Journal Jots for KISLEV – Keep Climbing!

“The soul of man is the lamp of G-d,” the Book of Proverbs tell us (20:27). What this means is that ultimately, our task is not to light candles, but to be candles. We have the potential to be the bits of light that help bring G-d back into a world gone dark. As the Sefas Emes puts it in discussing Hanukkah, “A human being is created to light up this world.” Rabbi Shai Held, Hanukkah, 1874

OHR KADOSH

Holy Light

Download – Journal Jots – KISLEV

November’s Winner of ‘A Taste of Torah’

Congratulations MARTHA SCHNEIRLA
and our warm thanks for joining us here at HIS-ISRAEL.

Please remember to post a new comment each month to participate in the draw and for another chance to receive a complimentary copy.

Next selection will be January 1, 2020.

Journal Jots for CHESHVAN – Keep Climbing!

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Like a father who stoops to play with his toddler, laughing with the child, excited over those silly things that excite a small child, yet always remaining an adult who is beyond all these games–so, too, He creates within Himself a place where in love and laughter, in compassion and awe and beauty, Man and G-d could find one another, and neither would be alone. ~ Tzvi Freeman

רחמ׳ם

RACHAMIM / Compassion

Download here: JOURNAL JOTS – CHESHVAN

 

* artwork by Cindy Lou Elliott

October’s Winner of ‘A Taste of Torah’

Congratulations TRACY HOOD
and our thanks for being a friend to us here at HIS-ISRAEL!

Please remember to post a new comment each month to participate in the current month’s name selection and for another chance to receive a complimentary copy.

Next selection will be December 1, 2019.

Recommended Torah Commentaries

Ben Bag Bag said, “Turn and turn about in it [the Torah] for everything is in it; and within it you shall look, and grow old and gray over it, and not stir from it; for there is no better portion for you than this.”

Every sentence, every word, every letter, every space – holy holy holy, precious, bursting with understanding and meaning, brimming with life! Oh how I want to more fully embrace and understand every word of our Abba.  

We are on the cusp of a new Torah Reading Cycle. Just the thought of stepping once again into Bereshit causes my heart to tremble with excitment. Every time I read the first words of Bereshit: Bereshit bara Elohim et hashamayim ve’et ha’arets – I know I am  once again home. 

We are meant to study, wrestle, argue, and yes even dance with Torah. Following are a handful of teachers whose insights and understandings have accompanied me in my studies and who have helped me do just that – study, wrestle, argue, and dance. They have become my trusted friends and much beloved teachers.

Chazak, chazak, v’nitchazek – Be strong, be strong and may we strengthen one another!
In Him who loves us with an infinite love,
Cindy

RABBI SACKS – Covenant & Conversation

This summer Rabbi Sacks completed the fifth and final installation of the series Covenant & ConversationDeuteronomy: Renewal of the Sinai Covenant. This five volume set includes a number of profound, illuminating, and inspiring essays on each Torah portion – each inviting us into a conversation with Torah. Rabbi Sacks is a great scholar, philosopher, and theologian. Deeply thoughtful, an intellectual giant, his words require deep thought and contemplation. I often find myself having to read a small portion, wait, then read again. If I were to rate this series I would absolutely give it a 6 out of 5 stars.

SCHMUEL GOLDIN – Unlocking The Torah Text

I wish we had more than 24 hours in a day so I could deeply study with more than one teacher through every new cycle. If I were able to – Schmuel Goldin’s collection is one I would include every year. With each parsha Rabbi Goldin includes a number of studies and thought provoking questions – many, if not most – I never even though to ask. An incredible, very readable work, that compares and contrasts opposing rabbinical points of view. This set is truly a gem!

RABBI SHAI HELD – The Heart of Torah

This two volume set is another favorite. Rabbi Shai Held includes two essays for each weekly portion. He draws from Torah, rabbinic commentaries, contemporary biblical and pastoral studies. He has helped me more than once to read with new eyes, given text new understanding. A very accessible and thoughtful read.

RABBI ABRAHAM ISAAC HAKOHEN KOOK – Gold From The Land of Israel, Sapphire From The Land of Israel

Each book is a collection of essays on the Torah portions, nuggets distilled from the writings of Rabbi Abraham Kook. Rabbi Kook’s writing was both poetic and esoteric and – for myself – at times very difficult to understand. Rabbi Chanan Morrison has made Rabbi Abraham Kook’s writings both accessible (translating them for non-Hebrew readers) and understandable. These books are works of beauty.

AVIVAH GOTTLIEB ZORNBERG – The Beginning of Desire, The Particulars of Rapture: Reflections on Exodus, Bewilderments: Reflections on the Book of Numbers

I will say from the beginning that these books are in a class of their own. Beautiful, arresting, really just glorious. Each of these commentaries weaves together biblical, talmudic, and midrashic interpretations. These are reads I come back to time and time again as there is no way I can fully take in all Avivah Zornberg is communicating. Avivah Zornberg has so often set my heart on fire. 

DAVID EBENBACH – the artist’s Torah

This book by David Ebenbach has become an absolute favorite of mine. A collection of essays – one for each portion – The Artist Torah is a delightful read for the creative soul (of which we all are). Rich, inspiring, and though provoking. I have come back to this read time and time again. Pure joy – this is a ‘kind’ read that truly feeds my soul!

RABBI SAMSON RAPHAEL HIRSCH – The Hirsch Chumash

This five book series is one that has been on my wish list for years. I have Rabbi Hirsch’s Tehillim – a book on the Psalms that I keep out and read from almost every day. I have read that Hirsch’s Tehillim is written in a similar way to his Torah series so I wanted to include just a short note on how Rabbi Hirsch brings unique understanding and light to Scripture. His books are not a fast read – at least for myself, but they are enjoyable and beautiful. Books that one could spend a lifetime exploring.

KEREN HANNAH PRYOR – A Taste of Torah

Last, but not least, is Keren’s classic A Taste of Torah. A Taste of Torah is a much loved friend of mine. I want to include a link to a fuller review of Keren’s book:

A Taste of Torah

Keep your eyes open for – hopefully, and b’Ezrat HaShem, with the Lord’s help – a new publication of A Dash of Drash this year by FFOZ.

Journal Jots for TISHREI – Keep Climbing!

“G-d is not only the creator of heaven and earth.
G-d is also the One
who created delight and joy.”

~ Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel,

לחיות בשמחה
LIVE JOYFULLY

Download here: JOURNAL JOTS – TISHREI

 

September’s Winner of ‘A Taste of Torah’

Congratulations SUZANNA FENELON
and our warmest thanks for joining us here at HIS-ISRAEL!

Please remember to post a new comment each month to participate in the current month’s name selection and for another chance to receive a complimentary copy.

Next selection will be October 30, 2019.

Weekly Torah Reading Cycle – 5780

She is a tree of life to those who embrace her, and those who lay hold of her are blessed.
Proverbs 3:18

Time and again, in the midst of troubled times or facing difficult decisions, I’ve found the words of the weekly parish giving me guidance – or, conversely, the events themselves granting me deeper insight into the Torah text. For that is what “Torah” means: teaching, instruction, guidance. Torah is a commentary on life, and life is a commentary on Torah. Together they constitute a conversation, each shedding light on the other. Torah is a book not only to be read but to be lived.

~ Rabbi Sacks, Covenant & Conversation: A Weekly Reading of the Jewish Bible, Genesis, 2

Torah Reading Cycle 2019-2020 5780

Psalm 27

THERE ARE EASIER PSALMS: Some ring with “HalleluYah” or feature nature’s joy in field and tree; others darker, give us short and piercing cries of the heart.

But not Psalm 27. Not this poem that Jewish tradition bids us read for fifty consecutive days each year. Here, we encounter something more nuanced: the psalm of spiritual struggle, the heart that sings and weeps, the intimate wrestling match between faith and doubt that characterizes our existence…

Psalm 27 knows our pain and our joy…It is the voice of stubborn and challenged faith…it is for the obstacles without and the obstacles within. It is whiplash, journey and mirror at once…May the ancient psalm that plumbs the heart open your own.

 

~ Rabbi David Stern, Opening Your Heart with Psalm 27, from the Foreword by Rabbi Debra J. Robbins.

Download PSALM 27 – Hebrew, Transliteration, English

Artwork: Cindy Elliot

You can listen to Psalm 27, sang by Christene Jackman posted below.

Purchase a copy at Shuv Store

 

Festival Cycle Dates 5780 / 2019-2020

Our gift to you for the new calendar year 5780:

DOUBLE SIDED – FESTIVAL CYCLE DATES 2019 – 2020

As long as the days the earth endure, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night shall not cease.
Genesis 8:22

Simply print off, fold in three sections and glue together to make a beautiful calendar to stand on your desk…or wherever.

A 5780 prayer and blessing to you from His-Israel:

May this new year bring us all fresh passion, greater understanding, and deeper insights into the Word and will of the One who Created us in love. May we live each moment of our lives, even the most mundane, with the understanding that all moments are infused with deep purpose and spiritual meaning. And may this soulful living lead us into a closer more intimate relationship with our faithful Abba-Father.

We trust that 5780 will find your heart overflowing with the love of Heaven, your soul filled with the wonders of Heaven, and your body in constant praise to Heaven so that you may truly:
“Love the Lord your G-d with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.”

For His holy Name’s sake, in love.

Keren and Cindy

The world says that time is money, I say that time is life. [1]

Keren is leading us through a new and vital Rosh Chodesh/Hebrew Month series this year (see here  – Keep Climbing ) one that has lead myself (Cindy) to the realization that every moment, including those moments that might be thought of as mundane, are precious and bursting – full of soul possibilities, spiritual meaningfulness and purpose. If we listen, our souls “feel the brevity of it all, the beauty. It wants us to behold each day, each minute, as a precious gift that we should not waste.” [2]

When  working on the new Festival Cycle Calendar I began exploring the many Jewish interpretations, traditions and understandings of time. Jill Hammer in her book The Jewish Book Of Days tells us, “The wheel of the year is complex, wealthy with distinctions and characteristics…” 

Rabbi Trugman tells us in his book Seasons Of The Soul that “when considering…the passage of time…connected to the yearly holiday cycle…time can be experienced in one of four basic ways”:

1. Linear – past, present and future follow a chronological sequence; as each moment passes it is gone, never to return.

2. Circular – time repeats itself in phases of weeks, months, and years.

3. A Spiral – time twists ever-upwards… always returning to the same horizontal coordinate, but on a higher plane during each successive revolution. Thus, each moment of time is both completely new as well as cyclically and seasonally consistent.

4. Transcendent – above historical time all together. This is the way G-d experiences time. For, on a Divine level, past, present and future all occur simultaneously.

He explains how the yearly cycle of the Biblical feasts has the potential to catapult us from a linear, circular, and even spiral-like experience of time to a transcendent experience.

The cycle of the Jewish holidays gives us the ability to be completely connected to and engrossed in time, while allowing us to simultaneously transcend its limitations.
For those who have been privileged to experience the timelessness of Shabbat and the holidays, they know the transcendent qualities accessible on these special days if we but allow ourselves to dive into them with total abandon. Great is the reward for those who make that leap into and out of time.

Rabbi Waskow [4] teaches that these festivals, especially the shalosh regalim (three pilgrimage festivals – Passover, Shavuot, and Sukkot), “are a kind of national life cycle in which Passover represents birth, Shavuot represents marriage and commitment, and Sukkot represents maturity.” In this context the yearly cycle can be viewed as a mirror of our life and the journey of our souls.

When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find that it is bound fast by a thousand invisible cords that cannot be broken, to everything in the universe. [3]

Connected also with the Divine rhythms of time, is time’s connectedness to Creation.
Jill Hammer shares:

G-d made three realms in the world: sky, earth, and sea: “In seven days the Eternal made the sky, the earth, and the sea with everything in it, and rested on the seventh day” (Exodus 20:11). These three realms manifest through the three pilgrimage festivals – Passover, Shavuot, and Sukkot – and the days that follow them.

Shavuot is connected to the sky. The sky is…the wedding canopy of Israel…we receive the Torah from the heavenly realms. We pray for the harvest to be successful and for rain to fall. On Tisha b’AV…we pray for the afflicted and martyred…On Rosh Hashanah we contemplate the past year and consider our deeds. On Yom Kippur, we wear white…the heaven’s correspond to the dimension of the soul, and this is the season when we do the most soul work.

Sukkot is connected to the earth. On Sukkot, the fields open to give us their bounty… we dwell outside in booths…we plant crops…we celebrate the holidays of Hanukkah and Purim, when earthly actions by human beings saved the Jewish people.
We honor trees on Tu b’Shevat. Hanukkah celebrates the rededication of the Temple, the most holy space of the people. On the 1st of Nisan, just before Passover, we mark the anniversary of the building of the Tabernacle. [G-d’s first physical dwelling place on earth.]

Passover is connected to the realm of the ocean. On Passover, the Sea of Reeds parts to allow the Israelites to pass from slavery to freedom…The sea represents birth; and at this season the Jewish people were born. During this time, Miriam’s well…appears in the desert. The sea, which ebbs and flows in patterns of days and months, corresponds to the dimension of time; and it is at this season that we pay the most attention to time, counting every day between Passover and Shavuot. [5]

Our Abba has written layer upon layer into the circle of the year. So much to learn, so much to discover. Rabbi Waskow describes: “More of us are experiencing a thirst for the water of our spiritual wellsprings, or hunger for [our Jewish] roots…To fill that thirst and feed that hunger means that we must open up to what the holidays can be…much more than bubbles.” [6]

1. Menachem Mendel Schneerson, as shared by Rabbi Simon Jacobson in Toward a Meaningful Life, 143
2. Naomi Levy, Einstein and the Rabbi, 116
3. From the journal of John Muir (American naturalist) dated July 27.
4. Rabbi Arthur Waskow, Seasons Of Our Joy
5. Jill Hammer, The Jewish Book of Days, 14-15
6. Rabbi Arthur Waskow, Seasons of Our Joy, preface

AUGUST’S WINNER of A TASTE of TORAH!

Congratulations GARY PHELPS
and thank you for being a friend to His-Israel.

Gary please email us about your free copy – keciro@gmail.com.

Remember to post a new comment each month to participate in the current month’s
selection for another chance to receive a complimentary copy.

Next selection will be October 1, 2019.

Journal Jots for ELUL – Keep Climbing!

Every person has both a body and a soul,” said the Rebbe. “It is like a bird and its wings. Imagine if a bird were unaware that its wings enabled it to fly, they would only add an extra burden of weight. But once it flaps its wings, it lifts itself skyward.

We all have wings – our souls – All we have to do is learn to use them.

 

~Rebbe Menachem Schneerson

JOURNAL JOTS – ELUL

Winners of a Complimentary Copy of an Abraham Joshua Heschel Book

just to be...

Thanks so much to all who joined us on our summer adventure with 
Rabbi  Abraham Joshua Heschel.

We deeply appreciated every comment and each word of encouragement and have decided to select two winners instead of one.

  1. RENA MONHOLLAND
  2. LISA JOHNSON

MAZEL TOV and so much appreciation from both of us  ~ Keren and Cindy.

Please drop us a note with your choice from this booklist:

  • Man Is Not Alone
  • Israel – An Echo Of Eternity
  • The Sabbath
  • I Asked For Wonder
  • The Prophets

The Prophets (3) The God of Pathos and Passion

prophets

The God Of Pathos And Passion – 9.04 minutes

 

To the prophets God was overwhelmingly real and shatteringly present. They never spoke of Him as from a distance.

They disclosed attitudes of God rather than ideas about God.

God does not reveal Himself in an abstract absoluteness, but in a personal and intimate relation to the world.

It was the certainty of God’s love and mercy that enabled the prophets to accept His anger.

 

~ Keren Hannah

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You can purchase The Prophets from Amazon.com
The Prophets (Perennial Classics)

The Prophets (2) What Manner Of Man Is The Prophet?

*Note Only two weeks left to leave your comments and be entered to win a free Abraham Joshua Heschel book of your choice.You are awarded one entry for each comment made on the Heschel posts here and also at the HIS-ISRAEL Facebook Page.

prophets

What Manner Of Man Is The Prophet? – 11.56 minutes

 

Over the life of a prophet, words are invisibly inscribed: “All flattery abandon, ye who enter here.” To be a prophet is both a distinction and an affliction.

The prophet’s duty is to speak to the people, “whether they hear or refuse to hear.” A grave responsibility rests upon the prophet. …Yet, being a prophet is also joy, elation, delight!

The pages of prophetic writings are filled with echoes of Divine love and disappointment, mercy and indignation. The God of Israel is never impersonal. This Divine pathos is the key to inspired prophecy.

 

~ Keren Hannah

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You can purchase The Prophets from Amazon.com
The Prophets (Perennial Classics)