The Liminal Space of BEAUTY ~ Cindy Elliott



Life is such a beautiful paradox.
There is no intimacy without mystery.
There is nothing to be valued if everything lies in your hands.
There is no knowledge until you loosen your grasp.
And there is no beauty until beauty conceals herself. [1]
~ Tzvi Freeman

True beauty is like a sublime breath of Heaven; like a burst of crisp, clean, thin mountain air that leaves one new to this elevated height breathless. It awakens the soul and overwhelms our entire being. It is what Tzvi Freeman calls, “A window on infinity.” It is only fully appreciated, fully seen, and fully experienced through surrender. And when you do surrender, this beauty moves you into a new space of belonging.

Beauty contains an element of the eternal. Rabbi Sholom Dovber wrote that beauty is, …“the essence of the Infinite Light extended into creation.” [2]  Think of a wondrous landscape – one that overwhelms and stills your heart, brings quiet to your thoughts and wraps your soul with belonging. That – is – beauty.

An act of kindness, the laughter of a child, a much needed hug, the unconditional love of a parent, tears, innocence, music that overwhelms your soul, the wonder of birth, a homecoming… all issue forth the fragrance of beauty. And our own simple acts of beauty – of loving kindness and compassion – they have infinite potential for releasing wellsprings of healing and creating a new space of life and belonging for others. 

Beauty surprises, at times turning shadow into day – darkness into light. It can be realized in both birth and death; more often in imperfection than perfection; as much in grief as in joy. How can death emanate a fragrance of beauty? Or grief be filled with its essence?
Can the imperfect really be more beautiful than the perfect? Maybe dark beauty, that which seems to form from the shadows, is an opportunity for faithfulness to transcend seemingly irreconcilable tensions. Maybe it is as Hermann Broch says, “The sadness and despair of beauty laid bare.” When first wounded we do tend to pull inside ourselves, to hide – and we do need a time to let the sting calm down. But there comes a  time for healing. A time to bring our hurts and wounds out of the darkness and into the light. 

You are altogether beautiful, my love; and there is no blemish in you.
Song of Solomon 4:7

The other day I was wandering along the shore collecting shells, rocks, and sticks – treasures for future creations. Each touch would stir thoughts of possiblities. I was surprised when I realized that the broken pieces called out the loudest to me. In my mixed media I love to use natural material – and it is the fractured pieces that are the most precious to me in my creating. The imperfections, the blemishes – these are really what add a depth and interest to my work. This brings to mind the first tablets, etched by the finger of G-d, broken but held precious and placed next to the second set in the holy Ark. Brokenness and wholeness – side by side in the Holy of Holies. Rabbi Eliyahu de Vidas (16th century) taught that the Ark is a symbol of the human heart – brokenness and wholeness – side by side.

Leviticus 11:33 tells us that an earthen vessel that becomes tamei (impure) must be broken. Mishnah Kelim 2:1 explains:

Vessels of wood, vessels of leather, vessels of bone or vessels of glass that are flat are clean. And those that form a receptacle are unclean. If they were broken they become clean again. If one remade them into vessels they are susceptible to uncleanness henceforth. [However] when broken they become clean.

We are beings of the earth, vessels of clay. And we all are broken. Each and every one of us has a crack or two. Leonard Cohen wrote, “There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.” Infinite Light extended into His creation.

art of the preicous

Rabbi Erica Asch tells us the story [4] of Ashikaga Yoshimasa:

In the 15th century in Japan, military commander Ashikaga Yoshimasa broke one of his beautiful Chinese tea bowls. He sent it back to China for repairs. Disappointed with the shoddy repair job, some say it was put together with metal staples, Yoshimasa challenged Japanese craftsmen to look for a more beautiful method of repair. The craftsmen examined the bowl and decided not to hide the cracks. Instead, they highlighted them, using gold seams to repair the broken bowl. The art of Kintsugi was born.

Kintsugi turns brokenness into art, making cracks and blemishes beautiful. It is an extension of the Japanese value of wabi-sabi, finding beauty in that which is damaged or imperfect. With this method of repair, the service of an object does not end when it is broken. Instead, the break becomes an essential – and beautiful – part of the life and story of the object. There is beauty in the brokenness.

The art of Kintsugi speaks of the beauty of living a life of authenticity. Of courage and honesty. Of openness and truth. Of the beauty of imperfection over perfection. It reflects that the deepest beauty emanates not from our outward appearance but radiates from our soul. We tend to think of brokenness as something ‘less than’ but the truth is the beauty in brokenness is one that overwhelms. Brokenness is holy and as broken vessels of clay we are each one of us infinitely precious in the eyes of our Abba.  

In Scripture the Jewish people are called Tzvaot Hashem, the army of G-d (Exodus 7:4). Tzava, army, is derived from the root Tzivyon, beauty [3] – Tzivyon Hashem, the beauty of G-d. We are indeed His greatest masterpiece (Ephesians 2:10) – formed and knitted together in our mother’s womb by the hands of our Creator (Psalm 139:13-16) and to Him we are beautiful and of priceless worth.

Abba, embrace us with your beauty. Give us eyes to see the world bathed in the infinite and to search for the latent beauty in every soul. Abba sensitize our heart to see your strokes of beauty throughout all of your creation and to never fear the beauty that forms from the shadows. Abba, surprise us and move us toward new thresholds and into an even deeper and more intimate belonging in you.
Todah rabah, thank you Abba.


* image from Kintugi

1. “For something to be beautiful, such as a tree, or a song, it must force you to attempt to resolve some conflict, often between order and chaos, or tension and resolution. If the conflict is an irresolvable paradox, the beauty lasts forever. And that’s the sort of beauty of which life is made.” Tzvi Freeman
2. Shared by Tzvi Freeman, Is Beauty Truth?
3. See and example of this in Isaiah 28:1, Isaiah 28:4 – beauty, desire, glory.
4. Rabbi Erica Asch, Beauty in the Brokenness

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

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 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.


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, 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.

The Liminal Space of ALIYAH   –  Debra Elfassy

“The relationship between G-d and man changes when man ascends
to the Land of Israel.” (Martin Buber)

During the latter part of the 19th Century there began a rustling in the tops of the mulberry trees; the gentle winds of Aliyah began stirring. Man and nature knew that something momentous was about to happen. The long, dark chapter of Jewish exile was about to end as G-d looked down on his people and said, “It is time.” During the two thousand years of persecution and horror in the nations where they’d been scattered, the House of Israel had been reduced to a valley of dry bones. Now the Spirit of G-d was hovering over the valley as it had hovered over the waters of Creation.

Behold, I will cause breath to enter into you, and ye shall live: And I will lay sinews upon you, and will bring flesh upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and ye shall live. (Ezekiel 37:5,6)

The world looked on, an astonished witness to the ascending of the Jewish people from their graves in the nations as the words of Ezekiel became a reality:

There was a noise and a shaking as bone joined to bone, as sinews and flesh clung to them and skin covered them, but there was as yet no strength in them. Come from the four winds O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live. (Ezekiel 37:7-9)

The Spirit of G-d filled them, and they stood upon their feet, a great army.

It was as if a nation clapped its hands and a door swung open. These Jews, so used to ‘crossing over,’ now crossed over from wandering to belonging; from exile to inheriting. But the Land that welcomed them lay as desolate and orphaned as the people; the land was a graveyard of rocks and stones, “a land not sown.”

~ Early Pioneers

The words of the Prophets echoed across the barren landscape:  Fear not, O land: be glad and rejoice; for the Lord will do great things.” (Joel 2:21) … “‘They shall build the waste places; and they shall plant vineyards…they shall also make gardens, and eat the fruit of them. And I will plant them upon their land…which I have given them,’ saith the Lord thy G-d.” (Amos 9:14,15)


The first of the Aliyot began in the late 1800s when some 30 families left Yemen. In addition, some seven thousand Jews left eastern Europe for Palestine during a wave of pogroms. They called themselves ‘BILU’ – ביל״ו, from the Bible verse Isaiah 2:5: Beit Ya’akov Lekhu v’nelikha b’ohr HaShem. “House of Jacob, come let us walk in the light of the Lord!”

What began as a trickle soon became a stream as Jews heard and responded to the shofar call to return to Zion. Only two years after Independence, every third person who walked the streets of the newborn State had returned after May 14, 1948. They came – the young and the old; the strong and the sick; pregnant women, and children nearly blinded by trachoma. Together with the traumatized masses who had survived the ravages of the Shoah and displaced persons’ camps of Europe, came Jews from the ghetto gutters of North Africa who had been uprooted from the ancient Jewish communities of the Maghreb. Some came on foot across the blistering sands of the Yemen and Arabian deserts; others came on the ‘wings of eagles’ like Operation Magic Carpet that carried some 50,000 Yemenite Jews to Eretz Israel. Still others others came in rusty, barely seaworthy vessels, carrying their ‘illegal’ human cargo to the shores of Zion under the threat of the British blockade. Had there ever been such a stream of people returning to their ancient homeland in so short a time?


One of these new olim was a young boy, not yet fourteen, named Yoseph from Fes, Morocco.

He found himself, one day, standing on the platform of the train station; one of a crowd of bewildered children bidding farewell to not only his family, but also his past. Another Abram. Amid the jostling and commotion and tearful goodbyes, Yoseph’s Savta pressed a sandwich and a tiny wrapped parcel into his hands. The train whistle blew, the locomotive billowed clouds of smoke as it pulled out of the station, and Yoseph found himself, too abruptly, a boy alone. Close to tears, and with no appetite, he unfurled the wrapping of Savta’s love-gift. He saw a beautiful silver fork, knife and spoon set that , in the years to come, would always remind him of his childhood home in Fes. Many years later, that young boy was to become my husband, and that little cutlery set my treasure.

The steam locomotive chugged along with its precious human cargo, heading for the port of Casablanca where the bewildered children would be met by a Jewish Agency emissary from the Aliyat Hanoar Department( Youth Aliyah) who would accompany them on a ship headed for Marseilles, France. When the ship docked in Marseilles, they would be accompanied to temporary transit locations; ‘collection points’, so to speak, while they awaited the arrival of the ship that would carry them to their final destination, Eretz Yisrael. The children soon made friends, knit together by the trauma and excitement of their journey; friendships that would last a lifetime. Yoseph’s sojourn in France was spent at an orphanage in Montpelier.


One fine day a rather rickety ship, the ‘Negba,’ docked in Marseilles and the dream became a reality. The family of children set sail for Naples, Italy and then for Piraeus, Cyprus where other children joined their ranks on the holy adventure. The ‘Negba’ was now carrying three hundred and three children from the lands of Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia, France, Brazil, Algeria, America and Holland to their beckoning ancient land, now pregnant with future promise.

On the 8th April,1952, a beautiful spring day, the Negba approached the harbor of Haifa, a stone-stepped city huddling against the biblical Mount Carmel. For Yoseph it was love at first sight; and the realization of G-d’s promise to His people: “Rise up my love, and come away…the winter is past…the flowers appear on the earth…the time of the singing of birds is come…the fig tree putteth forth her green figs, and the vines with the tender grape give their fragrance.” (Song of Songs 2:10-13) After completing the required customs and quarantine inspections, Yoseph and his companions spent their first night in the Promised Land in an immigrant house high on Mount Carmel.

~ Yossi’s Teudat Zeut – Oleh identity card


The following day the youths were met by emissaries representing the new farming communities in Israel, called kibbutzim, who then accompanied each respective group to a ma’abarah or transit camp. Yoseph’s group was selected to go to Kfar Giladi, a kibbutz high up in the north of Israel overlooking the Hula Valley, which straddled the Lebanese border. On their arrival they were greeted with songs and spartan wooden tables bursting with the crops of the Land; a mini-wedding between the Land and her returnees. They were like dreamers, their mouths filled with laughter and their tongues with songs of joy.

~ At Kfar Giladi – Yossi on the left wearing a hat.

They soon learned, however, that this newfound freedom did not come without price. These northern settlements faced constant attacks by Arab marauders and armed gangs who stole their produce and set their fields on fire. They learned that for the Jew in Israel, land meant life and no land meant death; and that Israel was a Jewish island in the midst of a hostile Arab sea. The kibbutz transformed its new halutzim (pioneers) into a new type of man: tillers of the soil in peace and fighters in war.

The dream and aims of the kibbutz movement were to reclaim the Land, restore it to its previous fertility and, also, to restore to the Jewish people its national life, language and culture. Its principles of freedom and equality united all of Israel into one big family. Members ate their meals together in the communal dining room; their children slept together in childrens’ houses. By day Yoseph and his friends joined the seasoned kibbutzniks and toiled the fields, drained the malarial marshes and lifted boulders with their bare hands.  In the evenings they would gather for lectures and poetry recitations, or join in the communal singing and dancing of the hora beneath the stars.

Hebrew, the Language of the Book, used in the Diaspora only for studying the Sacred Scriptures, now became the daily language of the People of the Book. The tongue of Solomon’s love songs and Moses’ Torah became the language of the new State – of bus drivers and street sweepers and statesmen. It was the language now used to buy bread and sugar and shoes.


After a suitable period of adjustment, Yoseph, now affectionately called Yossi, and his fellows were sent to the Mikveh Yisrael agricultural institution in Holon, near Tel Aviv, where young Jewish olim were schooled in all fields of Zionist activity, agriculture, and defence. Founded in 1870, its name was taken from two passages in Jeremiah, 14:8 and 17:13. The goal of Mikveh Yisrael was to equip these young boys and girls to establish villages and settlements all over Israel and to help the desert to blossom as a rose.

~ Mikveh Yisrael Agricultural Institution

From Mikveh Yisrael Yossi was absorbed into his new permanent home, Kibbutz Ein-Gev on the yonder shore of Lake Kinneret. Located at the foot of ancient Susita, and nestling in the shadow of the towering Golan Heights, Kibbutz Ein- Gev came under constant Syrian bombardment. Yossi was ‘adopted’ into a kibbutz family and it was not long after that he, together with other boys in his kvutza, became Bar Mitzva. These were the days of tsenna (austerity) when strict rationing was a way of life and all that each young man was given as a Bar Mitzvah gift were a lollipop and a Sefer Torah.

~ Early photograph of Ein Gev

~ Looking across the Kinneret towards Ein Gev from Tiberias

These young pioneers were idealistic men and women of the soil and cared not for material things; even the clothes they wore were shared. They owned nothing, yet lacked nothing. How good and pleasant it was back then when brethren dwelt together in unity. When Yossi wasn’t toiling in the banana and date plantations or milking cows in the reffet, he was baking bread and braided challot for Shabbat in the communal kitchen. He remembers the singing of the songs of Zion around the bonfires of an evening and the long hours of keeping guard under possible sniper fire in the dead of night. He also remembers the endless wars; losing his friends; captaining the boat that would carry wounded IDF soldiers from the Golan across the Kinneret to the hospital in Tiberias. He remembers his long conversations with David Ben Gurion, Moshe Dayan, Yigal Allon. The honey and the thorn; the bitter and the sweet. But most of all he remembers celebrating Chaim – Life.

God’s great gift to Israel is the Land and the firstfruits of His increase. (Jeremiah 2:3)  Zion is the centre of His world-plan, and the goal of its fruitfulness is the salvation of the whole world. The fruit will come when the Jews come home.                                        (Martin Buber)


~ Debra and Yossi

~ Yossi, 2017, lighting the hannukiah lights



Aliyah (plural Aliyot)

Bar Mitzva – literally ‘a son of the commandment.’  When a Jewish boy turns 13 a ceremony is held in celebration of his “taking on the yoke of the Torah.” He comes of age to take responsibility for continued study and obedience to G-d’s Word.

challah (plural – challot) special braided bread for Shabbat

Diaspora – lands of exile outside of Israel

Eretz Yisrael – The Land of Israel

hora – a circle folk dance

kibbutz (plural – kibbutzim) – a collective farming community

Kinneret – Sea of Galilee

kvutza – group

oleh (plural – olim) – immigrant who has made Aliyah to Israel

reffet – cowshed

Sefer Torah – A Tanach – the Hebrew Scriptures

Shoah – the Holocaust

Savta – grandmother

The Liminal Space of CHANGE – Keren Hannah

Change, arguably, is the most constant and unchangeable element of life and yet is one that we find difficult to embrace. Much natural change often goes by unnoticed. Old age creeps upon us slowly. Relationships can sadly wither and fade away due to lack of awareness and attention. Sunrise and sunsets come and go without our giving their beauty and passing due recognition. Some changes, however, rise up before us and demand our engagement and conscious participation. Loss of a job, a physical relocation, an illness, a death, or, more happily, a marriage or a birth. All these are upheavals of a sort and need great conscious readjustments of lifestyle. Often a possible change requires a decision on our part. Do we accept the challenge and make the change…or not? These changes involve risk. To succeed we need the courage to take the risk, to have the will to learn.  We also need enough humility to admit to failure if that results, and, in which case, we need the determination to recover, to try again, and to keep going.

This liminal place of change –  the recognition, decision making, uncertainty, and adaptive challenge, is one we all pass through many times. Sometimes there are no simple, painless solutions to changes and they require that we learn new ways – a change of attitude, of perspective, and of behavior. We have to sift through what to keep and what to discard in order to face the challenge and to go forward as productively as possible.

One of the most dramatic biblical illustrations of change is the passage of the redeemed Israelite slaves through the towering walls of water as God parted the Reed Sea before them. They had to make the decision to go forward in faith and trust in the God who had revealed His presence and power to them in their place of bondage. Now they needed to learn to take individual responsibility for their decisions and actions. After generations of living under the dictatorship of Pharaoh, God was now inviting them to become His partners in His ongoing work and purposes. In other words, a slave-minded people needed to renew their ability to trust authority and to become self-governing at the same time.

We can learn from the principles of adaptability and positive change that enabled the Israelite community to survive, and to flourish and thrive. Rather than independence, they learned, it required interdependence – the humility to know that we need, with God’s help and guidance, to continue to learn and grow together. Did they fail at times? Of course they did. Do we fail at times? Of course we do. Winston Churchill once said, “Success is going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.” We must learn from our mistakes, recover from them, and go forward knowing we are stronger as a result. 

The key element of learning and growing, of coping with change, whether in the life of an individual, a community, or a people, is the fact that God gifted us with the tools we need in His Torah – His Word – His teaching, instruction, and guidance. Rabbi Jonathan Sacks has described three types of knowledge. The knowledge you learn from books, that which you learn from teachers, and that which you learn from life. The important thing is to be in active dialog with God’s Torah in each of these areas; to affirm that there is only one guiding voice and that is the voice of our Father in Heaven. Our lives should be in harmony with the will of God as expressed in His Word. Just as Yeshua himself said, ““Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise.” (John 5:18-19). And, “…I do nothing on my own authority, but speak just as the Father taught me. And He who sent me is with me. He has not left me alone, for I always do the things that are pleasing to Him” (John 8:28-29). Yeshua was the perfect embodiment of the Torah of God and was one with the Father’s will. 

Rabbi Sacks compares this unity to the musical term ‘counterpoint,’ which is defined in the American Heritage Dictionary as: “The technique of combining two or more melodic lines in such a way that they establish a harmonic relationship while retaining their linear individuality.” [1]  When we are in harmony with the will and Word of God we can cooperate in unity and interdependence, just as a healthy body does, with each part playing its role in order for the whole body to function as well and effectively as it can. Together we can face the challenges and changes that come our way and achieve something greater than any one person can accomplish alone.  In unity we can enjoy the good and pleasant blessing of our God.

Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity! …For there the Lord has commanded the blessing, life forevermore. (Psalms 133:1,3)


All stages of change, growth, and metamorphosis are beautiful!


[1] Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, Lessons in Leadership, Maggid Books, Koren Publishers, Jerusalem, Ltd., 2015, 103

[2] Picture credit: Chabad; Artist: Adele Steinberg


The Liminal Space of PAIN ~ Raynna Myers

The liminal space of pain is the place where we receive an invitation to healing.

We feel as though we are sick and dying. Soul, spirit, and mind wounds become burdens we cannot carry. We never should have tried. The burdens are real, but, has anyone told you…? Has anyone told you that there are burdens that you have and will know, but they are not yours to carry?

There are wounds that wind our souls so tight we quit breathing from our bellies. That’s how babies breathe. Until the pain comes, we breathe from our bellies. Then we swallow the pain down to our guts and kill ourselves—but we simply think we’re trying to survive.

And, in reality, we are. What’s so horrible about that? Why should surviving make us sick?

It’s this question I have to capture; and have it be a memorial in time, so I’ll never forget. I don’t want to forget that surviving really does have more to do with thriving than I learned at first. That these two elements – survivng and thriving – are not opposites but brothers walking side by side. I never want to forget that brokenness is the invitation to wholeness. Rest, stillness, and wonder, much like faith, hope, and love, will outlast any and all of my striving.

Now I can look back and see and hear certain people speaking into my life. They are living memorials to their hard winters. This  heart-sharing often is a gift in response to need. The things they said to me, they hoped I wouldn’t forget. Things I didn’t want to hear, but needed to. But, then I became strong again, so I forgot. Being strong, it becomes easier to be weak. We get shamed. We start to believe maybe the shamers are right.

Love rejected is a source of deep inner pain. It becomes a strange, contorted thing, but what if it doesn’t have to? What if…  What if you healed me when you said, “Welcome, my friend, come in!”? What if I healed you in return when I said, “Thank you, I need you. I need you. I need to be with you and to hear you!”?

Brennan Manning in his book Abba’s Child speaks of a story he read in The Wounded Healer. It’s about a rabbi who asked the prophet Elijah when the Messiah would come.

Elijah replied that the rabbi should ask the Messiah directly and that he would find Him sitting at the gates of the city.

“How will I know Him?” the rabbi asked.

Elijah replied, “He is sitting among the poor covered with wounds. The others unbind all their wounds at the same time and then bind them up again. But the Messiah unbinds one at a time and binds it up again saying to himself, ‘Perhaps I shall be needed. If so, I must always be ready so as not to delay for a moment.'”

The suffering servant of Isaiah recognizes His wounds, lets them show, and makes them available to the community as a source of healing.


Manning goes on to express that grace and healing are communicated through the vulnerability of men and women who have been fractured and broken by life. And then he writes one of my very favorite lines in his book,

In Love’s service, only wounded soldiers can serve.

This is the radiant hope in all our suffering. To release the weight of expectations and concerns we put on ourselves, or those that we resignedly accept in the midst of it all, and instead receive the wisdom of grace that says, “Do not be afraid little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” You can aspire to your identity as His sons and daughters.

Illness, division, lack of peace; these should not surprise us nor stop us from bearing fruit, that is true. But what does it mean to bear fruit? Does it mean to work in our own strength, bear our burdens, until we are bent into the ground? Don’t you think we get our role confused in all this martyr-like living we’re doing?

When pain comes we are the people of God; we overcome. But what if overcoming has more to do with honesty and open hands than it does with, “Faking it ’till making it”? What if overcoming is more about calling it what it is and praising our Father in heaven even still.

Like our matriarch Leah, when she named Judah, in the midst of what the Bible calls “a pain beneath which the earth trembles”—to be a woman unloved, she said, “This time, I will praise the Lord.”

What does it mean to give grateful praise even in in the midst of our pain and grief? It is knowing that, even then, nothing separates us from the love of God. It is understanding that our broken places and our weaknesses are not our definition, the end, or a punishment, but rather a beginning, a way forward, even the very door.

As Paul said, we too can say, “I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Messiah can rest on me.” Because His grace is enough we don’t have to keep trying to be enough. To Him, we already are. We are His Beloved. He knows our frame. “His power is made perfect in our weakness.” We don’t need to be ashamed, we can actually boast!

Boasting in our God isn’t a shiny, pretty thing we do during congregational worship; it’s what we do when we open our hands, lift our heads, and come out of hiding in the day-to-day. It doesn’t mean not mourning, or grieving; it means weeping as we walk with seeds in our hands—watering them as we go.

This is our healing, and healing for many others if we are willing to share. This is where His power comes in and rests on us in our weakness. This is where we get to return to His arms of comfort and rest. This is what we discover in the liminal space of pain.


Raynna Myers is an author, blogger, speaker. She currently lives in Washington State with her husband and six children and writes at

The Liminal Space of BORDERS – Debra Elfassy


Here on the heights of Samaria, overlooking the shimmering northern expanse of the Dead Sea nestled at the foothills of the majestic mountains of Moab, time has stopped and past has become present. I feel as though I am standing on holy ground.

The landscape around me is barren; hills rocky and bare and the wilderness solitary.
Rocks cry out with sacred history and mountains still reverberate with the words of Israel’s prophets. In the deafening silence I can almost hear the footsteps of our forefathers, for here it was they shepherded their flocks, covenanted with G-d, and erected altars of worship. I am privy to living history.

Looking across the distance to Mount Nebo in Nachalat** Reuben I am reminded that,

“…when the most High divided to the nations their inheritance, when he separated the sons of Adam, he set the borders of the people according to the number of the children of Israel” (Deuteronomy 32:8).

Truly, G-d, “Thou hast set all the borders of the earth” (Psalm 74:17).

I stand, humbled, at this ancient threshold to the Promised Land and, as if the scroll of history is rolled back, I behold with wonder….

 Forty years of wandering have come to an end. Forty years of dreams, hopes and longings have brought the travel-weary Israelites to this G-d-appointed rendezvous. Just across the Jordan River from Jericho the Israelite camp has come to rest, according to its tribes. Their tents are spread out wide across the plains, and the surrounding peoples feel threatened. It has been a treacherous journey. Not only have they had to contend with the altercations of the Edomites, Canaanites and Amorites along the way, but now Balak, king of the Moabites has sent for the seer Balaam in order to curse the Israelite camp. But as the co-conspirators look down from the high places of Baal onto the tents of Jacob, Balaam prophesies: “The people shall dwell alone, and shall not be reckoned among the nations.”(Numbers 23:9) The spirit of G-d then comes upon him and he pronounces blessing in the place of cursing: 

“How goodly are thy tents, O Jacob, and thy tabernacles, O Israel! Blessed is he that blesseth thee, and cursed is he that curseth thee.” (24:5, 9)


Here at the threshold of claiming their inheritance, the Israelites realize that crossing this border won’t come easily. They will need to conquer their psychological giants before they can conquer the physical. They are forced to face the conflict of imminent expectations versus the fear of disappointments; the ‘turning of the back’ on the past and ‘turning the face to’ the unknown. It is the time to ‘let go and press forward’.

There is a sense of apprehension and uncertainty in the camp as G-d tells Moses that, despite having led his people faithfully for forty years, he is to abdicate his leadership to Joshua who will lead them across the border into the Promised Land. There is a hush as Moses raises his hands and blesses the people, and takes the two tablets of the Law and places them within the Ark of the Covenant. Then he undertakes his last, and arguably his most difficult, mission and begins the ascent to Mount Nebo on the heights of Moab. There, from his final mountaintop, his eyes behold the Promise…the near-yet-so-far Land where his feet will never get to tread. There G-d confirms to him the covenant concerning the Land as Israel’s eternal possession. Lovingly, the Lord himself lays his servant, the one he “knew face to face,” to rest.

With the words of Moses still fresh in their memory, the Israelite encampment takes on the mantle of mourning. The dirge of weeping hovers over the plains for thirty days. When the days of lamentation are ended, Joshua and the tribes take leave of Shittim at the crack of dawn and come to lodge at the banks of the Jordan. Finally they are at the point of crossing. Filled with anticipation, the Promise within reach, Joshua tells the people to prepare to sanctify themselves, for in three days’ time: “The Lord will do wonders among you.” The third day arrives and the atmosphere is electrifying as the people prepare to cross the Jordan. 

The Levites, bearing the Ark of the Covenant, lead the way and as the soles of their feet touch the waters of the Jordan an exclamation of wonder rises, for the waters are held back and all the people cross over on dry ground. This miracle needs to be remembered throughout their generations and Joshua chooses twelve men, one from each tribe, and tells them to retrieve twelve stones from the riverbed at the spot where the Levites’ feet had stood. They are then to place them on their shoulders and carry them to the place where they would camp that night. In the minds of the Israelites, this must hearken back to another miraculous crossing…that of the Reed Sea. It is the 10th day of the 1st month and the people encamp at Gilgal where they lay the twelve stones.

But in order to be a nation ‘set apart’ from the surrounding heathen nations, the Israelites must keep the covenant that binds them to G-d and the Land… they must be circumcised. Here at their first stop, Joshua makes sharp knives and all the uncircumcised males born during the wilderness journey are circumcised. “This day”, G-d says, “have I rolled away the reproach of Egypt from off you” (Joshua 5:9).  As the men heal, the people rest at Gilgal and prepare to keep their first Passover in the Land. There, on the 14th day of the 1st month, on the plains of Jericho as the sun sets behind the rolling hills of Judea and Samaria, they would remember and relive the Exodus from Egypt. On the morrow,  the manna would cease and they would begin to eat of the fruit of the Land.

Joshua, while walking near Jericho, is met by a man with a drawn sword who introduces himself as the captain of the Lord’s host. In yet another echo of his master Moses, he tells Joshua, “Loose thy shoes from off thy foot, for the place whereon thou standest is holy” (Joshua 5:15). He tells Joshua that Jericho is given into his hand and reveals the strategy. He is to take the men of war and encircle the city for six days. Seven priests with seven ram’s horns are to encircle Jericho seven times before sounding the shofars.

When this is accomplished, the shofars sound and their blowing rends the heavens. At the sound of the long, piercing shofar blast, the Israelite camp explodes with a deafening shout of praise! There is a rumble as the earth begins to tremble, then an earth-shattering crash as the walls come tumbling down. And there, amidst the shouts of praise and dust clouds of rubble,

“Joshua took the whole Land, according to all that the Lord said unto Moses; and Joshua gave it for an inheritance unto Israel according to their divisions by their tribes” (11:23).

And here I stand today, as part of the modern miracle, witness to the wonder of the Gateway into the Land and the evidence of G-d’s eternal covenant….”and there is hope in thine end, saith the Lord, that thy children shall come again to their own border” (Jeremiah 31:17 ). We have come home…to inherit.

The most difficult time in your life may be the border to your Promised Land. First you need to make the journey to the threshold to initiate change.  Waiting at the border requires patience. It is a vulnerable place where you are forced to face yourself, your fears and expectations, in order  to make a conscious choice to step into the waters of faith, “…being sure of what we hope for, being convinced of what we do not see” (Hebrews 11:1). You can choose to see the giants in the land, or the Promise.

Crossing means leaving behind your ‘Egypt;’ turning your back on the past and your face to the yonder shore of promise. And crossing requires praise that brings the walls of opposition in your life tumbling down.

May we each take that step of faith into the waters and may G-d lead us to where our trust is without borders. 


Debra was born in South Africa and was drawn to make aliyah to Israel in 1986. She resides with her husband Yossi in Rimmonim, a yishuv in the tribal area of Benjamin in the heartland of Samaria. 

Rimmonim, meaning ‘pomegranates,’ is perched atop the mountains of Israel that form the backbone once known as the Highway of the Patriarchs. It is mentioned in Judges 20 with the story of the 600 Benjamites who escaped the bloody battle against their fellow tribes and fled to the rock of Rimmon where they found refuge.
Established in 1981 with only 12 families, today Rimmonim is home to some 200 families.

********** SPECIAL DEDICATION **********


This article is dedicated to the memory of Rabbi Raziel Shevach z”l  who was gunned down this week in a cold-blooded terror attack in Samaria.

This week Israel saw one of its brightest lights extinguished and we, the residents of Samaria, together with and all Beit Israel grieve with the family for this son of Zion who, as a first responder with Magen David Adom, gave himself selflessly in the service of saving others. Driving on the highway a stone’s throw from his home at Havat Gilad shortly before 8pm, the 35 year old father of 6 was shot at repeatedly from a passing car. Suffering a critical wound to the neck, he managed to call his wife and ask her to call for an ambulance. Raziel was pronounced dead on arrival at the hospital. On Wednesday his body was laid to rest at Havat Gilad on the hilltops where he worked, on the Land he loved.

Rabbi Shevach z’l was a central figure in the Samarian community of Havat Gilad; not only was he an authorised rabbi, he was also a *mohel and *shochet, a member of the *chevra kadisha” and in the process of studying to become a rabbinic judge. He was also a longstanding volunteer paramedic with *MDA, on call 24/7 serving the residents of Samaria, and received a citation for his work in the organisation.

A friend and co-medic called him “a great man with a great heart. I never saw him sad. He was always so happy and he made everyone happy. He was someone who loved everyone.”

Yossi Dagan, head of the local settler council called him “a man of grace, a man of Torah and a friend…a true man of kindness, filled with boundless love.”

Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel said: “We swear to build the land of Israel. We will build, we will plant, and we will have children. We are emissaries and we will do our best to be faithful emissaries.”

Another said: “He is a korban tzibur, a communal sacrifice. He is not a private loss but a national loss…It could have been anyone amongst us who was killed, but this is what G-d wanted. He died for us.”

And Rachel still weeps for her children. May they all come home soon and thrive in the heartland on the mountains of Israel.

Rabbi Raziel Shevach z’l is survived by his wife Yael, 4 daughters and two sons. His oldest child is 11 and the youngest is 8 months old. We embrace the family in their sorrow and pray that they will be comforted in Zion.

“Whoever is buried in the Land of Israel, is as if he were buried under the altar.”

                                                                                                                  The Talmud

* Photo credit: AG-PHOTOS/
** Tribal area inherited by the tribe of Reuben
*** Picture credit: Christina Mattison Ebert – D’rash Design on Etsy

The Liminal Space of CREATIVITY ~ Cindy Elliott

The power stored up within man is exceedingly great, is all-encompassing, but all too often it slumbers within and does not bestir itself from its deep sleep. The command of creation, beating deep within the consciousness…proclaims: Awake ye slumberers from your sleep. Realize, actualize yourselves, your own potentialities and possibilities, and go forth to meet your G-d. The unfolding of man’s spirit that soars to the very heavens, that is the meaning of creation…Action and creation are the true distinguishing marks of authentic existence.

– Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik, Halakhic Man, 132

Bereishit barah Elokim
In the beginning, G-d created…

 If the Torah then chose to relate to man the tale of Creation, we may clearly derive one law from this manner of procedure -viz, that man is obliged to engage in creation and the renewal of the cosmos. [1]

Made in the image of a creative G-d, an expression of His ahavat olam, unending love, each of us is a creative being with an immense potential to make an impact on our world. We may not see in our clumsy expressions the creative genius and beauty of G-d, but just as our Creator, we were made to create. But unlike our Creator – we weren’t made to create alone. We were made to create in collaboration with our Abba Father.

Abraham Joshua Heschel notes [2]:

Authentic faith is more than an echo of a tradition. It is a creative situation, an event. For G-d is not always silent, and man is not always blind. In every man’s life there are moments when there is a lifting of the veil at the horizon of the known, opening a sight of the eternal.

For those of faith, intentional creativity springs from the heart of G-d, not measured by the values of the world but by the values of Heaven. Inspired not by the fame of the world, but from Heaven’s touch. It is the special work – unique to each of us – to bring into existence that which our Abba intended from the day of our conception.

Watching the dark my spirit rose in flood
On that most dearest Prelude of my delight.
The low-lying mist lifted it hood,
The October stars showed nobly in clear night,

When I return, and to real music making,
And play that Prelude, how will it happen then?
Shall I fear as I felt, a sentry hardly walking.
With a dull sense of No Man’s Land again? [3]

But, too often we ignore that touch, that stir to our hearts. We are stunted by our fears. Fears of comparison, fears of falling short of the reality of our muse, fears that our creation will be devoid of life, ridiculed, or irrelevant…a sentry hardly walking. The liminal space of creativity can be the most exhilarating and yet at times the most intimidating of all liminal spaces. Part of the problem may lie in how we understand what it means to be a creative being.

When most of us hear someone speak of a creative being – one who has left a dent on the universe, we tend to think of creative giants such as Einstein, Edison, Steve Jobs, Wernher von Braun, DaVinci, Picasso, Michelangelo, Mozart, Bach… and think that real creativity must be only on the grandest of scales. “There is no way,” we tell ourselves, “that we could come anywhere close to such artistic and intellectual brilliance.” But our Creator, creating us in His image, has given us beyond measure the potential and the talent necessary to create, to make a difference, to change everything. And we are not only creative beings but artists as well and our very lives are the medium of our art. Meister Eckhard wrote, “An artist isn’t a special kind of person; each person is a special kind of artist.”

When I was learning how to swim,
I’d look down at the water and back at him
He’d say, “Take my hand, we’ll both jump in
I’ll go, too.
That’s what he’d say and what he’d do.
“Don’t go alone I’ll walk with you
I’ll go too.” [4]

Most of our creativity reveals itself in our every day encounters – visits with friends and families, meetings with strangers, serving our families, working in our garden, study, prayer, wonder, daydreaming, reaching out to those in need, encouraging words spoken over another, a hug, a smile, a laugh, just being willing to go through a tough time with a friend, the moment of finding a solution, or even the moment of recognizing a problem. These very acts make a difference. They may be the catalyst to transforming another’s life, and they absolutely have the ability to transform our own. Abraham Heschel reminds us, ““Remember that there is meaning beyond absurdity. Know that every deed counts, that every word is power…Above all, remember that you must build your life as if it were a work of art.”

Creativity doesn’t mean being taken out of everyday consciousness and concern but being intimately involved and deeply immersed in the encounters of this world. At times it is the messiest of liminal spaces but it has a huge reward. The liminal space of creativity that springs from Heaven’s heart does not take us out of this world, but it does give us Heaven’s eyes. Rav Kook believed:

Every fleeting moment we create, consciously and unconsciously, multitudes of creations beyond measure. If we would only condition ourselves to feel them, to bring them within the zone of clear comprehension, to introduce them within the framework of appropriate articulation, there would be revealed their glory and their splendor. Their effect would than become visible on all of life. [5]

To create means to step out of your comfort zone. It means to enjoy beginnings and sometimes being willing to struggle to get to the end. At times it means to do the same thing again, and again, and again. At times it means failure. It means exploring the unknown and finding great pleasure in the possibilities of a blank canvas. It means thinking at times out of the box, in the cracks, or at rock bottom. At times it means taking a risk and looking foolish to the world. Creativity means being sensitive, observant, loving, and it requires times of menucha [6].

Many have said that there is a fine line between genius and insanity – a line often walked by the creative being. Without a doubt, those of us who live a life of faith have at times been thought by the world to be touched by madness. But our faith is “the spring of our creative actions.”[7]

Created in the image of our Creator, we are invited to live our days in this immense space of possibility.

For we are G-d’s masterpiece, created in Messiah Yeshua for good works, which G-d prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.
Ephesians 2:10

May you more fully understand your unique gifts and importance for the whole of creation. May you know without a doubt that you are valuable beyond measure and that the unique creative expression our Abba has placed in you heart – will not be expressed by anyone other than yourself. May you be strong and courageous to embrace our Creators desire for you as purposed from the beginning of time and may G-d’s glory be made real through you. May you live every moment intentionally for the Eternal.

Made in the image of our Creator, your capacity to create is beyond measure! Surely today, each of us could reach toward the heavens and touch the face of G-d.

* photo credit:

Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of earth,
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I’ve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds, and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of – Wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hovering there,
I’ve chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air…

Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue
I’ve topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace
Where never lark or even eagle flew –
And, while with silent lifting mind I’ve trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand, and touched the face of G-d.

– John Gillespie Magee, Jr, High Flight


[1]Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik, Halakhic Man,100-101
[2]Abraham Joshua Heschel, Man is Not Alone, 165
[3] Ivor Gurney, Bach and the Sentry
[4] Carrie Newcomer, I’ll Go Too
[5] Orot HaKodesh – Holy Lights
[6] After the six days of creation – what did the universe still lack? Menucha. Came the Sabbath, came menucha, and the universe was complete. Menucha which we render with “rest” means here much more…Tranquilty, serenity, peace, and repose. To the biblical mind menucha is the same as happiness and stillness, as peace and harmony. ~ Abraham Joshua Heschel, The Shabbat
[7] Abraham Joshua Heschel, The Holy Dimension, 337



THE QUESTION as a Liminal Space ~ Cindy Elliott

The Gift

Just when you seem to yourself
nothing but a flimsy web
of questions, you are given
the questions of others to hold
in the emptiness of your hands,
songbird eggs that can still hatch
if you keep them warm,
butterflies opening and closing themselves
in your cupped palms, trusting you not to injure
their scintillant fur, their dust.
You are given the questions of others
as if they were answers
to all you ask. Yes, perhaps
this gift is your answer.

~ Denise Levertov, Sands of the Well

 In studying “master questioners,” Hall Gregersen inquired about their childhoods and found that most had “at least one adult in their lives who encouraged them to ask provocative questions.”

The Nobel laureate scientist Isidor Isaac Rabi was one such child; when he came home from school, “while other mother’s asked their kids ‘Did you learn anything today?’ [my mother] would say, ‘Izzy, did you ask a good question today?’” [1]

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.”
Matthew 7:7

A question can form a realm of creativity, a becoming, an “always in the midst of being formed,” a changing… a liminal space. Rabbi Sacks comments that “…to be without questions is not a sign of faith, but a lack of depth…questioning … so deep as to represent a sui generis -a religious phenomenon.”

We see the asking of questions modeled in our heroes of faith. Abraham asked, “Shall not the Judge of all the earth deal justly?” Moses asked, “What am I to do with these people?” Jeremiah asked, “Why does the way of the wicked prosper?” There are Job, Isaiah, King David… and Messiah Yeshua, who could be called the Greatest Questioner of all time, who in the Hebraic tradition, often answered questions with questions. Even G-d Himself has filled Scriptures with questions, inviting each one of us to join in the never ending dialogue between ourselves and our Creator.

Questions inspire, inform, stimulate, challenge… and when we ask a question ‘for the sake of Heaven’ [2] these questions lead to Truth. As Rabbi Sacks also has said, “Every question asked in reverence is the start of a journey towards G-d.”

But what has happened to the art of asking a question?

The tragedy with growing up
is not that we lose childishness
in it’s simplicity,
but that we lose childlikeness
in it’s sublimity.
~ Ravi Zacharias

As a homeschool mom I look back on my daughter’s endless asking of “what?” and “what if?” and I rejoice at her “holy curiosity.” [3]  It was my desire that my daughter would never outgrow her thirst for mysteries and the adventure of discovery; that unexpected conclusions and the delight of spontaneous learning would continue to be something fundamental to her perpetual learning as an adult. Sadly, that isn’t always the norm in our society. Too often we are rewarded for having the answer, not the question, and many of us lose that passionate wonder and curiosity of early childhood. Albert Einstein understood the need to encourage curiosity in the hearts of every age, “Curiosity is a delicate little plant which, aside from stimulation, stands mainly in need of freedom.” And that freedom of curiosity is often expressed as a question. Yet, too often in our society the one with too many questions is sometimes considered a nuisance.

What if I rode a beam of light across the universe?
~ Albert Einstein

Albert Einstein asked countless questions as a child and it has been said that his teachers chastised him for a being a disturbance in the classroom. His own parents – though they loved him – worried that he wasn’t quite normal. Indeed beyond normal, Albert Einstein had an unquestionable thirst for the mysteries of the universe.

Socrates who believed more in asking questions than merely conveying knowledge, was accused of corrupting the youth of Athens and sentenced to death.

In my own personal Western-influenced experience, it took me time to truly flourish in the liminal space of a question. It meant letting go of my carefully formulated dogma, my preconceptions, of having to be right or wrong, of understanding true humility; because, inherent in a question is the fact that I do not have the answer. The challenge arises to move beyond fear, and to accept that my question would undoubtably usher in new questions. Over the years, G-d has fanned the flame of curiosity and wonder in my heart and every day I am excited by new “whys” and “what ifs” of my own and to the discovery that often my questions tell me more than the answer ever will.

Rabbi Lawrence Kushner tells us: “It’s not that questions lead to answers, it’s what they do to the mind and soul [that’s important].” In Genesis G-d asked Adam, “Where are you?” G-d didn’t ask this question because he didn’t know where Adam was. He asked it to awaken something in Adam.

Something I learned long ago in the liminal space of a question was that some questions have no answer – especially those that stem from deep suffering and pain. Rabbi Lawrence Kushner shares in Honey From The Rock:

The first mystery is simply that there is a Mystery. A Mystery that can never be explained or understood. Only encountered from time to time. Nothing is obvious. Everything conceals something else.

The Torah doesn’t answer every question. The Rabbis understood this from the first word of Scripture – B’reishit – In the Beginning. The Rabbis asked the question, “Why was the world created with the letter bet (ב)? [One answer they gave is…] Just as the bet is closed on all sides but open at its front we don’t know what existed before Creation nor do we know what is above or what is below.” [4] Our quest for knowledge and understanding, therefore, should be focussed on what is before and ahead of us.

There will be a time when G-d will wipe away every tear, fill every void, and answer every question. Until that time may we each have a holy curiosity that springs forth from the heart of G-d and is rooted in Truth. May each question we voice be for the sake of Heaven and may our souls throb with the wonder and awe of G-d, His Word, and His Creation.

1. Warren Berger, A More Beautiful Question: The Power of Inquiry to Spark Breakthrough Ideas, p. 67
2. Taken from an Rabbinic teaching “arguments for the sake of Heaven” or rather for the sake of G-d’s Name and Kingdom. See Pirkei Avot 5:20
3. “Never lose a holy curiosity.” ~ Albert Einstein
4. Genesis Rabbah 1:10

* photo credits
1. Copyright: andreykuzmin, 123RF Stock Photo
2. Copyright: famveldman, 123RF Stock Photo

The Liminal Space of BIRD WATCHING ~ Cindy Elliott


When we do not believe that G-d renews the work of creation every day, then our religious practice becomes old and routine and boring.
As it say in the Psalms, “Do not cast me off when I am old.”
That is, do not let my world become old.
– Martin Buber [1]

Human beings must cherish the world, said the Baal Shem. To deprecate, to deride it was presumption. Creation, all of creation, was pervaded with dignity and purpose and embodied G-d’s meaning.
– Abraham Joshua Heschel [2]

Always an avid birdwatcher, it struck me this morning that many birds seem to make their home in liminal space. Living near the Texas shoreline of the Gulf of Mexico, I see birds who live their lives on the water’s edge. Others move between water and air. In my backyard, birds live in the air, on the ground, or where the bushes meet the trees.


This family of wrens made their home in my bicycle helmet, blending the boundaries between humans and birds.

It also struck me that my daily habit of sitting in my den watching and listening to the birds is an every-day liminal space in time. Somehow my big overstuffed chair becomes a vessel of liminality. Every morning I sit down and when I get up – I am changed.

320954_2432363493115_2144506497_nSometimes it is the cooing of the mourning-dove that calms my thoughts and helps me rest. Other times when a painted bunting, a little ruby-throated hummingbird, a male cardinal in all his glory, or a number of other feathered friends with their bursts of color visit our feeders, I am reminded of the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson:

Never lose an opportunity of seeing anything that is beautiful, for beauty is G-d’s handwriting – a sacrament.

And I praise our Abba for allowing me to be a part of something so marvelous – to feel as Abraham Heschel said, “…in the rush of passing the stillness of the eternal.”


Others times as the cooper hawk takes flight and transcends the earth to be caught up in the winds, I feel the rekindling of hopes and dreams I have pushed aside, forgotten, or given up on. Always the sweet niggun of the birds stirs a song in my own spirit. And, without exception, every day I am challenged and every day I am surprised.


The sparrow has also found her home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young – Your altars, Lord of Host, my King and my G-d.
Psalm 84:4

Today it was a little immigrant [3] – the house sparrow – that G-d used to move me to a place of changing. As the chatter of the little sparrow blended with my prayers, an article came to mind about the Singing Stones of the Kotel [4] where the songs of the nesting birds mix with the prayers of the people. It seems swallows, house sparrows, and the common swift all consider the stones of the Western Wall the perfect place to build a home. There is a midrash drawn from Psalm 84:4 telling how the humble birds are aware of the holiness of the Temple and yearn to build their nests there. [5] And if a little bird can have such awareness – such a sensitivity to holiness – how much more should I?

How lovely are Your dwelling places,
O Lord of hosts!
My soul longed and even yearned for the courts of the Lord;
My heart and my flesh sing for joy to the living G-d.
The sparrow also has found her home,
And the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young,
Your altars, O Lord of hosts,
My King and my G-d.
How blessed are those who dwell in Your house!
They are ever praising You.
Psalm 84:1-4


~ Cindy Elliott

If you enjoyed this you might also enjoy Niggun of The Birds

1. Martin Buber as recorded in This Is Real and You Are Completely Unprepared: The Days of Awe as a Journey of Transformation by Alan Lew
2. Abraham Joshua Herschel, Passion For Truth, p. 24
3. The house sparrow was first introduced from Europe. Considered by many a pest, the little songbird is one of my favorites.
5. Rabbi natan Slifkin, Perek Shirah Natures Song, p. 229
photo credit – copyright: Ekaterina Lin,, sparrow on the Western Wall

The Liminal Space of PRAYER – Raynna Myers

“We can only pray the way prayer is supposed to be when we recognize that in fact the soul is always praying.
 Without stop, the soul soars and yearns for its Beloved. It is at the time of outward prayer, that the perpetual prayer of the soul reveals itself in the realm of action.
 This is prayer’s pleasure and joy, its glory and beauty. It is like a rose, opening its elegant petals towards the dew, facing the rays of the sun as they shine over it with the sun’s light.”* 

—Rabbi Abraham Issac HaKohen Kook

Wouldn’t it be a marvel to rest in this as true? How would our life look different to live like we believe this, to live as though we are part of a harmony, weaving in and out for our part, with our voice and our silence…our voice and our silence. Our rising and walking, our kneeling and washing, our cooking and cleaning, our stopping and pausing, our life and our breath—a prayer. I hunger for this.

 The liminal space of prayer is with us everywhere we go, the adventure is to become more and more aware of it. The joy is to become more and more unified with the Spirit of God in us and in this adoring world.

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He is adored. The trees praise Him, the sea roars His name, the flowers reach toward Him with earnest, the wind obeys His command. Then there is us, His crowning creation, His children frolicking or flailing in this wonderland He has given us, we, His image in the earth, breathing His gift of life—sometimes knowing it, oftentimes not.

 Sometimes, when we do know it, in moments of realization we get so excited, like Peter when Yeshua transfigured before him,

“His (Yeshua’s) face shone like the sun and his clothes became as white as the light…then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Yeshua.”

— Matthew 17: 2,3

 How awesome it must have been and good, like Peter said,

“…Lord, it is good for us to be here…” (verse 4)

 Can you imagine? This was a wow, wow, wow moment and Peter wanted to honor it, so he offered to build. He gets corrected and instructed to stop talking and listen. Peter fell to the ground face down afraid, but Yeshua came and touched them, saying,

“Rise and have no fear.” (verse 7)


“Get up and don’t be afraid.”

 We too offer to build when we should behold, we speak when it’s better to listen. It’s OK, “Don’t be afraid!”

 “Just as a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him. For he himself knows our frame; he is mindful that we are but dust.”

— Psalm 103:13-14

Such comfort offered us here. Such a space created for us, an invitation graciously proposed to us, to come, to rest, to be still and know, to:

 “Cease striving and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” The Lord of hosts is with us, the God of Jacob is our stronghold.    Selah.

— Psalm 46:10-11

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A story is told about an innkeeper named Aharon Shlomo who was the simplest sort of Jew, able only to pray with great difficulty, without even knowing the meaning of the Hebrew words he would pray. He was, however, very devout and had a custom of continually uttering in every situation and circumstance: “Blessed is He forever and ever!” His wife, Zlateh Rivkah, also had this habit, continually saying: “Blessed be His holy name!”. Although their hands were at work, they placed their hearts toward God by repeating these sentences.

 One day a young rabbi stayed at their inn. His name was Israel and he had been given opportunity to learn complex prayers from great rabbis. Israel, went outside, devoting himself to praying these complex meditations he had been taught when he was visited again with a word from heaven, “You are struggling with such effort…but Aharon the innkeeper and Zlateh his wife know nothing about (these kinds of prayers)…yet, their simple utterances make all the worlds tremble.”

 This experience transformed the young, and one day to be great, rabbi’s attitude toward prayer. He came to the understanding and taught that simple, childlike devotion is the key to entering the presence of one’s Father in Heaven.**

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Today, may we come like little children, may we work with our hands and put our hearts toward God through the quieting of our hearts, the choosing to be unafraid, lifting our eyes to behold and our ears to listen.

 May we know that the liminal space, the threshold, of prayer is always welcome to us, is always the realest reality, the truest true. Prayer is a continual feast before us, and a place to become clean again. May we know that we live in a world that adores Him, and join the song…with our voice and our silence. 

This is how to pray continually. Amen.

 Praising His faithfulness and Seeking Him with you today friends,


 * Rabbi Abraham Issac HaKohen Kook, Olat Re’iyah vol. I, p.11

**Story paraphrased from The Light and Fire of the Baal Shem Tov by Yitzhak Buxbaum, pages 27-29

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Raynna Myers is a writer, photographer, homeschooling mom of six and wife. Her first book, Pray, Like a Woman in Labor was published last year with a foreword by Keren Hannah Pryor. She writes at from the trenches to link arms with physical and spiritual mothers and anyone hungry to let Mercy lead.

The Liminal Space of DREAMS ~ Keren Hannah Pryor

Martin Luther King Jr. declared “I have a dream!” Theodore Herzl said, “If you will it, it is no dream.” The famed pop group Abba sang, “I have a dream, a song to sing.”

Dreams exist on many levels. As our brain processes the experiences of the day while we sleep we may have related dreams. Prophetic dreams, however, are God-inspired visions. The dreams of poets are conscious flights of imagination. Visionaries have idealistic dreams of a better world. Through His people Israel, God offers the world dreams of Redemption. Psalm 126:1 reads, “When God returns the captivity of Zion, we will be like dreamers.” This is a dream we are seeing fulfilled in our time.

Dreams and visions are woven throughout the Bible. What is the first biblical dream that comes to your mind? Maybe the dreams of young Joseph that caused his brothers to sell him as a slave? Then his being summoned from prison to interpret the dreams of Pharaoh, which caused him to become the most powerful man in the then world, second only to Pharaoh himself. We see that the ruler attributed Joseph’s talent of interpretation to a Divine source for he says, “Can we find such a one as this, a man in whom is the Spirit of God? …Inasmuch as God has shown you all this, there is no one as wise and discerning as you” (Genesis 41:38-39).


We can remember, too, the earlier and significant dream/vision had by Joseph’s father Jacob after fleeing from his brother Esau. He encountered a place and when he slept, with a stone for his pillow, he saw a glorious ladder reaching from heaven to earth with angels ascending and descending. God stood above it and proclaimed to Jacob that He was giving him the Land, that his descendants would be as numerous as the dust of the earth, and that He would be with him and watch over him wherever he went and would bring him back to the Land. When he awoke, Jacob could only declare, “This is none other than the House of God, and this is the Gate of Heaven!”

Kohelet tells us that God …”makes everything beautiful in its time. He also has set eternity in the hearts of man” (Ecclesiastes 3:11). That is the hope and the promise while we walk through our day to day journey in this world and dream our dreams. In the final accounting, all in His Kingdom, including ourselves, will be restored to its intended beauty through His grace and mercy; praise God. We anticipate and long for olam habah – the world to come; however, while we are in this world – olam hazeh, we need to face and deal with the imprefections and the often bitter hardships of the present reality. The means God has given to strengthen us, as we walk through the daily challenges we inevitably face, are His promises and the hope we derive from the “dreams and visions” of His prophets.

The wisdom of Proverbs tells us the oft quoted first half of the verse: “Where there is no vision the people perish” (KJV 29:18). This is rendered in the ESV, “Where there is no prophetic vision the people cast off restraint” and the second half of the verse reads: “but blessed is he who keeps the law/Torah”. Blessing and vision cannot be separated from the  Word – the teaching/Torah – of God.

What does a life wthout this vision, without dreams, look like? 

The life of a “realist,” of one who insists on only taking into account the practical reality he sees before him, becomes immersed solely in materialism. Life, with its expansive vision of further horizons, of greater depths of meaning, of dreams of beauty and glory, evades him and he becomes like a bird caged in the iron bars of grim “reality.” The shackled soul cannot soar and find the heights for which it was created.

The power of dreams and of vision sets us free from the limitations of physicality. Instead of a partial and fragmented view of life, our dreams reveal to us the wider and more accurate truth of the eternal perspective of the God-created universe.

What about “bad dreams”?

As we know, not every dream can be catagorized as “an inspired vision from God.”  The prophet Zechariah stresses, “Diviners …tell false dreams.” (10:12) How do we know if a dream is prophetic or pointless? The more our minds are focussed on God and His purposes the more our imaginations become godly and can relate to the reality of eternal life. Our dreams are then more likely to reflect the truth of the spiritual dimension of reality. When a person is solely preoccupied with personal and materialistic concerns his or her dreams cannot rise above a self-centered view of reality.

Rabbi A.I. Kook refers to an allegory of the Sages that says, “Angels bring prophetic dreams anad demons bring false dreams” (Berachot 55b).** Angels are messengers of God who work to perfect the world in accord with the will of God. True dreams will be in harmony with this purpose. Demons are unholy and operate against God’s purposes of truth and order.  False dreams will therefore reflect selfish and ungodly fantasies.

Chalom – חלום

The Hebrew word for dream is chalom. The initial letter chet – ח has the numerical value of 8 which indicates a new beginning. It’s a letter that represents life, Chai – חי, the full expression of which is love. It also begins the word for ‘stork’ chasidah. Which is maybe where the myth began that it is the stork that delivers a baby, the fruit of life and love, to its parents.

chet cp

It’s shape represents a fence, a door or a gateway. A threshold to a new area or dimension. At this liminal space of a dream or vision from the Father, we can receive clear insight into the place we have arrived at on our journey and of the path set before us in His perfect plan for our life in His service. We gain greater clarity, as explained in Pirkei Avot, the Ethics of the Fathers, as we “Know from whence you came and to where you are going.” The place where you will give a final accounting and where the glory of eternal life in God’s Presence awaits.

Just as God did with Jacob, He promises, “I will never leave you nor forsake you!” In our loving Shepherd’s grace and guidance we can trust our vision and press forward to our eternal destination with joyful anticipation. 



* Photo credit  “500 Years Away” #02  by Adam Ferriss.

** Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak Kook, Sapphire from the Land of Israel.

The Liminal Space of WORSHIP – Cindy Elliott

This world is full of fragile loves – love that abandons, love that fades, love that divorces, love that is self-seeking.
But the unquenchable worshipper is different. From a heart so amazed by G-d and His wonders burns a love that will not be extinguished. It survives any situation and lives through any circumstance.
It will not allow itself to be quenched, for that would heap insult on the love it lives to respond to. [1]



And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music. [2]

The other night I was on our patio dancing under the banner of our Abba’s love when I heard the door of our neighbor’s home open and close. There I was twirling, arms raised toward the stars, smiling into the heavens. Although I could hear the music that stirred my spirit and moved my feet, my neighbor who couldn’t probably thought I’d gone quite mad.

There are many expressions of worship (prayer, dance, song, tears, study, work, play, quiet…), but the Hebrew word for worship – שָׁחה (Shin, Chet, Heyshachah) – means “to prostrate oneself.” Worship is an attitude of the heart that has the connotation of complete surrender to one who is superior. Dr. John Garr tells us:

The Greek word for worship (proskuneo) is even more graphic, implying a level of submission to G-d that is parallel with that of a dog licking its master’s hand. [3]

We are given a potent visual of porskuneo in John 12:3 when Mary anoints Yeshua’s feet with perfume and wipes His feet with her hair.

The Hebrew word שָׁחה – Shachah (Shin, Chet, Hey) has a telling pictograph:


שׁ Shin – to consume, to destroy
ח Chet – fence, wall, to separate 
ה Hey
– to reveal

Worship is the place where walls are destroyed and we find G-d revealing Himself to us face to face.

When we realize that worship is a life that is in complete surrender to G-d, we can then see that worship isn’t confined to a moment of time, but is rather a way of living. It’s something that is woven into every thought we think, every word we speak, and every action we take. True worship consists of focusing on G-d, declaring His truths, proclaiming His deeds, celebrating His goodness, and waiting on and responding to His presence. To put it simply, worship is when one’s heart and life are bowed down to our Creator in humility and adoration. Such a life is also a life of continual transformation. Liminal space in the realm of worship is filled with G-d’s transforming presence and is one of His great gifts to us.

But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory [4] of the Lord,
are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory,
just as from the Lord, the Spirit.  (2 Corinthians 3:18)

 However, as with other liminal spaces, this space of transformation is not always comfortable. There are times we may feel stretched to a breaking point, fragmented and forgotten. This is a time we can look to the Psalms to help us. The Psalms of laments are expressions of worship. They are honest cries from the depths of the human heart, yet they are cries that are filled with a confidence that G-d is a compassionate G-d who hears His peoples’ cries and is intimately concerned with their lives.

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?

Consider and answer me, O Lord my G-d;
Enlighten my eyes, or I will sleep the sleep of death,
And my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,”
And my adversaries will rejoice when I am shaken.

But I have trusted in Your lovingkindness;
My heart shall rejoice in Your salvation.
I will sing to the Lord,
Because He has dealt bountifully with me.
(Psalm 13)

Know that the chapters of Psalms shatter all barriers, they ascend higher and still higher with no interference; they prostrate themselves in supplication before the Master of all worlds, and they effect and accomplish with kindness and compassion. [5]

There is a midrash that says David compiled the Psalms for every circumstance and not only compiled them for himself, but also for all generations. I have found this to be true in my own life. The Psalms have often voiced the words I felt churning inside but couldn’t speak. In addition, the Psalms have been a further tool of worship in my life by taking me out of the depths of my own heart and up into the heart of G-d.

And Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet G-d, and they stood at the foot of the mountain. (b’tachtit hahar) (Exodus 19:17)

Now not with you alone am I making this covenant and this oath, but both with those who stand here with us today in the presence of the Lord our G-d and with those who are not with us here today … (Deuteronomy 29:14-15)

The phrase b’tachtit hahar is generally translated as “at the foot of the mountain.” However, the Sages understood this phrase to literally mean “underneath the mountain.” There is a beautiful midrash that comes from this understanding. The midrash brings to mind a picture: G-d holding the mountain over the peoples’ heads as a magnificent chuppah (wedding canopy) for the wedding ceremony between Himself and His people. Based on Deuteronomy 29:14-15, the Sages teach that we were also there. Today, we live in a world that forgets G-d. However, the people whose heart of worship is focused on G-d, who proclaim His works and celebrate His goodness, remember.
In such remembering, the beauty of the past under G-d’s chuppah is simultaneously made a present reality and a future hope.


It is important to note that worship is not an easy thing. It is a conscious decision – a definite choice – that must be made again and again. The cares of this world can overwhelm us at times. During such times, it is easy for us to become more focused on ourselves and our troubles than on our Beloved. It is at such times that we are faced with the choice to either focus on our troubles or to consciously decide to step back into the liminal space of worship where the beauty and goodness of G-d overwhelms our troubles. However, this doesn’t mean that by living in the liminal space of worship, we will have no troubles whatsoever.

It is true and beautiful that G-d is moved by our worship and will at times only move in the midst of our praise. [6] However, even when our circumstances remain the same – despite living in the liminal space of worship – we can be sure that our heart is being transformed. We will see the world and our circumstances in a holy reality, in the only reality. When we give G-d His proper place in the midst of our circumstances by living in the liminal space of worship, we protect ourselves from making our circumstances an idol in our lives, from taking the place that G-d rightfully deserves.

For the believer, worship and daily living are not two separate realms. We can live every moment in the presence of our Abba. However, I offer this warning: living a life of worship may mean that others will think you are quite crazy when they don’t hear the music to which you dance.

עזי וזמרת יה ויהי-לי לישועה
Ozi ve’zimrat Ya vayehi-li le’yeshua.

The Lord is my strength and my song; and He has become my salvation.
(Psalm 118:14)


* IIse Kleyn, oil painting – YHVH Nissi – The Lord is My Banner

1. Matt Redman, The Unquenchable Worshipper: Coming Back to the Heart of Worship, pg.18
2. This quote has been credited to Friedrich Nietzsche
3. John D. Garr, Family Worship: Making Your Home a House of G-d, pg. 91
4. The revelation of G-d is called “the glory of G-d.” To “glorify G-d” means to accurately reveal G-d’s true person. For example, Moses said to G-d, “Show me your glory” (Exodus 33:18). He meant, “Show me who you really are. Reveal yourself to me.” When we receive an insight about G-d or see an accurate depiction of G-d’s person, we perceive a little bit of His glory. – from First Fruits of Zion
5. The Third Lubavitcher Rebbe
6. Without a doubt, there are times that in the midst of our praise, our Abba goes forth before us and does battle. Acts 16, 2 Chronicles 20, Psalm 50, Psalm 146, Psalm 149, etc.

The Liminal Space of FORGIVENESS – Amy Martin




Sometimes I struggle with forgiveness.

I don’t mean struggle in the sense that I feel I’m owed something, that I want to hold a grievance over someone’s head.  I struggle with the what of forgiveness.  I struggle with the how.  What is forgiveness?  Is it forgetting? Reconciliation? Letting go?

Recently I’ve been reading a lot by the philosopher John Caputo.  I love his “Poetics of the Kingdom”, and resonate with his “weak theology”.  This theology of weakness is in contrast to the strong forces of the world that are driven by power and control.
Weak theology is the evocative call of the impossibly good, impossibly beautiful things –
the power of powerlessness, the gift of grace, of love, of mercy.
It’s the quiet, whispered call into the good.
It’s the same loving, persistent good, good, very good that was proclaimed when the beautiful was taken and formed from the deep.
It pulls us, calls us, asks us to be in this world – but not of it.

I think this is my struggle with forgiveness.

The strong forces of the world would have me think that forgiveness is something that belongs to the order of the world and the strong forces within me would like to buy into it.  In the world’s ways, everything is conditional upon being earned or owed and forgiveness in practice very often equates with reconciliation.

This is good and this makes sense.  It’s ideal in a world where everything is earned or owed and is certainly better than retaliation or vengeance.
But we live in a paradoxical reality. The strong forces of earning and owing can wind themselves like tares on the wheat of the weak forces – of those things that are unconditional gifts, those things that can’t be earned.

And I’m sure that forgiveness is an unconditional gift.

It’s an impossibly good and beautiful event that does not belong to the natural order of this world.
I’m told that forgiveness is of God’s kingdom, like grace is of His kingdom.
I’ve prayed, “Forgive us our debts as we also have forgiven our debtors.”
And I know that you can’t both forgive and expect to reconcile debts.

Maybe the impossibility of this unconditional gift is my struggle with forgiveness.

How do I, with one hand, reach for the eternal call of good, good, very good while holding such brokenness in the other?
How do I retain the past – an unreconciled past – affirm it, and let it go? 

Can I separate my desire for the good economy of reconciliation from the gift of forgiveness? This is what I ultimately want to do. Forgive debts.
Not repress or deny the hurt of the past but retain it as if it were crossed out, erased – there, but not anymore. 

I want to live into the call of the impossibly good things; lepers that are healed, blind that see –
debts that are forgiven, as I have forgiven my debtors.
I want to let the impossible beauty of the unconditional gifts breathe meaning into the hurt,
healing into the brokenness
and life into where I am and
where I am called to be.
I want to give away the debts owed to me, even as the debts I owe are released – and live into the eternal proclamation of good, good, very good that takes and forms the beautiful from the deep.

God help me do the impossible.



Amy Martin