SELAH – סלה – A Holy Interruption ~ Cindy Elliott


’Womb to world’ is a startling moment for a baby. After months of being surrounded by warm amniotic fluid, cuddled in a strong protected sac and limited by the walls of the womb, the little one is suddenly pushed forth from this safe, familiar place and thrust into light. Baby is bombarded by stimuli, and startled by how far he can stretch his limbs. We as parents are there to help our little ones through this transition. We swaddle them, hold them close, coo to them, comfort, and to our best effort meet their every need. We hush and woo them to their new world, holding them in a soft, patient embrace telling them of the wonders and delights – the sights, sounds, smells, taste, and the love, oh the overwhelming soul hugging love that awaits them.

Rest – Pause!

For the mother the birthing process can be both intense and beautiful. For myself, I found the hardest part in the long laborious pushing stage was the rest, or pause. I’m not talking about the natural wax and wane of the contractions, but those times when for various reasons we are told to stop. Stop – breathe – rest. Yet our muscles and brains are screaming push, push, push. A painful, at times burning rest – not done in vain but one that is for life. A rest that helps lead to that moment when the flood gates open and out bursts an indescribable gift! It’s a gasp of breath moment – that first moment you see your child. Holy… holy… holy.

This “womb to world” / birthing process is something I’ve experienced more than once as I have made a deliberate effort to rest and pause while reading Scripture. That being still before G-d and, at times, being hushed and held in the patient embrace and relentless tenderness of G-d as our Source of all Wonders, startles my mind and delights my heart. Sometimes it’s a painful moment as I am pushed out of a place of comfort. But, every time, it is a holy moment. A moment that transforms my life entirely, a moment in which there is nothing but a gasp of breath – a gasp of worship.

I can best understand this transformational pause in one intriguing Hebrew word – Selah.

Selah – a word seen frequently in the Psalms and less than a handful of times in Habakkuk – is challenging to translate. The Talmud (Eruvin 54a), as demonstrated from Psalm 48:9, says that selah means forever. Ibn Ezra [1] understood selah to mean “true and certain,” functioning in a similar vein to an Amen –  “so be it”- to what preceded it. Radak [2] saw selah as a musical notation – a lifting up of the singer’s voice. Rabbi Raphael Hirsch comments: “Selah is a notation at the close of a thought directing one to reflect upon its enduring significance.” [3]

Any and all of these understandings of selah make it a holy interruption – a threshold for change. A place where you pause, reflect, ponder, and let G-d’s living word flow deep into your soul and allow yourself to sink deep into His heart. Sometimes it is this deliberate quiet, this intentional stillness, that lifts your heart toward Heaven.

Many times when we read Scripture we come with preconceived understandings and expectations that stifle the flow of Living Waters. Other times we come with a familiarity that dulls our heart and crowds out our curiosity. Making a practice of a deliberate rest breaks up the breathless flow and allows us to breathe and create space for G-d to reveal His truth to us. These deliberate rests allow the Living Word to shape our souls and set deep realities and understandings within us.

The pictograph for selah – סלה  is astounding:

Selah – what comes from lifting up something of VALUE.


Be Still And Know That I am G-d. (Psalm 46:10)

Selah is a holy invitation to stop – breathe – rest. It is a whisper from G-d to not miss out on what’s important. Selah is a moment that births transformation – being both undone and remade.

We have a beautiful example of “selah in time” with the weekly celebration of Shabbat. Every 7th day the Creator of the universe invites us to stop – breathe – rest and spend 24 hours breathing in His word, His presence and celebrating and delighting in His creation “expressing glory in the presence of eternity.” [4]

Proverbs reminds us to number our days – not because our days are short [they are] but because time is sacred. When my daughter was born I felt the Lord urging me to take off my watch – as if in that holy moment He was whispering to me – don’t miss out on one precious minute – time is fleeting. How thankful I am that I listened and, 28 years later, my wrist is still absent of a watch. For me that absence is a reminder – a selah – to stop – breathe – rest – to slow down and be present in every moment – to not miss out on what’s important.

Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel had it right when he said, “Labor is craft, but perfect rest is an art. It is the result of an accord of body, mind and imagination.” Selah is a holy rest – a sacred art.

Blessed are you Lord our G-d, who created rest. Abba may we learn to stop – breathe – rest and know the wonders and beauty of being your child. Abba may we embrace the sacredness of rest and welcome holy interruptions.  Selah


Photo Credit:

* Yarkovoy/
** Copyright Marla Jean Clinesmith, used by permission.

1. Abraham Ibn Ezra (1089-1164)
2. Rabbi David Kimhi (1160-1235)
3. Noted in From His Holy Mountain, SELAH, by Dr. Eugene Narrett
4. Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, The Shabbat

Man + Woman = Fire ~ Keren Hannah




The Hebrew word for man is ish (א’ש,) spelled aleph, yod, shin. Remove the yod and you are left with the letters aleph + shin, which form the word esh (אש) meaning FIRE.

The yod is the first letter in G-d’s Divine Name YHVH ( הוה’ ). In removing the yod (‘) from ish (man), that is, if the Divine Presence is removed from man, he is left with the FIRE of his natural passions.

Similarly, the Hebrew word for woman is ishah (אשה), spelled aleph, shin, heh. Remove the heh,  also a letter in G-d’s name YHVH ( הוה’ ) and, once again, you have esh (אש), and only FIRE is left.

The yod and the heh together spell YAH, another form of God’s Name.

Man and women together are (א’ש ו אשה). When a man and a woman come together in marriage and don’t bring Yah, the Divine Presence of G-d, with them they are only fire and fire (אש ו אש).

A fire can be productive in providing passion, warmth and light or, if not controlled, can bring great destruction. With the loving balance and guidance of the Divine Presence of G-d in the marriage of a man and a woman, the fire remains constant and bright but does not consume.



In His Name ~ Keren Hannah


In His Name


His Name – His signature as an artist, as Creator of all, can be found in everything He has created. His Name is there if you look intentionally and have eyes to see. As His children, as human beings, we carry His name in a very important and special way.

YHWH – Yod – Hei – Vav – Hei   

We  physically carry the shapes of the Hebrew letters of His Holy Name.

The yod neatly fits your head.

Your arms fit the shape of the  hei.

The elongated vav represents your spine.

And the final  hei fits the shape of your legs.

Bearing the Name of God

We literally carry the letters of His Name with us. Each person is a work of art signed by the Great Artist. Dwight, my husband, and great teacher, (z”l – of blessed memory) used to say that when the angels see a person approaching they say, “Make way, Make way! Here comes someone bearing the Holy Name of God!”

The very first line of the prayer Yeshua taught His disciples is,
“Our Father who art in Heaven, hallowed be Thy Name.”

In our daily living we either honor and bring glory to that Name or else we debase or dishonor it. Fittingly, in all Creation, only man has that choice.

What does the term ‘hallowed’ mean?

To hallow or honor God’s name is the exact opposite of profaning the name of God –
to bring dishonor to God’s name as opposed to sanctifying it.

The concept plays an important part in our Father’s process of the restoration of all things. He has promised, in effect, just as He delivered the Israelites from Egypt: “I’m going to restore you as a people.” This promise can be applied to His people Israel, an individual person, a congregation, or a community. Why the restoration? His reply: “…because I want My Name to be honored among the nations.”

From the very beginning, the purpose for every restoration, every redemption of God, has been in order that His Name might be honored and lifted up. Again, in effect, just as He said to the Israelites, He says:  “You have profaned it through sin and weakness but I’m going to do something through you. Through each one who bears My name, My name can be honored, be sanctified, and hallowed.”

What can we understand from this? It’s our responsibility to show His name as holy–Kadosh. God is the Redeemer, the Restorer of all things good, but the responsibility that accrues to us is how we carry that Name, treasure it, and enable it to be seen as holy in the world.

Another question arises. How do we make His name holy? How do we hallow and exalt His name? Yeshua came to show us how through his every action; illustrating how this involves our bodies as well as our minds and spirits. Our deeds speak His Name, from something seemingly small – such as a smile to a beggar, a kind word to one in distress, using one’s gifts and talents to bless others, dealing openly and honestly in our work situations, and honoring the elderly – to something visibly bigger such as doing a great deed of charity, excelling in ministry, or gaining fame as an artist or musician. If the motivation of our every action is to honor our Father and bring glory to His Name, all we do will bring Him great pleasure and will be of eternal value in His eyes.

Baruch HaShem! May His great Name be blessed indeed!

Jerusalem day 2