BODY: Skeletal system; legs, feet; arms, hands
QUOTE: Act with confidence. ‘Humility’ that disempowers can indicate an inflated ego.
POEM: ‘Toward Myself’ – Lea Goldberg
PSALM 41: G-d-Who-Heals-the-Wounded-Heart
CREATIVE EXPRESSION: Find pictures; draw your own; sketch; write down any other Scripture verses and/or quotes that will illustrate and express the theme and what you are
learning and experiencing this month.
Living in this imperfect world inevitably results in hurts and wounds, which lead to the formation of negative concepts and perceptions in our minds that hinder us, block our creativity, and stall us in becoming more fully the person our Father created us to be.
The wounds often are hidden from our minds and are deeply embedded in our hearts. We read in Psalm 41 how the psalmists overwhelmed by fear, anger, and grief as he faces the pain alone. Although knowing the “good way” of the Lord, he cries out for pity, healing, and forgiveness for he has realised, “I have sinned against You!” (verse 5). We, too, are assured that we can cry out to G-d, the One-Who-Heals-the Wounded-Heart. With His unfailing help we can be healed and set free from any hidden blocks. Then we can rejoice in gratitude as we happily grow in holiness and wholeness.
CE: Write out the verses that resonate with you and express your responses to the Psalm.
Toward Myself ~ Lea Goldberg (1911 – 1970)
Lea Goldberg is one of Israel’s most respected poets. With added melody, many of her poems have become classic songs. In 1935, at age 24, after her university studies, she made Aliyah to Israel from Lithuania. She was a prolific and versatile writer. Her publications include ten collections of poetry, plays, novels, and stories for children. She translated major literary works into Hebrew, including War and Peace, plays by Shakespeare, and stories by Chekov, Moli`ere, and Ibsen.
Although Goldberg lived through both Word Wars and their horrors she expressed a commitment in her poetry “to remind humankind, every moment and every day, that the opportunity to return and be human is not lost.”
The years have made up my face
With memories of love
And have adorned my hair with light silver threads
Making me most beautiful.
In my eyes
landscapes are reflected.
And the paths I have trod
Have straightened my stride –
tired and lovely steps.
If you should see me now
You would not recognise your yesterdays –
I am walking towards myself
Bearing the face you searched for in vain
When I was walking toward you.
CE: Write out the poem in your Journal. Can you identify with it in any way? Jot down any thoughts you may have.
HOW THEN SHOULD WE WALK?
Of all the many beautiful and powerful Scripture verses connected with walking the one I come back to time and again is Micah 6:8, with it’s direct simplicity:
He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?
The emphasis on what to do to please Him is not on theology, sacrifices, and rituals. The most significant of God’s desires for mankind as we walk through our days are justice, compassion, and humility. Note that, as we walk together with Him, these requirements relate to how people interact with one another. Thus, we may understand that the primary goal of our thoughts and actions in every situation is to use our intelligence and creativity, and any gifts the Father has given us, in order to fulfil the chief interpersonal commandment, “You shall love your neighbour as yourself.”
“Being Holy” is predominantly connected with the motivation and the execution of one’s everyday actions. This involves our physical bodies. Our legs take us where we want to go and our hands do the necessary actions. The greatest thing we can do is to bring blessing in whatever we do. First we want to bless God and then to bless others. The Sages say we should find 100 reasons to bless God every day. Hebrew blessings are essentially an expression of grateful praise. They begin with, “Baruch Atah Adonai Eoheinu, Melech HaOlam…” Blessed are You O Lord our G-d, King of the Universe…, and then follows the reason for praising Him:- “…for restoring my soul to me in compassion” (said first thing on waking); “…for bringing bread from the earth” (before eating a meal with bread); “for the fruit of the vine” (before drinking wine); “who has made the great sea” (on seeing the ocean); on hearing good news, “…who is good and does good” and even on hearing sad news of a death, “…the true Judge.” And so on…one hundred reasons to praise God. In Israel we are used to saying “Baruch HaShem” – “Praise or Bless HIs Name”, at the drop of a hat.
God Himself is the great bestower of blessing, therefore, our desire, in order to emulate Him, should be to bless others as well. In fact, when we do we are sanctifying His Name. Based on the third commandment in Exodus 20:7, “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain,” and Leviticus 22:32, “You shall not profane my holy name, that I may be sanctified among the people of Israel. I am the Lord who sanctifies you,” observant Jews pray twice daily, together with the Shemah, to “nekadesh et Shimcha be’olam” – to “make Your Name holy in the world.” How does one do this? Firstly, an interesting point grasp is that, in Exodus 20:7, the Hebrew word usually translated as ‘Do not take’ – Lo tissa, literally means “Do not carry the Name of the Lord in vain.”
We are created in such a way that we physically carry His Name in our bodies.
PARTS OF THE BODY – THE SKELETAL SYSTEM
The human skeleton is the framework and support for all the organs of the body. It is divided into two categories: the axial, which is the central column – skull, spine, ribs, and sternum, and the appendicular – the shoulders, arms and legs. As well as being of vital importance to our physical well-being and strength, it is in the skeleton that we see a diagram of the Name of God. We are told in Genesis 1:27 that we are created in the image of God and this is illustrated, as it were, in our very bones! Externally we all look very different but when we get down to the bare bones level we all are very similar!
Back to the question, “How do we carry His Name in our bodies?” Let’s take a look. The Name of God, the Tetragrammaton, as written in the Hebrew Scriptures is Yod-Heh-Vav-Heh. י-ה-ו-ה Now look at the skeleton. The skull fits the shape of the yod; the arms form a heh (with an open space for the heart); the spine fits the vav, and the legs form the final heh! We carry the Name of God in our very being. How is this of relevance in our daily lives? It is intimately connected with how we walk through our days. In our video this month you will learn more about the importance of standing and walking correctly according to how our skeleton is created, but let us consider how the shape of our skeleton in the Name of God, together with the breath He gives us, affects our spiritual lives.
Simply put, when others, particularly those who do not know God, observe your behavior and appreciate the righteousness of your actions, and the godliness of your character, they will be drawn closer to God and His ways – and that is Kiddush HaShem – Sanctifying His Name. It stands to reason that the opposite of Kiddush HaShem, sanctifying His Name, applies. The desecration of God’s Name is called in Hebrew Chillul HaShem. If others, who know you are a believer in God see you acting in dishonest or obnoxious ways their opinion of God will be lowered negatively.
From the start, Abraham and Sarah serve as great examples. As renowned medieval Torah commentator and physician, Maimonides, describes: “Just as Abraham, being a lover of God, summoned mankind to believe [by constantly opening their tent to serve wayfarers with food and rest and ave praise to God for the provision], you must love God and summon mankind to Him.” Maimonides also noted that the greater and more prominent a scholar or leader, the greater responsibility they have to act in an exemplary, God-honoring way. As examples, he cites that they must (i) pay their debts promptly, (ii) never embarrass colleagues, and (iii) not overindulge in merrymaking in public. (The Foundations of Torah 5:11)
In relation to the body part of feet and walking, It is said that your feet will take you where you want to go. It is important to be aware of where we go and who we are seen to be associating with. In 1965, the esteemed teacher and author Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel marched alongside Martin Luther King, Jr. in the Selma civil rights demonstration. It showed that he cared about righting the injustices of segregation and believed that all are created in the image of God and are equally deserving of respect. He later famously commented, in effect: “It felt as if my legs were praying.”
The perfect example of Kiddush HaShem is Yeshua himself. His motive, in all he did, was to bless and please our Father in Heaven. As he said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise.” (John 5:19) In so doing, he could extend the blessings of wisdom and healing to others and open the way of God’s Kingdom to all the world – to whosoever would come and respond to the good news he proclaimed.
Considered the greatest of Yeshua’s teaching on blessing is the Sermon on the Mount, the Beatitudes, in Matthew 5:1-10. The focus behind the beatitudes is love of God, stemming from a pure and humble heart. Interestingly, when Yeshua began his teaching with, “Blessed are you…”, the initial reaction could well have been to think, for example,“…when you are healthy; when you are well off financially; when you have all you desire.” However, he says, “Blessed are those who are poor in spirit; who mourn; who are meek and humble; who hunger and thirst after righteousness; who are merciful and pure in heart, and make peace; and even those who are persecuted!” The blessings come through the love and grace of God when the mourners are comforted, the hungry satisfied; when the meek, humble, and pure are called “sons of God” and inherit the earth. And those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for Kiddush HaShem, can rejoice and be glad for their reward in Heaven will be great.
Yeshua underscores for us in the Beatitudes that the Father is the first and only Being we can rely on. He reaffirms this in the next chapter, Matthew 6, when he teaches the disciples to pray to our Father in Heaven. The first proclamation is Kiddush HaShem – hallowing God’s name. It continues to proclaim that our aim is to do His will on earth as it is done in Heaven, and we grateful receive our daily bread and forgiveness of our sin. It is He who safeguards us from temptation and who delivers us from evil. Baruch HaShem – Praise His Holy Name, for His is the Kingdom and the power and the glory, forever and ever. Amen!
Yeshua continues, in verses 25-34, that when we serve God in love, we need be anxious for nothing. Our Father knows of all our needs, we need only seek first His Kingdom and righteousness, and all will be added to us in His loving grace. And in chapter 7:11, we are again assured, “If even an evil man knows how to give good gifts to his children, how much more will our Father in Heaven give good gifts to those who ask Him?”
WALKING HUMBLY WITH OUR GOD
Let us finish with a final look at our legs and humility! We are told in Scripture that Moses was the most humble of men who ever lived. And yet he was called and used by God to perform powerful and mighty deeds in the liberation of His people from Egypt. This indicates that to be humble does not mean being a wimp. To stand strong and balanced we need to have two legs – one leg of humility and another of confidence. We may consider the two pillars that led the Israelites through the wilderness, which often are described as the “legs” of God going before them, one was bright fire and the other cloud. At times our confidence in God’s calling and gifting in our lives must allow us to shine and to be self-assertive; at other times we must, as it were, hide and ‘cloud ourselves over.’ In wisdom, we need to discern when it is appropriate to remember that God created each of us uniquely for His special purposes and when to remember that, without Him, we are nothing but dust and ashes!
The prophet Micah’s words echo those of Moses in his final farewell to the people of God, in Deuteronomy 10:12-13,
“And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the commandments and statutes of the Lord, which I am commanding you today for your good.”
Let us stand strong on His eternal Word and carry His Name with joy and blessing!
~ Keren Hannah
VIDEO – “STEPS TO PERFECT POSTURE” – ‘Good Posture means Lasting Health’
In the West we need to relearn the basics of good posture! Keren’s sister, Cathy Daley, is a trained Physical Therapist as well as a Yoga teacher. Here she shares the principles of correct standing, sitting and walking that will help enforce correct skeletal alignment, and improve circulation and muscle tone. All towards better health!