Thursday, July 7, 2011

2011 Tammuz

Last Shabbat we greeted Rosh Hodesh; the New Moon of Tammuz.   Cancer – the crab.  
The movement is towards chaos and disarray.  The energy is subtly shifting already.
Last week’s Torah portion, Hukat, told of the death of Miriam, and the resulting lack of water.  The people got angry. The Holy Blessed One instructed Moshe to speak to the rock and draw water out of it.  Instead he hit the rock. Water came forth and the people drank.  Moshe was denied access to the land as a result of this action after leading the people for 40 years.  This seems harsh. This subjugation of nature was not tolerated. 
This Shabbes we will read Balak; the portion about a King who feels threatened and wishes to curse the Nation of Yisrael. He hires a Bilaam. a sorcerer to invoke a curse. The intention to cause damage is clear. 
When it comes time to the so Bilaam cannot invoke it.  In the end the words of “Mah Tovu” are uttered – “How good are your tents, Ya-akov; the Mishkan; Dwelling place of Shekhinah” .  The curse, is not uttered.  Rather, he blessed the people. 
These portions mirror the non linear and unpredictable nature of this time of year.
Tammuz, as noted in the “Empowerment in the Solar Year” (see prior blog) chart posted earlier resonates like “midlife crisis”.  The Cancer crab can pinch. It calls for a questioning of values, direction, and lifestyle chosen.  It is an opportunity to examine conscious and unconscious patterns, the basic assumptions from which we operate and their validity in our lives today.  Often patterns remain longer than they are useful.
Early Judaism was based in the Temple and sacrifices.  The Temple was where people went to worship, to meet The Holy Presence.  On the 17th of Tammuz, Jerusalem was surrounded and on 9th of Av the Temple was destroyed (twice according to tradition). With the Temple gone, the people’s spiritual practice was destroyed. The first Rabbi’s gathered soon after and developed the second phase of Jewish practice based on the sacred times and the holy days.  The end of Temple based Judaism was a major shift in Jewish practice. 
The Reshimu; residue of these events color this time period.  We, like the first rabbis, are invited to consider assumptions and patterns that are ongoing.  Do they serve?  What should they be altered and how?
On a personal level, I meet Tammuz with trepidation.   In Tammuz; July 1997, I was diagnosed with breast cancer.  I recall the feeling of fear and uncertainty that came with the diagnosis.  I was afraid my life would end.  
The diagnosis revealed to me that there was something foundational was amiss with the way I was leading my life.  I had previously thought my lifestyle was healthy and life sustaining.   A deep knowing manifested in my soul that transformation was necessary for survival.  It caused me to reflect on my life choices and make significant changes.  Like the first rabbis who developed Jewish practice without the Temple, I had no idea how it might unfold. However, I was indeed fortunate, that the calendar cycle was ripe to support this kind of process at that time of the year.   Or because it happened then because of the opening.  We can not say for certain.
For me, this time of year marks the death of the secular corporate lifestyle that was consuming my life force.  It marks the birth of my commitment to tune into holiness always and continually refine this practice. 
Today, thankfully, I can confirm the diagnosis was a blessing. In disguise.  I am healthy, thank God.   The experience empowered me to turn my life around. I am grateful.
Every death is followed by a birth.  Every end marks a new beginning.  2000 years ago Temple-based Judaism was destroyed. Rabbinic Judaism was born.  "Cancer" is powerful time in the calendar.  Finding the lump in my breast and the subsequent diagnosis certainly gave me pause to reflect.

So we too, like the first rabbis, we ask ourselves, what is essential ?  What serves and what can be released? 
What are the unconscious patterns in our life that no longer serve?   Which new ones need be integrated into life? 

May gentle guidance arrive with sweetness this Summer and always. 

Empowerment through the Solar year, Holy days and the seasons

The solar year holds within it an complete birth and rebirth cycle.  This offers a reference for meeting the holy days. It is important because it offers a reference to holy time rooter directly from Earth’s seasons. It provides insights into the totality of year and hints at skillful means to deepen holy day experiences.
Weaved from the Torah of the Holy Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, May he live, share his wisdom and enjoy life for a very long time,
Astrological Sign
Hebrew Name
Related Holy Days 
Life Cycle Step/Comment
The Archer; Sagittarius
1rst days of Hanukah
Winter Solstice
Conception – First Light within darkness.
Last days of Hanukah
New Year (as it relates in time to Christmas)
Aquarius; Water Bearer
Tu B’Sh’vat

First signs of development and growth. 
Pisces; Fish
Mardi Gras, St Patrick’s day
Adolescence; Mischief, Masks, Indulging
Aries; Lamb
Spring Equinox
Coming into young; adulthood.  Aries; Lamb as it relates to the Pesah lamb offering
Taurus; Bull

Counting the Omer; a process for spiritual deepening

Jewish Month of healing
Gemini; Twins
Shavuot – Receiving Torah

Empowerment; like marriage, confirming a degree
Cancer; Crab
-  3 weeks - 17th of Tammuz – the 9th of AV
- Tu B’Av; Full moon holiday. End of crisis; move to Tikkun; reparations. T’shuvah; re-turning  process starts  on this full moon
Summer Solstice
Mid-life crisis in the heat of Summer
Leo; Lion

Virgo; Maiden
Elul Prep for the High Holy Days

Repairing past errors; Tsuhvah; Return to Source.  Preparing to meet The Maker and be judged

Libra; Scales
-Rosh Hashanah
-Yom Kippur
- Sukkot – Sh’mini Atzeret
Autumnal Equinox

Judgment, refinement
Happy Grandparents giving goodies to grandbabies.
The holiness of everyday.
Void of holy days, place holder for future birthing of Moshiah consciousness; ie enlightenment for all.  May it happen soon!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Aleph Kallah; Or Chadash 2011

Last week I was at the Aleph Kallah in Redlands, CA.
It was a rich week, filled with joy. I estimate 600 people gathered together to learn, sing, pray and commune.  It was a nourishing 6 days in sacred company.  Each person; students, staff and teachers sparkled with their individual holy light and contributed to the unique sacredness of this time together. The joy was effusive, intentionality directed, and good will permeated the event.

There is great power in gathering with a group of like minded individuals with holy intention for duration of time.  It felt like a taste of the pleasure of Olam HaBah; the world to come.  

Being there gives me great hope about building a better tomorrow.

The Aleph Kallah is held every other year just after the peak of Summer Solstice.