Spiraling Up! TAMMUZ 2020

TAMMUZ – WEEKS 1 & 2         COMMITMENT

The rich month of Sivan, with its focus on Ahavah – Love and Relationships, launched us into the heights of the “sky,” as it were – into the limitless bounds of our Father’s never-ending love; as well as into a perception of all the wondrous potential that is held within each individual soul and within each relationship. 

Sivan challenged us to widen our perspectives of ourselves, and also our set perspectives of others, and even of G-d, and then to review our relationships with Him, with ourselves and with others. 

Our endeavor was possibly heightened with the outbreak of the CoVid 19 pandemic. As disrupting and challenging as the situation has been on many levels, and continues to be, we are finding positive outcomes in that our awareness of our attitudes and values is being sharpened. We are gaining greater clarity of our need to cling more intently to G-d and His Word, and to be constantly ‘looking up’ in faith.

Now, with the fourth Hebrew month of Tammuz, after the soaring of Sivan, we will find a natural swing of the pendulum – a ‘return to earth.’ As we observe in the waxing and waning of the moon each month, life is in constant motion – a coming and going, inhaling and exhaling, soaring up and gliding down. This month calls us to focus on the attributes that will help us gain the most benefit from what we have been learning up to this point – commitment and savlanut/patience. 

BLESSING FOR THE MONTH OF TAMMUZ

Blessed are you Abba Father, Source of Joy

Who offers us a path of joy.

May this be a month of setting aside expectations

And surrendering to the simple truth of what is

That I may find my way to what might be

In Your perfect plan for my life.

 

ALL SOUL WORK IS SACRED

Initially, we need to examine our commitment to the serious task of gaining deeper understanding of our inner self, in order to bring about greater personal tikkun – inner healing. During this past year, as a group of women, in Being Holy Being Whole, Keep Climbing! (and for some of us it has been the past many years!) we have studied the discipline of Mussar – the pursuit of becoming more healed and whole, and as a result, to grow in holiness. Why? One answer is in order to become increasingly better able to fulfil our unique purpose in partnering with our Father in Heaven in Tikkun Olam – the healing of the brokenness in the world; which begins with receiving His healing in our own broken places. Physically, we are simply, as Paul describes in 2 Corinthians 4:7, “jars of clay.” However, within these weak, clay jars, we hold the incredible treasure of a holy soul, which is filled with the breath and spirit of G-d Himself and which is fashioned in order to be a vessel that shines His radiance and reflects His light into the world.

 In order to accomplish this, the lamp of our soul needs constantly to be filled with the oil of His Spirit and the Truth of His Word. Our Creator has equipped us with the tools but we need to be committed to the task, just as the High Priest was in lighting the lamps of the Menorah in the Holy Place every morning and evening. It is said that Aaron, aware of his sacred task, tended the lamps every day with care and with joy; just as he had on the first day the Tabernacle was anointed and filled with the Presence of G-d. 

The word commitment in Hebrew is devakut – clinging like glue; just as we read, in the book of Ruth at Shavuot, how Ruth clung to Naomi, and to the G-d of Israel, and to His people. Likewise, we cling to G-d with a deep yearning in our souls to be more and more closely connected with Him, trusting that His light will fill us and flow through us. To be committed to our task we need to remember, like Aaron, that all ‘soul work’ is sacred work. It is tending to the inner menorah of one’s soul that is created to shine the radiance of the truth of the Word of G-d and the light of His Presence into the darkness of the world. 

For G-d, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of G-d [as it was reflected] in the face of Messiah Yeshua.    (2 Corinthians 4:6)

CORE QUESTION: 

What actions can I take to strengthen my commitment to tend to my soul in order to allow the light of G-d’s truth and presence to shine more brightly into the world around me?

To address the question we need always to remember that G-d, our Creator, is in control of our individual lives and of the whole world. He provides His people in every generation with exactly what is necessary to accomplish His purposes in the specific time in which He places us. All that happens in our lives, all we enjoy or must endure, is part of His bigger picture. He is the ultimate source of every circumstance in our lives. Accepting and working through the experience with awareness is essential for the maturing of our souls and in order to allow healing to flow to any area of deficiency or weakness in our lives.

We also need to be willing to do the sacred work involved that will result in the healing of past wounds and the rectification of old patterns of thought and behavior, including those that might have been passed down from generation to generation. This does not entail blaming or judging ourselves or others. It is about having the commitment and the patience – with ourselves and others – to work with our Good Shepherd in the inner work needed to fulfil the unique purpose He has for each of our lives.

BLESSING WEEK 1

Blessed are You Abba Father, the Source of Grace

Who offers us a path of grace.

May this be a week for reaching out to help

And reaching out to be helped

For offering love and being open to love when it is offered.

 

BLESSING WEEK 2

Blessed are you Abba Father, the Source of Transformation 

Who offers us a path of transformation.

May this be a week of doing things differently.

May  I seek out new ways of encouraging myself and others

With the potential inherent in joy, purpose, and growth.

 

TAMMUZ – WEEKS 3 & 4 – PATIENCE / SAVLANUT

The Hebrew word for patience is savlanut. Another word from the same root is sevel – suffering. We all endure forms of suffering during our days on earth. Sometimes they can be mild irritations or frustrations but, at other times, we face serious and painful events such as illness, loss of loved ones, lack of employment, betrayal by others, and so on. BeIng patient means becoming the bearer of each ‘suffering’ with equanimity. Equanimity, as Mussar teacher Alan Morinis describes, is the capacity to embrace what is without being overcome or bowled over by it. It is enduring without complaint. Which means, it’s a challenge!

However, being aware of the challenge and refining our patience brings greater balance and serenity to our lives. We begin to understand more clearly that our true inner happiness is not linked to the constant changes and ups and downs of life. Rather than being plagued by fear, worry, and anxiety, we keep our balance by placing our trust in our Father G-d and by standing in faith on the Rock of His Word.

Often our patience is sorely tried, or our equanimity lost, by the words, attitudes, and actions of others. Negative or insulting words are hurtful and can disturb our inner calm. An early Mussar teacher, Rabbi Chaim Vital (1543 – 1620), recounted how a rabbi responded to a student who admitted that he felt pleased when he was honored by another and was pained when someone insulted him. 

The Rabbi  replied: “Go in peace, my son. Until your soul does not feel honored when one honors you and embarrassment when one insults you, your consciousness is not ready to be attached to [to cling to] the higher supernal realms. So, go and surrender your heart even more, a true surrendering, until you attain equanimity.”

Impatience disturbs our inner balance and peace of mind – our Shalom. Another more recent Mussar teacher, Rabbi Shlomo Wolbe (1914 – 2005) taught:

“A person who has peace of mind has gained everything. To obtain peace of mind you need to be at peace with the people in your environment. 

You need to be at peace with yourself, with your emotions and desire. Furthermore [most of all] you need to be at peace with your Creator.”

Another sage, quoted by Rabbi Rami Shapiro in The Sacred art of Lovingkindness, observed: 

“Impatience arises when you become too sensitive and you don’t have any way to deal with your environment, your atmosphere. …Patience has a sense of dignity and forbearance. You are not so easily disturbed by the world’s aggression.”  

Interestingly, Rabbi Shapiro also makes the observation: 

“Equanimity has everything to do with expansiveness: how much room you can make in your body, heart, mind, and life for reality as it is at this moment.” And, I would add: to engage that reality with truth, faith, and lovingkindness. 

Often the physical things of the world we treasure prove to be impermanent and unreliable and we find ourselves adrift and beset by uncertainty. That is when we can, in faith and trust in our faithful Father in Heaven, see through the temporal with its sorrows and losses, make peace with it, and see into the timeless – find the infinite in the finite. G-d is lovingly engaged with His Creation and we are part of it with Him. The physical world is real and valuable, and we must engage the temporal with care and courage, with commitment and patience. But, we also must remember it is simply a precursor to our permanent and eternal home.

JOURNAL PROMPT

ASK: Which situations, both small and great, try my patience? Identify them and make a list. Commit to bearing the burden of your emotions and negative feelings for as long as possible in that situation. You may need to be patient with yourself, but by practicing this awareness you will see gradual improvement in your ability to maintain equanimity.

WRITE OUT Scripture verses that encourage you in this area. Decorate them if possible. Read them out loud often!

CORE QUESTION: 

What actions can I take to strengthen my commitment to tend to my soul in order to allow the light of G-d’s truth and presence to shine more brightly into the world around me?

BLESSING WEEK 3

Blessed are You Abba Father, the Source of Balance

Who offers us a path to balance.

May this be a week of self-correction

Listening to my needs and fulfilling them in patience.

May this be a week of victoriously overcoming obstacles

Remembering that some walls need not be toppled but simply walked around.

 

BLESSING WEEK 4

Blessed are You Abba Father, the Source of Wisdom

Who offers us a path to wisdom.

May this be a week for heeding the still, small voice

Of the Spirit that whispers within.

May I be open to what comes my way

Trusting in the One who is the Source of Life.

 

Amen and Amen,

Keren Hannah

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