Devarim by Rabbi Patrick Beaulier

Why Jews Make Terrible Buddhists (Parshat Devarim)


When I first started writing dvrei Torah, I sympathized with Moses. It had to be a real pain to wander the desert for forty years with a bunch of whiney Jews that just want to go back into slavery.

But now, I’m starting to wonder if Moses was a pain, too. He repeats the same thing over and over again. Like an old man who forgets what he’s told you (and won’t stop talking for fear you’ll walk away), Moses retells the same stories, sometimes adding a few new details, or sometimes glossing over stuff. Parshat Devarim is that exact case.

Of course, it could just be that Moses is responding to his audience. The Hebrews might not be the sharpest knives in the drawer (remember, they were slaves — not a lot of education going on there) and they also love to move around a lot. It’s amazing that JuBus (Jewish Buddhists) even exist, since the prerequisite for Buddhist enlightenment is the ability to sit still for more than five minutes without talking, something that Jewish folks have an impossible time with.

Perhaps there’s something zen-like about this constant repetition of story telling. Active meditation, the practice of doing the same task correctly over and over again until reaching a profound state of bliss, in common in Buddhist monasteries. Remember The Karate Kid…wax on…wax off. It’s that kind of thing.

Moses might have been tapping into that: the peacefulness that comes with practicing the mundane in such a way that we receive some sense of profound knowledge. Of course, it was the Jewish scientist Albert Einstein who said that the definition of insanity was “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”.


Rabbi Patrick Beaulier is a religious, but non-traditional, spiritual seeker and facilitator. Here you will find a little about him, his approach to Judaism, speaking engagements and services.

He is the rabbi for Bonay Kodesh, an independent (Reform/Reconstructionist in practice) Jewish community born south of the James River but serving all of Richmond, VA. He is a member of the Richmond Rabbinical Association.

He was ordained by RSI, a progressive rabbinical program in Manhattan, founded by the late Rabbi Joseph Gelberman. Additionally, he is a Prepare Enrich certified premarital and relationship coach as well as a Psychological First Aid provider, and has recently completed a certificate in Spirituality, Health and Healing through Clayton State University as well as mandated reporter training in Georgia and Virginia.

He has had the pleasure of writing/editing several books including Ahavah Rabbah, PunkTorah: The First Anthology and the New Kosher Vegan Cookbook, as well as countless articles for blogs such as PunkTorah and My Jewish Learning.

He has been featured in three books, The New Reform Judaism: Challenges and Reflections, Contemporary American Judaism: Transformation and Renewal, Oy Oy Oy Gevalt!: Jews and Punk, as well as the Times of Israel, the Atlanta Jewish Times, and several other Jewish newspapers, magazines and blogs.

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