Columns

Ayin’s columns offer a platform for contributing editors to curate work inspired by and engaging with a particular theme or form. Speaking from Experience is an exploration of the fringes and potential futures of Jewish spirituality, curated by journalist Madison Margolin. Teiku is a space for bold and creative engagements with Jewish texts and practices, edited by Shaul Magid. Moabet, edited by Devin Naar, is dedicated to “Sepharadim past, present, and future.” Otiyot is a new forum for poetry, fiction, plays, creative nonfiction, hybrid works, and translations

Moabet

Moabet (מואביט) is a Ladino (or Judeo-Spanish) term that means essentially “intimate conversation.” It is not only a Ladino word: moabet draws its meaning from the broader Eastern Mediterranean cultural contexts in which Jews have been embedded for generations. The term stems from Ottoman Turkish (محبت‎ – muhabbet), which in turn comes from Arabic (مَحَبَّة‎ – maḥabba). Maabba literally means love—love of the soul. We express this love, in other words, through the deep connections that form through conversation with others. This column is dedicated to moabet—and to the voices and concerns of various communities of Sepharadim past, present, and future; it is a space where the cultures and histories of Mediterranean peoples can be explored in the mode of moabet—meandering and lingering, revealing new insights and perspectives into occluded pasts and imagined futures.

The Water Alphabet: Introduction

In the twentieth century, and especially after the 1950s, Turkish became the primary language for Jews in Turkey, displacing Ladino ...

Introducing Moabet

Para moabet no se kere kandil. (Moabet continues into the darkness.)1 Moabet (מואביט) is a Ladino (or Judeo-Spanish or Judezmo) ...

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Otiyot



The word for “letters” in Hebrew, otiyot, shares the same root (ot/אות) as the word for “signs,” otot. This linkage reflects the glyphic nature of letters themselves. Letters signify more than just sounds; they can also represent concepts, numbers, and shapes—sometimes lucid and singular, other times paradoxical and multivalent, always pointing to and from the ineffable. From its inception, writing was considered a form of magic—and mythologized as such.

It is said that the universe was constructed from the twenty-two letters of the Aleph-Bet, and that their endlessly iterative capacity continues to mirror the dynamic process of creation itself. On a fundamental level, a literary text in any language is a tapestry of signs—both pictographic and phonetic—that allows us to imagine beyond the borders of the world as we know it, and reveal connections between subjects, objects, and ideas we previously thought separate. Thus, every work of literature is a site within which the world is reframed and renewed.

In the spirit of exploring the alphabet’s creative potential, we decided to name this literary column Otiyot—a new forum for poetry, fiction, plays, creative nonfiction, hybrid works, and translations.

The Thousands: A Tithe

“The Thousands” grew from a simple daily practice, a ploy to liberate the flow of a day—and the thoughts, feelings, ...

Poems from Dybbuk Americana

The Harvest Festival The Sabbath Approaches Great Mystics, Gloss Joshua Gottlieb-Miller (Houston, TX) is the author of The Art of Bagging (2023), ...

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Speaking from Experience

Speaking from Experience, edited by Madison Margolin, features essays by and in-depth conversations with artists, scientists, mystics, healers, activists, and fringe thought leaders who engage with a wide range of paradigm-shifting encounters. From psychedelics to somatics to cybernetics, these experiences speak to and beyond the growing edges of Jewish life and culture, revealing ancient and emergent connections between self, community, earth, and cosmos.

Ram Dass’s Jewish Legacy

I grew up with Ram Dass as just another of my father’s friends, one of the guys—as in, “Ram Dass ...

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Teiku



A dilemma was raised before the Sages: Whose approach is preferable—Rabbi Zeira’s or Rabbah bar Rav Mattana’s? Rabbi Zeira is sharp and raises questions, Rabba bar Rav Mattana is balanced and offers solutions. What was the Sages’ conclusion? Teiku! The dilemma shall stand unresolved.

In Talmudic Aramaic, teiku means, simply, “let it stand.” It is the word the Sages used to indicate an unresolved question or point of debate. Some also suggest that the word is an acronym for the phrase, “Tishbi (or Elijah the prophet) will resolve all difficulties and questions.” That is, Elijah—who, according to tradition, will return to announce the Moshiach—is the only one who can adjudicate the issue.

Teiku signals humility in the midst of dispute—inviting us to zoom out, to acknowledge the limitations of our perspectives, and to hold space for opposing viewpoints. Teiku also reminds us that sometimes we need to let certain questions stand unanswered—at least for the time being. It is this openness to intellectual uncertainty and exegetical polyphony that offers us the space to respectfully disagree and collaboratively imagine a more expansive resolution.

It is in this spirit that we decided to name this column Teiku—a space for bold and creative explorations of Jewish texts and practices.

Teiku is curated by Ayin contributing editor, rabbi, and scholar Shaul Magid.

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