The Week of Guevara


“We become better able to appreciate that our negative judgements keeps forms rigid.  Blessing allows flexibility.”  from “A Journey of Awakening” by Rabbi Ted Falcon.

This week I was challenged by my emotions.  Through it all life demonstrated friendship, family and gratitude.  I was humbled and took a risk.   This week in Guevara.

The desert is a hard place to be.  Once I get there I want it to be my home.  I cannot put down a structure in the sand.  I have to be ready to put my bedroll on my back and move.  Move like the light of the sefirot move through my body.   It is never easy.  I stood with all my broken parts.  I ran for cover, for numbness, for a chance not to feel my emotions, but they stood strong, not in judgement but in unity.  The energy moves through me.

This year I prepare to be unprepared.  More things are place in the desert.  I empty my life into the sand.  People, work, possessions, relationships, memories.   Initially I wanted to be anyone else but me.   The journey to wholeness is bringing parts of myself to connect human to human.

Stacks of headshots, tapes and cassettes and videos and mp3s.  Looking at all those things, pieces, places, parts of me I toss it all into the desert and I’m afraid to walk away.  It was a long journey and now I am ready to leave it in the desert.   Lovers would come and go from my life.  We all left unfulfilled.  I look at the judgment and negativity, it brings me pain.  I look at the grace I was given many years ago and it gives me hope.

I continue to find music to accompany me on this journey.  Pieces I have heard many time, some surprising me and new music I heard only this week.  I will be ready to dance.


Playlist for the Week of Guevara


Day 8.  Chesed in Guevara.  I Got a Feeling by the Beatles

(I struggle with my feelings as the Beatles struggled when they wrote this song)

Day 9.  Guevara in Guevara.  Sweet Emotion by Aerosmith

(allowing the energies of my emotions to arrive)

Day 10. Tiferet in Guevara.  Unchain my Heart by Ray Charles

(moving through my feelings in the heart space)

Day 11. Netzach in Guevara.  Good Vibrations by The Beach Boys

(the vibrations of emotions are the focus)

Day 12.  Hod in Guevara.  Learning How to Bend by Gary Allan

(negativity keeps me rigid and blessings make me flexible)

Day 13. Yesod in Guevara.  Letting Go by Wings

(accepting the self by letting go)

Day 14. Malchut in Guevara.  I Feel the Earth Move by Carol King

(the energy of bringing heaven and earth together)


What sings to you?

Zack Hoffman 2017

The Week of Chesed

Counting the Omer, the week of Chesed

(I am using Rabbi Ted Falcon’s book  “A Journey of Awakening” to count the Omer.  These are my reflections.)

I am challenged.  Stirred and shaken, I am asked to look at the energy of Lovingkindness for the week.  It travels through my body.  I am resistant.  I am asked to leave behind in the desert that which keeps me in slavery.  I am leaving behind my childhood abusers.  I am taking them from my consciousness, my life, my DNA and casting them out into the desert.  I imprison them naked and beaten in cages to perish in the desert.  There is no Lovingkindness.   My heart pounds as I dragged them out into the sand.  I am on the edge of the desert, I have not really left Mitzrayim.  I look back to see Egypt, still stuck, still no peace, still a slave.

I stay with the Omer.  Keep counting.  At times, I feel like a fraud but I keep breathing, keep meditating.  The energy swirling through me, challenging me.  Right shoulder into left shoulder. Then into my heart space.  The pictures of my tormentors shake me at midday.  I’m angry and confused.  I still have not moved deeply into the desert. I am on the skirt again. I am a slave again.  I have not let go of anything.  I am punishing, selfish and retaliatory.  I meditate.  Lovingkindness washes over me.  I awaken.  They are not my tormentors but Children of God.  I slowly walked to the cages and unlock them, give them clothes, water and food.  Show them to a beautiful rich Oasis.  The Oasis of Lovingkindness.  If they are not free I am not free.  The sefirah opens.  A parade of people are set free into the desert.  The Oasis of Lovingkindness waits for them.  Palm trees, shade, camels and goats, dates and fruit.  True abundance.  I watch my mother and father walk across the sand, smiling and waving.  I walk further into the desert.   I breath.  Shalom.

Music finds me.   The flow of energy for me has always had music to it.  I start to compile a playlist, one song for each day.  The wonderful thing about collecting music digitally is that I now have the library of a radio station on my computer.  The music of my youth.  Mostly from 1965 to 1985, but I have managed to keep up with times.  Jazz, rock, country, folk whatever music sings to me.  Now I begin a playlist for my journey.   At the end of the journey I will have a forty-nine-song playlist.

Here is the Playlist for Chesed.

Day 1. Chesed in Chesed…Beginnings by Chicago

(the lyrics “only the beginning of what I want to feel forever” jumped out)

Day 2. Gevurah in Chesed… More Love by Dixie Chicks

(beautiful song with strength, love and polarities)

Day 3. Tiferet in Chesed…Keep me in your Heart by Warren Zevon

(song of surrender and love)

Day 4. Netzach in Chesed… Express Yourself by Charles White and the Watts 103rd St. Band

(creative expression of lovingkindness)

Day 5. Hod in Chesed …Splendor by Tim Moyer

(New music for me.  Found this piece by searching the energy of the sefirah)

Day 6. Yesod in Chesed… Get Together by The Youngbloods

(My awakening was in the sixties)

Day 7. Malchut in Chesed… Higher Ground by Stevie Wonder

(Song of the sefirah that grounds me)


What music sings to you? What is your playlist?

Zack Hoffman    2017



Counting the Omer

Counting the Omer

“The tight or stuck places for which Mitzrayim (Egypt) is a metaphor exist within the self, to be discovered and released as we grow.  Spiritual awakening requires releasing ourselves from our inner enslavement to old patterns, old self-definitions, old beliefs.”

Rabbi Ted Falcon from “A Journey of Awakening”

I begin seven weeks of counting the Omer.  Meditating on the energies on the Kabbalistic tree of Life.  A tradition.  A ritual.  A companion to Passover.  Spiritually we have escaped Egypt, or Mitzrayim.  A place of stuckness.  Now we are in the desert.  For seven weeks, I will cross the desert to the promised land of freedom.  What do I bring with me?  What will I leave behind in the desert?  Will I leave behind stubbornness and procrastination?  Will I take with me an open heart?  I prepare, I write and still I am confused.  Slavery can be deceiving, like an old pair of slippers that are worn and eaten away, the fit is still comfortable, still familiar.  Freedom is the unknown, places that open the hole in the middle of my chest.  Do I brave the fear or cling to what is familiar but useless?

I want to leave behind loneliness, pack it up and bury it in the sand.  Pack up the addict that lurks in the shadows and whispers in my ear as sadness whispers in the other.  I will be surprised.  I will pack something I think I need and it will have to go.  I will rush back and uncover something I buried and take it with me again.  I will meditate on being human.  I will meditate on being free.  I will trudge the desert like my ancestors before me.

I will count the sheaves one at a time.  One sefriot at a time.  One meditation at a time. Watch the energy move through the tree of life.   Watch the energy move in and out of my body and breath.   I am familiar with that.  I am ready.  I have been here before.

Zack Hoffman 2017


Latkes as Love

My grandmother’s kitchen always felt safe.   If I was Quasimodo, I would not need to ring the bell in church steeple and yell “Sanctuary!”.  Sanctuary for me was sitting in a red vinyl chair in my grandmother’s kitchen on Glengary Avenue in Toronto.  My grandmother’s meals were always nurturing.  When I need comfort I immediately think of my grandmother’s meals.  The meal I still remember as being pure comfort was a small bowl of Lipton’s chicken noodle soup, followed by some green beans, followed by potato latkes.  There is no emptiness that that meal will not fill.  Not a permanent fix but for that moment in time; I am full, I am safe, I am loved.

I lived in Los Angeles but at the end of the summer I would usually fly to Toronto and spend six weeks with my grandmother.  Usually the six weeks before school started.    On arriving at my grandmother’s house there would be latkes and baked rice pudding.  All the unhappiness of the past ten months would melt away in the safety of my Grandmother’s kitchen and an outpouring of food.

Sometimes after coming in from playing in the park, I would be met by a large stack of potatoes and a peeler.  My Grandmother preparing rice pudding or veranchicas, she needed help with the potatoes.  Then I was given the rectangular metal grater and was instructed to “shraboon” (the Yiddish word for grate).   I would grate the potatoes and try not to add too much of my knuckle skin or blood.

At the ripe old age of 19, standing in my grandmother’s kitchen, I had a moment of clarity.  If I wanted to have latkes more than the once a year I came to Toronto I was going to have to make them for myself.   I turned to my grandmother was drinking a cup of Red Rose tea and said, “Granny can you give me the recipe for latkes?”  My grandmother looked at me and she said, “There’s no recipe?  I will make them and you can watch me.”  We prepared some potatoes and then she turned to me, smiled and said “Sharboon!”.  There were no measuring tools, no cups or teaspoons.  Breadcrumbs were measured by the handfuls, and the same hand was used to measure out a small mounds of pepper and salt in the middle of my grandmother’s hand.   She separated the egg yokes and beat the whites so when the eggs were added to the potato mixture it would make it all fluffier.  I admit in my recipe I have dropped the ball with beating the egg whites and I have improved on the grating of the potatoes by using my Cuisinart mini food processor.  I push a button that says “chop” and say “Shraboon!”.

In a few days it will Passover.  I love this holiday.  The message of freedom from bondage. That we were slaves and live in Egypt (Mitzryim) which literally means “a place of stuckness”.  Where do I now still live in slavery?  Am I ready to pack up and walk toward freedom?  What do I leave behind?  What do I take with me?   I will always pack a few potatoes, some eggs, onion, breadcrumbs and my Grandmother’s love.

There is a Universal Spirituality  Seder with Rabbi Ted Falcon on Wednesday April 12th.  One of my favorite things to do.  There is a link in case you want to join me and we can break matzo together.

Happy Passover.