Gardener friends share their thoughts on the spiritual meaning of gardening…
Eden represents the idealized human past…and future. (more…)
My own Gan Eden was not in the East by the Tigris and Euphrates, but 90 miles west of San Antonio in the Texas Hill Country near a small town with the improbable name of Utopia, on the cool, green Sabinal River. (more…)
When Moses stood at the burning bush, (Exodus 3:5), YHWH told him to remove his shoes, because he was standing on holy ground. If weather, terrain, and social setting permit, going barefoot can be a great way to make a fast connection with the earth (even indoors but all the better if you can do it outside on the ground). Take some time to feel the textures and temperatures on your feet and sense your connection with the earth.
Experience a taste of Eden by growing some of your own vegetables, fruits, or flowers. There are may ways to find your own connection to the vibrant energy of growing plants, wherever you may live. (more…)
Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi taught a parable of a king on the way to the palace, who can be approached by everyone in the countryside with ease. His expression, “the King is in the field,” characterized the late summer month of Elul prior to the New Year, as a time when it is easier to access our connection to the divine within. Contemporary Torah teacher Gavriel Strauss, suggests that at this time of year we literally go out in nature, to a meadow or field, as a wonderful way to feel that spiritual closeness. Click on the featured photo above to activate the gallery, a photo series scenes at Otter Creek Preserve, Mamaroneck, and Rockefeller State Park Preserve, Pleasantville, New York (the second Egret in Fairfield, Connecticut). Photos by Rabbi Julie Hilton Danan.
Passover, the Festival of Spring and Freedom, is a holiday associated with food. Matzah, of course, the flat unleavened bread (I recommend whole wheat), to remind us of the unleavened bread that our ancestors baked in their haste to leave slavery in ancient Egypt, with no time for the dough to rise. The other tastes of Passover have their own associations, bitter and sweet. Eating these symbolic and seasonal natural foods helps to literally internalize the Seder’s message of freedom.
The Torah (Leviticus 19:9-10) teaches that farmers must leave the gleanings of their harvest and the corners of the fields for the needy to come and collect This is an early form of tzedakah (justice, charity) that is elaborated on in the Mishnah, the foundational text of Rabbinic Judaism, and found in many Jewish siddurim (prayerbooks). The sense is that land is not strictly our property, but ultimately belongs to God (because “I am YHWH your God”). How can we do this mitzvah (good deed, divine imperative) today?
Gardening today is becoming one of the most innovative areas of Tikkun Olam, healing and repairing the world. Community Gardens and sharing of garden harvests help the environment and feed the hungry while fostering community.
Congregation Sons of Israel in Briarcliff Manor, New York, founded the CSI Community Organic Farm on 1.5 acres at the back of the synagogue’s property. The farm offers communal gardening, a farmer’s market, and donations to the needy. Chickens are raised and their eggs are sold at the farmer’s market. The farm promotes Jewish traditions and values in areas such as ecology, agriculture, nutrition, wellness, spiritual connection, social and environmental justice. Check back for more photos as they grow!
Please share in the comments if you know of a synagogue farm or communal garden. (Return to the Gateway of Gardens.)
Join the sharing circle to share your reflections about any of the themes in this Gateway.
Did you have a special place in nature that was formative to your soul, your own “Garden of Eden”? What was it like? Do you have such a place now?
Is gardening a spiritual practice for you?
How can we share the joys of gardening, or share those special places of the soul with others? Is there any project you are working on, such as a community garden, that you would like to share with other visitors to Wellsprings of Wisdom?
As a Texan, I often find wisdom in Country Western Songs, and here is one about the Adamah–Dirt!