Member since 2011

Natan Margalit


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Forbidden Fruit, Rosh HaShanah, and Our Climate Crisis

According to Hasidic traditions, the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, from the story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, worked in a deeper way than we usually think about it. It’s not just that after the eating of the fruit we humans could distinguish between good and evil. The test of “to eat or not to eat” kind of assumed that we had that ability already. What kind of a test would it have been if we couldn’t distinguish between ...


Purim: The Anti Addiction Holiday

My kids have only seen me get drunk in one situation: at the Purim meal. Because that is basically the only time I do get really drunk. I’ll have a drink or two when friends come over for Shabbat or just for a get together, and I’ll sometimes take a beer out of the refrigerator to watch a ball game or occasionally have a glass of wine as I’m relaxing on a quiet evening. But pretty much I only get drunk on Purim. I do it because it is a ...


People as Letters, Israel as Torah

In our up-coming Organic Torah webinar class “The Royal Road to Relational Spirituality” we’ll be looking at an amazing commentary by the Piazetzner Rebbe in which he talks about getting our spirituality into our whole beings. Though his commentary starts on the story of Noach, it includes a very interesting observation on this week’s Torah reading which tells of the Receiving of the Torah on Mount Sinai, on the verse “and the whole people ...


Crisis or Opportunity

Part One: A World in Crisis In the winter time we yearn for more light, and in challenging times like this we also wish to see the light of justice, health and understanding increase. But we first need to look squarely at the darkness: Climate change may be the worst disaster humanity has ever faced; politically, democracy isn’t spreading anymore, but instead it is in retreat across the globe; we have an addiction crisis and record levels of related ...


Embodying our Spiritual Wisdom

One of my most beloved rabbis is Rabbi Kalonymus Kalman Shapira (1889 – 1943). Also known as the Piazetzner Rebbe, or the Rebbe of the Warsaw Ghetto. He was a revered rebbe, teacher and spiritual master who stayed with his people in the ghetto, continuing to teach and offer comfort throughout the war. In a book that he wrote before the war: Derekh HaMelekh (The Royal Road), he comments on the way that Noah’s name in the Torah is doubled. It says ...


Hanukkah Part 3: “Wisdom from the Heart and from the Hearth”

This post is part three of a three part series on Hanukkah. You can find the first post here and the second post here.  Far from being “hypocrisy” as the New York Times opinion page called it last Sunday, Hanukkah can teach us deeply important lessons for our world. Albert Einstein changed the world, and he knew something about thinking creatively. He famously said, “We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we ...


Hanukkah: Dynamic Emergence of the Eternal Light– Part 2

This post is part two of a three part series on Hanukkah. As we move through this eight day holiday, Rabbi Margalit will be sharing thoughts on the emergent and dynamic aspects of Hanukkah. You can find the first post here.  I wrote in Part One that Hanukkah isn’t mentioned in the Torah, that it is a holiday that was started by us, the people, and it didn’t really focus on God’s explicit miracles but more on the people’s courage in the war ...


Hanukkah: The Dynamic Emergence of the Eternal Light – Part 1

This post is part one of a three part series on Hanukkah. As we move through this eight day holiday, Rabbi Margalit will be sharing thoughts on the emergent and dynamic aspects of Hanukkah.. “Emergence is our inheritance as a part of the universe; it is how we change.” --adrienne marie brown, Emergent Strategy Hanukkah is not mentioned in the Torah at all.  It is the first Jewish holiday created completely by the people (Purim is a kind of ...


Fancy Words and Feelings of Connection on Thanksgiving

When you heat up a pot of water it will boil when it gets to 212 degrees Fahrenheit. But which of the H²O molecules will be the first to transform into gas form and start to bubble up? That we can’t know. In scientific lingo it’s called a stochastic process: it follows a statistically predictable pattern, but the individual events can’t be precisely predicted. In recent months my friend, Fordham law professor and political blogger Jed Shugerman, ...


Where Does Our Security Come From?

We are all devastated and shocked by yesterday’s murders of eleven Jews in the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh. Our hearts go out to the families and Jewish community of Pittsburgh as many of us gather today in vigils and services around the country. Many of us are also gripped by fear as we wonder whether we are safe in this country which we thought was a haven of freedom and security. Of course, every community will do what it needs to make ...


Introducing the Organic Torah Translation Series

This year, starting in September, I or another Organic Torah teacher will write a monthly translation, summary and commentary on a short section of spiritual Torah. Most often it will be from the book Derekh HaMelekh, by Rabbi Kalonymus Kalman Shapira (The Piazetzner Rebbe) (1889 – 1943). This first one is for everyone but starting in September, these translations will be offered to Organic Torah members. We’ll also have periodic members’ webinars, ...


Spring, the Gift of Abundance, and New Membership Offerings!

This post originally appeared at: http://organictorah.org/spring-and-the-gift-of-abundance/ As we start this new time of beginnings, we’re very excited to announce the new offerings for Organic Torah membership for the coming year 2018 – 2019. For Individual Memberships we’re very proud to offer a monthly translation/commentary by Rabbi Margalit, in addition to regular webinars and discounts. Our Synagogue Membership has also expanded to ...


No Other Gods: The Politics of the Ten Commandments

A Book Review of No Other Gods: The Politics of the Ten Commandments By Ana Levy-Lyons Published by  Center Street/Hachette 2018 Reviewed by Rabbi Natan Margalit, Organic Torah Originally published in Tikkun Magazine (link) It is evident from the first page that this book is swimming against the current in our contemporary political and spiritual landscape. Author Ana Levy-Lyons tells a story in her preface about how one of her teachers ...


Passover: The Beginning of an Answer to Short-Circuit Thinking

After hearing the speeches given by brave, heart-broken teenagers at the March for Our Lives rallies, my heart can’t help but be broken as well. The plague of gun violence in this country is out of control and, as they have said, “enough is enough!” Yet, invariably, close behind hearing these speeches on the radio or reading about them in the newspaper, I get the balanced reporting about arguments from the pro-gun advocates. These pro-gun arguments ...


Purim: The Dangerous Holiday

Purim is a dangerous holiday. That’s probably why we in the Jewish community often trivialize it and pretend it’s just a kid’s holiday where the children dress up like Mordechai and Esther and we eat hamentashen and everyone has a nice time. We may be afraid to see what it is really saying to us. There is a lot of violence in the Purim story: the Scroll of Esther (in Hebrew, Megillat Esther) includes the king forcing his queen, Vashti, to either ...


The Magic of Emergence

“The whole is greater than the sum of the parts” is an old adage, but it could be one of the most important keys to a healthy, meaningful life. People yearn to be a part of something. When we are a part of something, we feel whole. When we see how things connect and relate to form a whole, they make sense and resonate: they come alive. In 1973 I arrived at Camp Swig, a Reform Jewish summer camp in Big Basin, California as a shy 15 year old kid from ...


The Force of Our Interconnectedness

I just saw the latest Star Wars movie with my family. It was very exciting and entertaining. But beyond that, I've always felt that the amazing popularity of the Star Wars series has been in part because it touches a spiritual nerve in moderns in a way that most of our places of worship only hope to achieve. The central premise of Star Wars is that there is an energy that connects us all, an energy that surrounds and infuses all life and creates the ...


Hanukkah: Our Sanctuaries

There is a hymn with a beautiful melody that many Jewish groups have been borrowing from our Christian neighbors in recent years that begins, "Oh Lord, prepare me, to be a sanctuary, pure and holy, tried and true...." The words are also beautiful. The idea that an individual person could be a sanctuary is not foreign to Judaism.  In fact, many congregations use a Hebrew verse from the Torah as a free translation of this line of the ...


Two Examples, Two Paths

Take a good look at American society today and you see both dysfunctional, shortsighted, thinking, and, if you look, you can see a new kind of thinking that takes the whole picture into account. On the one hand we have the heartbreaking and sickening epidemic of mass shootings that is only getting worse in our country today. You would think that this would now, finally, bring about an awakening to the well documented conclusion that we need better laws to ...


Noah and Our Embodied Wisdom

This week’s Torah portion, Noah, starts out (Genesis 6:9) with one of those extra words that rabbis and commentators just can’t leave alone: we’ve got to understand why the Torah put in an extra word when it didn’t need to. “This is the line of Noah: Noah was a righteous man…”  In the unpunctuated Torah, it reads: “This is the line of Noah Noah…” One of my most beloved rabbis is Rabbi Kalonymus Kalman Shapira (1889 – 1943). ...