. Do Teshuva now, before it is too late. Turn around and face away from me and and never look back. I’m not as attractive as I seem. Call unto God and God will help you. This is what you shall say: 
השיבינו ה אליך ונשובה. חדש ימינו כקדם.

O God, turn me away from the yetzer hara and toward You and I shall turn. Renew my soul as that of a child of Eden.

I Am A Tree In The Field: A Poem For Parashat Shoftim
September 9, 2016

Rabbi Royi Shaffin

I am a tree in the field 

In a time of war
Armies battle around me 
Fires of hatred flare
Blood flows as water
I am a tree in the field
I have not grown any visible fruit
The General says
I may be cut down 
I am alone
I have not multiplied
I am frightened
My heart is soft
I have not planted my seed in the vineyard
I have not established my home 
I am a tree in the field 
There is no refuge for me
No city to escape to
Should an ax come down upon me 
Accidentally or otherwise
I am a tree in the field 
No one will take responsibility if I am cut down
No hands will be washed of the sap that will flow
Shalom shalom and there is no shalom
Justice justice and there is no justice
Here come the armies to wage war and I, a witness to bloodshed and cruelty, will be cut down 
They will refuse to see the fruit hanging from my branches
They will refuse to honor the years of my orla wisdom
I am an obstacle in the way of their cruel deeds
A lone voice crying out to no avail 
Oh God, let them see my fruit
Save me from their axes
Let me be your messenger
Let my voice be heard 
Let me be a tree of life
Let me teach them the paths of life, of pleasantness, and of peace
I am a tree in the field