The Week in Malchut…A Journey’s End

The Week in Malchut.  A Journey’s End.

In 1974 I went to Israel and spent a year on two kibbutzim and a few months just outside of Tel Aviv.  I thought I was going to immigrate to Israel but I left still lost but changed forever by being in the promised land.  My journey has taken me back to the practice of Judaism.  Back to Sinai.  This year I counted the Omer.   I have made this journey counting the Omer many times in the past decade.  At times it has felt like leaving Israel…still lost but changed.  This time it feels different.  It has been a long journey, powerful, sad, joyous.  I come out of the desert changed but ultimately I am still me.  I will do what I do, which is to tell a story.  Tell a story about the first time I traveled to the Promised land.

I landed at the Kibbutz Ashdod Yaakov Meuchad.  The Kibbutz was a large farming community near the Jordanian border.  I had signed up to be part of the Ulpan.  Volunteers who worked the fields half day and studied Hebrew half day.  Most of us volunteers worked in the Banana fields.  Historically the land we were on was King Solomon’s plantation.  The desert reclaimed the land hundreds of years ago.  The  Israelis were not  deterred by this and with the use of drip irrigation had again taken back the land.  We worked in the morning and had classes in the afternoon.  There were two classes…the other class would work in the afternoon and study in the morning.  We alternated weeks.  We were young and had a lot of fun.  Here is a picture of our Ulpan celebrating Halloween.  With very little, we made the most of it.

After being on the Kibbutz for a month a few of us left the Kibbutz to take a short trip to Jerusalem.  Three days.  It was me, Jesse and a young girl named Sue.  That morning we worked in the fields and after breakfast we headed out to Jerusalem.  I had a grapefruit sitting by my bed on a small night stand, I ate it in the dark before I went into the field.  There was no refrigeration and the fruit had turned.   By the time we had gotten to the bus stop food poisoning had set in.  The bus came at 11 am.  I fell to my knees and puked as the bus arrived.  “Stay or Go” I heard my friends say …I pulled myself up and made it to the bus.  Put my backpack in the overhead rack, plopped into a seat near the front of the bus and then passed out, a sweaty mess, much to the dismay of the woman I was sitting next to.

I must have passed out for close to two hours.  The driver had the radio playing.  Broadcasting at the time was a pirate radio station coming from a boat in the Eastern Mediterranean off the coast of Israel.  It was Avie Nathan’s “The Voice of Peace”.  When I came to I saw a sign that said, “Bethlehem 10 Kilometers”, at that same moment the music I heard was the Band’s song “The Weight”.  The opening line is, “Pulled into Nazareth, I was feeling about half past dead…”  It was a moment of profound synchronicity.  I was exactly where I was supposed to be, doing exactly what I was supposed to be doing with the people I was supposed to be with.

Whatever was going on with me at the time, Jerusalem cut through to my core.  I believe it is the spiritual center of our world.  That’s why it is so chaotic there.  There was a vibration for me that I felt when I stood in the place where three great religions met in a space that size of a football field.  There was so much I had yet to deal with.  A year later, the death of a friend shook me and I was drawn back to Los Angeles.  A long journey we seem to never finish.

Music has always been something that I have taken with me.  I am glad to have counted the Omer with music.  I hope you liked the playlist.  Perhaps it opened your ears, I know it opened mine.  I have a lot of music on my computer, enough to run a radio station.  The final song for Malchut was found on my computer.  I did a search using the word “awake” in iTunes.  Mumford and Son’s “Awake My Soul”.  It was on my computer but I had never heard it before.  One more gift as this journey ends.  May you find yourself at the foot of Sinai waiting for the shift.   Love and blessings.

Playlist for the week

Day 43.  Chesed in Malchut.  Kissed by Nature by Elaine Elias

(This song found me via the radio. Observing the world, knowing “love is everywhere”.)

Day 44.  Gevurah in Malchut.  New Frontier by Donald Fagen

(Boundaries and borders have changed on the last leg of this journey.)

Day 45. Tiferet in Malchut.  Loves the Only House by Martina McBride

(Reflections of our world which needs an open heart.  This song sparks emotion in me.)

Day 46. Netzach in Malchut.  Ball of Confusion by The Temptations

(Walking the Kingdom in today’s world. A song just as poignant today as when I heard it over 40 years ago.)

Day 47.  Hod in Malchut.  Going Home by The Rolling Stones

(A traveling song, over 11 minutes of Stones.  The last part of the journey is harder to get to than you think.  Almost home.)

Day 48. Yesod in Malchut.  The Weight by The Band

(This week I remembered a story of the first time I was in Jerusalem.  This song will always take me back to that road, that place, that time.)

Day 49. Malchut in Malchut.  Awake My Soul by Mumford and Son

(This last song for the journey roots me to the tree of life. Having had a spiritual awakening as a result of this journey.  We are at Sinai.)


Zack Hoffman 2017


The Week in Yesod

The Week in Yesod

Six weeks ago, when I started this journey, I was at the Interfaith Seder with Rabbi Ted Falcon.  To begin the Seder, he made us all repeat the following words out loud:

I am exactly where I am supposed to be.

With exactly whom I supposed to be with.

Doing exactly what I am supposed to be doing.

At times, I find it difficult to remember this.  This week brought up a lot for me. The desert swirls around me.  The sands of confusion inside and out.  Feelings of joy and brokenness, elation and exhaustion, it all intermingles, the fragrance of life.

The sefirah of Yesod.  The location is in the genital area.  I go back and forth between sex and ego. In my youth, I was driven by both.  And now in the desert it feels like a place of brokenness.  I do not want to look at low self-esteem. I do not want to look at my aloneness.  I do not want to look at the things I have created that have gone nowhere.  I do not want to look at my creations yet unfinished.  The sands are swirling.

In a moment of clarity I realize that I am all that I am.  All my imperfections. The ones that lead me to manipulate. To put on a show. To put on a face. To accept my smaller self.  I am all my triumphs.  The ones that touch people through laughter and tears.  The ones that allow my genuine self to emerge.  A search for intimacy with imperfection. Being human.  Celebrating human.

At a moment of incredible synchronicity, I am in a doctor’s office and across the room a friend in recovery is in the same office. We hug. We are both there to take care of ourselves, and for each of us it is challenging to do selfcare.  The screwed up believe that if only everybody around us would be taken care of then we would be that whole complete human being.  But in that moment, we get to bear witness on the action we take, the journey of selfcare.  When I am greeted by a fellow traveler on this road of recovery I know:

I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be,

doing exactly what I’m supposed to be doing,

with whom exactly I’m supposed to be with.


The music this week was soulful and soul-full.

Playlist for the week

Day 36.  Chesed in Yesod.  Thank You by Sly and the Family Stone

(The lovingkindness of the separate self.  The celebration of self.)

Day 37.  Gevurah in Yesod.  Standing in the Shadows of Love by the Four Tops

(The shadow self.  The polarities of love.)

Day 38. Tiferet in Yesod.  Give Me Peace by George Harrison

(The heart space echoes as I search for peace. )

Day 39. Netzach in Yesod.  I am a Child by Neil Young

(Accepting all the parts of me…man and the child.)

Day 40.  Hod in Yesod.  Walk Through the World by Marc Cohn

(Moving through the desert, I do not go alone.  There is community.)

Day 41. Yesod in Yesod.  Sexual Healing by Marvin Gaye

(I have lived in darkness, I have dared to look deeper, I have sought a path of recovery…of healing.)

Day 42. Malchut in Yesod.  Feet Fall on the Road by Bruce Cockburn

(In a week of being stirred up like the sands in the desert I am finally at peace with the journey.  This song moves me to continue walking.)

Zack Hoffman 2017

The Week in Hod

The Week in Hod

The sefirah of Hod.  The energies of Glory.  Five weeks gone. Walking through the desert.  This week was a roller coaster.  Felt like quitting early in the week.  Lost my way because I couldn’t comprehend the tree of life.  The result was frustration.  Frustration is a key, a hot button, something that when it gets pushed makes me want to escape. To leave.  To quit.  The moment of not-enoughness. I have been here alone before and left the journey, but I have someone who is keeping me accountable, my friend Katie in Los Angeles. We try and talk every night. I stay with it. Keep moving, breathing and meditating.  I see my pattern. I see my DNA. I see my life my, my memories and they all come into play.  Frustration and I am running. Frustration and I am throwing up my hands. I feel not smart enough, not evolved enough, not clever enough, not spiritual enough. Why bother it will all disappear anyway.  I fight through all that chatter inside my head.

I take action.  It helps.  I do research.  Find blogs and books, and in my search I find a few sentences that makes sense to me.  It changes the focus. It changes me. I look at the tree of life again and see the energy not running through a tree but running through a man, a human form…me.   The sefirot of Chesed and Guevara are the arms. The sefirot Netzach and Hod are the legs. The arms and legs all connected through the heart space of Tiferet. The energy flows again, the ideas flow again.  I am back and breathing.  The meditations this week are about form and physicality. The vessel. The vehicle. The host.  The name of God this week and last contained the word Tzeva-ot.  It means host.  My legs host me as I walk through this world, physically and spiritually.

My energy has increased this week. I am in the present. This week I have sat in cafes, written with other writers, been part of the creative process.  I have produced poetry and listened to warriors with pens, talented and brave.

Music carries me.  It has carried me in the past and it carries me now.

Playlist for the week

Day 29.  Chesed in Hod.  Spirit by Al Jarreau

(The embodiment of spirit.  The lovingkindness of Al Jarreau.  Have loved this song since I heard him sing it at the Bla Bla Cafe)

Day 30.  Gevurah in Hod.  The Shape I’m In by The Band

(“The world of form is confusing to us.” I am challenged as I walk this path.  My energy and physical being are in need of care.)

Day 31. Tiferet in Hod.  Heart of the Night by Poco

(The heart space in the midst of the wilderness.  This song give me hope.)

Day 32. Netzach in Hod.  Every Breath You Take by The Police

(Physical vitality is met at this sefirah. It all begins with breath.)

Day 33.  Hod in Hod.  Edge of Glory by Lady Gaga

(The celebration of Lag b’Omer.  This song rings with freedom, movement and joy. Could not think of a better song.)

Day 34. Yesod in Hod.  Here To Love You by The Doobie Brothers

(I am responsible for the love I give and the love I withhold.  Have always loved this song. Hod makes gratitude possible.)

Day 35. Malchut in Hod.  Walk of Life by Dire Straits

(The understand of sefirah, the way I walk in the world both physical and spiritually.  Moving to the beat.)

Zack Hoffman 2017

The Week of Netzach

The Week of Netzach

I have been challenged by my physicality this week.  My body slowing down.  Sensitive to food.   I am aware I eat too much sugar.  That when I eat fast food it affects my digestion.  My tinnitus is high and I am challenged to hear.  Insomnia haunts me.  I have weights by my bed to keep my muscles alive.  I am told to stretch before I get out of bed.  All the forms of my physicality  manifest around me.

Energy low and having to work to keep pushing through.  I feel the pain of the people in the desert moving forward.   Each day measuring energy and form.  The less I carry the better it is.  The more I open my heart and let go of anger and resentment the more energy I have.  Stacks of books I have yet to read.  Poetry I have yet to transpose.

Netzach, memories and music.  The second day takes me somewhere between judgement and music.  I listen to Jackson Browne’s “Running on Empty”.  It reminds me of Reuben’s Steakhouse where Paragon (a local cover-band) played live music Wednesday thru Saturday nights and they would always close the night with that song.  Listening to the CD, the opening of the song is 30 seconds of silence waiting for the music to begin.  It’s a live recording.  In my mind, I can hear the shuffling of the waitresses and bartenders at Reuben’s, serving late night drinks.  The band tuning their instruments and chatter from the dancers on the floor.  The guitarist finally strumming out a downbeat and the opening chord hitting you like a body shot.   At the last break in the song the lead singer for Paragon would yell “Goodnight” and we knew it was last call.  I would walk in to Reuben’s sweaty from work, dance and drink.  I loved a waitress who worked there.  I wonder if she still has that picture of a movie star I gave her.

I breath, I meditate.  See what needs to be taken care of.  See the self-care that I need to invest in.  I play tennis, write, create, reach out to friends.  My world is large.  I marvel at how vivid a memory can be, all from the silence of a song.

The music this week made me dig and search.  Open my ears.  I danced.

Playlist for the week of Netzach

Day 22.  Chesed in Netzach.  Soul Meets Body by Death Cab for Cutie

(lyrics vibrate the meaning of the spiritual meeting the physical)

Day 23.  Guevara in Netzach.  Running On Empty by Jackson Browne

(the emptiness of “last call” energies I still carry in the desert)

Day 24. Tiferet in Netzach.  Love Will Keep Us Alive by the Eagles

(this song always awakens compassion and light)

Day 25. Netzach in Netzach.  Room To Move by John Mayall

(Endless possibilities, moving forward, dancing forward, past the half way point.)

Day 26.  Hod in Netzach.  Working on a Dream by Bruce Springsteen

(the struggle of bringing my dreams into physical reality, the energy of perseverance)

Day 27. Yesod in Netzach.  Life is a Highway by Tom Cochrane

(lyrics sing to me and shake the sefirah.  Dance of bringing our work in the world)

Day 28. Malchut in Netzach.  Changes by David Bowie

(Netzach’s challenge of facing my physical self at 67 years old)


What did you dance to?


Zack Hoffman 2017

The Week of Tiferet

The Week of Tiferet

The third week of the Omer is in Tiferet, the heart space.  Each day the meditations, realizations and conversation weave their way through me as I walk further into the desert.  The passing of souls and the pain of others bring me to tears this week.  I watch energy move.  I am grateful.

I light a candle and focus on the unspeakable name of God.  Yod Hey Vav Hey.   I breath into the heart space.  Nothing is perfect in meditation.  The only thing that has to be done is showing up and breathing.  All you need is the willingness to sit.  Sit in silence.  Sit and contemplate.  Sit and watch the inner mind movie play out in your head.  Sit and wait for the name of God to come back.  Sit and focus again.  Sit and the heart space lights up.  Yod Hey Vav Hey.

Selfcare makes my heart space lights up.  Sleep, sex, energy, and food challenge me.  There is no quick fix. I give myself the gift of going to see my massage therapist.  She moves the energies stuck in my body.  We heal ourselves and we heal each other.  I discover the little things are the big things.  Perfection is at times nothing more than sharing pizza and the NFL draft.   I show up for friends, I am hugged and greeted by smile.  People’s honesty brings tears to my eyes.  There is laughter and sorrow and I am in the middle of the boat.

The silhouette of Adonai can be seen in everyone.  Tselem is the Hebrew word for silhouette. Yod Hey Vav Hey.  Stack the letters on top of one another.  Take the Yod place it over the Hey, then the Vav and then over the other Hey.  It becomes person-like in form.  Tselem, the silhouette. The Yod is where the head is, the Hey is where the arms and shoulders are, the Vav is where the spine is, and the second Hey is where the legs and pelvis are.  My challenge was that I did not see people as the representation of the Tselem of Adonai but what my judgmental mind labeled them.  I am reminded to label everyone Yod Hey Vav Hey.


The music again was a joyous journey.  A deeper search further away from Mitzrayim.

Playlist for the week

Day 15.  Chesed in Tiferet.  Love Alive by Heart

(a beautiful message for compassion keeping my heart open)

Day 16.  Guevara in Tiferet.  Heart With No Companion by Rani Arbo and Daisy Mayhem

(the polarities of Leonard Cohen’s lyrics “with a heart so vast and shattered, it will reach you anywhere”)

Day 17. Tiferet in Tiferet.  This Little Light of Mine by Sam Cooke

(this song lights up my heart space)

Day 18. Netzach in Tiferet.  Love Vibration by Josh Rouse

(new music find, manifesting the vibrations of love)

Day 19.  Hod in Tiferet.  Dance Me To the End of Love by Madeleine Peyroux

(balance and imbalance is the dance we do.  My favorite cover of Leonard Cohen’s song)

Day 20. Yesod in Tiferet.  Yes We Can Can by Allen Toussaint

(bringing Compassion to all parts of the world and me)

Day 21. Malchut in Tiferet.  A Place in the World by Mary Chapin Carpenter

(walking in the desert, using my feet, looking for a place in the world)

What did you find?

Zack Hoffman 2017