The Liminal Space of the MEZUZAH ~ Keren Hannah Pryor

Jewish people have this custom of affixing a small box to our doorframes and entrance gates. It usually is a slim, oblong container that can be made from various materials such as plastic, wood, ceramics or metal, including pure silver or gold. I also have one carved from beautiful Jerusalem stone. They can be very simple or elaborate and decorative. Although the word mezuzah (pronounced mah-zooz-ah) originally denoted the doorpost itself, the name  now is ascribed to this container. The etymology of the word is unclear. Interestingly,  the emphasized central syllable zuz is the Hebrew word meaning move. Indeed, the mezuzah marks the place of a threshold, indicating movement from one place to another; which renders it a perfect symbol for a liminal space!

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As are most Jewish customs, that of attaching a mezuzah to the doorposts of one’s home (except the bathroom), arose from response to, and in fulfillment of, a commandment of God given in His Torah [teaching or instruction, as recorded in the first five books of the Bible].

And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. …You shall write them on the doorposts [mezuzot] of your house and on your gates. (Deut. 6:4,9)

These words are included in the verses that comprise the Shemah (Deut. 6:4-9), which, together with verses 11-21 from chapter 11, are meticulously handwritten by a professional scribe on a small parchment scroll, called a klaf, which is housed inside the mezuzah. If the klaf can be seen, e.g., through a glass or clear plastic mezuzah, the scribe writes the letters  ש-ד-י (shindaletyod) on the outside of the rolled up scroll. The letters form the word Shaddai, a name for God; they also are an acronym for Shomer Dlatot Yisrael – Guardian of the Doors of Israel. On ceramic or metal mezuzot, just the letter shin suffices as a reminder of Who is guarding one’s door!

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Being affixed in these strategic positions, the mezuzot are the most prominent religious objects in the home and those most often seen by all the family. This applies publically as well for those of us blessed to live in the Jewish homeland of Israel. Situated at thresholds, the mezuzah is there as a quiet reminder, when one moves, often briskly, from one space to another, that life itself is a “limen” – a transition from one place to the next – from Olam HaZeh (this world) to Olam HaBa (the World to Come). In order to help us remember it is there and the truth it conveys, people often pause, however fleetingly, and touch the mezuzah with a kiss of the fingertips. This helps, in the hectic pace of our days, to constantly keep the reality in mind that we simply are passing through this life and should not lose sight of the eternal perspective and the deeper meaning of our journey.

The pause, thus, is a remembrance of the necessary connection of the physical and spiritual aspects of life. In our physical existence on earth we are bound by the limitations of space and time. We can become so focussed on our bodily, physical needs and demands that we forget the reality that we, essentially, are spiritual beings encased in physical bodies. Our spirits also need feeding and nurture in order to grow and flourish. Our spiritual food is the Word of God, the bread from Heaven our Father provided for this very purpose. The mezuzah perfectly pictures this in its form as an outer container housing  precious words of God.

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The kiss on one’s fingertips is to acknowledge, in love, the One whose idea it was to place His Word at every threshold and thereby to reassure us of His Presence. As we leave the sanctuary of our homes and go out into the uncertain world, we can trust that He is there constantly watching and is with us. We therefore pause, gratefully, to acknowledge His faithfulness with a touch and a kiss.

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A final point to ponder. The mezuzah also is a reminder of the Exodus from Egypt. The Israelite  families who were for God, and were ready to obey His will, followed the detailed commands given to Moses. They were to take a lamb into their home for four days and, on the prescribed day, when they needed to be packed and dressed for the journey, they were to slaughter the lamb and daub its blood on their doorposts. Then they were to roast the lamb, enjoy a meal together, and be ready to leave when the signal was given. The blood of the lamb on the doorframe was the sign of their obedience to God. On seeing this, the Angel of Death would pass over them. Then, at a given signal, in a mighty deliverance of God, they would all go forth across the threshold, the great liminal space, from slavery into freedom. They would cross over from the cruelty and crippling physical demands of Pharaoh to the free open space of service to their Creator. They would be free to worship their loving Redeemer, in whose image they were made.

Today, the times we  live in often are dangerous. The evidence of cruelty and evil we are witness to is heartbreaking. Now, more than ever, we need sure and constant reminders that affirm and strengthen our knowledge of who we are as beloved children of the Almighty God. We need to know that,  in our going, as we “live and move and have our being in Him,”* we can “pause” and bring blessing, including into any situation of pain and injustice. We can do this with “a touch and a kiss” in the spirit of chesed – the fiery power of our Father’s love expressed in tender, compassionate action.

 

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~Keren Hannah Pryor

  • Acts 17:28

The Liminal Space of G-D’S SILENCE ~ Cindy Elliott

For time is but a little lower than eternity, and history is a drama in which both man and G-d have a stake. In its happenings we hear the voice as well as the silence of G-d.*

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As for me, the silence and the emptiness is so great, that I look and do not see, – Listen and do not hear – the tongue moves [in prayer] but does not speak…. I want you to pray for me – that I let Him have free hand.

These words could have come off the pages of the Psalms – but they didn’t. They came from the personal journals of Mother Teresa. We know from her personal writings she knew well the agony of the liminal space of G-d’s silence. Some have seen her words as a crisis of faith. In truth, if any Scripture more profoundly affirms a loving and beloved G-d, they would be the Psalms; yet, the Psalms also express an intense and great anguish at G-d’s seeming silence and inactivity in connection with human suffering.

Why do You hide Your face
And forget our affliction and our oppression?
For our soul has sunk down into the dust;
Our body cleaves to the earth.
Rise up, be our help,
And redeem us for the sake of Your lovingkindness.
Psalm 44:24-26

How long, O Lord? Will You forget me forever?
How long will You hide Your face from me?
How long shall I take counsel in my soul,
Having sorrow in my heart all the day?
How long will my enemy be exalted over me?
Psalm 13:1-2

Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am in distress;
My eye is wasted away from grief, my soul and my body also.
For my life is spent with sorrow And my years with sighing;
My strength has failed because of my iniquity,
And my body has wasted away.
Psalm 31:9-10

We know the embrace of G-ds Love, the warmth of His Light, the gentleness of His Compassion,the  wholeness of His Shalom… So how do we make sense of the silence of a G-d who loves in view of all the suffering and evil in the world? The liminal space of G-d’s silence in the place of suffering is one of the most tortured spaces for people of faith. It is a space that can feel not only like a horrible estrangement with our Beloved, but a betrayal by Him also.

One of our gravest mistakes is to take G-d’s silence as passivity. G-d’s silence is, as Rav Kook tells us, that place “in which entire worlds are built.” G-d’s silence is often the speaking that is louder than words. It is the place where we wrestle and, as with Jacob, grab hold and say, “Abba, I will not let You go until you bless me.” Without a doubt it is the place in which we have the deepest and most intense connection with and love for G-d. It is the place we encounter G-d and we come out changed.

Another mistake is to attribute the suffering and evil of the world as caused by the silence of a G-d who says, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Evil is not caused by G-d’s silence but by men who do not listen.

But why doesn’t G-d intervene? We read in the Psalms of a loving G-d who could step in but at times doesn’t. As we know and we know and we know, G-d is compassionate, loving, good… So, “Why not?” is a puzzle.

On this side of eternity there are unanswerable questions, unanswerable evils, unanswerable pains, and unanswerable sufferings. Scripture does not provide a final resolution to these questions; we face an unsolvable mystery.

However, Rabbi Abraham Heschel tells us, “…there is meaning beyond mystery. That holiness conquers absurdity. And without holiness, we will sink into absurdity.”

G-d, and not imponderable evil [or unanswerable pain and suffering], must have the last word.** And His Word to us is promise and hope:

He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.
Revelation 21:4

Your sun will never set again, and your moon will wane no more; the Lord will be your everlasting light, and your days of sorrow will end.
Isaiah 60:20

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There will be a time of total revelation but for now – at times – there is no miraculous healing, no being pulled from the storm, no being plucked from the fire. Sometimes G-d’s answer to us is ‘a voice of thin silence’*** – but in that silence, we find G-d, and He has never been so close.

Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble at them, for the Lord your God is the one who goes with you. He will not fail you or forsake you.
Deuteronomy 31:6

 

Trust G-d with His silence, for out of His eternal silence has come immeasurable richness!

Out of his eternal silence G-d spoke the Word, and through this Word created… the world. In the beginning G-d spoke the land, the sea, and the sky. He spoke the sun, the moon, and the stars. He spoke plants, birds, fish, animals wild and tame. Finally, he spoke man and woman. Then, in the fullness of time, G-d’s Word, through whom all had been created, became flesh and gave power to all who believe to become the children of G-d. In all this, the Word of G-d does not break the silence of G-d, but rather unfolds the immeasurable richness of his silence. ****

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~ Cindy Elliott

Footnotes:

* Abraham Joshua Heschel, Moral Grandeur and Spiritual Audacity: Essays, pg 16

** Marvin Wilson, Exploring Our Hebraic Heritage

*** In 1 Kings 19:12 we read about G-d speaking to Elijah not in the strong wind, not in the earthquake, not in the fire but in the qol demamah daqah – the still thin voice. Qol is voice, demamah can be translated still or silent, daqah can be translated small or thin.

**** Henry Nouwen and Robert Durback, Seeds of Hope: a Henry Nouwen Reader

Photo Credits:

Top – rgbstock.com

MIddle – alphacoders.com

The Liminal Space of SEA AND SAND ~ Keren Hannah Pryor

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I grew up near the sea. Though far from it now, my mind sometimes wanders to the sandy beaches and the rockpools of my younger days. The ocean offers a rich retreat when you can take it, whether physically or on a flight of imagination.

Daily life in the modern world seems to have spun out of control with its endless choices and demands. The flood of entertainment and instant communication bombards us with constant distractions. All this can be left behind when you visit the ocean. The seashore has a beauty and character of its own. It reflects both simplicity and splendor.

The strong rhythm of the waves draws one into the primeval harmony of Creation – the dawn of time. The external harmony induces an inner peaceful rhythm in one’s soul. A gentle mantle of grace enfolds as you begin to settle into the simplicity of the ocean’s moods and mysteries.

Such is the peace of sea and sand. Sunlit waves sparkle and gently lap the shore. Scurrying crabs leave delicate patterns on the smooth, wave-swept sand.  Seagulls swoop and squawk. Children run and splash and laugh. Soft sand replaces hard pavement. Time slows down. Solitude envelops. The material, driving, masculine tempo of life yields and gives way to the feminine flow of beauty, spirit and heart.

In this space one can take time to be still; to feed the soul. Embraced by the beauty and splendor of God’s creativity, one can be more inwardly attentive and allow one’s natural gifts, however humble, to have creative expression. Sketching, writing, carving, photography, poetry, prayer, music!  Quietly, you can find and give voice to your own unique, inner song.

Here at the threshold, the limen, of sea and sand, of solid earth and fluidity, with all its beauty and hidden dangers, we find reflections of our lives. The peace and stillness when the moon bestows its silver light on the water’s surface; the glowing beauty of sunrise and sunset, all serve to draw the soul to deeper places of contemplation.

Then there are days, seasons, of tempestuousness. Wild, crashing waves. The salt-sprayed wind bites and brings tears to your eyes. Bundled up against its buffeting, you trudge the sand. Yet, your soul soars as you wonder at the wildness – the power and majesty of the ocean.

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With care, we are able to explore and delight in the ocean’s wonders but we cannot live for long in the depths of this water-world. We can, however, gratefully receive the sea-borne gifts washed up to our feet by the waves. The unbidden treasures of uniquely designed shells, sunbaked driftwood, glass worn smooth; each with a story and mystery of its own.

So, too, is the world of the spirit – the spiritual realm. We can explore and contemplate its depths and beauty, and receive its gifts, yet we remain grounded on the shore with its practical solidity, and with its sometimes shifting sands. We learn the designs of our Creator from the rhythms of the spirit – the need for Shabbat and His appointed times,  times of respite to draw apart from the routine demands of the ordinary and material and to turn our focus more fully upon Him and the mysteries and wonder of His Creation.

We need set apart time to be still and to meditate upon the value and blessings of the precious gifts of life He gives. And so we must do, until the day a gentle wave gathers us up and carries us into the glorious and timeless expanse of eternity – of which we now have only a glimpse.

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~Keren Hannah


* Photo credits:
Top and center: Taryn Daley Miller, Siesta Key, Sarasota, Florida.
Bottom: Karen Barenschi, Cape Town, South Africa


ENCOUNTERS in Liminal Space ~ Keren Hannah Pryor

We may consider liminal space as a threshold, that place where one is neither here nor there – the space between a starting point and a destination. It is of interest to study the encounters with liminal spaces in the lives of the Patriarchs – the fathers of our faith.

Liminal space, usually, is a place of great vulnerability; as we see when God called our father Abraham to set out from his home “…to a land you know not.” He had a starting point but not a destination. That was the risk and challenge he faced – the not knowing. However, he knew the voice of God and that provided him with courage and the faith he needed to endure the journey into the unknown.

Jacob, too, undertook an unexpected journey from his home in BeerSheva, in the Land promised to his father, Isaac, when he was forced to flee from the murderous wrath of his brother Esau. Although he knew his destination – Padan Aram, where others of Abraham’s family were settled – Jacob had little idea of what awaited him there or the dangers he might face on the way. As we know, he reached his destination safely, married his beloved wife Rachel, and her sister Leah, and worked for their father, the scheming Laban, for twenty years until God released him to return to his homeland. The challenge, on his return journey, was the need to once again face his brother Esau.

Traversing the liminal spaces of both journeys, at his most vulnerable moments, he has his greatest visions and experiences dramatic encounters with God. On his first journey we read, “Hu yifgah ba’makom. – He came upon a place” (Gen. 10:11). The Hebrew word yifgah carries a much stronger meaning: He collided with a place!  It’s a forceful encounter that stops him in his tracks. The sun is setting and he decides to rest there for the night and sleeps with a stone as his pillow.

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Here he has his dream – a glorious vision of a ladder reaching from earth to heaven and angels of God ascending and descending upon it. The Lord appears above the ladder and confirms His promises to Abraham and Isaac, saying: “The land upon which you lie, I will give to your descendants.” And, “…in your seed all the families of earth will be blessed.”  He also promises Jacob, “Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this Land.”

When he awakens, Jacob realizes the place is of profound importance and proclaims: “How awesome is this place – HaMakom! This is none other than the House of God; this is the gate of Heaven(Gen. 28:12-17). He names the place Bethel – house of God. It was situated on the mount of Moriah, meaning ‘God is my teacher,’ which later would be called Har Ha’Bayit, the Mount of the House (of God); the Temple Mount. Jacob now trusts that God will preserve him, provide for his needs, and would return him to his homeland.

What of his second journey – the journey home? He indeed has prospered and built for himself a large family and is the owner of many cattle and sheep. His fear, now, is the inevitable encounter with his fiery brother Esau. Is his life still in danger from Esau’s hatred and revenge? Before crossing the border, Jacob prays to God, positions his family and takes necessary precautions. The night before the meeting he has another lone encounter when “…an unknown Man wrestled with him until the breaking of the day” (Gen. 32:24). Jacob prevails and the man says, “Let me go for the day breaks!” Jacob demands a blessing and, before he disappears, the Man proclaims,

Your name shall no longer be Jacob, but Israel, for you have struggled with God and with man, and have prevailed.

Jacob, again, is struck with awe and names the place Peniel, “For I have seen God face to face and my life is preserved.” (32:30)

He now can go forward with courage and also with a great humility that defuses any anger that may remain in his brother. Esau embraces him lovingly and they weep together. Jacob then returns safely to the land of his fathers and buys land near the town of Shechem (where the bones of his precious son, Joseph, eventually would be buried). He erects an altar there and calls it, El Elohei Yisrael, God is the God of Israel.

Jacob’s encounters, in the lonely liminal spaces of his life, have bequeathed to the generations following, and to all the world, great foundational truths of God. Firstly, the place of His House, where He has chosen to place His Name and will dwell among man forever. And, secondly, the knowledge that He is the God of Israel – the God who will work out His plan of Redemption for all mankind through the children of Israel, who have and will survive and prevail and see God’s promise to Jacob fulfilled, that “…in you and in your Seed (the Messiah) all the families of the earth will be blessed.”

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Our individual spiritual journeys and growth can only be made alone. It is a personal quest no-one else can undertake for us. We have to go it alone! From Jacob we learn, however, that when we are alone, in the darkness of a challenging situation, we can encounter the glorious reality and the profound promises of God. Knowing and trusting His Presence with us, we can be strengthened as Jacob was. We can rise up and go forward in confidence, with humble faith that we will survive and, ultimately, will overcome and prevail.

In this context, of Jacob and Israel and our spiritual journey through life, a meaningful application can be made of words spoken in 1910 by Theodore Roosevelt, during a speech at the Sorbonne in Paris.

It is not the critic who counts, nor the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.

The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly;

who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, great devotions;

who spends himself in a worthy cause;

who at best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who, at worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat. *

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~Keren Hannah

* Quoted by Rabbi Jonathan Sacks in his book, Lessons in Leadership, 34

The Liminal Space of BLESSING ~ Keren Hannah Pryor

The threshold between living in a state of blessedness and one of curse is the place of awareness and choice. When we become caught up in the rushed tempo of modern life, it becomes extremely difficult to take the time to pause, to be aware, to listen attentively in order to make the right choices and gratefully to receive the blessings offered us. We need to become present and attentive enough, moment by moment, to recognize the blessings that constantly surround us.

Generally, we do recognize and celebrate the great, clear blessings, such as the birth of a baby, the wedding of loved ones, personal achievements or the success of an undertaking. These are peaks of blessing, as it were, but they do not carry us through the valleys of our daily existence. Here, we must choose to live and walk in grace and blessing or under the curse of anger and resentment. In making the choice for blessing, we awaken our capacity to receive blessing and, in turn, to bless others.

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The word ‘blessing’ in Latin is benedicere meaning, literally, good or well (bene) speaking (dictio) – speaking well or saying good things. Saying good things to, or of, someone is the most significant affirmation we can offer them. A true blessing, however, is more than a word of praise or admiration of their talents. It goes deeper; to the very heart of a person. It affirms their being beloved – they are Beloved of God and beloved in your sight. Henri Nouwen describes this blessing well:

The blessings that we gve to each other are expressions of the blessing that rests on us from all eternity. It is the deepest affirmation of our true self.

It is not enough to be chosen. We also need the ongoing blessing that allows us to hear in an ever new way that we belong to a loving God who will never leave us alone, but will remind us always that we are guided by love on every step of our lives.*

In that liminal space experienced by Yeshua, of the emergence from the mikveh of the waters of the Jordan River, representing the state of death – dying to the past and birthing into the new, He burst through into light and life and heard the voice of the Father proclaim His blessing from Heaven: “You are my Beloved Son, on you My favor rests!”

There are, essentially, only two voices speaking as we traverse our days in this world – that of Love,  Truth, and Peace, the voice of God, and that of Hatred, Lies, and Fear, the voice of the enemy of God. We choose to hear the Father of Love or the father of Lies – the voice of blessings or the voice of curses. The latter is loud, noisy, clamoring for attention and, in its forceful persistence, its lies may be easy to believe. However, it calls forth only darkness, destruction and death. The voice of blessing never forces itself and yet it constantly is there, true and deep, calling forth light and life. We are surrounded with gentle reminders of :

“…that beautiful, strong, but hidden, voice of the One who calls us by name and speaks good things about us.”**

Knowing you are chosen and a “blessed one” in the eyes of God, enables you to walk through this world and offer blessing to others. As His blessing heals our own brokenness, we can allow it to flow naturally to the brokenness in others who yearn for a reminder that they too are uniquely created, of great value, and beloved by God.

The Hebrew word for blessing is bracha  – ברכה. The Scriptures are as filled with brachot as a pomegranate is filled to bursting with its glowing seeds. One of the most powerful blessings is spoken to this day over the people of Israel by the kohanim (priests)  –  the Aaronic Benediction (Numbers 6:24-26):

The Lord bless you and keep you;
the Lord make his face to shine upon you
and be gracious to you;
the Lord lift up his countenance upon you
and give you peace.

Saying a blessing in recognition of the many blessings of God [YHWH – HaShem] is a deeply ingrained Jewish practice. Every Shabbat evening a husband speaks blessing over his wife and parents over their children. A hundred times a day Orthodox Jews proclaim blessing of the Holy One, blessed be He. God is blessed, for example, for His provision of bread, wine, food, fruit, for the first blossoms of Spring, for the new day, on seeing the ocean, and even, the most difficult to say, on hearing the tragic news of a death. Baruch Dayan Emet. “Blessed be the True Judge.” *** The conversations of Jewish people, whether secular or religious, are peppered with, Baruch HaShem!  “Praise God!” or, literally, “Bless the Name!”

Another Hebrew word from the same root as bracha is livroch – to kneel or bend the knee. Kneeling is a form of submission, e.g., in honor of royalty. Knights of old knelt before the king or queen to receive the status of knighthood – of service to the monarch. We too need to be in a position of yielding to our King in order to receive the blessing He desires to bestow. Kneeling also requires a cessation of movement, of walking. We need to pause in stillness, as in prayer, to receive a blessing.

Our world today is dark with the curses of war, violence, hatred and misery. It longs to hear the voice of blessing and truth. When spoken, it can bring down fortresses of falsity. We must not choose negativity, helplessness or indifference. These betray our true identity as chosen and beloved of God. Every word of truth, hope and encouragement is a blessing spoken. It has an effect and carries the possibility of healing and transformation.

Please, let us always remember the voice of the One who says, “You are My beloved.”
May we receive the tenderness and power conveyed in the love these words hold. Then, as we go forward, may we be attentively present at the threshold of every moment in order to receive its blessing and to pass on blessing to others.

 

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~Keren Hannah

Footnotes:  

  • Henri J.M. Nouwen, The Life of the Beloved, 59
  • Ibid.; 66
  • Lewis Glinert, The Joys of Hebrew, 28

What is a LIMINAL SPACE?

 

Welcome to THE LIMINAL SPACE 
– A Place That Is Not Business As Usual

What is a liminal space? The dictionary defines a limen as a threshold. A liminal space, therefore, is a circumstance within a space of time that is situated at the limen – the place where one condition is drawing to a close and another is beginning.

Anthropologist Arthur Turner captures the essence of liminality with the phrase Betwixt and Between.

Betwixt and Between – neither here nor there – that place between sixes and sevens. Uncomfortable and confusing, liminal space is the space between what was and what will be. It is, as Professor Neil Gillman so wonderfully describes, the Mezuzah moment** – neither entirely in, nor entirely out.

Liminality is often the dwelling place of one who loves G-d. With its fluid borders it is the place where Heaven and earth, life and death, joy and sorrow, ecstasy and despair, sleep and waking, commingle.

Poet, Shel Silverstein alludes to it thus: *

There is a place where the sidewalk ends
And before the street begins,
And there the grass grows soft and white,
And there the sun burns crimson bright,
And there the moon-bird rests from his flight
To cool in the peppermint wind.

Let us leave this place where the smoke blows black
And the dark street winds and bends,
Past the pits where the asphalt flowers grow.
We shall walk with a walk that is measured and slow,
And watch where the chalk-white arrows go
To the place where the sidewalk ends.

Yes we’ll walk with a walk that is measured and slow,
And we’ll go where the chalk-white arrows go,
For the children, they mark, and the children, they know
The place where the sidewalk ends.

 

sidewalk ends*

 

The in-between liminal spaces of Scripture are pregnant with the possibilities of G-d:
Noah and his family rebuilding the world after the flood; Abraham holding the knife above Isaac; Jacob’s struggle with the angel; Joseph in the pit; Moses’ time in Midian; Moses and the Israelites at the edge of the Reed Sea; Israel in the wilderness; Joshua crossing the Jordan; Yeshua suffering on the tree; Miryam mi’Migdala at His tomb in the garden; the disciples waiting in Jerusalem…
Scripture indeed is fraught with liminal moments – moments of imminent expectation, infused with both hope and doubt, that lead to transformation and change.

Change involves tension and for those of us who have embarked on, or are seeking, a paradigm shift in thinking through the understanding and appreciation of the Hebraic mindset – we know that tension all too well. Often that tension comes in the form of a multitude of voices.

Here in The Liminal Space we strive to hear, contemplate and dialogue for the sake of Heaven – guided by One voice.

Your ears will hear a word behind you, “This is the way, walk in it…” (Isaiah 30:21a)

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

G-d speaks to us through His Words –  Devarim. We truly ‘hear’ His Divrei Torah – the words of Torah (teaching or instruction) when we hear them, study them, obey them.  The prophet Ezekiel and the apostle John both spoke of that “voice” behind you — in the background:

Then the Spirit lifted me up, and I heard a great rumbling sound behind me, “Blessed be the glory of the Lord in His place.” (Ezekiel 3:12)

I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet…  (Revelation 1:10 )

That voice in the background – the Word of G-d.

 

For a people who want answers now and love absolutes, it is difficult to wait on the threshold; to be fluid – changing but not yet changed, and to live with the tension of ambiguity. Liminal space is a vulnerable place and it is a sacred space. Colored by twilight (that time between sunset and dusk and between dawn and sunrise), liminal space is the threshold to a new day or the dawn of a new light. In view of eternity, our life on this earth is but a limen, a threshold.

Thank you for joining us here as a fellow sojourner. To further explore The Liminal Space, please browse the selection of articles offered.

Keren and Cindy

Footnotes

* Shel Silverstein – The Place Where The Sidewalk Ends
** A mezuzah is placed literally on the threshold of a door, marking the entrance of your home. Professor Neil Gillman wrote of liminality as Mezuzzah moments – not just marking the liminal moments but sanctifying them:

Mezuzzot mark the move from home to away,
Maariv the change to night from day;
Through the chuppa we pass, “alone” now “together,”
Havdalah – holy to ordinary, whatever the weather.