Spiraling Up! SIVAN 2020

For your husband is your Maker, Whose name is the LORD of hosts; And your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel, Who is called the G-d of all the earth.

You have loved us with great Love, LORD our G-d, and with surpassing compassion have You had compassion on us … be gracious also to us and teach us. Our Father, compassionate Father … Instill in our hearts the desire to understand and discern, to listen, learn, and teach, to observe, perform, and fulfill all the teachings of Your Torah in love (Isaiah 54:5).

~ A small portion of the second blessing – Ahavah Rabbah – recited before the Shema.

Sivan comes on with the last blush of spring and the first kiss of summer. With it’s profusion of blooming flowers and warm scented air Sivan is traditionally a wedding month. Within Sivan we celebrate the marriage between Heaven and Earth.

 

JOURNAL PROMPT 1

SIVAN – SKY / RELATIONSHIP AND AHAVA

Sivan is a month of intimacy, union, and relationship, and we read in the Brit Chadashah of the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) being poured into the hearts of Yeshua’s disciples on Mount Zion on Shavuot. The Torah once written by the finger of G-d on tablets of stone is now written on tablets of the heart by the Spirit of G-d.

And this Torah is an instrument of Divine love – an instrument that we continue to hear today. We are told that the voice of G-d heard at Sinai was kol gadol velo yasaf, “a great voice that never ceased.” 

Isaiah describes G-d’s voice still speaking to us today:

Your ears will hear (shema) a word (davar) behind (ahar) you,  “This is the way, walk in it…”

Ahar (behind you, in the background) is the Hebrew word Isaiah used. Combined with shema (hear / listen / obey) and davar (a word) this phrase is telling.

Divrei Torah – the words of Torah. Torah means teachings or instruction. We may consider the whole of the Word – the Tanakh and Brit Chadashah – as G-d’s words; and when you hear them, study them, understand them, obey them  He is speaking to you.  

Ezekiel and John both spoke of a “voice” behind you – that voice in the background:

Then the spirit took me up, and I heard behind (ahar) me a voice of a great rushing, [saying], “Blessed [be] the glory of the Lord from his place.”

“I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and heard behind (ahar) me a great voice, as of a trumpet…”

Q:  How is the Torah an instrument of G-d’s love?

CORE STRENGTHENING QUESTION:

How might this understanding of Torah affect your relationship with G-d, with yourself, and with others?

 

JOURNAL PROMPT 2

SIVAN – SKY / RELATIONSHIP AND AHAVA

In this month of revelation, romance, and the culmination of our redemption, we turn our focus to the book of Ruth.

This scroll [of Ruth] tells nothing either of cleanliness or of uncleanliness, neither of prohibition or permission. For what purpose then was it written? To teach how great is the reward of those who do deeds of kindness (chessed). 

~ Midrash Ruth Rabbah 2:13

Chessed is usually translated as ‘kindness’ but it also means ‘love’ – not love as an emotion or passion, but love expressed as deed. Theologians define chessed as covenant love. …In one of the loveliest lines in the prophetic literature G-d says to Israel through Jeremiah, ‘I remember the kindness [chessed] of your youth, the love of your betrothal – how you were willing to follow Me through the desert in an unsown land’ (Jer. 2:2). Chessed is the love that is loyalty, and the loyalty that is love. It is born in the generosity of faithfulness, the love that means being ever-present for the other.

                    ~ Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, 

To Heal A Fractured World: The Ethics Of Responsibility, 45-46      

Q: 2.. How do we learn chessed from the acts of G-d himself?

CORE STRENGTHENING QUESTION:

How might this understanding of chessed affect your relationship with G-d, with yourself, and with others?

 

JOURNAL PROMPT 3

SIVAN – SKY / RELATIONSHIP AND AHAVA

Almost every verse in the book of Ruth begins with the Hebrew letter vav… When that letter is placed at the beginning of a verse or word it carries the meaning of the word “AND.”  [In Hebrew] it is called Vav Hachibur or the connecting Vav. 

Moshe Kempinski, Understanding Vav in the Book of Ruth

The word vav means ‘hook’ and we read in the book of Exodus that in the Tabernacle golden vavim (hooks) joined all the curtains together. Similar to the book of Ruth, many verses in the Hebrew Scriptures begin with vav and the text of the scroll is set up in such a way that the writing on every page begins with a vav – the connecting letter – so the vavim join the whole Torah together to become one.

The letter “vav” connects words, verses and messages. The letter Vavgives the flow of thoughts, a history and continuity. When we relearn context and connect all the events and visions that seem so randomly placed before us we begin again to find direction and purpose. Only then do we find truth and that is why the letter vav is called the letter of truth.

~.Moshe Kempinski, Understanding Vav in the Book of Ruth

Q: What lesson, concerning the book of Ruth, can be gleaned from this?

CORE STRENGTHENING QUESTION:

How might this new understanding of the letter vav affect your relationship with G-d, with yourself, and with others?

 

JOURNAL PROMPT 4

SIVAN – SKY / RELATIONSHIP AND AHAVA

Here is how G-d revealed his love among us: G-d sent his only Son (Yeshua – the living Torah) into the world, so that through him we might have life. (1 John 4:9).

In our western culture, love is thought of as an emotion, something we feel toward another. But in Hebraic understanding love has a much deeper meaning. One Hebrew word for love is ahava, with its parent root hav, which means to give / to provide. The concept of giving provides a much fuller meaning to the word ahava.

The Hebrew word for father is av – א aleph / ב bet. In the ancient Hebrew pictograph the symbolic meaning of א aleph is leader or strength. The meaning of ב bet is family or house. So the pictograph for father (av) tells us that a father is the leader or strength of the family.  Ahav (love)* is composed of א aleph / ה hey  / ב bet. By placing a hey (symbolic meaning ‘to reveal’) in the middle of father we see that love is the father’s heart revealed.

Q: How does this Hebraic understanding of love affect your understanding of G-d’s commands of loving G-d, loving each other, loving neighbors, and loving your enemies?

CORE STRENGTHENING QUESTION:

How might this deeper understanding of love affect your relationship with G-d, with yourself, and with others? 

* Ahav is the first occurrence of the word love in the Torah – Genesis 22:2 the Akedah (The Sacrifice or Binding of Isaac).

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