Saturday, September 29, 2012

5773 High Holy Days in S'fat and Yerushalayim

Teaching Kabbalah and leading services on Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur in the magical city of  S'fat is a blessing etched into my heart.  I have been sojourning with my holy sister Rev Sandy Rut Betzalel Pond LMT, an amazing artist who helped create the sacred prayer space. 

Standing in the presence of our Kabbalah Heritage the community united  in love, awe, integrity and devotion. We not only journeyed deeply into Spirit through ritual and practice (Atzilut), Intellectually with  teachings that I gave over and received from the other teachers (Breeyah), emotionally - breaking bread with Yehudit and Reuven Goldfarb, Gita Zoharah and Roni Bar El, Miriam and Dovid Friedman and many other holy souls,  we also journeyed deeply into Malkhut as we hiked into the valley to experience the amazing beauty of the Amud Wadi; following the tracks of Moshe Cordevero, The Holy Ari and the greater community of  earlier mystics  into the cool nourishing living waters.  The people I met in S'fat are there because they want to be close to God.  The Carlebach minyan at the House of Love and Prayer in S'fat was phenomenal and inspired me deeply.

In the next days we will be Initiating  the first days of Sukkot in Jerusalem.  It has been a blessed and inspiring journey, so far.  I feel guided and have enjoyed miracles on the path.
I look forward to bringing this back to our community and to seeing many of you next erev Shabbat.
Hallelu Yah!

 I am in the old city of Jerusalem, Sukkahs are everywhere. People are selling Lulavim and Etrogim on the streets. Some vendors are honest and some are not.  
The church bells are presently ringing in the old city. We will hear the call to prayer from the mosques soon, certainly.  The diversity if profound.

The four days between Yom Kippur and Sukkot bring in a new pure fresh 4 letter Divine Name for the year.
Today, Sunday, the final heh arrives. Malkhut sovereign receiving.

Sukkot, in Torah, is a 7 day pilgrimage festival and an aspectt of the secret of 7. There is movement through the 7 lower S'firot on these days. They are an opportunity to embody these Divine attributes; Hesed; unbounded grace, G'vurah; discipline and filtering, Tiferet; Compassion, Netzah; Perseverance, Hod; gratitude and humility, Yesod; Intimacy and community, and Malkhut on the 7th day; Sovereignty and Receiving.  It is like a palate of color we paint to establish the foundation for the year.

It already rained here motza-ay Shabbes - in the old city. This is grace - God's love manifesting - cooling the heat of summer as we drift into Autumn and the final harvest season for the solar year. We are very blessed.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Malkhut; Kingship on the High Holy Days; A view from Jewish Mystical Traditions

The coronation of the Infinite One as our Melekh," (King/Ruler/Guide) is an ancient theme of  the High Holydays, most notably of Rosh Hashanah.

According to Jewish mysticism, during these "High" Holydays days the “Malkhut" (Kingdom) level of all the universes is being rebuilt within.

“Malkhut” is associated with the moon.  The Moon does not generate her own light, rather, she receives light from the Sun.  The Moon is a receiver.  Her glow is a reflection of the Sun’s glow.

Shabbat is the Jewish day designated for menuhah; rest.  It is an opportunity, to check in with our own rhythms, our own hearts and awakenings.  Shabbat , too, is associated with "Malkhut", receiving.

"Malkhut" receives from all the other 9 s’firot in the Et Hayyim; Tree of Life.

"Malkhut", is associated with the final heh of the Four Letter Name - The Great Receiver of the Holy Blessed One, Shekhinah.  As in “L’shem Yikhud Kudsha Breekh ooShkhintay”; For the sake of Union between The Holy One of Blessing an Sh’khinah - The Divine Transmitter and Divine Receiver.

Rosh HaShanah invites a rebuilding of our personal, communal and global receivers. Spiritual work refines our attunement to the Holy One of Blessing, allowing us to become better vehicles in which to receive our inflow of Divine Light.
May it be The Will.    

When saying "melekh" in our prayers we are offering conscious support to the rebuilding of the universes; both inner and outer. 

This is the Divine redesigning that is taking place during these days. We are partners in this process - in consciousness and in action.

This is our chance to envision the world as you would like to see it and do your part to usher it into reality.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Elul in Potential; The Planting of a Fractal in Time

On Shabbat just past, the kernal, seed;( like the letter yud) was implanted into our conscious with the blessing of "Shabbat Mevarkhim" (see below).

This coming Shabbat marks the Rosh Hodesh; new moon of Elul. Elul is the month that precedes the Yamim Noraim; Days of Awe (Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur, High Holy Days); it offers opportunity to re-turn, re-align with our root purpose before meeting the new year.

We affirm that "the end action if implanted on the initial thought" every Shabbat eve in the Lekha Dodi.

We can witness fractals unfolding:

1) On Shabbat Mevarkhom, this seed was planted into consciousness
2) Friday is Rosh Hodesh Elul, which is the upcoming Shabbat too - a double blessing is given because of the synchronicity of Rosh Hodesh Elul and Shabbat falling on the same day.
3) Elul, the time designated for Soul Accounting and T'shuvah, re-turn to source is also rooted in the restful peace of Shabbat this year. Elul offers an annual blessing opportunity with preparation for the High Holy day period
4) The High Holy Days set up the entire year.
5) The Jewish year

In this way, we can witness a fractal of Shabbat implanted in the entire year. Can you witness the expansion here from the seed of Shabbat Mevarkhim to the entire upcoming year with these stages/vistas on the way?

May this rest, ease, and peace permeate Elul T'shuvah; return, and the entire approaching year.

Friday, August 3, 2012

2012 August New moon - Tu B'Av and its Exanding Quality

The full moon if Tu B'Av began last night. The fullness of the moon is proportional to the abundant blessings in the earth field at this time of year.  The shift from the dissolve of Tisha b'Av (9th of Av) to Tu b'Av (15th of AV and full moon) is profound.  This is the start of an opportunity to gel, that is re-configure our lives, before the days of awe. The annual T'shuvah cycle.

I love this full moon.

This is also a Jewish day for matchmaking. In old Israel the tribes were allowed to intermarry only on this day. The maidens would wear white and dance in the vineyards outside of Jerusalem and give an interesting man a come hither look. The young women would borrow clothes from one another. The women from wealthy families and the women from less wealthy families supported one another to look good.  An open day of joy and freedom.

How can we open our hearts' yearning for a beloved on Earth?
We can start by asking the Beloved on High for loving help this full moon.

May it be so for us all.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

2012 Rosh Hodesh Tammuz and Summer Solstice

Today is Rosh Hodesh Tammuz - the new moon of Tammuz; the fourth month month of the Jewish calendar. Tammuz is represented by the crab, Sartan - also called Cancer.  

This is an anniversary of my cancer diagnosis.  It struck me, at the time. as ironic, to be diagnosed with cancer while the crab of cancer was in its power.  Perhaps it was the right time to discover that things had gone far from equilibrium.  The diagnosis, treatment caused me pause, reflect and eventually change my life.  It was for the good. I am grateful.

Every month has a unique permutation of the 4 letter name.  On Nissan, the first month it is the YHVH - the tradition and most common spelling in both Joseph Ashkenzi's kabbalah and the Gra's tradition.  

This month the permutation is HYHV according the Joseph Ashkenazi's Kabbalah. The Gra offers HVHY. They agree often, but not always.  This is consistent with the energy of Tammuz and mirrors its deconstructive nature.  It is a version that feels out of alignment when reflecting on it.

Today is also Summer solstice marking the longest number of daylight hours of the year. This is a week of extremes. Maximal darkness of the moon meets the maximum light by day. 

Sunday, June 17, 2012

2012/5772 Korah

This week we consider Korah. Unsatisfied with the system as it is and his place in it, Korah acts out and Moshe - the authority. When we consider the Torah portion, we have an opportunity to consider our own "Inner Korah", that is our tendency toward rebellion.
This Torah portion mirrors the energies of the the month of Tammuz that initiates this week. Patterns embedded within Patterns. The 17th day of the Tammuz marks the siege of Jerusalem that leads to the destruction of the temple. Imprints and patterns remain on the structure of time. We are led to consider paradigms we live by. Are they valid, or do they need upgrading?

Friday, June 15, 2012

Shabbat M'varkhim Tammuz

Shabbat Shalom Everyone.  This is "Shabbat M'varkhim" - the Shabbes before the New Moon of Tammuz.  The Holy Zohar teaches that on Shabbes all the blessings for each day of the week arrive are stored until the shine through on the day, since Rosh Hodesh come in this week, we set the intention to bring in blessings for the New Moonth.  

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Lag B'Omer Hod of Hod, Humilty of Humility, Riding the Wave of Riding the Wave

Can I wait for the Hod that is mine?  do I truly look at  these waves with integrity?  or am I so eager to ride, that I hop on waves that are not mine to ride.  Do I look before I leap? Or  Do I love the ride so much, I forget to discern.  How do I discern which waves to ride.?

G'vurah in Hod; Boundaries in Humility

A few days ago we counted 30 days of the Omer G'vurah in Hod.
Consider is my humility disciplined? or do I move into a sense of ego and have a drive to be in control and do things my own way? G'vurah in Hod calls us to to modulate surfing a wave with waiting for a "right " wave to ride. Not all waves are for each of us. We can let some waves pass on by and choose to ride the ones that can move us where we wish to be.

Hod; Gratitude Humility, Seeing, Discerning and Riding the Wave

It is the week we consider Hod; gratitude, humility,surfing the universe, the ability to ride waves and move forward on available energy, flying like a bird flies, swimmng like a fish swims, the ability to discern which wave is your own wave to ride. Sometime we must wait patiently for the next wave to arrive.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Musings on the Omer  days 8-14  The week of G’vurah, Contraction.

Week 2; Days 8-14 invitation to reflect on the attribute of G’vurah; discipline, filter, membrane, contraction, limiting.
Discipline and boundaries’ purpose is to support life and love.   Boundaries are a necessary part of life.   Hesed; expansion and grace flow freely like water.  Water needs to be focused, filtered or contained to be  used.   Without G’vurah water has no form and cannot be used.
Time was very G’vuradik - restricted this week.  

8. Hesed Sh’b’G’vurah Expansion/Grace within Contraction
Consider  - Is my discipline gracious and expansive?
Image – blood  (Hesed) in an artery (G’vurah); A baby (Hesed) moving through the birth canal (G’vurah) to start life.
Guide for practice - ask: Do the discipline and boundaries I establish for others support growth and nourishment?  Or Is it demoralizing and destructive?  What about discipline I take on myself?  Is it useful and helpful?  Do the boundaries need to shift to better nourish others and myself? 

9. G’vurah Sh’b’Gvurah  Discipline within Discipline
Ask – Is my discipline disciplined?  Is it directed by moods swings or something external?  Is it severe?  Or does it serve to nourish and help. 

10. Tiferet Sh’b’Gvurah  Compassion/Harmony in Discipline
Image – 1) A heart with veins moving blood to it and arteries moving the oxygenated blood back through the body.  2) A breast feeding an infant. 
Compassion gives the receiver what they can receive and what will nourish.  Compassion receives what is given.  Compassion is the tuning between a giver and receiver.
Is my discipline compassionate?  Is it given in a way that can be received?  Is it too strict?  Too lenient?  

11.Netzah  Sh’b’G’vurah  Perseverance, longevity, eternity within Discipline
Focus/Intensity within Discipline
Imagine a beating heart.  Is the rate consistent?  Or are there random beats from time to time?  The heart need beat at consistent rate to support vitality, health and productivity.
Discipline must have the quality of perseverance to have impact.  Will it pass the test of time?  Or does it change frequently and allow benefits to deteriorate before they can help?    
Consider 1) Prayer practice or meditation practice 2) Exercise  

12. Hod Sh’b’Gvurah Fluidity/Humility in Discipline
Image - Imagine dry desert land.  See the tiny flowers that spring up even in the most harsh environment.  
Is my discipline fluid?  Am I willing to change my position when presented with new information in the moment?   Am I open to enhancing a practice when opportunity presents itself?

13. Yesod Sh’b’Gvurah  Bonding in discipline  Friday April 20th 2012
Discipline must lead to developing deeper bonds to be useful and productive.
Image – an old tree, its trunk and abundant roots twisting deeply and embedded in the Earth.
Does discipline lead to deepening bonds? Are people left alienated as a result?   discipline need support bonding. 

14. Malkhut Sh’b’GVurah  Shabbes  April 21rst
Discipline, like love, must enhance personal dignity, the sovereign self. Discipline that breaks a person will degrade dignity.
Does my discipline allow the recipient to  keep his or her own integrity and sense of self?  Does if increase self-esteem and self-awareness or does it weaken and dishearten me and others?

Thursday, April 12, 2012

2012 Bio Omer Counting Days 4-7

4. Netzah sh'b'Hesed  Perseverance in Expansion

a. The Sun beaming nourishing light to our mostly blue planet Earth allowing life and beauty.
b. A mountain sides with a small channels of water flowing tricking midst the rocks.
c. Loving something or someone very very much.

Spiritual Challenge: 
a. Unrelenting sunlight can  scorch Earth and deplete her resources. 
b. Impatience. Time. A slow trickle and slowly chisel away hard rock over enough time.  
c. Wanting more of them or from them. 

Guide for practice:  
a. Sun shines on Earth by day and Moon by night. 
b, Tuning into Divine time. Appreciating the blessings available to us during our finite time on Earth as they are available.
c. Though the impulse to be together can be very strong, it is key to modulate the desire for balance and health.  We've all been the recipient of needy love. It can be overwhelming and unpleasant. We've also all felt the tendency toward over indulgence. Learning to balance is key to a happy life.

5. Hod sh'b'Hesed

a.The tiny plants growing alongside cactus in the dry desert.   
b.Birds flying upon the air currents*.  
c.Fish Swimming with the waters*.  

*Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi

Spiritual Challenge:
a.  Resources and energy are finite.  

Guide for Practice:
Just like the delicate cactus flowers find enough to exist, and the birds and fish conserve their own energy by supplementing it with the air and water flow, 
Pause to recognize and utilize the blessings (resources) that are available.  Open to using them in simple and creative ways.  

Note: This is useful when considering oil consumption.

6.Yesod sh'bHesed

a. Trees blossoming.
b.  Pregnancy.

Spiritual Challenge:
Nourishment, Patience, External conditions beyond our control, Grace is needed.

Guide for practice:

a. Proper water and fertilizers. We pray that the weather and external conditions will support the fruit's development. 
b. Thoughtful nourishment for the pregnant mother, low stress environment. Prayer and intention that the baby be born healthy.

7.  Malkhut sh'b'Hesed

a. A juicy apple. 
b. An infant.  An individual.  

Spiritual Challenge:
a. Hunger.  Waiting for the delicious apple to grow to it's fullness. 
b.The baby is an individual distinct from the parents.

Guide for practice:
a. Walt until the time is right to harvest the fruit.
b. Get to know the individual that has been brought into the world.  Listen. Pay attention to what the infant individual tells you.  This is true for individuals of all ages.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Last night we counted Day 3 - Tiferet sh’be’Hesed Compassion, Balance in Expansion

Last night we counted Day 3 Tiferet sh’be’Hesed
Compassion, Balance in Expansion

The birth canal pressing and coddling the infant, massaging and nourishing it as it enters into the world.  The act of nursing; breast milk is formulated specially for the infant. It is what the infant can receive and take in.  Just the right nourishment and flow. 

Giving must be offered in a way that can be received to be effective giving.  Tiferet calls to tuning into the one receiving.  Compassionate giving holds the needs of the recipient as primary.
Not enough or too much do not nourish adequately.  The offering must be matched, that is tuned to the one receiving. 
Guide to Practice; Ask yourself, am I giving in order receive something in return?  Am I giving to demonstrate my superiority?  Am I giving too much and burdening the recipient?
How can I give in a manner that better supports the recipient’s fuller receiving what is being offered?  

Monday, April 9, 2012

Counting the Omer Day 1 and 2

Week One:
Day 1) Hesed Of Hesed.  Expansion that is within Expansion
The blessing if lowing unconditional nourishment flowing like water flows freely abundantly nourishing.  
Image: water flowing, love given
The spiritual challenge is that while water can be nourishing and is essential a “just enough” quantity need be received to sustain life.  Too much can be devastating.  Imagine the floods of Katarina or the tidal waves that resulted from the earthquakes in Japan. Not enough and life does not sustain. Similarly, loving something too much can be devastating.  Too much of a good thing is too much.  Consider how the love is given and actualized.
The guide for practice:  Infinite flow, like infinite blessings sound like they are for the good. Infinite flow, like infinite water can be damaging, like the flood or typhoon.   We are reminded of  the importance of sustainability. We pray for a right amount of blessing to sustain spiritually, intellectually, creatively and physically. We offer a right amount of blessing to nourish those in our sphere of influence, not too much and not too little.

Last night we counted Day 2)
G’vurah sh’beHesed; Contraction within Expansion
Image; a typhoon, a flood, too much chocolate
Spiritual Challenge; healthy love always includes an element of restraint. Rain is a blessing only because it falls in drops and does not flood.
Guide for practice; Is my love disciplined enough?  Am I hurting others by allowing myself to become a crutch for them?  Do I respect the one I love or is my love a selfish love?  Am I projecting my wants and needs upon others?  Do I take into account my partner’s capacity to receive love before I give it?

Sunday, March 4, 2012

March is upon us. Purim is this week. 

 I've been away looking inward. And it is good to be back.

The whimsy of this season is witnessed by mercurial weather;  The arctic breeze chills, as the sun warms our skin here in Southern California.

This is the season of mischief, masks and mystery.  Is Springtime here yet?  or it a brief bit of warmth masking Winter's chill ? 

The veil between good and bad is thinner now than any other time of the year.  

We can look at the good and the bad with expansive eyes to witness goodness, even in what seems very bad.  As the shadow side  of what seems very very good.  Life is indeed mixed and glorious.

There is good in all, when we really open our eyes to tune to it.