Literary and Buddhist Publications

  1. Translation of a stanza of Hermann Hesse‘s poem “Buchstaben.” In: Yu. I. Manin, A Course in Mathematical Logic, translated by Neal Koblitz (New York: Springer-Verlag, 1977), page 3.
  2. Torah Talk: Terumah. Jewish Weekly News, January 26, 1995, page 12.
    • This devar Torah on Terumah (Exodus 25:1-27:19) is a meditation on how our lives and the symbols of this parashah are intertwined.
  3. The Book of Leviticus and the Fractal Geometry of Torah. Conservative Judaism, Volume 50, Number 1, pages 27-34 (1997).
    • This d'var Torah on Be-har (Leviticus 25:1-26:2) elucidates the symbiotic relationship between the laws of Leviticus and the narratives of Genesis and Exodus.
    • The online version of the essay, but not the published version, contains four images of the Mandelbrot set, each one based on a magnification of an area of the previous image. The Mandelbrot set is one of the best known examples of a fractal, which is a geometric object that displays self-similarity at multiple scales.
  4. “A little East of Jordan”: Human-Divine Encounter in Dickinson and the Hebrew Bible. The Emily Dickinson Journal, Volume 8, Number 1, pages 36-58 (1999).
    • This paper studies significant correspondences between the open-ended and polysemous uses of language in the treatments of Jacob by Dickinson and by the Hebrew Bible. In the acceptance letter the editor wrote the following concerning my contribution: “I think that your essay is brilliant — not only in your erudition and thoughtful analysis in Dickinson studies and Biblical scholarship but also in your ability to shift lenses (as it were), so as to bring genuine insight to and from both disciplines. Your essay makes a real contribution, and we will be proud to publish it.”
  5. Human Logic, God’s Logic, and the Akedah. Conservative Judaism, Volume 52, Number 1, pages 28-32 (1999).
    • This essay presents the Binding of Isaac in Genesis 22 as a clash between human logic and God’s logic.
  6. A Jew in Rome: Christian Antisemitism and the Holocaust (Part 1). Midstream, Volume 47, Number 4, pages 14-16 (2001).
    • This essay discusses Jewish-Christian relations in the context of the significant interactions that I had with a host of fascinating people during a visit to Rome.
  7. A Jew in Rome: Christian Antisemitism and the Holocaust (Part 2). Midstream, Volume 47, Number 5, pages 5-7 (2001).
  8. “A little East of Jordan”: Human-Divine Encounter in Dickinson and the Hebrew Bible. In: Emily Dickinson at Home, edited by Gudrun M. Grabher and Martina Antretter (Trier, Germany: Wissenschaftlicher Verlag Trier, 2001), pages 123-142. Proceedings of the Third International Conference of the Emily Dickinson International Society in South Hadley, Mount Holyoke College, 12-15 August 1999.
    • This minor revision of the paper in item 4 contains a new interpretation of the last line of Dickinson's poem “A little East of Jordan”: “Found he had worsted God!”; see the last paragraph on page 132.
    • In the Introduction to the volume (p. ii), the editors write the following concerning my contribution. “Exploring Dickinson’s relation to the unknown is the main objective of Richard S. Ellis’ essay as well: the parallel betweeen the linguistic structure of Dickinson’s poetry and that of the Hebrew Bible is established by means of an artful explication of the poem ‘A little East of Jordan.’ He ends his sensitive approach with a comparison of the publication history of the Torah with that of the poetry of Emily Dickinson. Dickinson’s knowledge of the Hebrew Bible remains a field still to be explored.”
  9. Images at Work Versus Words at Play: Michelangelo’s Art and the Artistry of the Hebrew Bible. Judaism, Volume 51, Number 2, 162-174 (2002).
    • This essay contrasts Christian theology and the art of Michelangelo in the Sistine Chapel with Jewish theology and the artistry of the Hebrew Bible.
    • In an email dated March 14, 2011, Professor David Schildkret wrote about my speculation at the beginning of this article that Michelangelo’s portrayal of God's posterior on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel is related to Exodus 33:23. Professor Schildkret cites a publicly published letter, written by Bernardino Cirillo in 1549 while Michelangelo was still alive, indicating that churchmen of the time made the same connection between Michelangelo’s portrayal and this verse in Exodus. The letter is reproduced at the top of page 371 in Strunk’s Source Readings in Music History. Professor Schildkret ends his email by writing that “I think you could elevate your comment from speculation to fact, based on this reference.”
  10. Blinding Pain, Simple Truth: How Buddhist Meditation Can Change Your Life. Highland City, FL: Rainbow Books, 2011.
    • This book describes how Buddhist teachings and daily meditation can empower readers to heal the suffering caused by physical and emotional pain. As the book shows, Buddhist teachings also provide a new lens for reading the Bible, yielding fresh insights into fundamental questions of birth and death, ego and enlightenment, sickness and health — insights that speak in surprisingly relevant ways to spiritual seekers and to those who want to heal themselves. My goal in writing the book is to help people who suffer from physical or emotional pain. I would like to inspire them to reexamine their experiences with suffering and pain and eventually to embrace their lives with equanimity, gratitude, and joy.
  11. Bringing Mindfulness into Higher Education. 2013 ACMHE Winter Newsletter, 13-14. Published online by The Association for Contemplative Mind in Higher Education.
    • This article describes my weekly sessions with graduate students in my department during which I helped them experience how mindfulness can help heal the suffering caused by the pressures of academic life and can transform that suffering into insight and wisdom.
  12. Jewish Journeys: Decoding the Torah’s Wisdom Through Buddhist Meditation. Published online by Jewish Currents on May 27, 2014.
    • This article, a synthesis of Jewish spirituality and Buddhist spirituality, shows how Rebekah uses mindfulness to interpret the ambiguous prophecy concerning her unborn sons in Genesis 25:23. Because she is mindful, she is able to interpret the prophecy as a challenge to act, to question the conventional understanding of society, and eventually to overturn the established order.
  13. Blessings from the Dead. A novel.
    • This work depicts the quest of a Jewish-American scientist for the truth about his mother, a woman he never knew. Rich in Jewish history, this is a novel about Jerusalem, the Holocaust, the pursuit of perfection, religious fanaticism, secrets, passion, and love.
    • I am currently seeking a publisher for this novel.
    • A synopsis of the novel and the first chapter can be viewed here.