Keep Climbing! LIVE – SIVAN (3rd Hebrew Month)

FaceBook LIVE – 12 June 2019.  

SIVAN – PATIENCE AND PERSEVERANCE

Shalom dear fellow sojourner!

IF… you enjoy this study of Mussar, which is the practice, with the Lord’s help, of purifying one’s heart and strengthening one’s character in order to glorify God, by allowing more of His light and truth to shine through us in order to effect Tikkun Olam – a bringing of more healing and wholeness to the world…

THEN… you can join our ‘upward climbing’ community and receive more in-depth teachings and sharing in 3 easy steps:

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Hope you will join us!

With love and humble thanks,

Keren Hannah

 

 

 

 

 

 

PATIENCE AND PERSEVERANCE

One of the first Hebrew words I needed to put into practice in Israel was savlanut – patience. There is much honking of horns in Israel (in fact whole conversations are engaged in by means of honking!), a trait that exhibits impatience on the roads. Also, boarding a bus can be a battle of elbows, and standing in line becomes a battle of wills, etc., etc! Certainly a good training ground for patience. 

As the saying goes, “Patience is a virtue,” and is one we should aspire to cultivate with all our hearts. Why? Because, it not only benefits those around us but we also reap the rewards of both inner and outer peace. Many frustrating and challenging situations can rise up and confront us day by day. Sometimes it’s in small things, e.g., you’re in a rush to get somewhere and suddenly you realize that your car keys are not in their usual place. Each minute you search for them seems like an hour. All the awful repercussions of not finding them fill your mind in a tsunami of anxiety! Or maybe you have your schedule neatly planned for the day and you find yourself waiting to complete a transaction at the bank, or Post Office, or supermarket, wherever, and you realize there’s a holdup in the long line ahead of you with a picky customer and you are facing an extended delay! 

Then there also are the bigger situations – for example, waiting at an airport to board a plane on your way to an important destination and an unexpected long delay is announced; or, maybe worse, you already are out on the runway and a technical hitch causes the plane to sit there for hours, sometimes with no service or air-conditioning.

When we find ourselves in difficult situations we did not choose and cannot control, our greatest tool for persevering through the challenge is patience. Another word for patience is long-suffering; meaning you are able to suffer the situation for an extended time and remain calm, peaceful, and level-headed. A good practice to remember if/when you find yourself in a testing situation and are forced to wait, is to avoid getting caught in negative reactivity and instead to fill the time with positive activity.  Don’t simply stew over the situation, stop and take a few deep breaths. Sometimes just remembering to slow down and focus on your breathing does wonders. Take the delay time as an opportunity to rest and simply observe the details around you. In the headlong rush through our days we often do not take time to stop and “smell the roses.” You can also take the time to think over something you have been learning; or to just hum a tune!

If we give in to impatience it usually does not resolve the situation any faster or better. On the contrary, extended impatience invariably leads to anger and even rage and, if you cannot control the anger it can spiral out of control and can cause real damage to others as well as to yourself. 

“A hot-tempered man stirs up strife, but the slow to anger calms a dispute.”
(Proverbs 15:18)

Rabbi Menachem Mendel Leffin says: “Woe to the pampered one who has never been trained to be patient. Either today or in the future he/she is destined to sip from the cup of affliction.”  (from Cheshbon ha’Nefesh – Accounting of the Soul)

PATIENCE IN BALANCE

As usual, with every middah, we need to be very aware of balance. We know the negative effects of impatience and acting too hastily, but simply to wait passively and fail to take action can be just as great an obstacle – physically and spiritually. 

Frustration  <—————————Patience———————————>  Apathy

Aggravation                                   Peace                                               Indifference

Anger/rage                                     Calm                                                Passivity

Impatient people rationalize their reactions by blaming external causes. Those who fail to respond or take action call their passivity “patience”!      

True patience is about taking responsibility. Being responsible for our emotions, for our responses to a situation, and for the actions we take. Then we will be able to calmly assess the situation and decide on what action to take.  It always is a good opportunity to pray and to wait on the Lord for a solution. 

I waited patiently for the Lord; He inclined to me and heard my cry. (Psalm 40:1)    

We find a great biblical example of patience in the prophets. Consider their plight: Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Isaiah, Zechariah, etc., etc., all had clear visions either regarding the present or future. They knew  they would never see their prophecies materialize in their lifetime.  Also, the exhortations they had  to deliver were, more often than not, rejected by the people and the corrupt leaders of the time. And yet they persevered, with long-suffering, knowing that the One who had called and spoken was faithful and true.

Consider other biblical figures – Jacob and Joseph, who could not act upon their visions and dreams but had to “store them in their heart” and not speak of them . Rather they patiently trusted HaShem to bring them to pass in His perfect way and timing. The same applies to Miriam, mother of Yeshua, and also to Joseph, who knew the truth and reality of the birth, calling, and purpose of Yeshua and yet they, too, needed to store the knowledge in their hearts and in faith wait upon God to unfold His eternal purposes.

PATIENCE AND HUMILITY

Walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

(Ephesians 4:2)

We see here a connection between patience and humility. Impatience and anger are a sign of pride;  A concern that one’s ‘Self’ is not getting what it wants or deserves.The Ego loudly insists: “I” am being delayed!  “My” plan is being interrupted!  “I” don’t need this!  The others concerned are not important. Instead, when all is not going your way, it helps to imagine yourself in the place of the other person – the store clerk, the other driver on the road, etc.. Steady yourself and stay calm, friendly, and encouraging. Persevere with your own burden and attempt to lighten theirs.

THE FRUIT OF GOOD MIDDOT / CHARACTER TRAITS

In the parable of the sower in Luke 8:15, Yeshua makes a connection with truly hearing the Word of God, then storing it in a heart that is honest and good from where, with patience and perseverance, the fruit of the spirit will grow. 

To produce the fruit of good character traits, middot, in our lives is the central aim of Mussar – the aim that spurs us on to Keep Climbing! To constantly be growing and learning and becoming more holy and more whole. For what purpose? In order that slowly but surely, baby step after baby step, we will be removing any blockages that have accumulated (such as bad habits, tendencies and imbalances) and prevent the radiance in our soul from shining forth into the world, in a reflection of our Father’s glory. 

Yeshua emphasised that this glory, this fruit, can only grow in an honest and good heart. A clean and pure heart is one that has been circumcised. 

“Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no longer stubborn/stiffnecked.” (Deut. 10:16)

‘Heart’ is a word that is central to all Mussar teachings. In his book Climbing Jacob’s Ladder, Henry Morinis describes his Mussar teacher Rabbi Yechiel Perr’s definition of the ‘foreskin of the heart’: “Callousness we would call it today – not allowing feelings to penetrate, not allowing oneself to be soft, to have pity. The lev (heart) represents the deeper feelings where the intellect and emotions blend.”

When our intellect and emotions are in balance they can work and abide together harmoniously in our center – our heart. Hearts can get hardened, or blocked up, by layer after layer of reactions to negative experiences, in order to form a protective shell that surrounds and walls off a heart in order to prevent further hurt and pain. Then, as Morinis explains, the pure light of the soul cannot shine through. People who never succeed in peeling off those layers and opening their hearts “…leave their sweetest [and true] self imprisoned behind that wall.”

The Liminal Space of Gaining Perspective – Raynna Meyers

The Liminal Space of Seeking and Gaining Perspective

What is a day, a moment, a word, a detail, a singular person, thought, action? What if I permitted it weight in my mind, see it for what it is, rather than my own estimation? What if I look at it through another’s eyes, to see it new through my own—another step away in order to come nearer?

When I began this writing it was the 5th of Tevet, 5779, according to the Hebrew calendar, and December 12, 2018 according to the Gregorian calendar. Sometimes I have found I am able to get a better grasp on something when I come to it from an unfamiliar angle. Sometimes I have to walk away and then return to clearly see a thing in front of me.

Photo – Raynna Myers

Some time ago, in hope to hold and redeem days, with the help of teachers, I began to count days in a way that was beyond me – by the lunisolar year of the Biblical calendar. I did the same with the Hebrew Tanakh, more often called the Old Testament. I wanted to hear and see the words not only in English but also in Hebrew. It’s been a slow and long journey learning a new language, but I still can remember the first step. It was meaningful and so I kept taking the next step because it only became more meaningful. Every new step further away, became another step closer.

שיר השירים אשר לשלמה

The above Hebrew verse reads, Shir hashirim asher le Shlomo, “The song of songs, which is Solomon’s,” from Song of Songs 1:1.

It’s a short line and it keeps occurring to me lately how I want to minimize every short or small part of life to be even more minuscule than it already is. To stand in the tension of allowing a thing—a day, a moment, a word, a detail—to be what. it. is. small…but here and now, it can also become large, significant, worthy to be with. Something to be present to, to nurture, to look in the eyes of, to stop for.

In my productive and busy mind, “The song of songs, which is Solomon’s” did not at first seem worthy to be its own verse. Where is the rest of it, I wondered? But when my ears first heard only its beginnings in Hebrew, Shir HaShirim, (pronounced: sheer hasheereem) my attention was captivated. It became lovely in its own right. Then I realized …that is the gift.

We need meaning. Us, the ones quick to move through our days, our precious moments, searching for meaning, while all at the same time missing what stands before us.

What would happen if we started here, simply knowing the small matters? I matter, you matter, this moment matters. What if we released some old darlings we cling to – which we know we could only ever hold with one hand, in order to fully take hold, with two hands, now, the reality that is sweet and good, but that we can only know through the action of letting go?

Holding things with one hand lends the illusion of greater ability, wider reach. But a singular thing treasured, known, seen and recognized with two hands is a truer world at our fingertips. Hold loosely, hold faithfully, for the devotion we hold with imbues much worth.

Photograph – Raynna Myers

Perspective is key. Sometimes I have found I am able to get a better grasp of something when I come to it from an unfamiliar angle. Sometimes I have to walk away to see a thing in front of me. Over four months have passed since I began this writing and let it sit awhile in my drafts folder. What have I learned as I attempted to more gently practice these words rather than simply write them? Love is patient, even though sometimes that looks like a long fight in the same direction. 

May you know the Eternal One’s blessing and keeping, may You know Heaven’s smile upon you, and graciousness toward you.  As you traverse through the liminal space of seeking and gaining perspective, may you know the wholeness imbued upon you by Your Maker the day you were formed.

“For God is not always silent, and man is not always blind. His glory fills the world; His spirit hovers above the waters. There are moments in which, to use a Talmudic phrase, ‘heaven and earth kiss each other’; in which there is a lifting of the veil at the horizon of the known, opening a vision of what is eternal in time.” 

-Abraham Joshua Heschel, God in Search of Man, pg. 138

Hello! I’m Raynna, and I’m glad you’re here. Say hello in the comments and tell me something about you? For instance, have you experienced “heaven and earth kissing each other,” the lifting of the veil, birthing new perspective and understanding within you?

Have you minimized small steps (like I have) that feel like you may be going in the opposite direction, but later found brought greater perception?

You can read more of my writings at www.raynnamyers.com

Keep Climbing! Facebook LIVE- IYYAR

 

FACEBOOK LIVE – 9 MAY 2019        IYYAR – ORDER AND HEALING

In our new Hebrew month series, “Keep Climbing!” we are exploring the second Hebrew month of IYYAR.  This is a very significant month as it forms a bridge between the major Biblical Festivals of Pesach/Passover, which is celebrated in the first biblical month of NISSAN, and Shavuot/Pentecost, which always falls on the 50th day after Pesach during the month of SIVAN. This tells us that the whole second month of Iyyar  falls during those vital 49 days between the two. During these 7 weeks we count each day in a special “Counting of the Omer.” Why this counting?

Firstly, it’s to be aware and recognise the importance of these days that are the bridge between the Redemption at Passover and the Revelation at Shavuot. 

Secondly; after God redeemed HIs people from Egypt they were not immediately prepared to receive the great Revelation He had in store for them! They left Egypt as slaves, who need physical, emotional, and spiritual healing. This occurred during the 7 weeks from the Exodus until they stood prepared at Mount Sinai. There the former slaves would become God’s “holy nation” and “kingdom of priests”! 

The Hebrew letters that spell Iyyar are alephyodyodresh, an acronym for: “Ani YHVH Rofecha” – “I am the Lord your Healer!”

This is God’s proclamation when He makes the powerful promise to His children during this month, shortly after the redemption from Egypt:

“If you will diligently hearken to the voice of the Lord your God, and do that which is right in His eyes, and give heed to His commandments and keep all His statutes, I will put none of the diseases  upon you which I put upon the Egyptians; for I am the Lord, your  healer”  (Exodus 15:26).

To effect the initial physical healing that would influence the mental, emotional, and spiritual healing, they needed the manna sent by God from heaven, a perfect and nourishing food, and the bitter waters of Marah that became sweet, healing water.

It was during this same month of Iyyar that Messiah Yeshua (as the living Word, a type of Bread of Life from heaven, and a source of Mayim Chaim – Living Water) appeared to his disciples after God had raised him from the dead in a body made perfect and filled with resurrection life. He broke bread, ate, and talked with them, and gave them deeper understanding and revelation of the will and heart of the Father.

To prepare ourselves for whatever revelation the Father wishes to impart to us at Pentecost, we also should be in a mode of preparation and anticipation as we count the days leading up to it. 

We know, only too well, that – just as the Israelite slaves redeemed from Egypt were not immediately perfect and holy after Sinai, it is a life-long process of learning the Word of God and walking it out in accord with His will, which includes receiving healing and restoration – physically, mentally, and spiritually. 

This process basically is a battle of wills! 

To be in the Kingdom of God means to have our will subject to the will of the King. In all we do we can ask: “Am I transgressing and moving out of the will of God, or am I remaining steadfastly in His will?” We know His will is perfect, and flows from the heart of a loving Father. It is in our own best interest to bring our will more and more in alignment with His. However, the wiles of the enemy of our souls are very powerful, enticing, and constant! 

The Hebrew word for transgression is averah (עברה), which means straying over a boundary. A word from the same root is avar (עבר), as in when Avraham heard G-d’s call and avar – physically crossed over, from his idolatrous society on a journey to a Land still to be revealed to him by God. It was a huge step of faith! It also entailed crossing over spiritually into the Kingdom of God. His will was surrendered and in harmony with God’s and he became the father of the family of God – those who would enter His household as children and know His love and serve Him in loving faithfulness, just as Abraham did. 

ORDER and HEALING.

This journey of faith requires constant growing in maturity  – mentally and spiritually. 

In this Being Holy Being Whole “Keep Climbing!” series, we are concentrating on the principle human characteristics and seeing where we need to establish balance or strengthen areas of weakness. The characteristics for IYYAR are ORDER and HEALING.

The characteristic of ‘order’ reflects the balance we are aiming to establish in our lives. Order is necessary to achieve, as Alan Morinis describes in Everyday Holiness, “…the inner alignment that results in filling our days with peace and preparedness.”

Any area of our lives that is in disorder gives rise to chaos. We see in the Word that God is a God of order. He is concerned with the “small” details, which often are crucial. Modern psychology has proven the rather obvious fact that eternal disorder reflects a person’s internal disarray. This reflects the connection between order and healing. How? 

We also need to be aware that the ideal is always in the balance. On the one extreme, too little order leads to chaos, confusion, and disarray and, on the other extreme, too much order leads to a compulsive perfectionism and rigidity. 

Our inner being – that ‘spark’ of God within our neshama (spirit) knows that our spiritual life needs order just as much as our physical life does. To the extent that we are living outside of the will of God (whether intentionally or not) and, as a result are separated from Him, our spirit (neshama ) will correspondingly be in pain and yearning for the separation to be healed and for closeness and intimacy with our Father to be restored. This restoration comes when we are in harmony with His will.

“STILL SMALL VOICE” and SPEECH!

How do we know the will of our Father? We find it in His Word, the foundation of which is the Torah – the blueprint of His will, spoken at Sinai to His redeemed people. There His voice thundered. The sages say it rippled and echoed out to all the world in the languages of the seventy nations. Thereafter it became a “still, small voice” and the noise of the world would need to be hushed in order to hear it. 

Interestingly enough, as we partner with God our most powerful tool in serving and working with Him in tikkun olam  (bringing rectification, order, and healing back into the world) is speech! We need to recognize the power there is in our gift of speech. In the Talmud (Kiddushin 49b) it is noted that ten measure of speech were given to the world and nine of these were allocated to women. We can just imagine the jokes that could spring from that observation! However, it was not meant to be derogatory. It also is noted that ten measures of beauty were given to the world and nine of them were allotted to Jerusalem. 

This highlights the fact that, as women, we face a greater challenge. We have the responsibility to use our words and communication skills in a positive and constructive manner, and not negatively and destructively. The most important way we use our gift of speech is in prayer, song, and blessing!

Both Holy Temples in Jerusalem, that housed the Shechinah Presence of God, were destroyed due to hateful and negative speech. With our words we either build up or break down – create or destroy. They either express God’s will or the enemy’s.The more we can bring our will into alignment and harmony with the will of God our Father’s the more clearly our speech will reflect His Kingship – His light and truth, and help us to more effectively partner with Him in tikkun olam, bringing healing and restoration and establishing His Kingdom on earth.

During this month of Iyyar, and the Counting of the Omer, may we strengthen our connection with God’s Word and grow richly in spirit. May we also trust our faithful Healer for physical health and increasing wholeness and holiness, for ourselves, for all Israel, and for the world!

JUBILEE – 50 – Revelation and Restoration

JUBILEE in Hebrew is YOVEL (יובל).

In biblical times, the special shofar used by shepherds to call the sheep together before they returned home to their sheep-pen was called a yovel. It was made from a gazelle horn and, unlike the curved shofars used for ritual purposes, it is straighter and dark in color.

 A Dorcas gazelle, Israel – Wikipedia

The concept of ‘return’ blends well with a central commandment of God concerning a jubilee year. We see in the book of Leviticus:  

It shall be a jubilee for you, when each of you shall return to his property and each of you shall return to his clan” (25:10) “In this year of jubilee each of you shall return to his property.” (25:13)

The reason God gives as to why no one could make a permanent claim to the land of Israel is: “The Land shall not be sold in perpetuity, for the Land is Mine.” (25:23) In a Jubilee year things are restored to their original, God-intended place!

In this generation, we celebrate the restoration of the Land of Israel and of her people to their God-intended place.  We also celebrate the Jubilee of the restoration of Jerusalem – the reunified City of God to its rightful place. In 1967, during the Six Day War, when Israel was attacked by the armies of the surrounding Arab nations, a brigade of the Israel Defense Forces broke through the Lion’s Gate of the Old City, which had been held by Jordan since the War of Independence in 1948.  Against impossible odds they were victorious and the city, including the holiest place for the Jewish people – the Temple Mount with the Western Wall, was restored to Israel’s sovereignty. 

Jerusalem is a place to which one returns – a place of connection and meeting. Here, in this city, heaven meets earth; the past and the present meet with the future. This Holy City of God is where we will meet our soon-coming Messiah; a day when this fleeting life will meet eternity. Then God’s purpose for the city, the one envisioned from before the very Beginning, will be fulfilled in radiance —the establishing forever of the eternal Dwelling Place of the Holy One of Israel.

“Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion, for lo I come and will dwell in the midst of you,” says the Lord.

(Zechariah 2:10)

The Lord’s Sanctuary will be established with powerful praise and unshakable strength in His city, which is the heart of the universe—the City of the Great King. There, His throne will be set and the light of Zion will shine forth to the nations, bearing the vision of eternity in the spirit of kindness and truth.

A new song will flow forth, a pure haunting melody carrying luminous words of redemption and hope; and this Holy Place will finally become a House of Prayer for all nations.  King Solomon knew God’s purpose for His Dwelling Place on earth and the vision of promise it contained. When he dedicated the first beautiful Temple in Jerusalem – built as designed by his father King David in accord with God’s specific instructions and plan, Solomon proclaimed:

“… that all the peoples of the earth may know Your Name and fear Thee,  as do Thy people Israel, and that they may know that this House which I have built is called by Thy Name”  (I Kings 8:41– 43).

Also, as foretold by the prophet Isaiah, the Great Shepherd’s yovel is sounding and he is gathering his flock from the nations and leading them home where they belong, to be one flock with the family of God.

“And the foreigners who join themselves to the Lord, to minister to him, to love the name of the Lord, and to be his servants, everyone who keeps the Sabbath and does not profane it, and holds fast My covenant—
these I will bring to My holy mountain, and make them joyful in My house of prayer;
…for My House shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.”
The Lord God, who gathers the outcasts of Israel, declares, “I will gather yet others to him besides those already gathered.” (56:6-9)

May we soon all rejoice together in grateful praise, thanksgiving and joy in the City of the Great King – the eternal, golden, filled-with-His-glory, Jerusalem ~ YERUSHALAIM SHEL ZAHAV.

~ Keren Hannah Pryor

Artwork:

  1. Baruch Nachshon, Israel – www.nachshonart.com 
  2. Alex Levin, Jerusalem – https://artlevin.com

BHBW – KEEP CLIMBING! – INTRODUCTION

        INTRODUCTION:           KEEP CLIMBING!          NISSAN 5779 – ADAR 5780

Shalom and Welcome to our exciting and challenging new series. It presents an exhortation and encouragement to keep moving forward and growing – to Keep Climbing toward higher spiritual vistas.

A rabbi in the Old City of Jerusalem once claimed, “There are only two kinds of people in the world. Those who are moving forward and those who are not.” To move forward one needs a path, which, by definition, leads you somewhere. On a dynamic spiritual path you know that you are in the right direction and are “moving forward” if you are not the same person you were a year ago. You have grown in awareness; your view has widened andyour understanding of life has deepened.

A real spiritual path is steep; not a holiday stroll. It takes time, and as we climb the spiritual path, also compared to a ladder, we need to ascend one step or rung at a time. We often discern that our values, actions, and priorities need to undergo a radical shift. This can be challenging and even painful. It’s like shedding some aspect of our familiar selves and requires moving beyond our previous comfort zone. The effort to break habitual, ingrained patterns requires hard work and the desire to be different. To shed a familiar pattern in order to grow spiritually is challenging. However, when we accept the challenge, we discover that it also is exhilarating. The higher we climb the more beautiful and breathtaking the views become and the rewards and blessings are abundant!

 

PERSONAL JOURNAL

If you are wanting and intending to purposefully participate in this next Rosh Chodesh cycle I want to stress the importance and value of maintaining a Personal Journal. You need to invest in a special notebook or a binder and pages to insert. This will be your tool for gaining the maximum benefit from the “Keep Climbing” series.

It is the means whereby you do a daily, focussed ‘accounting of the soul’ – called in Hebrew ‘cheshbon nefesh’ – חשבון נפש. There are significant times in the Biblical Calendar when this exercise is emphasized, for example during the month of Elul and the Ten Days of Awe. We know, however, that the way to grow consistently, and to ‘keep climbing’ with joy and strength, is to be aware and to learn from the lessons Avinu, our Father, presents us with every day. The best time to do your journal entry will be during either a morning or evening ‘quiet time.’ Even five or ten minutes will suffice! I will be supplying a weekly selection of thoughts, prayers, questions, etc., to use as an aid and, hopefully, as an inspiration.

The aims of keeping a Personal Journal are:

1. To achieve mental focus and a clarification of our inner, sometimes hidden, thoughts   and emotions.

2. To develop awareness of our reactions and instinctive behavior in the many situations that arise during any given day.

3. To take time to consider how we can improve and strengthen each positive character trait.

After a year of this practice we will all be strengthened in our walk and growth, and have a clearer awareness of our calling and service in the extension of God’s Kingdom on earth.

With His help, we then will shine His glory more brightly.

Looking forward to sharing the climb! 

For His Names’ sake, in Love,

Keren Hannah

IMPORTANT TO NOTE:

(1) If you are interested in joining us on this adventurous climb please sign up at this Mailchimp link in order to receive the weekly and monthly notes and material.  [If link does not open automatically, please copy and paste in your browser.] Many thanks! 

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(2) To gain further in-depth teaching and sharing please consider offering some support and join our Being Holy Being Whole “climbing community” at our site here:

http://www.patreon.com/beingholybeingwhole

 

The CHARACTER TRAITS we will be exploring during the series are: 

1. NISSAN ( 6 April – 5 May )  COURAGE and HUMILITY  

2. IYYAR ( 6 May – 3 June )   ORDER and HEALING    

3. SIVAN ( 4 June – 5 July )   PATIENCE and PERSEVERANCE 

4. TAMMUZ ( 4 July – 1 August ) PERCEPTION and FOCUS 

5. AV ( 2 – 31 August )          EQUANIMITY and MODERATION 

6. ELUL ( 1 – 29 September ) REPENTANCE and SILENCE 

7. TISHREI ( 30 Sept. – 29 Oct. ) ENTHUSIASM and CONFIDENCE

8. CHESHVAN ( 30 Oct. – 28 Nov. ) KINDNESS and ADAPTABILITY 

9. KISLEV ( 29 Nov. – 28 Dec. )     UNITY and SILENCE

10. TEVET ( 29 Dec. – 26 Jan. 2020 ) JUDGMENT and CRITICISM

11. SHEVAT ( 27 Jan. – 25 Feb. )    OBEDIENCE and WISDOM 

12. ADAR (26 Feb. – 25 March )    GRATITUDE and GIVING 

(They may be subject to change as we progress.)

REFLECTIONS on PURIM

Every Festival of the Hebrew calendar year reminds us to take note, to be aware and to  be surprised by the newness that God continually offers us. We can look back to where we were the previous year and consider how far we have come spiritually. The  Festivals of the Bible do not measure chronological time, such as birthdays and anniversaries do, but serve to measure spiritual progress and growth.

Each festival we can ask ourselves, ‘Have I spiralled upward and drawn closer to God?  Or have I allowed myself to drift and, as a result, spiralled downward and further away from His Presence?’ Hopefully, the answer will be positive. If not, we have the opportunity to wake up, to repent, to reverse the downward spiral and to draw close to Him once again.

The happy festival of PURIM is celebrated this year on Thursday, 21st March. SO…

10401556_10153098422600396_1546700984751018294_nPURIM SAMEACH – HAPPY PURIM! 

Purim is renowned for its fun and games, dressing up, giving gifts of miscellaneous edible goodies such as cookies, candy, wine, etc.; in accord with Esther 10:21-22. The scroll of Esther, megillat Esther, is read aloud and it’s a great party! If we only celebrate it as a reason to party, however, we are in danger of missing the heart of the matter. 

THOUGHTS TO CONSIDER:

* The Unity of God’s People  

The key verse in the scroll of Esther is, “To the Jews there was light and gladness, joy and honor.” (8:16) Le’Yehudim haitah ohrah ve’simcha ve’sasson ve’ikar. Although we are told Mordechai was from the tribe of Benjamin, throughout the story he is referred to very specifically as Mordechai the Jew – ha’Yehudi. This is the first time in history that God’s people are referred to collectively as Yehudim – Jews.

When facing danger from an outside enemy,  people tend to stand together in a stronger bond of unity. Thus, the enemy’s evil intent actually serves to strengthen the unity of the targeted victims. In Persia, at the time of Esther and Mordechai, no matter from which tribe they may have originated, the people of the God of Israel all faced the same fate at the hands of a murderous foe. This caused them to rise up as one, to unite in fasting and prayer to God, and to defend themselves victoriously against the enemy’s threat of annihilation. Ever since, as it was written by Mordechai and Esther to do, the Jewish people, including all those who who would join them in praise of the One true God (9:27),  have celebrated these days together in joy and gladness.

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Pic: Young Orthodox Jewish boy dressed as an IDF paratrooper
delivering a mishloach manot – ‘goody basket’ to friends.

* “But Mordechai would not bow…” (Esther 3:12)

The young, orphaned Jewish girl, Hadassah, who became Esther the Queen of Persia, is the heroine of the story. Although it meant risking her life, she responded to the call of her uncle Mordechai to act on behalf of her people as she had been placed in that position by God, “for a time such as this.”  If we look closer, we realize what caused the evil Haman to formulate his murderous plot – his resentment and jealousy of Mordechai, the Jew who would not bow to him.

Rabbi Shlomo Riskin points out that historically there are only two ideologies regarding the nature of a human being.* He asks: ” Is the human created in the image of a loving God of compassionate righteousness and moral justice? Or, is the human merely a complex animal in a universe in which only the most powerful [the “fittest” – or smartest, or most technologicaly savvy!] survive and deserve to survive?” The latter being an existence in which “might makes right, the weak must submit to the strong, and the victor gets the spoils.”

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The Bible tells us clearly that God created us in His image; that our bodies are endowed with a spirit that connects us to Him. The great and central maxim of His Word, as highlighted by the Sages Hillel and Akiva, and taught by Yeshua himself, is to “…love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” and “…to love your neighbor as yourself.”

He then underscores: “On these two commandments depend all the Torah and the Prophets” (Matthew 22:37-40).

The image of God is expressed in the ability to communicate lovingly and by the uniquely formed faces, talents and characteristics of each of His children. Rabbi Riskin suggests that the hatred and opposition of the God of Israel and His people is evidenced in today’s Hamans and Hitlers when they publicly relish execution by beheading, for “…it bespeaks a denial of the image of God in man!”  Therefore Mordechai the Jew, in accord with God’s justice and morality, refuses to bow to totalitarian tyranny. On many levels, we cannot  bow to those who use their position and power and, lacking compassionate righteousness, choose to “lord it over” those who are weaker for their own selfish ends.

* There was Light and Gladness – Ohrah ve’Simcha 

What light is referred to here? There is only one major source of light in Jewish understanding – God Himself. So, although He is not specifically referred to in the scroll, we find clues as to His hidden Presence. God can perform wondrous miracles in an overt manner; such as the splitting of the Red Sea in the deliverance of His people from Egypt. Then, they were helpless and “newborn,” as it were, and needed His strong manifest intervention. However, just as we grow stronger physically and mature individually and, consequently, need our parents’ help less, so it is with His people. God, our Father, always assures us of His Presence and love, and His ‘hidden’ support is there, but He is gratified when we stand on our own feet and act as His mature sons and daughters. He has given us the Light of His Word – the Ohrah of His Torah! What Simcha, gladness it affords Him, as well as it does us, when we follow the Shepherd and walk in His light.

BLESSED are the people who know the joyful sound!
They walk, O Lord, in the light of Your countenance.
Psalm 89:15

 

 

~ Keren Hannah Pryor

* Jerusalem Post, Magazine article, March 6, 2015

ADAR – The Twelfth Hebrew Month

BLESSING OF THE NEW MONTH – BIRKAT HA’CHODESH 

May it be Your will, O Lord, our God and the God of our forefathers, that You inaugurate this month of Adar upon us for goodness and for blessing.

May You give us long life,
a life of peace – Shalom,
a life of goodness – Tovah
a life of blessing – Bracha
a life of sustenance – Parnassa
a life of physical health – Hilutz Atzamot
a life in which there is a fear of heaven and fear of sin – Yirat Shamayim ve’ Yirat Chet 
a life in which there is no humiliation – Ein Busha u’Chlimah  
a life of wealth and honor – Osher ve’Kavod 
a life in which we will have love of Torah and awe and reverence of God – Ahavat Torah ve’Yirat HaShem  
a life in which Adonai, the Lord, fulfils our heartfelt requests for good.
Amen. Selah.

Purim 1

“Be Happy – It’s Adar!” 

Adar is the twelfth and last month of the biblical year, which begins in Nissan, the month of liberation from Egyptian slavery. The happy holiday of Purim, when the scroll of Esther is read in commemoration of God’s salvation of the Jews of Persia, always falls on 14th Adar. [ In a leap year, when an extra month of Adar is added, and we have Adar Aleph and Adar Bet, it is celebrated in Adar Bet.] The story of Esther speaks of God’s people who are in exile and the defeat of the enemy who plots to destroy them. It illustrates the historical threat of Amalek, the archetypal enemy of the Jewish people; and the timeless promise of God’s salvation and ultimate victory. Esther’s cry echoes the cry of her matriarch Rachel, who “wept for her children who were in exile.” God again hears from Heaven and brings deliverance. Praise our faithful God and mighty Deliverer! A good reason to celebrate with a party, and to put up a sign to remind yourself, “Be Happy – it’s Adar!”

 

The month of Adar corresponds with the tribe of Naftali.* As recorded in Genesis 30:8, he was the second son born to Rachel’s maidservant, Bilhah. Why did Rachel name him Naftali? And what is his tribe’s connection with the month of Adar?

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The Blessings of Naftali 

When Jacob assembled his sons to his deathbed, he blessed Naftali as follows: “Naftali is a hind let loose, who delivers – imri shafer – beautiful sayings” (Genesis 49:21).
The Midrash explains that the word shafer alludes to the word m’shaper, to perfect or to beautify. It also shares a root with the word shofar. Interestingly, Proverbs 5:19 compares the Torah to a “beloved hind”. A possible reason for this is found in a verse in the Talmud, which states that just as a hind always remains beloved to her mate so too the Torah remains beloved to those who study it.*** The tribe of Naftali would obey and perfect, i.e., teach and clarify the words, or sayings, of the Torah that were given at Sinai with the sound of the shofar.

By comparing him to a hind, a female deer, let loose, we can surmise that a characteristic of the tribe would be alacrity – the ability to swiftly reach “high places” and to be fruitful in their undertakings. Indeed, once the Israelites were in the Land, the northern Galilee area allotted to Naftali proved to be extremely fertile and was the first to rapidly produce much fruit.

The Scriptures also describe how the tribe of Naftali were ready and able soldiers, quick to defend their nation. With alacrity this tribe, led by Barak ben Avinoam, joined the prophetess Deborah and fought to defeat Sisera and his mighty army (Judges 4:10).

When Moses blessed the tribe, he proclaimed, “Oh Naftali, satisfied with favor, and full of the blessing of the Lord…” (Deuteronomy 33:23). This was a blessed tribe indeed; those satisfied with their lot in life. They studied and shared Torah, produced an abundance of olives, fish, and fruits of the Land, and enjoyed the good favor of God and man.

It is not surprising to find that this is the area where Simon Peter and his brothers lived and which Yeshua loved. Here he performed many miracles and gave his discourse on blessings on the Mount of Beatitudes. The green, fruitful surrounding and the beauty of the fresh-water Lake Kinneret glimmering below could not have stood in greater contrast to the dry, barren wilderness landscape of Mount Sinai. However, a dark spiritual shadow covered the land and the people were suffering under harsh Roman domination. Their hearts yearned for Messiah and Redemption. Now, here in the Galilee stronghold of the Roman gentiles, they beheld the Light of the Torah Incarnate in their midst.

…And leaving Nazareth [Yeshua] went and dwelt in Kfar Nachum (Village of Comfort / Capernaum) by the sea, in the territory of Zebulun and Naftali, that what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled: “In the land of Zebulun and the land of Naftali, toward the sea, across the Jordan, Galilee of the gentiles, the people who sat in darkness have seen a great light, and for those who sat in the region and shadow of death, light has dawned.” (Matthew 4:13-16)

Then our mouth was filled with laughter And our tongue with joyful shouting. Then they said among the nations, “The Lord has done great things for them” (Psalm 126:2).

The Fun of Adar

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IDF soldiers having fun!

Humor often puts things into perspective and in a world that sometimes makes no sense, often combines sorrow and laughter. In Adar we find a laughter which springs from joy.

As Rabbi Lubliner describes, in Sanctity of Laughter,  

Humor is also a path to God. For to laugh at something is to recognize its limits, its boundaries. Humor shatters a variety of idols — be they our leaders, our enemies, our own foibles. Only God is absolute. All Jewish humor points to the fact that nothing else in this universe even comes close [to Him].

The fun and joyful festival of Purim is celebrated during Adar. The message of Purim, however, is not to wear a mask of joy to cover up your true feelings. Pain and suffering touch every life, but this month of Adar reminds us that joy is our birthright.

These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. (John 15:11)

In the face of the ongoing historical threat and violence of Amalek, we can trust in the timeless promise of God’s salvation and ultimate victory.

 As Queen Esther reminds us, even when we cannot see Him, God always is whispering to us: “I am with you, as I have been all along. I will always be here for you. Choose in faith to see Me in all circumstances, and let your heart be filled with joy and peace.”

Amen to that!

~ Keren Hannah Pryor

 Footnotes:

* Jeremiah 31:15-17

** Pri Tzaddik, Rosh Chodesh Adar, quoting Shaarei Orah  

*** Talmud Bavli, Eruvin 54b

The Liminal Space Between Christianity and Judaism – Raynna Myers

Introductory Comment by Keren Hannah:

We find ourselves in a very significant and prophetic period of history, in particular, of course, regarding God’s restoration of the Land of Israel and of His people to the Land and to Himself.

A significant factor in this process of restoration is the bridging of the once believed unbridgeable chasm that historically, and for good reason, has developed between Judaism and Christianity. With the reawakening in the Church to the vital need of reconnection with its severed Jewish roots and a reclaiming of the lost Hebraic heritage – of realigning once more with the Biblical calendar and the Hebraic perspective of the Word fo God, an astonishing alignment and connection is being made between those of sincere, God-fearing hearts from both “camps.” While still fragile and needing to stand the test of time, where there is sincere, genuine, heartfelt reaching out the bonds are proving strong.

Raynna, indeed one with a sincere heart and a spirit yearning for truth and the richness afforded by the Jewish roots of her faith, has beautifully expressed her perception of this “liminal space” between Christianity and Judaism…this space that is being bridged, with our Father’s help and according to His will.

The liminal space between Christianity and Judaism is like the space of separation, a hallway that begins at the front door of home and leads out into the wild world. A hallway a mother once walked through after she divorced her husband. She doesn’t know where she is going, but she leaves and finds a way out through this hallway. Twenty years later, her daughter, oblivious at the time of her mother’s reasoning or feelings for leaving, stumbles back into the hallway from the wild. She wants to return to the house she was born into, although it leads to the door her mother had slammed shut, angrily weeping as she went

Yet, it became clear that this was no ordinary hallway. The mother thought she would only have to walk it once, but many reasons required her to return again and again to this space. This space was sacred ground for the tears that had been spilt there, and because of the ties that bound and found a way outside of the grief and confusion to grow, but nothing could erase the knowledge that this is where the separation began—where bitter roots took hold and choked life.

 

So the daughter had returned, curious to explore her beginnings. No one blames her but some attempt to restrain her. With one step through the door she sees the beauty and feels the warmth of the home but then hears the “voices of reason.” She recalls the chasm of separation and what she knows of the pain involved. She leaves and does not return. Generations pass, the children marry, their children marry—family roots forgotten and forsaken. What could the history in this original house possibly mean for all the children so far removed? How could connections ever again be made? The years had made the hallway an unkempt and overgrown place. By all appearances it was long abandoned and, further than that, it seemed useless. 

Yet, this still was no ordinary hallway. 

“Who is that coming up from the wilderness, leaning on her beloved?
Under the apple tree I awakened you.
There your mother was in labor with you; there she who bore you was in labor.”
Song of Songs 8:5

Liminal spaces come in varied forms: some physical, some spiritual, some emotional. Great grandsons and daughters who inherited or were adopted into the divided family of the People of the Book are now in large quantities entering the spiritual liminality between Christianity and Judaism from both ends of the hallway. In faith a path is being cleared, stumbling stones are being removed. We are meeting together, in accord with Psalm 85, 

“Steadfast love and faithfulness meet;
righteousness and peace kiss each other.”
Psalm 85:10

Although the space still carries deep memories of separation, of weeping, and wrong doing, it also is like the liminal space of a river, of water, mayim מים— a place to walk through and become new. It also is like the liminal space of the wilderness, midbar מדבּר — a place through which we wander and are made ready. It is here we all, every member of the family, can rediscover the heart of the the holy commandments, mitzvot מצוות— the way and wisdom of God, embodied in Messiah משׁיח. It is here, that we can hear and say and do together, 

“Shema, Hear, O Israel, the Lord your God,
the Lord is one.”
Deuteronomy 6:4

We can find a quiet place in this liminal space, a place to gather so that we can pray toward His house – a house of prayer for all nations,

“Let me hear what God the Lord will speak,  for he will speak peace to his people, to his saints; but let them not turn back to folly.”
Psalm 85:8

And may we not turn back to folly. Rather, may we weep tears of wonder and realization and humility, that if the Lord is one, so are we. If Israel is a tree and those of the nations that revere the God of Israel, are wild branches grafted in, may we show our gratefulness. If Isaiah said to seek the Lord while He may be found; call upon him while He is near; let, “faithfulness spring up from the ground, and righteousness look down from the sky” (Psalm 85:11) and let those of us who live betwixt and between, here and now, know I AM.

For surely, his salvation, Yisho ישעו spoken of in Psalm 85 speaks to us of Yeshua…ישׁוע

 “Surely his salvation is near to those who fear him, that glory may dwell in our land.”
Psalm 85:9

Though a seemingly lost and forgotten hallway feels formidable and far away, nevertheless, the words of Isaiah resound, “Listen to me, you who pursue righteousness, you who seek the Lord: look to the rock from which you were hewn, and to the quarry from which you were dug. Look to Abraham your father and to Sarah who bore you; for he was but one when I called him, that I might bless him and multiply him.” (Isaiah 51:1)

We are encouraged in  Deuteronomy 30 and Romans 10 : “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” so that we can do it. “

“Righteousness will go before him
and make his footsteps a way.”
Psalm 85:13

Christians are not the replacement of the Jewish people, they are part of their multiplication, their blessing, their comfort. Do we know who we are, where we are? Here in this hallway, we have been called to remember, and to return to the Source so that we may be renewed and restored, together. 

“…Christianity was not invented out of whole cloth, nor did it originate de novo; instead, it was a development from Judaism. To understand anything of the depth of biblical Christianity and its teachings one must understand Judaism.” -Marvin R. Wilson

Restore us again, O God of our salvation… Psalm 85:4

We travail the waters, the wilderness, the brokenness, the trivialities, the time and understanding, to discover our spiritual roots and the place of our birth between heaven and earth. These are not the problem, these are all part of the sacred calling in the liminal space between Christianity and Judaism. All for a time such as this… which is no ordinary time.

The Liminal Space of LETTING GO – Raynna Meyers

Some time ago my dear friend and teacher, Keren Hannah Pryor, began to write about liminal spaces, those in-between places, when we are not in one specific place or another, but find ourselves past something known (at least in part) and not quite on the threshold of what we do not yet know. I’d only ever really heard this space named by one other, the Irish poet John O’Donohue. His words made my heart sing, Yes. Even though the language was new to me, the concept was profoundly felt. Together, life became reframed.

Prior to that, I think the only vocabulary I knew to describe this capacity in life was…lost. And that word wasn’t quite true. That word carried my own self-judgement, my own definitions of where I stood. I learned that I was, “as found as I feel lost.” And it hit so hard when Rich Mullins said what Susan said, when we feel lost…

How love is found in the things we’ve given up…

I needed help from outside of my own head, as I often do, and the consideration of liminal spaces was the hand that reached out to take me there. But now, over time, as I look back I see there were people and words and songs as guideposts all along the way that were showing me, even if it was from their own lack, how to be comfortable in my own skin.

And ain’t it funny what people say
And ain’t it funny what people write
In the middle of the night.

Because, here where we live between the two great thresholds of birth and death, all of this life is liminal. All of us will at sometime find ourselves with a sense of uncertainty, or as we often call it, transition. When we engage with our own uncharted stories, pain and questions  often rise about how to live with joy and contentedness, with purpose, especially when we can’t quite name where it is that we are. right. now. Don’t be surprised nor feel alone in this. Life forming, on its way but not there yet, is an uncomfortable process.

And if your home is just another place where you’re a stranger
And far away is just somewhere you’ve never been
I hope that you’ll remember, I was your friend
I hope you’ll have the strength to just remember
I’m still your friend.  *

No, you are not alone. None of us is so different from each other as we sometimes imagine.  And, we all have had people, words, images, and songs as guideposts all along the way. In my own lack I’ve thirsted and run after so many empty or imagined promises of satisfaction. As though life could be a mathematical equation, as though it could be predictable, as though when it doesn’t turn out as we thought it would, or hoped or planned it would, there was a failure. Failure… another word often carrying our own definitions of where we stand; blind to kindness.

It’s so complicated how we get there, through the messages we have ingested, swallowed whole for one reason or another; those we allow to define our lives. On one hand we know we aren’t sure of where we are, on the other we know we’re not quite sure where we are headed, but still we’re holding on to the old because at least we know that. I have held onto the old—in my thirst, in my quaking.

Yet this realization, of letting go, is no end. This is a new place to begin, a choice laid before us to see the broken cistern we or others have dug that no longer holds precious water—because real life has happened; earth-quaking, time-battered life. This is a liminal space – a place to see the fountain of living water that will not break, though the mountains tremble, and words fail, and songs are wrong, and culture sucks, and people leave.

There are always imitators, but the worth of the genuine is never impaired
by the abundance of imitation and forgery. **

The prophet Jeremiah poetically uses the words, “fountain of living waters,” in reference to the Lord—yet it also is a technical term used elsewhere in the Bible for the concept of mikvah/immersion/baptism. Living waters, mayim chaim, the place a soul can bring their whole body into an action that proclaimed death to the old and lays firm hold upon the Source of all things old and new, known and unknown, lost and found. Taken hold of with open hands, by letting go, by recognition, and humility and, yes, even when we don’t know all the words yet, when we’re in the liminal space. Adonai Elohim, the fountain of living waters, is present there, near to the broken hearted ones who are ready and willing to let go.

It has been a quiet December at my house, by intention. Much lighting of candles and dinners together around the table with almost all the electric lights out. I have both loved and floundered within it. No matter how good I know it is in my mind, even in my bones, my personal taste is a much faster, brighter, and louder pace. I’ve been learning to let go.

It’s been a loud December in my heart, by admission. I’ve found myself unable to escape admitting at least a dozen things, especially people, I haven’t and I don’t. want. to let go. It’s been fast, and bright, and loud in ways I don’t like at all. How picky I can get. I’d like to tell you that I prefer the gentlest of first sunrise light, and it would be true, not because it is my personal taste but rather an acquired one.

I acquired this preference running hungry and thirsty to the Living Waters – a good place, that did not hold me under boldly lit scrutiny, but rather invites all to dwell within as whole human beings because the power of God will dwells within us when we choose to dwell within Him, following His ways. This brings rest and recognition of the guideposts all along the way showing me how to be comfortable in my own skin. They continue to teach me that when I get to the crossroads it’s not about perfection, or what was, or what I thought could, would, or should be. They are teaching me there is an ancient path, a good way, a place to find rest for our souls and that we can let go, together. There is a belonging in the in-between.

And I remember what Susan said,
How love is found in the things we’ve given up
More than in the things that we have kept. *

Two incredibly powerful ways to process life is through conversation and journaling. Here are some questions and prompts for you to take into your own conversations and journals. If you feel alone, be the friend for another that you wish you had, it really can mend us a little at a time:

Q: When you look back, what do see you’ve been being taught all along? Who or what have been guideposts in this for you? Let them know?

Q: What do you need to let go, remembering, “What Susan said, how love is found in the things we’ve given up, more than in the things that we have kept”?

Q: What have you lost that you can still give thanks for today—because at one time you held it?  (Hugs to you in this bitter-sweetest liminality)

Q: What have you named mistakenly, that needs a new word? What have you deemed small, but is actually worthy?

To stand in the tension of allowing a day, a moment, a word, a detail—even our own selves—to be what. it. is. small…but it also, here now, can bring freedom, outside the walls of fear, to see it as it actually is,

worthy.
worthy to be with,
worthy to be present to,
to nurture,
to look in the eyes of,
to stop for,
to choose,
to release.

Our Father in Heaven, Avinu sh’ba’Shemayim, give us eyes to see.

Letting go with you, this new year.
Raynna

  • *  Rich Mullins, What Susan Said, The World as Best as I Remember It, vol. 2
  • ** Abraham Joshua Heschel, God in Search of Man, pg. 229

 

Hello, my name is Raynna Myers. I am very honored to get to write and communicate with HIS-Israel readers!

I would love if you visited me at www.raynnamyers.com, where I share as I grow as a disciple of Yeshua.

I am an author/photographer who lives with my husband and our six children, in Washougal, Washington, USA.

TEVET – VIDEO – OVERCOMING ANGER – MIKE DAVIS

Shalom!

I’m happy to introduce a great couple and beloved friends of mine [Keren] and of His-Israel,  pastors Mike and Karen Davis, who live and minister as life-coaches in Redwood, California.

Mike shares a deep lesson with us this month on ways to 1) recognize (be aware of), 2) acknowledge, and 3) take responsibility for, and overcome emotions, (including the dire character trait of ANGER.) 4) Breathe! and 5) analyze and redefine your story! 

The root of God’s anger is constructive… it’s redemptive, and stems from His love and concern for the values that are important to Him – Love, life, and blessing for each one created in His image.

KEY advice: Be aware of the STORY that makes you angry…and being a Victim, and be the Victor…change it, realistically, for the better! TELL A DIFFERENT STORY!

Love this!  Thank you Mike!

TEVET – 10th Hebrew Month – Being Holy, Being Whole


 

TEVET

THEME: ANGER/PRIDE; GRATITUDE/PEACE

BODY:  THE BODY FILTERS

QUOTE: There is a song that only my soul can sing.

PSALM 105: God-Who-is-our-Praise

CREATIVE EXPRESSION: Find ways to illustrate and express in your journal the theme and what you are learning and experiencing this month. 

GOD-WHO-IS-OUR-PRAISE 

In reference to Psalm 105, Rabbi Maurice Lamm makes a very interesting statement: “If we are going to heal from illness need to break two kinds of spiritual gridlock. One paralyzes us so that we become passive and resigned; the other steals the very song from our throats, leaving us with only a groan [of despair].” The psalm teaches us that, no matter the circumstances – illness, troubles, challenges, “Don’t act like a victim!” 

The first five verses of the psalm show us how to remain to remain positive and engaged with life. The first of ten calls to action is one of gratitude. In a troubling situation, to avoid reacting with passive resignation,or anger and despair, we need to maintain an ‘attitude of gratitude’ and “Give thanks to Adonai!” We can always find something to give our Father thanks for – a new day, every breath, a facet of beauty. Even facing death, we can give thanks that, due to His loving grace, we will enter a glorious eternity in His Presence.

Next, “call upon His Name.” He always is near to hear our prayers and to respond. Then, “Let all the nations hear about HIs deeds!” We must do all we can in whatever He has called us to do, and take every opportunity to share about His goodness and wonder. Be proud of Him. “Sing to Him!” When we sing praises our spirits soar above the mundane. The more we get to know Him the more our hearts rejoice. Search His Word, treasure His teachings. 

Learn the ways of God. Long and search for His Presence always. And, finally, always remember “the wonders He has performed, His miracles, and the laws from His mouth.”

When we lay a foundation of gratitude in our hearts then we can sing and our souls will be filled with Shalom, even a peace that is beyond understanding. HalleluYah! 

 

THE BODY FILTERS – LIVER, GALLBLADDER, SPLEEN

Last month, during Kislev, we explored the digestive system. Now, in Tevet, we will take a look at the organs that work together with the digestive system specifically in their role of filtering impurities from the body. These are: the liver, which is the largest organ, the gall bladder, and the spleen, which also plays a significant role in the circulatory and lymphatic systems.  Let’s take a look at their physiological characteristics before we consider the spiritual application.

The liver is the largest single organ in the body and it has essentially two functions: 1) it produces and regulates chemicals for the body’s needs, and 2) it neutralises poisons and waste products. Once the blood absorbs nutrients from the food that is digested it passes through the liver and is filtered before returning to the heart. We can picture the liver as serving the heart. In addition, it serves the rest of the body in that it takes the raw nutrients from the food we eat and purifies them so that the body can absorb and utilize them. 

It manufactures proteins and processes carbohydrates (sugars and starches) by converting them into glucose to supply energy for the body. And it stores some of the sugar for future use. The liver also processes fats and the waste products of the blood. The enzymes in the liver cleanse the blood of bacteria and neutralises any poisons that have entered the body. As the liver interacts mainly with the heart and blood, its essential color is red.

Next to the liver, also on the right side of the body, is a small pear-shaped organ – the gall bladder, which stores bile – a thick, bitter, yellowish-green fluid produced by the liver. Bile neutralizes acid and is necessary for the digestion of fats. 

The spleen is situated on the left side of the stomach. It offers protection against any foreign matter in the body and against infection. It collects the surplus fluids from the body’s tissues and it filters and destroys any bad bacteria and breaks down any waste matter. The color of its fluid is milky-white. However, if it is overworked or weak, blood can become tainted and is described as “black” blood. Therefore the spleen is also associated with the black fluids in the body.

THE LIVER – THE BLOOD FILTER

In Hebrew the liver is called ka’ved, meaning ‘heavy.’ The liver serves the heart and the whole body, and if it is functioning well then all goes well. If it has problems, the negative effects are felt throughout the body. 

An interesting connection is found in Exodus 8:28, where the well-known term is found – “Pharaoh hardened his heart.” The Hebrew word used here is also ka’ved. He livered his heart! Instead of serving the heart the liver took over and ‘hardened’ it. What does this mean? In Scripture, the heart and the kidneys are associated with wisdom, and should reign over the body.  For example, in Psalm 16:7, “I bless the Lord who gives me counsel; in the night also my heart instructs me.” The main function of the kidneys is the processing and purifying of the fluids of the body. The two kidneys filter and retain what is good and excrete the waste. Likewise, we should cultivate the wisdom to choose and keep what is good and reject what is bad or evil. 

We know that life is in the blood. The liver is the primary filter that purifies the body’s blood. All blood passes through the liver. If it is properly nourished it functions well, but if, for example, we overeat, or have an unhealthy diet, it becomes overworked and returns impurities into the blood. These accumulate and the blood becomes polluted causing negative effects in the body. Blood is red, which can symbolize heat, anger, and violence. The Sages connect this with Esau, who, at birth “…came out red, all his body like a hairy cloak, so they called his name Esau” (Genesis 25:25). His characteristics are pride, anger, and accusations. On the other hand, King David was also red-haired and, positively, red represents strength of character and fear, or reverential awe, of God.  When a person desires godliness, and, in the awe of God, longs to serve Him properly and to worship Him alone, he will be free of the influence of Esau and will live in gratitude and peace. His heart will rule his liver and he will be set free from the traits of pride, envy, and anger. 

The lust for power and wealth is a major negative force of our times. When this is driven by a materialistic desire, anger, envy and hatred will be the outcome. Rebbe Nachman observes: 

A by-product of the fire of pride [which is tantamount to idolatry for man puts himself on the throne in place of God] is anger. Because of his haughtiness, a person is quick to anger when his desires are not satisfied as he wishes. A humble person is more capable of exercising restraint. Therefore haughtiness and anger stand together as two of man’s worst characteristics.  

 

 

 

A fool or angry person as described in Proverbs!

A related danger is false humility, which is a more disguised form of pride. A person realises that arrogance is bad, so they adopt an appearance of humility. Often fooling themselves, they act as though they are modest and not wanting to accept any honor or recognition. Deep down, however, they crave notice from others and chase after honor. True humility does not require that you hide yourself, or act as though you are worthless. You should know the extent of your full worth, and yet be humble, knowing that you are not perfect and are on a spiritual journey that is not yet completed. Humility leads to repentance, a quality that is vital on our life’s journey; for, God says, “…this is the one to whom I will look: he/she who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at My word” (Isaiah 66:2b).

THE GALL BLADDER is alongside and works together with the liver. We are reminded in the Psalm for the month of the Exile in Egypt. In slavery the Israelites became weakened, both physically and spiritually, by the suffering they endured. They became embittered. In Hebrew, the gall-bladder is called ma’rah from the root mar – meaning bitter. Usually, it serves to cool and balance the liver, but If this organ gets out of sync it becomes stoney, hardens as it were, and can cause pain, fever and illness. 

THE CONNECTION OF 70

The Sages consider that there are seventy basic facets of Torah (God’s Word/Teaching), that correspond with the seventy aspects of a person’s character. Seventy also relate both to the seventy souls of the Children of Israel who went down to Egypt and to the seventy nations. The Children of Israel are rooted in the Torah – the will and ways of God, which guide one on the spiritual path. When a person distances himself from God and the spiritual light of His Word, then the darkness and negative characteristics of the nations – including materialism, lust, anger, and violence, take root in him/her and result in wicked or immoral behavior. Interestingly, the liver has seventy major blood vessels. Therefore, a person can choose to connect him/herself to the good source of Jacob, which is following God and His Word with all one’s heart, resulting in joy and peace; or to the materialistic, evil source of Esau that results in anger and despair.

THE SPLEEN – THE SEAT OF DEPRESSION

 The role of the spleen is to eliminate impurities found in the body. The more excesses, the harder it must work. A damaged spleen, if overworked by an unhealthy diet, or over-eating, can result in a general sluggishness, which leads to indifference, laziness, and sadness. Traditionally, the spleen has been associated with melancholy. 

The spleen is called t’chol in Hebrew. The word for sand is chol. Rebbe Nachman taught that “…the main bite of the Serpent is sadness and sluggishness. This is because [even in the New Heaven and New Earth] the Serpent is cursed with, “Dust shall be the Serpent’s food” (Isaiah 65:25). In Genesis, Adam, too, was cursed concerning the earth and eating, “And to Adam [God] said, “…cursed is the ground because of you; in pain [sorrow] you shall eat of it all the days of your life” (3:17). 

We are advised in the Word of God to distinguish between Kodesh ve’Chol – Holiness and Materialism – spiritual and earthly. Bounty and wealth are not evil in and of themselves. Wealth, when achieved and used correctly, is a great blessing and can be a powerful tool for the advance of spirituality and God’s Kingdom. When, however, greed and lust separate the material from the spiritual, wealth becomes like dust. If a person becomes obsessed with materialism and wealth, “all the days of his life” will be consumed and ultimately it will be like eating dust, and will result in delusion, sadness, and depression.

All bounty, goodness, and true wisdom, come through our faith and trust in our Father God. Knowing that our lives are in His hands, we can trust Him to provide for our every need. This understanding fills our lives with balance, joy, and great peace.

KISLEV – 9th Hebrew Month – Being Holy Being Whole

KISLEV

THEME: EATING, BREAD/CHALLAH, SLEEP/REST

BODY:  THE DIGESTIVE SYSTEM 

QUOTE: Eat to gain strength to serve HaShem physically and to grow spiritually.

PSALM 137: God-our-Avenger-and-Song

CREATIVE EXPRESSION: Find ways to illustrate and express in your journal the theme and what you are learning and experiencing this month.

 

GOD-OUR-AVENGER-AND-SONG

Psalm 137 is a song of captivity and exile. Sometimes, on our journey through life, situations occur and things happen for which we have no ready explanation and they leave us filled with grief. In such times of darkness we can only weep. Our spirit feels crushed and we cannot imagine being able to raise our voice in song; not even one to the Lord of our lives. We simply hang our harp of song on a branch of a weeping willow. We find ourselves on “alien soil,” far from “Jerusalem” – the place of the beauty and fragrance of His Presence, which is our highest joy.

Suddenly, even as we remember Jerusalem and His Holy Sanctuary, something in our soul shifts. We recall the eternal home of our God-breathed spirit – His Eternal Dwelling Place, where He promised to place His Name forever. A popular saying goes: “Wherever I stand, I stand with Jerusalem.” Such is the cry of the heart of those in whose hearts there is a Highway to Zion – the palace of the King of kings.

At this remembrance, we find that our hearts and mouths can fill with song. We can sing songs of gratitude, of praise, of wonder. We can celebrate the wonder of life in His Kingdom; the truth and promise of His Word. We can breathe deep and rest in His unfailing love, secure in the knowledge that His is the vengeance and the eternal glory.

 

EATING AND THE DIGESTIVE SYSTEM

The first transgression of man, as recorded in Genesis, was connected with eating. Since then, it has been recognised that the three primary weaknesses or failings of mankind are the lusts after wealth, sexual pleasure, and food. The lust for wealth is a driving force from which it is very difficult to break free.
Sexual lust, that manifests in various forms, also is a constant challenge that plagues many. Yet, Rebbe Nachman calls gluttony “the paramount lust!” Why? He points out that food is a constant essential that provides man with physical strength and, therefore, enables him to pursue all his other desires – which could either be for good or evil. Food is always before us as a temptation. In the abundance of food available today, medical scientists record that more people are dying from the effects of over-eating than from famine. 

Eating, of course, is a natural need, second only to that of breathing. On the one hand, for optimal survival, humans need only a simple, well balanced diet. The body’s need to eat, to digest, and to eliminate waste begins at birth and continues until death. Interestingly, babies instinctively know when they have received the nourishment they need and, therefore, when to stop eating. Apart from our basic need for food, on the other hand, the Word of God also makes it clear that we are expected to enjoy and derive pleasure from food. Special meals, such as our weekly Shabbat tables and Festive meals, are an integral part of our heritage. However, we need constantly to  be aware, that there is a difference between maintaining a healthy balance in our enjoyment of food and lusting for excesses. Avinu, our Father, defines, and provides us with all that is permissible and beneficial for man to eat and we, then, are able to thank and praise Him for His provision and His wonderful edible creations.

*Photo credit: Debra Elfassy

Next, a look at the digestive system: Ancient as well as modern medicine recognizes the vital importance of the digestive system in the healthy growth and physical well-being of a person. In addition, the health and fitness of our physical body has a powerful effect both on our mental capacity and on our spiritual well-being. Obviously, our spirits don’t need physical food; we feed them with the ‘bread’ of the Word of God. However, while they are housed in these physical bodies, there should be a harmonious relationship of well-being between the body and spirit.

How does the digestive system work? Based on Chaim Kramer’s explanation:
When we eat, the food descends to the stomach, where acids and enzymes break it down into smaller particles. The digestive tract processes the particles into nutrients, which then are transported to the blood stream. The blood flows to the heart, where it is further enriched with oxygen from the lungs. It is then pumped throughout the system, bringing nourishment to the body. Whatever is not needed is rejected and eliminated from the body as waste. The whole process and the ability of the body to know exactly what to absorb and what to reject is truly one of God’s most awesome wonders.

The organs of the body associated with eating are the mouth, the neck or throat, and the stomach, intestines, and colon. We will take a closer look at the neck/throat and the stomach. The neck is a narrow part of the body. In Hebrew the throat is called Meitzar ha’garon, which literally translates as “the narrow of the neck.” We know that the stories of the Bible carry meaning for every generation, including this one. Rebbe Nachman taught that the land of Egypt – Mitzraim, has the same Hebrew root as Meitzar ha’garon. And, Pharaoh, the Egyptian ruler who represents the forces of evil, has the same root letters, in reverse, as Oreph, which is the nape or back of the neck in Hebrew. 

The three life-sustaining vessels that pass through the throat are: 

  1. the trachea (windpipe) that carries air to the lungs and is situated on the right side; 
  2. the oesophagus, which carries food and is situated on the left slightly behind the trachea and is closer to the nape of the neck; and 
  3. the jugular vein and carotid arteries, which carry blood.

We can notice that the tube for food is located closer to Pharaoh – the back of the neck! If we give in to the wiles of an evil master through improper eating habits not pleasing to our true and good Master, then we become as slaves in Egypt. 

Regarding the stomach, Proverbs 13:25 tells us: “The belly of the wicked always feels empty.” Rebbe Nachman taught: “This refers to those who are never satisfied and always crave more.”  He adds:  “Peace and prosperity go hand in hand, while hunger bodes strife and war. Therefore a craving for food is a sign that one has enemies. By breaking one’s craving for food, one can gain peace with one’s enemies.” (Likutey Moharan 1,39) 

Essentially, these ‘enemies’ are deceptions, which often bring confusion between what is good and what is evil.  When Adam and Eve ate the fruit of the one tree God had forbidden to them (Gen. 3:6) the serpent had enticed Eve with, “You will be like God, knowing good and evil.” Instead, they were exiled from the Garden and descended to a place where good and evil are often confused – where evil can be seen as good, and good as evil. As the prophet Isaiah warned, “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil. They exchange darkness for light and light for darkness…” (5:20). 

In this context, the celebration of the Festival of Hanukkah during this dark, wintry month of Kislev, reminds us that the true light we have is that of the God of Israel and His Word, as expressed by King David:

There are many who say, “Who will show us some good?” Lift up the light of Your face upon us, O Lord!  You have put more joy in my heart than they have when their grain and wine abound. In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for You alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety. (Psalm 4:6)

A Talmudic story reflects a central theme of the season of Hanukkah:

When Adam and Eve first saw the sun go down they were panic-stricken, thinking that the setting of the sun was a consequence of their sin, and that this new, intense darkness would spell their death. They spent that entire first night weeping, until dawn broke and they realized, to their immense relief, that this was simply the way of the world — day was followed by night, and night was followed by day.

Sometimes we, like Adam and Eve, find ourselves in a confusing and painful “dark night of the soul” and can forget that morning follows night. We become anxious and even panic stricken at the thought that there is no end to the ominous darkness that has befallen us. Then God, in His chessed, love and mercy, gradually brings the dawning of a new day.

This truth is reflected in a powerful statement by the prophet Micah: “Rejoice not over me,  O my enemy; when I fall, I shall rise; when I sit in darkness, the Lord will be a light to me.”  (7:8) 

We can celebrate the fact that in Messiah Yeshua the veil of darkness that covered the nations could, and can to this day, be pierced as they received the light of the truth of the One God and His Word.  “The people dwelling in darkness have seen a great light, and for those dwelling in the region and shadow of death, on them a light has  dawned.”
(Matthew 4:16)

Photo credit: Shutterstock

~ Keren Hannah Pryor

CHESHVAN – 8th Hebrew Month – Being Holy Being Whole


CHESHVAN – The 8th Hebrew Month

THEME: BREATH, FRAGRANCE, PATIENCE

BODY:  NOSE 

QUOTE: May our lives emit the fragrance of His Presence. 

PSALM 33:6 tells us: “With the Word of God the heavens were made; with the breath of His mouth, all their hosts.” 

From the very beginning we realize the importance and power of breath. All that is was created by the breath of God, and His Divine breath is the constant sustainer of life.When God created man we are told: “God breathed into Adam’s nostrils” (Genesis 2:7). We know that the nose is the main passageway for air. Also, it contains membranes and fine hairs called cilia, which filter and purify the air when we inhale. Thus, the nose plays a vital part in the process of respiration. Through our noses we draw in air and oxygen which descends to our lungs. There life-sustaining oxygen is absorbed and channeled to the heart, which distributes it into our blood. There the oxygen is absorbed and the waste of carbon-dioxide is brought back to the lungs from where it is exhaled. There we have the fairly simple process of breathing, which helps to sustain our lives. It is a process we mostly take for granted until, G-d forbid, something goes wrong!

A Hebrew word intimately connected with respiration is ruach ((רוח. Ruach has many meanings; for example, it can refer to the wind that blows outdoors. Metaphysically, it can mean spirit or soul. A person’s ruach is the basic essence of one’s personality, one’s character, which is affected by one’s mind, thoughts, attitudes. Psychologically, too, e.g., one can speak of a ruach or spirit of despair, or a deep, quiet spirit. The Ruach HaKodesh (רוח הקודש) is the Spirit of Holiness – the Spirit of God that can fill, inspire, and anoint one. The prophets, for example, were inspired (or in-spirited), to speak words from God to the people. The prophet Isaiah describes how Messiah is blessed with six qualities of the Spirit of God:- 

A ruach of wisdom and understanding, a ruach of counsel and might, a ruach of knowledge and of fear of God.” (11:2)

The Ruach is a gift from the Father to HIs beloved children. Yeshua instructed his talmidim to remain in Jerusalem after he ascended to the Father until Shavuot when they would receive the promise of the Father of a special anointing of the Holy Spirit  in power (Acts 1:4-5). In the face of the ever-increasing Godlessness in the world today, we can trust the Spirit of Holiness to cleanse our hearts of any impediments that would hinder us from growing in knowledge of the One true God and, as a result, would prevent us from growing in a deeper and more intimate relationship with Him. Proverbs 20:27 tells us: “The spirit of man is the lamp, or candle, of the Lord.” We are encouraged by Matthew, in chapter 12:21-22, who quotes the prophet Isaiah in saying, regarding the Messiah who would be “…a light for the nations, to open the eyes that are blind, to bring out from prison those who sit in darkness,” that “…a bruised reed he will not break, and a faintly burning – or smoldering,  wick he will not quench” (Isaiah 42:1-4). No matter how faint a person’s faith is, the Spirit of God can fan it into a brightly burning flame!

BREATH – AIR – WORDS

We know that physical and spiritual realities are intertwined. In a lovely metaphor, the Breslover Rabbi Nachman compares the lungs to two wings whose gentle movement constantly fans and cools the heart in its demanding work of pumping blood, thus regulating its temperature and enabling it to operate smoothly without overheating. To live, physically, we need a constant supply of air and water. Spiritually, the Torah, or Word of God, is often compared to both of these life-sustaining elements. In connection with breathing, we inhale the moisture-laden air of Torah, which fills our being with life. Interestingly, the five books of Torah can be compared to the five lobes of the lungs. When we breathe in the truth and holiness of His Word, our response should be to exhale prayer – words of thanksgiving and praise to the Giver of Life, as well as words that carry truth, kindness, and holiness. 

The enemies of God and His people “…breathe out cruelty, or violence” (Psalm 27:12). This indicates that what they are breathing in – their very life source and essence of being is cruelty, hatred, violence, and lies.  The words we breathe out have power, and either elevate or deplete us spiritually. In addition, they have the power to influence and affect those around us. Let us speak life-giving words and be careful to not be a source of Air pollution!

Happily, when Messiah is reigning as King of kings over all the earth, and all mankind turns to God, then speech will be perfected, as the prophet Zephaniah foretells: “For at that time I will change the speech of the peoples to a pure speech, that all of them may call upon the name of the Lord and serve him with one accord” (3:9).

The Hebrew word for nose is af, which also can mean anger. In II Samuel 22:9, anger is compared to smoke “…escaping through the nostrils.” If one becomes angry, impatient, or anxious, one tends to breathe short, shallow breaths. Being aware of this and regulating one’s breathing by taking deep, long and slow breaths, helps control the negative emotions. In Exodus 34:6, a characteristic of God is erech apayim – literally of ‘extended nose’ but meaning “long of breath, slow to anger, patient!”

We presently are moving from the intense and Feast-filled month of Tishrei into the quieter month of Cheshvan, which is sometimes called Mar-Cheshvan, (Mar means bitter), because it has no festivals. This also indicates a move, or shift, of awareness from an intense focus on our relationship with God, when we affirm His Kingship over our lives, and the universe in general, and rededicate ourselves in His service, to our relationship with and service to others. Cheshvan is the first Rosh Chodesh of the new calendar year that is celebrated after Rosh Hashanah in Tishrei. This initiates the start of our walk once again in connection with the others in our lives. We can employ what we learned during the intense month of Tishrei, when we purposed to “…love the Lord your God with all your heart,”  to now “…love your neighbour as yourself.”

FRAGRANCE.   May our lives emit the fragrance of His Presence.

The Hebrew words for spirit – ru’ach and smell – rei’ach are closely related, and for good reason. The sense of smell is mysterious and powerful. The Sages say that: “Mashiach will be able to ‘smell’ deceit and judge by his sense of smell.” (Sanhedrin 93b) In English, when something is “off” and does not seem right, we have the expression” “I smell a rat!”

In Exodus 20:13, the commandment “Do not commit adultery,” in Hebrew is, Lo tin’af, which literally would be translated as, “Do not give in to the nose!” The Sages comment that this can mean, “Do not even seek to smell the perfume of another woman for this leads to adultery.” 

Anatomically, the physical sense of smell is associated with the limbic lobe of the brain, which is considered to be the link between the cognitive and emotional processes, that is, between thoughts and feelings. Since the sexual urge is undoubtedly one of man’s strongest passions, which impacts his mind as well as his emotions, physiologically the sense of smell and sexual desire are interconnected. Quoting Rebbe Nachman again: “A spiritually pure  sense of smell can be attained only through sexual purity. Where sexual purity is lacking, spiritual energy inevitably wanes.”

In ancient biblical times perfumes were very costly and only used by royalty. We see in the book of Esther how the young women who were to be presented to the king underwent a treatment of “…six months with oil of myrrh and six months with spices and ointments for women” (2:12). *

Of course, the Song of Songs is the most fragrance-laden of books in the Bible, and speaks of the king as “…perfumed with myrrh and frankincense, with all the fragrant spices of a merchant” (3:6). We can make the connection with the gifts brought by the wise men from the East to the babe in Bethlehem, who is destined to become the King of kings, all of which indicate royalty: gold, frankincense and myrrh.

In a striking example, it’s interesting to note that God filled His house with fragrance. The special incense burnt constantly on the Altar of Incense in the Holy Place filled the Temple and also all the surrounds of Jerusalem; so much so, that the women didn’t need to wear perfume. How wonderful to realize that as travellers, and pilgrims during the Feasts, approached Jerusalem they were informed of the presence of the King of the universe by the fragrance in the air. 

Stirred by the Spirit of Holiness, may we be filled with the beautiful fragrance of the presence of Messiah and may our homes and lives, too, emit a fragrance pleasing to our Father God.

 

CHESHVAN – The Eighth Hebrew month

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Blessing of the New Month – Birkat Ha’Chodesh

May it be Your will, O Lord, our God and the God of our forefathers, that You inaugurate this month of Cheshvan upon us for goodness and for blessing.

May You give us long life,

a life of peace – Shalom,

a life of goodness – Tovah

a life of blessing – Bracha

a life of sustenance – Parnassa

a life of physical health – Hilutz Atzamot

a life in which there is a fear of heaven and fear of sin – Yirat Shamayim ve’ Yirat Chet

a life in which there is no humiliation – Ein Busha u’Chlimah

a life of wealth and honor – Osher ve’Kavod

a life in which we will have love of Torah and awe and reverence of God

Ahavat Torah ve’Yirat HaShem

a life in which Adonai, the Lord, fulfills our heartfelt requests for good.

Amen. Selah.

The cycle of the moon, with its waxing and waning, is symbolic of renewal. It is a constant illustration of the fact that, as we journey through life, we too continually experience phases of growth and decline, prominence and hiddenness. Every day, week, month and year are opportunities for new beginnings. Biblically, the number 7 indicates completion – the Shabbat crowns and completes the week. The number 8, as in the eigth day, indicates a new beginning in a special way and is seen by the Sages as representing Olam HaBa,  (the World to Come or Eternity) once Olam HaZeh, this world, has reached its completion.

It is also worthy of note that the observance of Rosh Chodesh was the first commandment given to Israel as a newly formed nation (Exodus 12:2). Israel thus has a special, God ordained, identification with the moon. It serves as a reminder that Israel’s glory may fade and seemingly disappear but the nation will always re-emerge and grow to fullness, as does the moon.  For Israel, and those who stand with her – particularly at this time of God’s restoration of the nation and the violent attempts of the enemy to prevent it –  the blessing of the New Moon is an event of inspiration and importance.

After the Exodus from Egypt, the verse that references the first month set in place by God to mark the deliverance from Egypt reads,

“This month shall mark for you the beginning of months; it shall be the first month of the year for you.”

Notice that He says it is for you! The months are set in place for our benefit. It is as though our Father has stored a gift for us at the start of each new month – a fresh opportunity of renewal –  to strengthen ourselves in our relationship with Him and in our service to Him.

A connection is made between Rosh Chodesh and the festivals in all three sections of the Hebrew Scriptures – the Torah, the Prophets and the Writings [the TanakhTorah, Nevi’im and Ketuvim].

1. Numbers 29:1 

“On the first day [New Moon] of the seventh month [TishreiRosh HaShanah] you shall have a holy convocation; you shall not work at your occupations. It is a day for you to blow the trumpets…”

2. Isaiah 66:23 

“From New Moon to New Moon, and from Sabbath to Sabbath, all flesh shall come to worship before me”, says the Lord.

3. 2 Chronicles 2:3

“I am now about to build a house for the name of the Lord my God and dedicate it to him for offering fragrant incense before him, and for the regular offering of the rows of bread, and for burnt offerings morning and evening, on the Sabbaths and the New Moons and the Appointed Festivals of the Lord our God, as ordained forever for Israel.”

The main differences between Rosh Chodesh and the Festivals are:

  1. On Rosh Chodesh work is permitted as if it was an ordinary workday; unless, of course, it falls on a Shabbat or a Festival. However, due to the particular identification of women with the moon (for many reasons, e.g., the menstrual cycle) it was long a tradition that women refrained from working to whatever extent possible. Today women are again discovering Rosh Chodesh and are creating ways to celebrate it together.
  2. It is commanded in the Torah that we be joyful on the Festivals and celebrate with festive meals, but this is not the case with Rosh Chodesh. It is, nevertheless, considered a day of gladness.
  3. A significant difference is that the Festivals are celebrated in a physically overt fashion. They are obviously different from ordinary week days; there is a transformation, an aura of holiness that encompasses these “holy” days. Rosh Chodesh, on the other hand, appears to be a regular weekday, with no special meals, dress or concrete actions taken. Like the shy moon, it quietly and softly comes and goes. This reticence, however, does not diminish its value and holiness.  A renowned Torah teacher of this generation, Rabbi Yosef Dov Solovetichik, explains that Rosh Chodesh was celebrated more visibly in the times of the Temple. The Levites would sing and conduct the same ceremony as they did on the Festivals. Without the Temple, that external stimulus is lacking.

The Tribe of Menashe.

“According to the order of the encampments, Tishrei corresponds to Ephraim and Marcheshvan [Cheshvan] to Menashe [Manasseh]…”

(Bnei Yissachar: Maamarei Chodesh Tishrei 1:2)

In his writings, Rabbi Soloveitchik also describes the character of a person, whom he calls an Ish Rosh Chodesh – one who embodies the nature of Rosh Chodesh; one who knows how to combine holiness, especially hidden holiness, with the outwardly mundane. He notes that the first person to embody this synthesis was Yosef Ha’Tzaddik – the Righteous Joseph.

Joseph was a ruler in Egypt, adept in worldly matters of government, and he was holy and upright, imbued with knowledge of the God of Israel and His ways. Joseph’s inner purpose was to do the will of God in every circumstance, whether he was in a prison or a palace. As a result, all his actions were holy and to the glory of God.

Joseph loved his sons, Manasseh the firstborn and Ephraim the younger. He was surprised when his father Jacob, as he was bestowing his final blessing upon them, placed his right hand on Ephraim’s head and his left on Manasseh.

Yad ha’Yamin, the right hand, is of great significance in the Hebrew Scriptures.

Why did Jacob favor Ephraim over Manasseh? Jewish sages comment that both sons were of sterling character and were great leaders. However, Ephraim, like his grandfather Jacob in his youth, was more inclined to “remain in the tents” and study the teachings of God, while Manasseh (who, as firstborn, no doubt accompanied his father and learnt of matters of governance) excelled in worldly, communal matters. Jacob was indicating that spiritual service to God came before material service to one’s fellow man.

The ideal is to combine the two, as did their father Joseph. No doubt, as they grew older and more experienced in the leadership they were given over a tribe of Israel, each young man would become an Ish Rosh Chodesh like Joseph. To this end, parents bless their sons on Shabbat to be like Ephraim, one who excels in the study of the Word of God and walks in His ways, and also like Manasseh, one who enjoys success in business and worldly matters.

In many ways, the Righteous Joseph is a forerunner of the Messiah, the Anointed one to come – Yeshua, the fully righteous one, in whom was found no sin and who lived only to do the will of his Father in Heaven.

“Let Your hand be upon the one at Your right hand, the one whom You made strong for Yourself” (Psalm 80:17).

Yeshua is the Son, seated at the right hand of the Father, where there is fullness of joy forever (Psalm 16:11; 110:1; Matthew 26:64; Mark 14:62;16:19; Luke 22:69).
He is glorious in power (Exodus 15:6), the “right hand” extended to save; our help and the place of refuge from one’s enemies (Psalm 17:7).
In him is the victory (Psalm 98:1-2; Isaiah 41:10).
God exalted him at His right hand as Leader and Savior, that He might give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins (Acts 5:31).
As High Priest, Yeshua intercedes for us before the Throne (Romans 8:34) and he pours upon us the gift of the Holy Spirit from the Father (Acts 2:33).

He is the Lamb who was slain, who is worthy to receive the scroll with its seven seals from the right hand of the Father (Revelation 5). And the myriads around the Throne sing,

“Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!”

The author of Revelation, Yochanan (John), concludes:

Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, singing, “To the One seated on the Throne, and to the Lamb, be blessing and honor and glory and might, forever and ever!” (5:11-12)

Amen and HalleluYah!

 

  •  Artwork – Matt Doll 

VIP PRAYER FOR THE PROTECTION AND DEFENCE OF ISRAEL

VIP PRAYER FOR ISRAEL’S PROTECTION AND DEFENCE*

Let Israel say, if the Lord had not been on our side when men attacked us….they would have swallowed us alive…Praise be to the Lord, who has not let us be torn by their teeth….Our help is in the name of the Lord

(Psalm 124:1-8). 

Please, God, our Father in Heaven, keep Israel as “…the apple of Your eye; hide her under the shadow of Your wings from … her deadly enemies who surround her” (Psalm 17:8-9). 

Along all Israel’s borders, dispatch angelic guardians and warrior hosts. 

Protect Your Land from division by the nations.

 “Hide [Israel] in the secret place of Your presence from the plots of men…keep [her] secretly in a pavilion from the strife of tongues” (Ps. 31:20). 

Bring the counsel of ungodly nations to nothing, and their plans against Israel to no effect. (Psalm 33:10) 

Please, Abba, protect Your people from terror in the streets.. Guard Israel’s borders from attack by land, air or sea. Expose and overturn schemes of evil destruction against Your people. Keep us from ungodly alliances with nations seeking to entrap us. May Israel trust in You for deliverance, not in her own strength, skill, military might or in the favor of other nations.

NORTHERN ISRAEL:

Please protect Israel’s mountains and northern borders from foreign invasion, for Your Word says her fiercest enemies come from the north. If enemies do invade from the north, “…show [Your] greatness and [Your] holiness, and make [Yourself] known in the sight of many nations” (Ezekiel 38:23).

Give those in the North the strength and faith to trust in You at all times.

COASTAL AND CENTRAL REGIONS:

Guard and defend Israel’s Mediterranean coast from foreign invasion. Rule over the sea coast according to Your Word: 

“The voice of the Lord is over the waters…the Lord thunders over the mighty waters…the Lord sits enthroned over the flood…the Lord blesses His people with peace.”
(Psalm 29:10)

Bless with peace the Mediterranean coast to be enjoyed with thanksgiving and used for good as shipping harbors, as a media center and hi-tech hub. Prosper the center of Israel as a region of farming, agriculture and industry. Protect, strengthen and embolden those in the coastal and central regions with Your truth.

SOUTHERN ISRAEL:

Please be a shield to Israel’s south, the desert You have enabled to bloom. Send Your heavenly hosts to guard our southern borders from infiltration, terror, war or other forms of attack. Thank you for intercepting and miraculously re-directing rockets and missiles shot from Gaza into southern Israeli civilian centers. 

Enhance peaceable cooperation with the Bedouin in the Negev, many of whom have blessed the Jewish people. Sustain cooperative relations with Egypt and Jordan over shared borders and interests. Expose and shake enemy hideouts and tunnels in desert lands, for “the voice of the Lord shakes the desert” (Psalm 29:8). 

Make a way where there seems to be none for the Negev to grow as an agricultural, industrial, hi-tech and military center (Isaiah 43:19). 

“Provide water in the desert and streams in the wasteland to give drink to … the people [You] formed for [Yourself] that they may proclaim [Your] praise” (Isaiah 43:20-21).

JUDEA AND SAMARIA  (THE WEST BANK) :

Shield of Abraham, would you protect the Jews living in settlements from terror and other forms of military invasion. Expose and dismantle violent conspiracies and  attack. 

Expose the lies condemning Israeli settlements as illegal. Implement true and righteous justice between the Arabs and Israel. Expose the errors and evils of Palestinian Christian theologies that teach God’s covenant with Israel has expired. Protect, strengthen and embolden the Arab remnant following You in Spirit and in truth. 

Please do not allow Israel’s land to be wrongly divided, for we “know You can do all things; no plan of Yours can be thwarted” (Job 42:2). Graciously thwart invasion of the West Bank by terrorist groups seeking to destroy the Jewish state. Mercifully spare Israel from a false peace treaty. Protect, strengthen and embolden those living in Judea and Samaria.

G-d’s promise:

* Based on Sandra Teplisky’s Prayers for Israel