Air

 

אויר

Some say that the climate and geography of the Holy Land, with its seasonal rain and hilly terrain, drew our ancestors’ gazes heavenward. Air is completely pervasive and essential to life yet invisible. It is as close as our breath (in here) and as vast as the heavens (up there). Wind (Ruah רוח), air in motion, became the Hebrew word for Spirit and another name for the Divine: Ruah Ha-Kodesh, the Holy Spirit.

Through this portal are Gateways that explore symbols of air.

 

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Peak Experiences in Our Lives (Plus a Midrash)

"Peak Experience" is a term coined by Psychologist Abraham Maslow to describe the times of emotional transcendence in human life. "Maslow envisioned moments of extraordinary experience, known as Peak experiences, which are profound moments of love, understanding,...

Seasons of Life

In addition to affirming the goodness of seasonal rhythms, the Bible also affirms the seasonal rhythms of human life, as in the well known section of Kohelet / Ecclesiastes: There is a season for everything, and a time for every desired purpose under heaven....

Turn, Turn, Turn

What better way to hear "Turn! Turn! Turn! (To Everything There Is a Season)" then this clip from 1966 featuring the composer Pete Seeger playing with Judy Collins (even as she gets stuck on the lyrics at one point, it only makes it more charming and nostalgic). The...

Musar: Ethical Development as an Ascent

Rabbi Pinchas ben Yair says, "Heedfulness leads to cleanliness, cleanliness leads to purity, purity leads to separation, separation leads to holiness, holiness leads to modesty, modesty leads to fear of sin, fear of sin leads to piety, piety leads to the Holy Spirit,...

Tzedakah for Spiritual Ascent

There is a Jewish mystical concept that by the merit of giving tzedakah (or learning Torah or doing a good deed) in memory of a loved one, we can help their soul ascend on its journey (aliyat ha-neshamah) in the next world. A humanistic understanding of this would be...

Sephirah: Reviewing Your Life in Seven Year Cycles

Years ago, I learned from the late Rabbi David Wolfe-Blank about a spiritual practice of reviewing one's life in seven year increments, a Sephirah (counting) of life. It's a great exercise to do around your birthday or anytime you want to take stock. The Shmittah or...

Soundtrack: Mountain Ambiance in the Himilayas

  Featured Image: By (WT-en) Wikid at English Wikivoyage (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons Learn what the Bible says about peak experiences, or return to the Gateway of Mountains.

Moses’ Peak Experience, Beholding the Divine Presence

In Exodus 33-34, Moses asks to behold God's presence, literally, "to see God's face." God responds that Moses can see God's "back" only, because no one can behold God face-to-face and live. Moses then ascends Mount Sinai alone, stands in a cleft of a rock and receives...

Seasonal Scenes at Rockefeller State Park Preserve

I've entered the world of Four Seasons with my move to Westchester County, New York. Here are some photos I took at one of my favorite places, Rockefeller State Park Preserve. Return to the Gateway of Seasons.

Going Up and Coming Down the Mountain

While most people have peak experiences at one time or another, there are two challenges: their rarity and their evanescence. Peak experiences may be rare and fleeting "highs" lost in the rush of events and the passage of time. But if we can integrate them as part of...

Living in the Season

Seasons are very different in each of the places I have lived. In South Texas, a short spring quickly stretches into a long, hot, heavy summer, followed by a pleasant fall and mild winter. In both Israel and Northern California I experienced Mediterranean Climates...

Autumn Gallery

Click on this image to activate a gallery of beautiful scenes from Autumn at Rockefeller State Park Preserve. They document the season from its early pastels and oranges to the golden peak, though an early snowfall and into bare branches.All photos by...

Pilgrimage to Forgiveness

by Rabbi Laura Duhan Kaplan, Ph.D. My husband and I are on a pilgrimage to Mt. Baker.  Yes, a pilgrimage. There’s nothing else to call it. From our home 100 miles away, we watch the mountain every day. A glaciated volcano, white giant, heavenly being, silent witness,...

Tzedakah for Mountain People (and others)

People living in the Himalayan mountain range have the highest rates of blindness in the world. This may be the result of genetic predisposition, high altitude, sunlight, diet, or a combination of all these factors. The amazing Himalayan Cataract Project brings high...

The Reason for the Season

by Rabbi David Zaslow There is an organic flow between all of the Jewish holidays that mirrors the cycles in nature. In the Creation story, we learn that “there was evening and there was morning, the first day” (Gen. 1:5). Jews continue to mark the beginning of the...

Sharing Circle: Seasons

Do you have a favorite season? What do you love about it? What about the season of life you are experiencing right now? What lessons and gifts does it offer? Please comment in this Sharing Circle to get the conversation started about the seasons of our lives. Featured...

Sharing Circle: Mountains

Peak Experiences Have you had an experience of trial, vision, spirituality or exaltation in a mountain environment? Have you had a "peak" experiences (at any altitude)? What was it like? Do you have any practice or do anything to nurture peak experiences? If you have...

“Mountains are not stadiums where I satisfy my ambition to achieve; they are the cathedrals where I practice my religion.” ― Anatoli Boukreev, Mountaineer   In memory of Ben Horne  Featured Image: Denali, Alaska. "The mountains are calling and I must go."--John...

Torah Study: Peak Experiences in the Bible

The Bible has many references to important experiences associated with mountains: Moriah, Sinai, Nebo, Carmel, Tabor, and so on (most of them on the scale of hills). Here are four biblical themes associated with mountains and ascent: Test "God tested Abraham, and said...

A Peak Experience on a Peak in Jerusalem

During one of my first visits to Jerusalem, on Tu Bishvat, the early spring New Year of Trees, my then fiance Avraham and I climbed the stairs to a rooftop on a building in Mount Zion, in the Old City. The feeling evoked my childhood ascents to "the bluff," a small...