Gazing at the waves is meditative and calming, especially when you have the beach to yourself on a crisp winter morning. (more…)
The great German Jewish philosopher Franz Rosenzweig said that we relate to and experience God in three ways: Creation, Revelation, and Redemption. The Hebrew Bible (Tanakh)’s depictions of the Sea encompass all three themes, and add one that he left out: destruction.
כִּֽי־בָרֵ֣ךְ אֲבָרֶכְךָ֗ וְהַרְבָּ֨ה אַרְבֶּ֤ה אֶֽת־זַרְעֲךָ֙ כְּכוֹכְבֵ֣י הַשָּׁמַ֔יִם וְכַח֕וֹל אֲשֶׁ֖ר עַל־שְׂפַ֣ת הַיָּ֑ם
I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand upon the seashore.
מִקֹּל֨וֹת ׀ מַ֤יִם רַבִּ֗ים אַדִּירִ֣ים מִשְׁבְּרֵי־יָ֑ם אַדִּ֖יר בַּמָּר֣וֹם יְהוָֽה׃
Above the thunder of the mighty waters, more majestic than the breakers of the sea, majestic on high is YHWH.
From Nava Tehila, Jerusalem community for Jewish Renewal whose musical ensemble performs around the world.
It’s a Jewish spiritual practice to say a berachah, a blessing, when experiencing an awesome, beautiful, or startling sight (or sound like thunder, or delicious scent) in nature. When I suddenly get to that first view of the ocean, I always catch my breath at the grandeur and beauty of the sight. All of my senses are opened up by the vista, the crash of the waves, the fresh ocean air.
Rabbi Joshua of Sachnin said in the name of Rabbi Levi, “To what should we compare the Tent of Meeting [that Moses set up in the desert]? To a cave on the seashore. When the tide rises and the sea floods the cave, the sea is not diminished. Thus the Tent of Meeting was filled with the Shechinah (the Divine Presence).”
ר’ יהושע דסכנין בשם ר’ לוי למה היה אוהל מועד דומה למערה שהיא נתונה על שפת הים ועלהים והציף המערה נתמלאת מן הים והים לא חסר כך אוהל מועד נתמלא מזיו השכינה
–MIdrash, Pesikta de-Rav Kahana, 1b
Picture the splitting of the Reed (or Red) Sea. Based on the movie versions, we tend to visualize Moses raising his staff, so that the waters part instantly—supernatural special effects! But the Torah (Exodus 14:21), offers a more naturalistic depiction of the miracle, one that involves wind: (more…)
There is an old parable about two seas in Israel, one fresh and one very salty.
I learned “Ocean Breath” from a wonderful yoga teacher, Marcia (Me-esha) Albert, at the original Elat Chayyim retreat center in Accord New York (now incorporated into Isabella Freedman retreat center). Based on yogic foundations, this breathing technique takes a little practice, but I find that it can have a very calming effect. I think of it like a portable beach that I can carry around when I need to relax or re-energize. (more…)
I am captivated by the reflections of sky in a lake,* especially when sky and water seem to merge. On a spiritual level, it reminds me that in each of our souls is a reflection of the divine, the tzelem Elohim. We can perceive the reflection of what is “above” most easily when our consciousness is calm and clear, a state nurtured by regular prayer, meditation, and spiritual practice.
Enjoy these lake reflections from Wellspring on Instagram. (Plus one from a friend who is a Pastor in California.) Sometimes it’s hard to tell water from sky! I suggested pausing to contemplate each picture for a few moments of “reflection.”
Learn how Torah can be like Coral.
*I’m including lakes in this Gateway of the Sea, because in biblical Hebrew a “sea” can also mean a freshwater lake.
We have heard the expression “Sea of Torah.” But how about Torah as coral?
Famed oceanographer Sylvia Earle explains that just a few decades ago, human beings imagined that the world’s oceans were so vast, there was no way that humanity could harm them. The ocean was seen as bottomless basket of resources for humanity, providing us with everything from fossil fuels to fish. (more…)
What is the meaning of The Sea in your life?