“Sickness comes from lack of joy; healing comes from joy.” - Rebbe Nachman of Breslov
Adar is the last month on the Hebrew calendar according to the Torah’s reckoning of months. The Sages tell us that the month of Adar is described as the “month of darkness that turns to joy.” This is because of it being the month of the Purim story, where in Haman’s time God’s people were so close to total annihilation. Darkness precedes the light of next month (Nissan) with its themes of liberation and purpose through the Exodus story.
The Jews could have been destroyed during Adar, but through the miracles of Purim, where it only looks like God is not there, God’s people triumph. And darkness is turned to light. So, what’s a people to do when we realize God was there with us all along??
In the quote above by Rebbe Nachman, God empowers the emotion of joy to heal ourselves. This is the month to...
Tu B’Shevat is a Jewish holiday happening on the 15th day of the Hebrew month of Shevat. In 2021, this falls on the evening of January 27th until the evening of January 28th. Tu B’Shevat is tied to the agricultural cycle of the Land of Israel. It’s the “new year for trees.” This goes back to Temple times when worshippers offered the first fruits of the trees they planted, after the trees had turned four years old.
The holiday has its seed formation in the Torah. (Yes, I meant that as a pun since we’re talking about trees) The Torah says, “When you enter the land (Israel) and plant any tree for food, you shall regard its fruit as forbidden. Three years it shall be forbidden for you, not to be eaten” (Leviticus 19:23). The fruit of the fourth year was then offered to Temple priests as a gift of gratitude for the bounty of the land. The fifth-year fruit and all fruits in later years was allowed for...
For those who like to party, you’ll get another opportunity this month. No, it’s not one of God’s biblical feasts, but it’s been around for some 3,000 years. Not that age equates with goodness, but I thought it was interesting that it’s been a thing for that long.
What am I talking about? The holiday for trees, called Tu B’ Shevat! Judaism has used this date (the 15th of the Hebrew month Shevat) traditionally to link trees to humans and trees to the Torah. So that makes this a good month to look into the biblical significance of trees.
Trees are an interesting motif seen in the scriptures and also were important to ancient cultures, including pagan ones. This isn’t surprising since the Holy One of Israel first used trees to teach us spiritual things pertaining to the 3rd day of Creation, and, as all things that come into the hands of people, these original...
Even though the names of the months are all of a foreign derivation, there are hints in the names relating to our understanding of Hebrew. Tevet is a “good” example of this, if you’ll pardon the pun. The indication is that Tevet is derived from the word we are all so familiar with, Tov. So, the rub with this information is, the emotion associated with this month (according to the Rabbi’s) is anger. Anger, as with all of our emotions, is not right or wrong. It just is. Where it gets us in trouble is when we let the sun go down on it. “Be angry, but don’t sin — don’t let the sun go down before you have dealt with the cause of your anger; otherwise you leave room for the Adversary.” (Eph 4:26-27 CJB). Even Paul recognizes that it’s ok to be angry, yet he follows it up by admonishing us to not let the sun go down on it. When we do, we leave ourselves open to an...
Have you ever heard it said that the Torah portion for the week, when we know what to look for, will match what’s going on in our life that week? The ancient wisdom of God’s Word is timeless and has relevant importance to us even today. Each week we have an opportunity to glean the Torah for today’s inspiration. It’s a Torah principle called “living with the times.” I have countless personal examples of this principle active in my life. Maybe you do too. If not, keep an eye out. Write them down.
Within the Torah portions of Genesis, an interesting theme emerges: most of the dreams mentioned in the Torah (10 in fact, dreamed by 7 dreamers) are in the book of Genesis! Most appear in the Torah portions of Vayeitzei, Vayeshev, and Mikeitz, all read during the month of Kislev. The sages say, therefore, that dreams are an important topic to...
Can I be honest with you? I’m tired. Really tired. These last two months, Elul and Tishrei were some of the most spiritually significant months of HaShem’s1 calendar that I remember experiencing in all my years walking with Him. I’d prayed that I would receive all that the Holy One wanted for me in His Fall Holy Days. I wanted all the blessings, chastisements, inspirations to do better, all the forgivenesses, all the miracles, and every bit of His Presence He wanted to offer.
Well, He came through in big ways on all fronts. But I am just a human, and all this touching of the Divine has left me spent. You too? I call it intimacy fatigue and I am thankful our Father understands and even helps me to break through the wall and not shrink back now.
Enter the month of Cheshvan or Marcheshvan as it’s more properly called. Note that “Mar” means “bitter”. Some say the bitter comes because this is the only...
Tishrei is a Hebrew month that is both the 7th month of the year and also (since the second century) referred to in the Mishna1 as the “head” of the year for years, sabbatical cycles, and the jubilee.
In scripture, God sets Nisan (the month of the Exodus from Egypt) as the first month of twelve in a year. The birth of nation Israel, and the giving of Torah sets the year, says the Holy One.
“The Lord said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt: This month shall mark for you the beginning of the months; it shall be the first of the months of the year for you” (Exodus 12:1-2)
The Mishnaic sages have taught that Tishrei is the birth month of Creation, therefore Jews see Tishrei as the most central event to ever take place and consider it the head of the year. With such a jam-packed month of set apart events2 in Tishrei, it’s easy to view this month as the spring from which we can draw from to sustain inspiration throughout the months that...
Elul is a Hebrew month ripe with possibility and infused with the pull of return. Return to what? Ah! That’s the question we grapple with this month, as we move closer to God’s prophetic Fall High Holy Days. What are you returning to?
Anyone living with a dog or a cat knows well the first half of Proverbs 26:11. They return because all they know is, they want to eat. The question is, will we let our animal urges (which aren’t necessarily bad because they are designed by God to keep us alive) be what motivates our behaviors, or will we allow the Divine breath/ spark in us to lead the dance called life?
I recently debated a seven-year-old who’s been steeped in Darwin over whether or not she’s an animal. My side of the debate was that she, like all of us, are made in the image of God and therefore are higher than the animals. She was intrigued by that, as I was intrigued contemplating God’s day six work creating animals and then...
“”… In his shadow I delighted to sit, and his fruit was sweet to
my taste. He has brought me to the banquet house and his
banner over me is love.” Song of Songs 2:3b-4
I recently had a dream where I was standing before a gigantic banqueting
hall with tables that were lavishly arrayed with a limitless supply of every
fruit and vegetable and prepared dish. Every combination imaginable was
present, and more. Oh, so much more. The colors, the shapes and the
aromas were spectacular. And every bit of it was hand selected specifically
As I stood there gasping in awe of this display, barely able to comprehend
the magnitude and splendor before me, I felt the LORD begin explaining to
me what I was seeing.
I have prepared everything you need for today and every day of your life.
There is no lack.
He was making sure that what I saw with my eyes was registering as a
reality in my heart. All of this, every last bit of it, was for me! The thoughts that were bombarding me...
We all need to have shalom in our homes now more than ever, right!? When our lives have massive disruption, like everyone world wide does, we NEED space that we can move in that isn’t frantic, panicked or frustrated.
But like the age old saying goes:
“Everywhere you go, there you are!”
So let’s put our heads together (virtually, of course!) and discuss some ways we can bring the shalom into our homes during this pandemic. Today I just want to focus on one area. Your breath.
Seriously. Just breathe. In through your nose and out through pursed lips.
Research shows that intentional deep breathing reduces the “fight or flight” response, instantly brings calmness, lowers blood pressure, reduces inflammation, triggers the relaxation response in your entire body, and allows your body the option of dealing with the stressors...