Va-eira: More Great Sources

God spoke to Moses and said to him, “I am HASHEM [YHVH]. I appeared [va-eira] to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob as El Shaddai, but with My Name HASHEM I did not make myself known [nodha’ti] to them.
Shemot/Exodus 6:2-3 (Stone translation*)

The Holy Name of Being

Rabbi Shefa Gold writes:

THE BLESSING OF VA-EYRA comes to us as God’s self-revelation. “I am YHVH – I am Being itself. And yes I am the same one that your ancestors perceived as El Shaddai, the very same One. All the names you have called Me are aspects of the One, and now you are ready to receive a glimpse of the Whole, that Unnameable One. [Exodus 6:2]

“You will see Me and know Me through the process of liberation that you are about to experience… Freedom is the key to knowing Me… Through this process I will bring you to fulfillment, to a state where you can receive the divine inheritance, which is the knowledge of the divine spark at your core. I am YHVH. I am Being itself.” [Exodus 6:6-8]

In receiving the blessing of Va-eyra, I place my journey in the context of cosmic process. I know that every tragedy I suffer and every delight I enjoy moves me towards the fulfillment of the divine promise. As each face of God appears to me, I can see it in the greater context of the One. Each day in my prayers I can remember (with the Sh’ma3 ) that all conceptions of God (Eloheynu) are aspects of YHVH, which is Being itself. Continue reading Va-eira: More Great Sources

Noach: A Path to Follow

Alan Lew presents the Tower of Babel story (Genesis/Breishit 11:1-9) as the third step in an emotional path that also includes the expulsion of Adam and Eve from Eden and the conflict between Cain and Abel. Exploring this path, as outlined in Be Still and Get Going: A Jewish Meditation Practice for Real Life,* suggests new ways of reading these and other Torah texts and applying their insights in our lives.
Continue reading Noach: A Path to Follow

Korach: A Path to Follow

All the sacred gifts that the Israelites set aside for YHVH I give to you, to your sons, and to the daughters that are with you, as a due for all time. It shall be an everlasting covenant of salt [b’rit melach] before YHVH for you and for your offspring as well. — Bamidbar/Numbers 18:19

Look for other mentions of the “covenant of salt” — sometimes rendered “salt-like covenant” — and explore possible meanings of salt in the ancient world.
Continue reading Korach: A Path to Follow

Shelach: Great Source-2

The first Great Source(s) post for Shelach (Lecha) included a long, century-old poem and several academic references. For a different approach to this week’s — or any Torah portion, visit Rabbi Shefa Gold’s Torah Journeys.

Rabbi Gold notes that the Torah portion Shelach (Lekha) [“send out (for yourself)”] (Numbers 13:1 – 15:41) includes the story of spies sent to scout out the promised land and ends with the instruction to tie fringes [tzitzit] as a reminder of the commandments. Like the portion’s spies, we all experience odd moments that hint at “the infinite that is the source of our finite world,” she writes. She then explains that this portion is a challenge:

“to remember what I have glimpsed, to plant the glimpse, like a seed, in the soil of my life. And Shelach Lekha warns me that if I deny that glimpse – if I doubt its validity – then I will be denied entrance to the Land of Promise – the state of consciousness that witnesses Divine Presence filling the whole world. To plant the seed of that glimpse requires that I acknowledge and celebrate it, and that I nurture its growth with my loving attention.”

by Zachary Lynch, mixed media/sgraffito board
by Zachary Lynch, mixed media/sgraffito board

For me, this piece of art –“From Dirt to Life,” by Zachary Lynch — offers a powerful visual embodiment of this teaching. (This work — mixed media, sgraffito board — was created through the Washington Very Special Arts “Articulate Gallery,” which is sadly no more; the piece can now be found at Temple Micah).

 

The “Opening the Book” series was originally presented in cooperation with the independent, cross-community Jewish Study Center and with Kol Isha, an open group that for many years pursued spirituality from a woman’s perspective at Temple Micah (Reform). “A Song Every Day” is an independent blog, however, and all views, mistakes, etc. are the author’s.