You and I – Leonard Nimoy

Kavanah is a Hebrew word meaning intention and focus. The rabbis often speak of ‘kavanah of the heart’ in terms of prayer. This Hebrew word is deeply significant as we stand on the threshold of the Hebrew calendar month of ELUL.

The following poem speaks into this season of repentance and reflection as a reminder that we do have a set time that we walk on this side of eternity. And that knowing, that realization, is a gift!

As we move into Elul may we have intent and focus and may every intention and thought of our hearts be profoundly aware of the One to whom we are speaking.

You and I *
Leonard Nimoy

I am not immortal.
Whatever I put off for later
May never be.
Whoever doesn’t know now
That I love them
May never know.
I have killed time.
I have squandered it.
I have lost days…weeks…
As a man of unlimited wealth
Might drop coins on the street
And never look back.
I know now, that there will be an end,
A limit.
But there is time
Valuable and precious time
To walk,
talk,
breathe.
Time to touch,
taste,
care.
To warm the child
Who is cold and lonely.
There is time to love
I promise myself…
I will.
I am…
I am ready
I am ready to give
I am ready to give and to receive
I am ready to give and to receive love.

* Blog of Rabbi John Rosove

The Seeds of Hope Planted on Tisha b’Av

We are close to entering Bein Hameitzarim – The Narrow Straits – or Three Weeks Of Sorrow. As we enter this time it is good to remember that this time of grief can also be seen as a time of healing.  Rachel Barenblat explains: 

[The Three Weeks] This is the corridor between two painful anniversaries: the date when Jerusalem’s ancient city walls were first breached, and the date when the Temple was destroyed. What does it say about us as a people that we remember these dates each year? Is it spiritually healthy to hold on to ancient wounds?…

The breach in ancient Jerusalem’s city wall is a paradigmatic cracking-open from integrity and wholeness to brokenness. And as those of us who offer pastoral care know well, every grief that we feel triggers every other grief. Every brokenness evokes other brokenness: whether the breaking of a marriage, or the breaking of a life’s trajectory, or the breaking of a heart suffused with sorrow.

The Jewish calendar gives us these Three Weeks as a time for feeling the brokenness that characterizes every heart and every life. These weeks offer an invitation, and an opportunity to feel what hurts. Not because we’re going to stay in that brokenness, but precisely because we’re not — and because recognizing what’s broken is the first step toward healing, as individuals and as a community.*

Blessed are you Lord our G-d, King of the Universe. Abba may we allow this time of sorrow to teach and reshape our hearts. May we come out of The Narrow Straits more grateful for the blessings we have and filled with even greater hope and expectation for return of Messiah Yeshua – for a time when wars will cease when the land and people will be healed and Your knowledge and glory will fill the earth!

ADONAI, turn us back to you; and we will come back; renew our days, as they were in the past. (Lamentations 5:21)

THE SEEDS PLANTED ON TISHA B’AV**
– Ovadya ben Malka

A long sorrow follows us into the future.
A sadness long foretold
Baked into loaves
Laid out under the lamps
Of unforgiving time
Meeting our questions with silence.

A great joy lives in our future
A seed planted in the soil of memory,
Watered by our tears
Pushing roots into the past and green shoots into the future
And calling to us: Live!
Only live to see me blossom!

A blessing and a curse were laid on us that day.
We have drunk our fill of the curse,
Lived it through every dark and empty moment of chaos,
Sought unattainable death amidst a sea of corpses.
However large or small a bowl one brings,
This curse fills it.

A curse and a blessing were laid on us that day.
Having lived the curse,
Can we doubt the blessing?
We’ve felt the change, stirring beneath the spiral coil of time,
See the green shoots of hope blossoming in our Land renewed.
However large or small a seed we plant,
This blessing fills it.

Behold, I will cause breath to enter you that you may come to life. I will put sinews on you, make flesh grow back on you, cover you with skin and put breath in you that you may come alive; and you will know that I am The Lord.
Ezekiel 37:5-6

* Rachel Barenblat, Why The Three Weeks Of Grief In The Jewish Calendar Can Be Healing
** Ovadya ben Malka, From Memory And Redemption – Reflections From A Damaged Mirror

 

Victims No Longer

ISRAEL to the World…A message.

After the ghettos and the camps,
The humiliations and the murders,
A decision was made —
To rise from the ashes,
To work and to build,
And to fight if necessary
To be free.
A reborn people
In our reborn Land,
Walking in victory
With G-d’s help,
Victims no longer.

-Keren Hannah


Ode To Spring

free_israel_photos_flowers_kalaniot_640*Kalaniot (Anemones) in the western Negev fields.

The flower buds appear on the earth, the time of singing has come, and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land. (Song of Songs 2:12 ESV)

Spring — the time when buds unfurl and leaves fan out from the branches of trees. God has thrown open a door and life springs forth from the earth. After the gray confines of winter, this season of rebirth and hope overwhelms the senses with color and fragrance.

The month of Nissan always falls in Spring and reminds us in a practical hands-on way as we “spring-clean” our homes; that we who were once slaves to the world are now willing servants of God. We thoroughly clean the refrigerator and oven, sorting our cabinets and shelves, checking everything for chametz, carefully removing all breadcrumbs as we prepare for Passover. Clean out the house – clean out our souls! Time for a sparkling new bebinning!

Ode to Spring

Sun drunk flowers
sway in the soft spring breeze.
Fragrant faces
of brilliant hue.

In freshly feathered nests
birds hearken to the gossip of Spring.

Windows thrown open wide
bring Spring’s honeyed voice inside.
Her breath pollen laden
spreads the contagion of her fever

GASP!

Clean 

A fresh new beginning!

Passover-Cleaning-1

* Ronnie Copas – Passover Cleaning

~ Cindy & Keren

SAP RISES

This poem was originally penned with thoughts of the Hebrew month of Shevat, during which the ‘New Year for Trees’ is celebrated [see Tu’b’Shevat in ‘Appointments with God’ section], yet it is fitting for the season we find ourselves in. This year, in the northern hemisphere, Winter seems to have a tighter hold than usual and Spring is just beginning to show it’s promise as the trees shake the drowsiness of winter from their branches. As the nourishing sap rises to bring new life to the trees, we too can celebrate the new life given us each morning and at every new season of our lives by our faithful Creator,

Cedar-of-Lebanon,-adr090510629-bibleplaces

BiblicalPlaces.com, Esh-Shouf Cedar Reserve

The trees of the Lord are full of sap; the cedars of Lebanon, which He has planted…[1]

SAP RISES

Singing Psalms in Jerusalem
Swaying blue-striped tents of white
dot this sanctuary of time.
Tefillin, carrying the Word, light the way.
Tzitizit dance gently, accompanying
the prayers chanted this New Moon eve;
a psalm of love to our Creator.
Open hands uplifted to Heaven,
herald Shevat, and remind us:
We need not suffer thirst.
Living Water from Heaven’s stream
always flows, quenches, restores.
Like sweet sap rises
and fans a tiny flame into a burning fire. [2]

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Footnotes:

1. Psalm 104:16
2. Keren and Cindy composed this poem at Rosh Chodesh Shevat, 2013. Inspired by Velveteen Rabbi.