THE EYES OF YOUR HEART – עיני הלבבות Cindy Elliott

HEBREW WORD FOR TAMMUZ – Being Holy ~ Being Whole

The trees stand like guards of the Everlasting; the flowers like signpost of His goodness – only we have failed to be testimonies to His presence, token of His trust. How could we have lived in the shadow of greatness and defied it? [1]

Wonder, or radical amazement, is a way of going beyond what is given in thing and thought, refusing to take anything for granted, to regard anything as final. It is our honest response to the grandeur and mystery of reality our confrontation with that which transcends the given. [2]

 

THE EYES OF YOUR HEART – – עיני הלבבות

I pray that He will give light to the eyes of your hearts, so that you will understand the hope to which He has called you, what rich glories there are in the inheritance He has promised His people.
Ephesians 1:18 CJB

John Gill shared in his commentary on Ephesians that “the eyes of the heart, or minds” is a Rabbinical phrase often met with in Jewish writings. [3] We see this phrase used by the author of Ephesians. But what does it mean?

I think most of us would agree that there is something more than just our natural seeing – there is also a spiritual seeing. We experience that ‘seeing’ every time we read the Word and the Word springs to life. It is the seeing when we slow down and really look at creation and recognize the fingerprints of the Creator and the beauty of His creation. It is the seeing when we look at a fellow human being and say, “I’ve seen the face of G-d.” It’s what the psalmist meant when he said, “Open my eyes, so that I will see wonders from your Torah.” Moments when eternity breaks into our heart – those moments – ultimately it is G-d’s work in us – His gift.

In this Rosh Chodesh cycle of focusing on healing and creativity we might say that seeing with the  eyes of the heart is the art of beholding. Beholding the holy, the sacred – beholding G-d.

In Hebrew the word behold is hinneh הנה, a word that according to TWOT [4] means “Look!” “See!” It is a word that emphasizes the immediacy, the here-and-now-ness. When we read it in Scripture it is G-d saying “Look!” “See!” “This is important!” Something that should cause an intake of breath – absolutely it should catch our attention – and without a doubt it should cause us to stop.

And G-d’s “Look!” “See!”  are all around us. Our world is full of G-d’s emphasis of immediacy, the here-and-now-ness that He doesn’t want us to miss. “Look!” “See!” the opening of a new flower, the pure laughter of a child, that first cup of coffee each morning, the sloppy wet kiss from a puppy, the smile of a stranger, the hug of a friend, the light of Shabbat candles… Baruch HaShem!

There is a dawn of wonder and surprise in our souls, when the things that surround us suddenly slip off the triteness with which we have endowed them, and their strangeness opens like a gap between them and our mind, a gap that no words can fill. [5]

Holy, holy, holy moments of seeing, of understanding. Moments when we shift from the obvious and look with great care. Not so much seeing new things but seeing with new eyes, new understanding – unlocking a shock of how truly inadequate our awe for G-d’s glory has been – unleashing a flood of gratefulness and praise.

Georgia O’Keefe said, “Nobody sees a flower really; it is so small. We haven’t time, and to see takes time – like to have a friend takes time.” Beholding takes time. This art requires us to slow down. To step out of the rush and madness of life and into a service of wonder.

Is not listening to the pulse of wonder worth silence and abstinence from self-assertion? Why do we not set aside an hour for devotion to G-d by surrendering to stillness. We dwell on the edge of mystery and ignore it, wasting our souls and risking our stake in G-d. [6]

Blessed are You, Lord our G-d, King of the Universe. Abba may we learn to cultivate the art of beholding, the art of looking, seeing, waiting in Your Word, in this world, with each person we meet, in every situation. May we hear your hinneh – your gift to us. And may we respond Abba with hinneni – Here am I! Abba, You who surpass all glory, open the eyes of our hearts that we may see the testimonies of your goodness all around us. And with that opening of our eyes may we live in such a way that our lives will be a living testimony to others of Your presence – Your goodness and love, of Your hope – bringing life and healing. Amen

Deep Cries To Deep

I have always loved watching the sea dance
and listening to the ocean breeze speak eternity to my heart

The shore
it has alway been our special place
ours – my Abba’s and mine

I think I inherited this love of the shore from my Dad

Even after a night of work
my Dad would take my sisters and I down to the seashore
we would watch the first sliver of light rise over the waters
and even then I think I knew it was Holiness breaking in
embracing me, warming my heart

Even now
it is the one place without fail
that Holiness always always always
shines bright
the one place
I always feel His embrace
and the eyes of my heart can see

On those days when I am the only one
wandering on the shore
not a person, not a ship in sight
it is as if I am wandering on the edge of the universe
looking out over an immense expanse
the first breath of creation and the ongoing breath of eternity
roll out like a scroll in front of me
leaving me breathless

At times when there is a storm
one that reaches up from the deepest darkest depths
stirring up the lumbering giants
that rise and crest
and crash onto the shore
with the clash of cymbals and the crash of the drums
I run to the shore, to the water’s edge

Breathing deep to calm my spirit
whispering calls to Holiness
listening with the eyes of my heart

There it is
the heartbeat of my Beloved

Whew

That’s when silence really sings

Deep cries out to deep,
the sounds of the opened sluices of heaven;
all Your breakers and your billows
have swept over me.
By day Adonai will command His Hesed / Lovingkindness
and at night, His resting place will be with me;
This is my prayer to the Almighty, G-d of my life.
Psalm 42:8-9

Photo credits – shutterstock.com

1. Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, Moral Grandeur and Spiritual Audacity: Essays, 341
2. Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, ”Who Is Man, 78-79
3. Zohar in Deut. fol. 119. 3. Jetzirah, p. 22. 78. Ed. Rittangel. R. Levi ben Gersom in Gen. fol. 14. 3. & Philo de opificio Dei, p. 15. and Bechinat Olam, 260.
4. R. Laird Harris, Gleason L. Archer, Jr, Bruce K. Waltke, Theological Workbook Of The Old Testament
5. Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, The Holy Dimension, 329
6. Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, Moral Grandeur and Spiritual Audacity: Essays, 341

Being Holy; Being Whole – TAMMUZ

THEME:  SIGHT; PERCEPTION

QUOTE:  When you place your life in the hand of God, you begin to see His hand in everything.

PARTS OF THE BODY – EYES

Last month we saw how the Name of G-d was embedded in our skeletal frame. This month we will begin to examine the head, which would link with the first letter in the Name of G-d – the yod. The head is the head, the ‘manager’ as it were, of the body. As well as the brain, it carries the four sensory organs of the eyes, ears, nose, and mouth. This month we will focus on the eyes. The eyes are considered the most important of the four and often are compared to wisdom – the seeing and understanding the essence of something. 

Transcript notes here (including portions not covered):

FB LIVE – BHBW – TAMMUZ

 

A Pre-Summer Pause for REFLECTION

Every journey needs “pit stops” – planned times to slow down and to pull off the road. These are opportunities to be refreshed, to review the progress made and to anticipate and plan the next stage of the journey. We will take the time to do that now on our “journey through sacred time,” before we press on into the full heat of Summer, and review our progression through the Biblical Cycle of the year. We started the cycle at Rosh HaShanah, at the transition of Autumn into Winter, and have now arrived at week thirty-four. We have passed the half-way mark and are about to venture forth on the homeward stretch of this year’s journey.

Now is a time to pause and to examine our hearts. We find, as with an extended physical journey, that as we travel through the annual cycle of sacred time there are ups and downs! We experience many joyful “high places” but there are “lows” that seem dark and are filled with sadness or confusion. These, too, have a purpose. We slowly discover that the darkness serves to enhance and brighten the light that follows. When we experience a “descent” – a difficult time of trial and testing – we can endure it in faith. We can persevere in the knowledge that our Father has our lives in His hands and He will redeem the situation for our greater “ascent”. Each time we stumble or fall, or circumstances bring us down, He is there when we call to Him and He will lift us up. We discover, at times, that it is necessary for us to be brought low, to humble ourselves; then He can lift us up to a higher place than we were before.

“Because your heart was penitent, and you humbled yourself before the Lord… and wept before Me, I also have heard you,” says the Lord.
(2 Kings 22:19)

Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will exalt you. (James 4:10)

Let us test and examine our ways, and return to the Lord. Let us lift up our hearts as well as our hands to God in heaven (Lamentations 3:40-41).

In any painful circumstance we need first to examine our hearts and deeds in humility and recognize if there is any sin for which we need to repent. Are we allowing anything to impede our relationship with our Father? If not, we can accept that He is teaching and disciplining us for a reason known to Him. We can rest in His wisdom and love, and we can trust that He will reveal His purpose in His time. Our loving Father continually corrects and disciplines us, like a good shepherd using his rod to guide and direct his sheep. He prods us still further for our eternal good and for His glory.

My child, do not despise the Lord’s discipline or be weary of his reproof, for the Lord reproves the one he loves, as a father the child in whom he delights.
(Proverbs 3:11-12)

WHERE are we Heading and WHY?

P n R 1

When, for example, a hiking trip is long and demanding, it is a wise and productive exercise regularly to review the reasons for the trip and the destination for which one is aiming. To move forward and to invest the effort involved in accomplishing the hike, we often need to reinforce our motivation and determination to press on. The same applies to our spiritual journey. It is a constant challenge of upward growth – growth in spirit, in character, and in relationship with our God, which is reflected and worked out in our daily actions and earthly relationships. This journey of the spirit continues throughout our life on earth for the destination is found in eternity.

As a result, there are no “instant fixes” in spiritual growth. We need constantly to learn and grow in order to overcome negativity and the desire to quit and simply drift. If we are not moving forward intentionally and purposefully, then we will stagnate and drift further and further backwards – away from our true purpose in life, away from our God. When we review our journey and remember our ultimate goal, which is to be in the Presence of our Father and the Beloved of our souls forever, we can be grateful for each new day He gives us and treasure all the possibility it holds. Every step forward, no matter how faltering, is in fact a giant leap!

Let us look back on the way we have come.

P n R 2

We came through the darkness of winter illumined by the light of His Word and His Presence. We experienced the “Time of our Freedom”, our Exodus from slavery, drawn forth by God’s mighty outstretched arm and redeemed by the blood of the Lamb. We celebrated the First-fruits of Messiah’s Resurrection Life and the joy of spring and new growth. We counted the days, the seven weeks of the Omer, until the gathering of the harvest in Shavuot when we sang grateful praise for the bountiful provision of our King. We rejoiced at the great gift of His Torah, His eternal Word, and in the outpouring of His Holy Spirit in a bursting forth of new Kingdom life.

Now, refreshed and empowered, we stand ready for the next phase of the journey – the long, hot summer during which all the fields and crops need to be tended carefully in order to celebrate the final great harvest in the Autumn of the year – the Fall Festivals of Rosh HaShana, Yom Kippur and the joyful Feast of Tabernacles – Sukkot.

A TIME TO GROW

Summer is a time of rapid growth. As we nurture our spiritual growth, we need to be as watchful, careful and industrious as good farmers who tend the crops in their fields. To be assured of a bountiful and fruitful harvest, invading insects and scavengers need to be warded off, the weather needs to be monitored, unwanted weeds must be uprooted and disposed of, crops must be watered and fertilized. Then, in the Fall, they can rest back in contentment and celebrate the fruits of their labors and give generously in gratitude to the One who is the Source of it all.

Through the coming Summer months we will have the opportunity to monitor our growth, as it were, by exploring and considering the following topics, for which the word ‘growth’ is an acronym:

P n R 3

G – Gratitude and Generosity
R – Repentance and Righteousness
O – Obedience and Order
W – Worship and Warfare
T – Trust and Truth
H – Hope and HalleluYah!

At this bridge between Spring and Summer it is a worthwhile exercise to examine and clarify our motives for the journey. Why are we on this road at all? And why do we, and should we, desire to grow?

A few positive motives to consider:

  1. To fulfill God’s plan and purpose for my life, as His child.
  2. To receive and take pleasure in the many gifts of life that He has given us.
  3. To give back to Him through offerings of worship and obedience, and through tzedakah – giving to charity and acts of loving-kindness.

Negative patterns of motivation that hinder our Father’s purposes in our lives need to be recognized and dealt with according to His grace. Some of which are:

  1. To impress others and gain favor.
  2. To cover insecurity.
  3. Fear of reprisal or punishment.

Let us consider the account of Cain and Abel and the offerings they brought to God. They both did the right thing in bringing an offering, but Abel’s was accepted and Cain’s rejected. What was the difference? The motivation of the heart! Abel desired to please God and brought the best from his flocks. Cain thought just the ‘doing’ was enough and did not seek out the best of his crops to offer God. Nevertheless, although God rejected the sacrifice, He did not reject Cain himself. As a loving Father, He came to him and gave him the opportunity to repent and to learn His ways. In response, Cain did not humbly and gratefully turn to God and take heed of His guidance. Instead, he was filled with jealousy and anger and murdered his brother in baseless hatred (Heb. sinat chinam). This same baseless hatred was cited as the reason for the destruction of the Second Temple – God’s Holy House in Jerusalem. Sadly, we see it at the root of the ongoing wars, violence and wanton murder that pervade our world to this day.

P n R 4 When our motives are pure and we are walking and working with God, our progress will be strong and will endure. The positive growth will be meaningfully etched in our characters. May all that we do flow from our heart’s desire to bless our Almighty God and Father, in the love of Messiah Yeshua and in the power of the Spirit of holiness.

~ Keren Hannah Pryor

May’s Winner of ‘A Taste of Torah’

Congratulations LIONEL CLARKSON
and thank you so much 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 July 1, 2018.

Mothers of Jerusalem: A Prayer for the Protection of Our Children

 

*

Mothers of Jerusalem,
Your wail echoes in the hills,
Your grief resounds in the valleys,
Your prayer rises up into the luminous sky.
More fathers and brothers,
More sisters and mothers,
More children and innocent,
Lost to the hand of violence,
Lost to the hand of hatred.

How long, oh my God,
How long before cruelty ends
And peace reigns within these borders,
Within these walls,
Within our hearts?
How long, oh my God,
Must we open graves for the lost?

God of generations,
God of millennia,
Spread Your tabernacle
Of safety and shelter
Over this holy city.
Guard our sons and our daughters.
Protect all who dwell within these gates.
Let courage and hope ease this fear.
Let compassion open the souls of the hard-hearted.
Let joy and gladness return,
In song and prayer,
To Your [Land] of holiness.

© 2014 Alden Solovy and http://tobendlight.com. All rights reserved.

  • photo credit – shutterstock.com

THE ROAD TO RESILIENCE From Chaos to Celebration

You have suffered a change that alters the very system that you live by. No wonder you feel like you world is in chaos. You can’t cope or figure life out anymore. You don’t believe that anybody can help you, or even understands you…it is foolish to imagine you would not be changed by grief…You’re not going to bounce back to who you were. Because of your encounter with loss, you are going to bounce forward to become someone you are not yet acquainted with.

THE ROAD TO RESILIENCE
From Chaos to Celebration
by Sherri Mandell

~ review by Cindy

When something aches, we call it tender. The question is: Can we allow our own tenderness, the places of our wounds, to eventually serve ourselves and others so that we cultivate tenderness, the soft, elastic quality of kindness and love?

Sherri Mandell knows well the chaos of grief. When her 13 year old son Koby and his friend Ish-Ran cut school and went hiking in Haritun Canyon near their home in the Judean hills, the two boys were kidnapped and murdered by a group of Palestinian terrorists. The boys were trapped in a cave and bludgeoned to death with rocks. From this tragedy of unimaginable magnitude the Koby Mandell Foundation was birthed – a ministry created by Sherri and her husband, Rabbi Seth. This foundation conducts therapeutic healing programs, overnight camps, and retreats for terror victims – bereaved mothers, fathers, widows, orphans, and siblings.

The Road To Resilience, is based on Sherri’s first hand experience with returning to life after the senseless murder of her son  – of being rebuilt, after being shattered. Vulnerable and authentic, Sherri shares words of kindness and love – of tikkun olam (bringing healing and repair to the world) from the tenderness of her wounds.

In Sherri’s own words, “This book is designed to help you discover resilience in times of sorrow. Although the focus is on bereavement, the book will be helpful for anybody who has suffered a trauma.”

The Jewish concept of resilience does not mean being impermeable. Nor does it mean to bounce back…Jewish philosophy teaches us that resilience is not overcoming. It’s becoming. Becoming more, becoming our fullest and deepest selves as a result of adversity…We don’t leap over troubles as if they don’t exist. We allow them to be our teachers. We experience resilience when we are enlarged rather than diminished by our challenges, when facing adversity causes us to change, grow, and become greater. Moreover, resilience offer us the opportunity to deepen our relationship with the Divine.

The Road To Resilience is a short read, less than 100 pages, but every line is packed with truth and wisdom. Sherri walks the reader through what she calls the seven C’s – the seven spiritual stages of resilience. Each stage is accorded a chapter. Under each of the seven stages I am including a tiny, minuscule glimpse of it’s beauty. In truth I could open this breathtaking book to any of it’s pages and share words of tremendous kindness, hope, beauty, wisdom…healing.

1. Chaos

Grief is like an invisible bag of cement that everyone is carrying on their shoulders. And understandably, most of us would like to flee from the chaos that accompanies trauma and bereavement.

Sherri stresses that entering the chaos is an absolute necessary step in the healing process. She compares this step to a vegetable seed:

Every seed has to disintegrate before it can turn into a vegetable. Every seed has to break apart to sprout; it has to surrender to the darkness of mystery in order to emerge. That process can feel excruciating. But it is only when the seed turns to nothing that it can, in fact, become something.

2. Community

In Jewish thought, creating resilience rests not only on the individual but on the community…No matter how strong our faith, when suffering strikes, we need others to help us unlock the prison of our suffering.

Sherri shares about the necessity of community, about how the community can help those who are grieving loss. She shares a deeply touching memory from the first night after her son Koby was murdered:

On the first night after Koby was killed, when I went upstairs to my room, resting on my pillow was a little bunch of wildflowers from a friend with a card. Just when I thought I would die, I smiled. Because my friend had entered my room to give me love.

3. Choice

Choice can protect us psychologically, especially in times of trauma – even when it cannot save us.

…Faith is achieved when one believes that G-d is compassionate and loving even when it seems the opposite – despite what our eyes witness in this world, that so often terrible things happen to innocent people who deserve better.

Sherri shares about choosing to turn a good eye, a loving eye, toward yourself and others.

4. Creativity

When we feel that part of us is missing, that the world has lost its wholeness, that we suffer from a dissonance that cannot be reconciled, creating can help restore a sense of integrity.

When we create, we enter our disturbance in order to search for meaning, harmony, and wholeness. We struggle to discern order hidden in our own personal chaos, the coherence that waits to be revealed in our suffering. Though we begin in pain, the creative process is one of intense life.

Sherri shares about creating to express, contain and transform the longing and suffering that threatens to overwhelm and destroy.

5. Commemoration

A person can live on when we choose to embody them in their loving ways. We are not bound by the constraints of time. When we leap over the limits of time and create a living memorial, we touch eternity.

…Our choice to integrate our loved one’s kindness and good qualities into our lives allow us to become living memorials.

Sherri talks about the importance of remembering as part of returning to health.

6. Consecration

There are losses in our life that burn forever, yet we can burn without being destroyed. Most people are oblivious to this world of burning. So many bereaved people tell me that others ask them, “You’re over it, right? I mean it’s been a few years now.”

But the burning bush is a symbol of hope…Even when we fear that our personal loss may destroy us, the burning bush tells us that we will not only endure but will discover an impassioned and urgent mission; a sense of destiny.

Sherri talks about how sometimes that which is most feared, most difficult, can be the place from where we build and repair.

7. Celebration

At the close of a radio interview a few months ago, the host asked me, “I understand that after a loss, you have to find a new sense of normal. Is that true?” I thought about it and then answered her, “No, I don’t think so. Normal isn’t enough. One has to find a new extraordinary.”

Sherri never denies the fact that the sadness will always be present. But she adds, “Yet our sense of joy expands…when one has tasted great sadness, the repertoire of one’s emotions may expand. In that expansion, there is celebration and joy.”

As one who loves language, especially Hebrew, I truly appreciate how Sherri weaves into her narrative Hebrew words, their roots and meanings enhancing our understanding of what she is teaching us.

Drawing from the richness of Scripture, Sherri also shares from a font of other Rabbinic as well as Christian sources and ends each chapter with questions to ponder.

An empathetic and compassionate read – truly a gift of tikkun olam.

You can purchase The Road To Resilience at amazon.com at link below:

The Road to Resilience: From Chaos to Celebration

Reglei Elohim / G-d’s Feet / Legs  – Cindy Elliott

HEBREW WORD FOR IYYAR – Being Holy ~ Being Whole

*

My three-year-old son was watching me pray one day, trying to imitate my movements, pretending he was also praying. Then out of the blue, he blurted out, “Daddy! I just saw G-d’s feet.”
I didn’t know what my immediate response should be to this, but quickly I decided that truth was my best option. “Yehuda,” I said, “You couldn’t have seen G-d’s feet. G-d doesn’t have feet.”
He seemed startled by that, but all he said was “Oh.”
A couple of minutes went by and then he tugged at my sleeve. He looked at me with his big brown eyes and, smiling sweetly, said with total conviction, “But I saw them.” [1]

Our first encounter with Divine feet is in Genesis 3:8, “They heard the sound of the Lord G-d walking in the garden…” At face value we may imagine G-d in the cool breeze of the evening having a relaxed stroll through the garden. But, if we look at the Hebrew in this verse we see a glimpse of something more:

Vayishmeh’oo et kol ADONAI Elohim mithalech bagan.

Mithalech is a form of the verb “to walk.” When we read walk we very reasonably assume feet – after all – if we say someone is walking we presuppose they are walking on their feet. But in the case of Genesis 3:8 the noun kol (translated as sound) is also the Hebrew word for voice. Author Aviya Kushner [2] asks the question, “who is “walking” – a being or a voice?”

The problem here is not just the translation of one word, kol, but how to translate it in combination with mithalech… This particular grammatical construction of the three-letter root for the verb “to walk” is used for doing something repeatedly. If holech, or walk, in the present tense, means to walk from point A to point B, then mithalech means to walk from point A to B to D to C – walking back and forth, walking repeatedly, or without a particular destination in mind… What mithalech means is that you can hear the voice of G-d from all directions in the garden.

The same verb form of G-d walking in the garden is used of G-d’s presence in the Mishkan (Tabernacle).

**

For I have not dwelt in a house since the day I brought up the sons of Israel from Egypt, even to this day; but I have walked (mithalech) about in a tent, even in a tabernacle.
2 Samuel 7:6

They heard the voice of ADONAI, G-d, walking in the garden at the time of the evening breeze (leRuach hayom).

The evening breeze is the Hebrew word Ruach (Spirit, wind, breeze, breath, – also at times depicting emotion) [3] hayom (the day) – So ADONAI was walking in the garden in the Spirit, wind, breath, or maybe even the emotion of the day. G-d came each day to the garden to meet Adam and Eve in the moment – each day Adam and Eve would meet  with the Spirit of ADONAI.

***

Bless ADONAI, my soul! ADONAI, my G-d, you are very great; you are clothed with glory and majesty, wrapped in light as with a robe. You spread out the heavens like a curtain, you laid the beams of your palace on the water. You make the clouds your chariot, you ride on the wings of the wind. Psalm 104:1-4a

This breeze, breath, wind…is the same Spirit (Ruach) that moved over the waters in Genesis 1:2. It is the same breath that was bestowed on man by G-d in Genesis 2:7. It is the same Wind spoken of in John 3:8. And, it is the same Spirit that filled the hearts of Yeshua’s followers on Shavuot in the upper room in Jerusalem!

They heard the voice of ADONAI, G-d, walking in the garden at the time of the evening breeze, so the man and his wife hid themselves from the face (panim), of ADONAI, G-d, among the trees in the garden.

But on this day, instead of meeting ADONAI face to face, Adam and Eve hid in shame among the trees of the garden. Our Abba, in His immeasurable affection, called out with the voice of a loving father in search of a precious son, “Adam, where are you (‘Ay – Ayekah)?”.

Adonai, G-d, called to the man, “Where (‘Ay) are you?”

Looking at the Hebrew ‘ay, gives us a picture of our Father’s heart. Ayekah is translated in Genesis 3:9 as, “Where are you?” but it is a rhetorical question, a heartfelt cry. This adverb is related to the Ugaritic (Northwest Semetic Language) oy. [4] G-d’s call to Adam resonated with sorrow.

I often wonder what would have happened if Adam had responded in teshuvah (repentance).

Nonetheless, Genesis 3:8-9 deeply touches my heart. I may not hide when G-d calls, but there are times I don’t engage. Times I am simply distracted. Our Abba calls out, “Cindy, where are you?” and I am preoccupied with life. I am busy choosing good over best and sadly there are times I am simply missing the mark and avoiding G-d all together. My heart is filled with some grievance, my mind focused on misdeeds, my energy spent on the temporal and I miss the breeze of G-d’s Spirit moving over me, and if I were not so preoccupied I might even hear His deep breath-filled sorrowful, ‘Oy’.

E-v-e-r-y day we are invited to share in the fellowship of loving and just being loved by our Abba. Weekly we are invited to breathe deeply of His shalom, monthly to stand in awe and wonder, throughout the year to dance and celebrate. From the beginning of creation (Genesis 1:14) G-d set up holy appointments – intimate times to meet with us. Baruch HaShem!

The voice heard walking in the garden by Adam and Eve – is the same voice that can be heard walking in our homes. The same Spirit that moved over the face of the waters, hovers over us even now. Just as Adam and Eve had an encounter with Divine feet, we can too.

****

The heavens are my seat and the earth is My footstool.
Isaiah 66:1

Ilana Kurshan gives an amusing picture of G-d’s feet/legs in reference to Isaiah 66:1, “I imagine G-d sitting on a divine throne up in heaven with legs dangling down to earth. Any time we sin when we are alone, we are in fact bumping up against G-d’s feet.”

There’s a interesting midrash on Isaiah 66:1:

Whoever commits a transgression in private, it is as though he pushed away the feet of the Divine Presence, as it is stated: “Thus said the Lord: The heavens are My seat, and the earth My footstool” (Isaiah 66:1). If one believes that no one can see what he is doing in private, it is as though he said that G-d is absent from that place. He is therefore compared to one who attempts to remove G-d from His footstool. [5]

Divine feet – gently nudging, softly whispering, encouraging and giving us the freedom to push away if we so choose.

Going back to where we started and the young boy who told his father he had seen the feet of G-d. How is that possible?

It is possible in those precious alone moments with G-d. In moments of awe and wonder, moments of tenderness and love, of kindness and hard work. Moments of grief, laugher, tears. So very much during moments of teshuvah. We both see and show G-d’s feet when we are walking out G-d’s truth and living out G-d’s love for all mankind.

Blessed are You, Lord our G-d, King of the universe. Thank you for the goodness and love which you make known to us every day! Abba sometimes I do miss the sound of Your feet, Your presence, as I am preoccupied with things that seem so important but in retrospect really are not. Abba please give me Heaven’s eyes that I may see that which has  eternal worth and Heaven’s heart that I will share the eternal with others. Amen.

*****

G-D’S LEGS / REGLEI ELOHIM

G-d’s legs
Like the letter vav
A divine hook
Binding together heaven and earth.

Seated in the heaven’s
You walk among us
My body, your tent and dwelling place.

My heart
Knows the voice of your feet
I hear their call
And I rush to follow.

You walking,
Leading
Like two pillars you go before me
Leading me back to the Garden.

End Notes:

1. As with the Hebrew meaning, Strong’s Concordance gives both feet and legs as translations for regel H7272

2. We first see the letter vav in Genesis 1:1:
In the beginning G-d created the heavens and (vav) the earth
By joining the heavens and the earth there is an implication of the connection between spiritual and earthly matters.

photo credits:

* Shutterstock
** Yoram Raanan, Garden of Eden Sukkah
*** Elena Kotliarker, Angel Wings
*** shutterstock
**** Elena Kotliarker, Under The Wind

1. David Aaron, Seeing G-d, 21
2. Aviya Kushner, The Grammar of G-d, 70-71
3. Theological Workbook of the Old Testament, Reference 2131a
4. Theological Workbook of the Old Testament, Reference 75
5. Rabbi Yitzhak, Hagigah 16a

SIVAN – 3rd Biblical Month – Being Holy, Being Whole

SIVAN

THEME: MOVEMENT 

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. 

G-d-Who-Heals-the-Wounded-Heart 

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! 

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!

Posture Overview by Cathy Daley

April’s Winner of “A Taste of Torah”

Congratulations ANNE STUTZMAN
We are so very thankful to have you with us here at HIS-ISRAEL!

Just a reminder – 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 June 1, 2018.

Read what Anne, this month’s winner, had to say about Keren’s A Taste of Torah:

A year ago a woman in our community came to me and told me about her struggle with understanding the Bible and application for everyday life.
I mentioned to her ‘A Taste of Torah’ and how using it for my devotional had opened the Scriptures for me and brought it alive to me.
She asked if she could borrow it and I gave her my very dog eared, underlined, even coffee stained, copy and she hasn’t returned it yet!
I miss it! So thank you!
Family members that I introduced it to also love it.

 

Note:~ A Taste of Torah  is available for purchase, both in paperback and e-book format, at www.ffoz.org 

Mazel Tov – Celebration of Israel’s 70th

In celebration of Israel’s 70th year of statehood, we have selected a friend of
HIS-ISRAEL to receive a complimentary copy of Keren’s “A Dash of Drash.”

Mazel tov Cristina East!

What is the meaning of the State of Israel? No single answer can exhaust its meaning. One fact is clear. In no other community do we witness such an intense, ongoing search, such an effort to understand itself in terms of a bigger vision as in Israel. Mere self-preservation is regarded as an inadequate motivation.

Who can fail to sense glory in the reality of a people restored, of a people regaining its dignity, after having been defamed and marked for destruction?

In anticipation of the return to the Land the psalmist sings:
When the Lord brought the exiles back to Zion we were like those who dream.
~ Psalm 126:1
We have not even begun to fathom the meaning of this great event…

The return to the land is a profound indication of the possibility of redemption for all men.
Stand still and behold!

~ Rabbi Joshua Abraham Heschel

 

* photo credit: shutterstock.com

Wise Hearted / Chakham Lev – Cindy Elliott

HEBREW WORD FOR IYYAR – Being Holy ~ Being Whole

[1]

Infinite G-d seeks human heart to build a home together.

The angels glare in envy as the breath of G‑d descends below to become a human soul. Ripped out of the Infinite Light, it squeezes itself within meat and bones to experience that passion which belongs uniquely to earth below – and channel it towards its Beloved above. A new sort of love is born, a novelty to the cosmos and to its Creator: a fire within the human heart upon which the animal roasts, transformed to the divine. [2]

This midrash from Rabbi Tzvi Freeman’s always, always, always takes my breath away. How unfathomable a love. Such an incomprehensible desire. Beyond imagination – a heart fashioned small enough to fit in the body of a man yet big enough to be a home for the Eternal. Truly a marvelous thing!

Hebraically the heart is much more than the seat of emotions, it is also the seat of intellect and thought. It is the center of our values, character, attitudes… it is the irreducibly definition of who we are. Our heart is revealed in our thoughts, words, and deeds and is the deepest essence of our personhood. Though even the highest heaven cannot contain G-d (2 Chronicles 6:18) – when invited in – our heart is the place where G-d has chosen to make His home. It is where we respond and connect with our Abba.

In this new Rosh Chodesh cycle where we are looking at creativity and “Being Holy; Being Whole” – the building of the Mishkan (Tabernacle) is a special moment for us to have a glimpse into the hearts G-d chose to partner with Him in this act of creation.

Tell the sons of Israel to raise a contribution for Me; from every man whose heart moves him you shall raise My contribution. (Exodus 25:2)

Scripture tells us that the contributions for the building of the mishkan were to be gifts, “from every man whose heart moves him.” In other words, the contributions were to be freely given. No force, no threats, no taxation. As Walter Brueggemann puts it, “Constructing an adequate place for the holiness of G-d is indeed human work, wrought in generosity.” [3] In other words it was to be a sanctuary constructed from the depth and breadth of the human heart. But the actual builders were to be wise-hearted and the women who spun the wool were to be nasa liban otana bechochmah – “those whose hearts lifted them up in wisdom.”

And every wise hearted among you shall come, and make all that the Lord hath commanded.
(Exodus 35:10 KJV)

It starts with Moses calling everyone who is “skilled” (Exodus 3:10) to come and make the various pieces that will become part of the mishkan – and one of the important things here is the way that “skill” is expressed in Hebrew. The Hebrew used in the Torah is chakham lev, which literally means “wise-hearted,” from the root word chokhmah, or “wisdom.” And so it’s not just about having good hands, say – it’s about something more profound than that. It is said that when G-d created the earth, G-d did so with chokhmah. It is no small thing, therefore, to demand that the people making the elements of the mishkan be chakham lev.

But what exactly is wisdom?

I have given you a wise (chakham) and understanding (binat) heart. (1 Kings 3:12)

From a spiritual perspective understanding of the heart is more important than that of the mind…binat ha’lev, “understanding of the heart.” The translation here is important. This is not the same as “an understanding heart,” which is outwardly focused and could be called empathy. It is rather “understanding of the heart,” which is inwardly focused and reflects spiritual intelligence, or what might be called wisdom. [4]

We know from Scripture that wisdom comes directly from the Lord – The Lord grants wisdom (Proverbs 2:6) – and from a right relationship with the Lord – The fear (awe) of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (Psalm 111.10). This heart of wisdom comes through a right relationship and an intimate knowing. We see a beautiful picture of this in the name of the man G-d choose as the chief builder for the mishkan – Bezalel.

[5]

Now the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “See, I have called by name Bezalel, the son of Uri…I have filled him with the Spirit of G-d in wisdom, in understanding, in knowledge, and in all kinds of craftsmanship.” Exodus 31:1-3

Bezalel means “in the shadow of G-d.” So Bezalel lived in the shadow of the Eternal. A shadow is the reflection of the person or object from which the shadow is cast. When the person moves, the shadow moves. For the formation of a shadow, a light source is needed; and the closer one is to the light source the bigger the shadow that is cast.

We see also in the name of Bezalel’s assistant – Oholiab – a hint of relationship. Oholiab means “The Father is my tent.”

The pictograph of heart – lev / לב makes clear how important it is to have a right relationship with the Father.

Lev – heart – means the authority within.

The Hebrew word for for dog is ke’levk’ meaning “like” and lev meaning “heart.” So in Hebrew a dog is “like a heart.” The Hebrew word for puppy is k’lavlav and is considered a onomatopoeia for the sound of the heartbeat – so a puppy is “like a heartbeat.” Our little heart – Kirby – rescued my husband and I while we were still grieving the loss of a much loved furry baby and after our only child had left for college.

Though a dog’s heart is much different than our own – I have learned from our little heart how essential a right and close relationship is to “authority within” – within the heart / within the home. Training took time (and no Kirby is not always brilliantly behaved). We’ve had a fun time or two, such as when this little one chewed something that ended with a stay over at the veterinary hospital or when he decided to do a dumpster dive – a.k.a. our kitchen trashcan – that ended with a plastic container wedged on his head. However, this little heart has chosen to live under the shadow of my husband’s and my protection and to walk (well…most the time) by our rules and directions. This trust and submission only grew as we invested our hearts and love into this little heart of ours.

Blessed are you O’Lord our G-d King of the Universe. May we truly understand what it means to dwell in your shadow, in the secret place of intimacy with you. May our hearts rest in the place of your presence, the transforming power of your love, the unfathomable offering of your friendship. Abba may you be the shadow that overshadows us as we interact with others – as you did with Peter [6] bringing much needed tikkun olam to this broken world. Amen

 [7]

ETERNITY IN THE HEART

Heaven is Your throne
The Earth is Your footstool
The highest heavens cannot contain You
Yet You make Your home
In the innermost chamber of my heart

Awaken my heart Abba
that I may love wholly
Stretch my heart Abba
so that I may give with unbound desire
holding nothing back

Abba may my heart be infused with your wisdom
Filled to utter fullness of You
Engulfed in Your Love
And connected to a purpose
Far beyond my own

Infinite and finite
Eternity and the present
Becoming one in Your loving heart
Fusing the eternal and the instant
Making my life a place that holiness can dwell
Holy, holy, holy.

~ Cindy

He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, eternity he has set in their heart…
Ecclesiastes 3:11

1. photo credit: shutterstock.com
2. Rabbi Tzvi Freeman, Human Passion and the Envy of the Angels
3. Walter Brueggemann as quoted by Rabbi Shai Held in The Heart of Torah
4. David Ebenbach, the artist’s Torah, 99
5. photo credit – Israel Tourism photo by VuTheara Kham
6. Acts 5:15
7. photo credit: shutterstock.com

IYYAR – 2nd Biblical Month – Being Holy ~ Being Whole

IYYAR

THEME: THE HEART, THOUGHTS AND CONTEMPLATION

QUOTE: “Faith exists only in the imagination. In that sphere which the mind is able to comprehend, the concept of faith cannot exist.” ~ Rebbe Nachman 

POEM:  Waves of Light  by Rumi.

PSALM 32:  God-Who-Envelops-In-Chessed/Lovingkindness

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.

 

 

IYYAR – Heart – Thoughts

Paul writes in Romans 14:17-19 that the kingdom of God is a matter of righteousness, peace and joy in the Ruach HaKodesh – the Spirit of Holiness. A friend pointed out that this is a progression. Righteousness (holiness) leads to Peace (Shalom – shalem -wholeness) and Peace leads to Joy. The greater our righteousness, the greater will be our peace, and, in turn, the greater will be our joy.

The question then is, “How do we become more righteous – more holy, and thus more whole and more deeply joyful?” The process requires Tikkun – healing, rectification, restoration.The key to Tikkun is the reality and power of our Father’s Infinite Love.

The body part we are focusing on during the month of Iyyar is the heart – lev (לב). The Psalm for the month is Psalm 32, which number, interestingly, is the numerical value of lev – ל = 30 and ב = 2.

The heart is the seat, as it were, of the emotions and the organ we most associate with love. What emotion do we commonly consider as the opposite of love? In my research I [Keren] came across the interesting concept that the opposite of love is not hate but Fear! If one digs deeper into the roots of hatred one can discover that hate is a manifestation of fear. It turns out that most negative emotions we experience, such as pain, grief, anger, resentment, depression, and guilt, are all rooted in, and are forms of, fear.  When true love and real peace are allowed in these negative emotions disappear – just as darkness does when light shines in.

Another interesting idea, according to Dr. Gerald Jampolsky, (formerly on the faculty of the University of California’s Medical Center, and author of Love is Letting go of Fear) is that, “Love and peace are so interwoven that they never can be used separately.” To be able to experience the enveloping love of God in our lives, we must allow peace in our hearts, and, vice versa, to experience true peace, we must open our hearts to the love of God.

We can apply this concept – the reality and power of our Father God’s love, and the Shalom that accompanies it, in many different scenarios. Even politically. For example,  a core issue in the ‘Middle East Conflict’ is the desperate attempt to devise a “Peace Plan” between Israel and so-called Palestine. This seems doomed to failure. Why? Because peace and love are interwoven with the light of Truth. The three realities must work together. Picture a three-legged stool – with peace, love and truth as the legs. Remove one leg and the stool will topple. It cannot stand. Any relationship, whether between friends, family, spouses, political partners, etc, must be based on all three – truth, love, and peace, then the relationship will have a base upon which it can grow and endure. Without the three working together in harmony, the fruit will only be fear, hatred, and violence in one form or another.

We all naturally want to be happy, healthy, and productive human beings. During this ‘Being Holy, Being Whole’ series, we are aiming to take gentle and manageable steps to clear our minds, nurture our spirits, and to strengthen our bodies. Now is the time, as we contemplate upon the theme of Thoughts and the Heart,  to make the decision to respond in love rather than in fear to any situation or circumstance in our lives. How do we do this? Remember the three-legged stool! 

First, each thing needs to be brought into the light of truth – the warm, holy light of God’s loving truth; not a harsh interrogation spotlight! This is where the vital link between our thoughts and our hearts comes into play. Our thoughts and imagination are powerful and feed what we believe in our hearts. They are the interface or bridge, as it were, between the physical and spiritual – our bodies and souls. Our thoughts and imagination are the source of our creative ability and can raise us up to spiritual heights or drag us down to  the depths of sin and degradation. 

The mind is a battleground and the apostle Paul  refers to our godly thoughts and beliefs as ”weapons” of our spiritual warfare. He exhorts us to: “…destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive in obedience to Messiah” (2 Corinthians 10:5). We can only “destroy the strongholds” of the enemy if our minds are filed with the knowledge of God and the truth of His Word, as patterned and exemplified in His Son and Messiah Yeshua. 

Raynna, in this month’s video, challenges us to contemplate and answer God’s question to Adam, “Ayeka? Where are you?” Of course God knew Adam’s physical location. The deeper question is: “Where are you now in your relationship with Me?” Are we separated and distant from Him or are we peacefully enfolded in His loving Presence as we rest in the assurance of His truth.

According to His Word, the first basic, foundational truth to grasp is the assurance that you are a child of God, precious in His sight. Secondly, you are not a bad person or a failure for having problems or having made mistakes and, as a result, are unloved and being punished. Thirdly, you are unique and have a purpose in God’s plan that only you can fulfil. Finally, He always is there when you call or reach out for Him. 

These truths are beautifully illustrated in Yeshua’s parable of the merciful father and his prodigal son (Luke 15). The son, who had insulted and disregarded his father, left home and wasted the inheritance he had demanded from his father, and ended up in a pigsty.
As soon as he woke up to his mistake, and saw the results of his bad choices, he truly repented in his heart.  He turned around in humility and, willing to admit his error and to work as a servant, he decided to return to his father. What was the father’s response? It was the same as our Father in Heaven’s when we repent of sinning against Him and causing Him pain. The father was waiting and constantly watching for his child and, when he saw him far off on the road, went running to meet him. He embraced him with great joy. He took him home, dressed him in beautiful robes, gave him a ring of authority, and celebrated his return with a huge feast! 

Mistakes and pain come and go in life. They are a great means of learning and growing. It’s when we get stuck in our pain, as it were, or bury it and ignore it, that it becomes detrimental to our well-being and growth. Nobody likes pain. Children are able to cry, and even throw a tantrum, to naturally express their pain, and then let it go and move on to new experiences. If children grow and  mature in a healthy environment, they learn that there are better ways of dealing with pain. However, if our childhood environment was not loving and healthy, we develop negative coping strategies to deal with our pain. We can repress our feelings, or deny and run away from them. We can even close down our heart and be unwilling to trust or to try new things, all in order to avoid suffering heartbreak, rejection, or failure. Another negative result of being stuck in one’s pain, is that a person can get so used to living with their pain that the thought of being without it scares them; making it almost impossible to let it go. 

So, what can one do? Whether our pain is from childhood or from an experience this week, we need first of all to face it – be aware of it. We can begin to notice familiar patterns of pain. Then we need to bring it into the light of God’s truth and love. Then we can gently let go of any hurt, hatred, bitterness, guilt, resentment, and release them into our Father’s outstretched hand, which always is there ready and waiting. As we allow His healing love and peace to flow in and displace the pain, we can go forward – joyfully reconnected to the source of His life. Then, we must determine to keep moving forward. Each new day, each new moment, our response can be one of love and peace. Sometimes it may be difficult, but the more we embrace the reality of our Father’s Love, the more we will understand that it is far more powerful than our own pain or guilt, as well as the other person’s behavior and guilt.

In every situation, the only meaningful choice we have is between fear and love. Let us choose to fill our thoughts with truth and righteousness, and our hearts with love. Then we will be filled with the joy of Adonai, which is our strength (Nehemiah 8:10). As Yeshua described in his parable of the master and those servants who had served him faithfully, the master proclaims: “Well done, good and faithful servant: you have been faithful over a few things, I will set you over many things; enter into the joy of your lord” (Matthew 25:23).

 

IYYAR – PSALM 32

Aim to identify individually with the content of the Psalm in a deep and meaningful way and attempt to apply it to oneself – to find one’s self in the psalm. May our lives become harps that play the songs of God. 

Write out the verses that deeply touch you and express your responses to the Psalm.

The first two verses are an expression of the “joy of deliverance” – the happiness experienced with the realisation that one’s sin is not only forgiven but is completely washed away as if it had not happened. Such is the power of the forgiveness of our Father in Heaven when we confess our sins and repent. We can see how the the prodigal son of Yeshua’s parable clearly reflects the dire scenario of the Psalmist. His confrontation with and confession of the sin, and repentance of it, is the turning point. No sin is greater than God’s infinite love and forgiveness and, once truly repented of, one’s life can be centered in the Father’s Loving Presence and not in the pain of shame and guilt. 

As verse 10 beautifully describes: “Many are the troubles of the wicked, but one who trusts in Adonai will be enveloped by Chessed / Lovingkindness.” His loving Presence surrounds one constantly and, as a result, one can joyfully sing His praise: 

“Rejoice in Adonai! Exult, righteous ones! Shout for joy, all who are upright in heart!” (v.11)

Even if you are suffering or in pain, your preciousness to God cannot be diminished. Nothing can cancel the truth of your being loved. Your Father’s face is toward you and His eye is on you every moment. When your trust is in the God of Love you are surrounded by His steadfast love that never wavers. There is no need to fear, for He constantly reminds us, “Fear not, for I am with you always!”

 

 POEM

           Poem to Ponder for Iyyar 

       Write it in your journal and jot down any thoughts.

                              Waves of Light by Rumi

[Abba, Father]

You are ‘there’, I ‘here’

Worlds separate us

Death’s angels, 

the void of space…

Yet I say Your Name,

and waves of Light

Wash to me silently

from Your Heart.

 

JOURNALING – CHIDUSHIM

The Hebrew word chidushim means new insight and thoughts; fresh inspiration. During this year’s monthly cycle – Being Holy Being Whole – we are encouraging each other to keep a journal and to express our thoughts, ideas, sketches, pictures, doodles – whatever, in order to give expression to the chidushim in our hearts and minds. 

Before you start journaling remember the blessing: “Blessed are You O Lord our God, I dedicate the work of my hands to Your glory and I ask for Your inspiration and anointing upon it. Amen

Shemah Yisrael!
You shall love the Lord your God with ALL your heart,
and with all your soul, and with all your might.
(Deuteronomy 6:5)

Yeshua affirms this: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”
(Matthew 22:37-40)

Take 5 minutes or so and write spontaneous answers to the following questions:

  1. Loving wholeheartedly involves loving God, loving yourself, and loving others.     What are your strengths and weaknesses in this regard? 
  1. To build authentic connection in one’s relationship with God and others takes courage – to be who you are, compassion – towards yourself and others, and vulnerability – a full awareness of your value and worth as one who is unique and precious in God’s eyes that enables you to reach out in love without guarantee of reciprocity. 

      Where do you stand in these three areas?

  1. Based on what we learned, if you could give yourself one small but practical piece of advice to help you grow in this area – something you can intentionally implement during the month ahead, what would it be?

When we love with all our hearts we can…

~Keren Hannah Pryor

 

In this month’s video,  HIS-ISRAEL friend RAYNNA MYERS shares how she finds creative expression with thoughts from her heart.

 

Being Holy; Being Whole – IYYAR

IYYAR is a month of healing. The Hebrew letters that spell Iyyar are alephyodresh – א י ר. They are an acronym for: “Ani YHVH Rofecha” – “I Am the Lord Your Healer!”

Significant healing takes place in the heart, which is the seat of understanding and the place where the beliefs and concepts that make up who we are are stored.

THEME: The Connection of Thought and the Heart

QUOTE: “Faith exists only in the imagination. In that sphere which the mind is able to comprehend, the concept of faith cannot exist.” ~ Rebbe Nachman

PSALM 32: describes God-Who-Envelops-In-Chessed/Lovingkindness

IYYAR – Being Holy, Being Whole – Notes

March’s Winner of ‘A Taste of Torah’

Congratulations ANN GIBBON
we are so grateful for your friendship to HIS-ISRAEL!

As always, 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 May 1, 2018.