Right in the middle of all the Jewish Fall Holidays…it’s a new post! Rabbi David Seidenberg recently shared a very thoughtful post about the “Four Species (palm branch, willows, myrtles, and citron/etrog) that are waved as a Sukkot Ritual, explaining the ecological symbolism. He was kind enough to share it with Wellsprings of Wisdom, and you can find it here, in the Gateway of Wilderness, along with another post about the holiday of Sukkot being celebrated this week. Chag Sameach, Happy Sukkot!
Post holiday update: Another friend, Shir Yaakov Feit, posted a beautiful picture of a lulav and etrog in a natural setting, so I have incorporated that into the post as well.
Even with Rosh Hashanah on the horizon, I have posted some photos that I took on recent nature walks in preparation for the New Year. You will find them in this new Gallery in the Gateway of Gardens, along with an explanation of the Hassidic teaching that in Elul (the late summer month before the New Year) “the King is in the Field.”
Hearing the crickets and cicadas, seeing the drying flowers and hints of fall foliage, feeling the texture of the air at late summer, all these connect me to the change of season and the Divine Presence that pervades all things. May I suggest that you take some time in these waning days of Elul to go outside and seek your inspiration for the new year?
With a new post on the challenges of being a peace-seeking dove in the human world, the Gateway of Wings is complete (for now!). I’ve enjoyed creating this Gateway (content page) about birds and other winged creatures, and it has sparked my own interest in birding and bird (and butterfly) photography.
I’ll be sending out a letter to all website subscribers, so sign up with the form on this page if you want to keep in touch!
With Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, right around the corner, I’m very busy as a rabbi and probably won’t be posting much, but be sure to take a look at Wellsprings of Wisdom posts about customs and themes of the season, including Shofar videos and how to do Tashlich at a flowing stream or other natural body of water.
I’m continuing to learn about exciting new initiatives of Jewish spirituality in nature, and adding or updating them in the Resource Guide so that you can find a great retreat, adventure, or organic farm experience. I do this as a public service at no fee, and listing does not imply endorsement; please check them out for yourself!
Please enjoy exploring all the Gateways on Wellsprings of Wisdom.They are not time-sensitive and the idea is to explore what interests you, whether by individual pathway (post) or by theme. There are now fourteen Gateways to explore!
I just had the fantastic experience of teaching a class on “Tikkun Olam: A Jewish Tradition of World Repair” at the Chautauqua Institution, a wonderful summer festival of learning, culture, and interfaith dialgogue in a beautiful seasonal village in Western New York.
Tikkun Olam, repairing the world, is a venerable phase with roots in rabbinic law and mystical tradition. Today it has come to stand for all the holy efforts to make our world more just, loving, and sustainable. In each Gateway of Wellsprings of Wisdom, I offer one or more suggestions for how to get involved in world-healing actions related to the theme of that Gateway.
The most recent addition is a new post about the Audubon Society in the Gateway of Wings. Audubon is much more than bird-watching! Be sure to check it out.
The beautiful Redwinged Blackbird is guardian of the newly added Sharing Circle in the new and growing Gateway of Wings. I welcome your comments on any post, but the Sharing Circle in each Gateway is especially devoted to sharing your own experiences of spirituality and nature. Join the conversation and help make Wellsprings of Wisdom into an interactive community. You can also interact by emailing me though this site, or on my social media accounts linked from each page.
Thank you for being part of Wellsprings of Wisdom!
Today was Tisha B’Av, the fast to commemorate the destruction of the Temples in ancient Jerusalem. It is also seen as a day to mourn all brokenness, exile, and loss in the world, and to rededicate ourselves to sowing healing and love. At the end of the day I received this video with a moving chant and visuals to remind us of our responsibility to the ultimate temple, our home planet. I decided to share it on the Gateway of Seasons, for it is relevant every day of the year.
I’ve added a new pathway (post) on Winged Insects as Soul Symbols to the new and growing Gateway of Wings. I’m inspired by the beautiful butterflies and dragonflies of summer to ponder lessons of transformation.
I would love to hear back from you! Your comments on pathway posts and Sharing Circles means so much for making Wellsprings of Wisdom into a participatory community. I’m also happy to talk to you on Social Media, especially Instagram and Facebook. You can also email me from this site.
The Gateway of Wings is gradually turning me into a birder! I’ve added some more of my original bird photos to the Gallery of Birds, and also started to organize the Gateway of Wings into its more finished form. But there’s a lot more to come this summer! Sign up with the form on the top of this page, to get an email when it’s complete.
I had thought that connection to the symbol of feathers was my own idiosyncrasy, until I remembered the role that feathers play in two important Jewish traditions. Check out this new post on feathers, in the growing Gateway of Wings.
For fun, I’m sharing some favorite nature photos that I took myself. First some fauna, then some flora, some more “abstract” nature views, and then landscapes. I’ve been using more of my own photos on the site as time goes by and my skills improve. I started with an iPhone6, moved on to an iPhone7plus, and then got a fixed lens camera and took some lessons. I also borrowed my daughters DSLR camera and macro lens for a few of the flower closeups. If you enjoy my nature photography, I post regularly on Instagram as Wellsprings.
Today I added two Pathways (posts) in the new Gateway of Wings. I share my own perspective on meaningful encounters with birds through texts and photos. I also uploaded an Instragram post with one of my favorite videos that I took of a Great Egret in flight. Enjoy watching the Gateway of Wings as it grows.
Grackle amidst magnolias in my neighborhood, JHD
Today I was at a shiva (memorial) service and my friend, a rabbi, sang a simple, touching song that helps her keep her faith in the face of a difficult loss. “Be Like the Bird” inspired me and I decided to include it in the new and growing Gateway of Wings. The words of the song are from a poem by Victor Hugo.
There are a number of versions of the song on YouTube, including one with great bird graphics, but I quickly realized that someone had put that video together without getting permission to use the music and without crediting the performers. So I have embedded the original YouTube video of Be Like the Bird posted by the composer, and shared some of her story in the post.
I’m adding pathways (posts) to the new Gateway of Wings in no particular order, or should I say in the order of inspiration. When the Gateway (themed content page) is more or less complete, I plan to reorder the posts so that they create a thematic pathway through the Gateway page. But you can always explore in any order that interests you.
I’ve added a gallery of favorite bird photos that I took (mostly) at Rockefeller State Park Preserve–a birders’ paradise!
You’ll find it in the new and growing Gateway of Wings.
I’ve had a request for more poetry on Wellsprings of Wisdom. Here’s an original poem by a fellow traveler on the spiritual path, student Cantor and expert birder, Steve Margolin. His dream of finding an elusive bird far from its natural habitat parallels his spiritual search. Thank you, Steve, for sharing your poem AGAMI on the new and growing Gateway of Wings.
A new pathway (post) on the Gateway of Wings explores doves and eagles and key symbols in the Torah and later Jewish tradition. These two very different birds offer two contrasting ways to relate to the Divine.
I just posted a personal favorite video of Swallows as they dive and soar, below and above 5 Mile Bridge on Big Chico Creek in Bidwell Park, Chico, California (my former home). I love the way that their flight melds heaven and earth in this video. It’s the second post (and first new one) on the new and growing Gateway of Wings.
Egret at Rockefeller State Park Preserve, Frank Becker
Pssst! Just because you are exploring Wellsprings of Wisdom on your own and not waiting for an update from your guide, you’re among the first to take a sneak peak at the new Gateway under construction: the Gateway of Wings. If you love birds and other flying creatures, I think that you will enjoy watching as this Gateway unfolds into a multi-media exploration of the meaning of wings and flight in nature, ancient Jewish tradition, and our own lives.
I’m especially appreciative of friends who are sharing content for this page. Thank you to Frank Becker, a generous photographer whom I met on my walks in Rockefeller State Park Preserve. He took this amazing photo of an Egret in flight that also graces the Gateway of Wings. When you look at the Gateway, be sure to click on his photo to enlarge and open it in a lightbox.
It’s fitting to start a new enterprise today, because it’s a (lesser-known) Jewish holiday: Lag Ba-Omer. Enjoy this traditional Moroccan song for the day, recorded by my husband Avraham Danan, a tribute to the ancient mystic and sage Rabbi Shimon Bar Yohai:
Rock Dove by Cuatrok77 via Flickr
Things may seem very quiet at Wellsprings of Wisdom just now, but actually a lot is going on behind the scenes. I am busy talking to various individuals and organizations about providing content for Wellsprings. I am also working on the next Gateway (content page), which will soon be revealed as a “Gateway in Progress” in the Portal of Air! It will center on a nature symbol that I have been thinking of for a long time, and I don’t have a strong preconception of how it will turn out, so it will be an adventure.
Let’s just say that we will take flight! Stay tuned.
I’m excited to keep finding a growing number of new Jewish organizations dedicated to environmental, farming/gardening, and spiritual goals. I just updated Wellspring’s Web Resource Guide to include the Jewish Farmer Network (which is just what it says), Grow Torah, an organization that creates Torah learning gardens for schools and communal organizations, and At the Well, a women’s spirituality and wellness project. Wellsprings of Wisdom also has a separate Resource Guide to Retreat Centers and Outdoor Adventures, to help you find your next outdoor spiritual experience. I look forward to sharing the work of some of these organizations in greater depth in upcoming posts.
If there are resources you would like to recommend for inclusion, please contact Wellsprings.
On a technical note, apologies for sporadic difficulty in leaving comments on posts. It is due to a stubborn WordPress setting that automatically closes comments after a certain number of days. Hopefully things are working again now!
With permission of Nocturne, a podcast series about night, I have added a podcast with night sounds from around the world to this Pathway (post) in the Gateway of Darkness! Enjoy and try out the rest of the series.