Rain and Dew

Rain and Dew

Rain and Dew

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Water From Underground

Water From Underground

Water From Underground (Maya’anot)

מעיינות

Soaking in water is a welcome activity at many retreats. I remember the day before my rabbinic ordination at Elat Chayyim Retreat Center (now part of Isabella Freedman Retreat Center), doing a mikveh (ritual immersion) in a chilly spring-fed creek at a secluded spot in the woods, then moving on to warm up in the the retreat center’s wooden hot tub. It was a spiritual immersion–water symbolic of Torah and life–while simultaneously a very physical, healing experience.

 

Underground water can also represent our hidden imagination, dreams, and the unconscious mind underneath the surface of life. Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi has described Aggadah, the lore/legends/symbols of our people, in terms of a vast “aquifer,” an underground source of living waters that enlivens our civilization. Without drawing on these sources, we feel spiritually dehydrated. “Filling our own well” has become a metaphor for the kind of nourishment that we need in order to live our fullest lives and to serve others with a full heart.

For the Eternal Your God brings you into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and depths that spring out of valleys and hills. (Deuteronomy 8:7)

Immerse in this Gateway of Water Under Ground to explore the symbolism of wells and springs in Jewish tradition and in your own life.

Start On Your Journey

 

The first option below is the suggested next step on your journey.  Feel free to browse the following paths and explore in your own time at your own pace.

New Style for Wellsprings of Wisdom Gateways

Shalom! I hope you will enjoy a re-design of many pages on this website, to make it easier to explore the posts on each theme. Wellsprings of Wisdom is a Virtual Retreat Center where you can explore and interact with Jewish symbols from nature. This site is organized...

Reflections on Prayer and Action in Jewish Tradition

When violent and hateful acts roil  the world, many leaders share that the victims are in their “thoughts and prayers." The phrase has become an empty slogan for many, seen as just an excuse for inaction, or a passive wish that God will solve problems that we don’t...

Happy Earth Day and Happy Passover!

Happy Earth Day! 🌎 This year Earth Day coincides with the Seventh Day of Passover, a holy day to commemorate the splitting of the Red (Reed) Sea during the Exodus from Egypt. I remember the first Earth Day in 1970, which was started to work for environmental change...

Wilderness

Wilderness

Wilderness (Midbar)

מדבר

Mauris blandit aliquet elit, eget tincidunt nibh pulvinar a. Vestibulum ante ipsum primis in faucibus orci luctus et ultrices posuere cubilia Curae; Donec velit neque, auctor sit amet aliquam vel, ullamcorper sit amet ligula. Pellentesque in ipsum id orci porta dapibus.

Mauris blandit aliquet elit, eget tincidunt nibh pulvinar a. Vestibulum ante ipsum primis in faucibus orci luctus et ultrices posuere cubilia Curae; Donec velit neque, auctor sit amet aliquam vel, ullamcorper sit amet ligula. Pellentesque in ipsum id orci porta dapibus.

Start On Your Journey

The first option below is the suggested next step on your journey.  Feel free to browse the following paths and explore in your own time at your own pace.

New Style for Wellsprings of Wisdom Gateways

Shalom! I hope you will enjoy a re-design of many pages on this website, to make it easier to explore the posts on each theme. Wellsprings of Wisdom is a Virtual Retreat Center where you can explore and interact with Jewish symbols from nature. This site is organized...

Reflections on Prayer and Action in Jewish Tradition

When violent and hateful acts roil  the world, many leaders share that the victims are in their “thoughts and prayers." The phrase has become an empty slogan for many, seen as just an excuse for inaction, or a passive wish that God will solve problems that we don’t...

Happy Earth Day and Happy Passover!

Happy Earth Day! 🌎 This year Earth Day coincides with the Seventh Day of Passover, a holy day to commemorate the splitting of the Red (Reed) Sea during the Exodus from Egypt. I remember the first Earth Day in 1970, which was started to work for environmental change...

The Shema: The Essence of Judaism in Six Words (A Deep Dive Into Prayer)

We've started a new series at my congregation, "Deep Dive into Prayer" (pretty appropriate for Seaside Jewish Community 🌊) At certain services, we will focus in on one prayer or one section of the liturgy, and "dive deep" by exploring it's history and meanings, while...

Happy Birthday to Trees!

Happy Tu Bishvat, the Jewish New Year of Trees! (the 15th of the Hebrew month of Shevat, corresponding to January 17 this year) Visit Wellsprings’ Gateway of Trees for Pathways (posts) with teachings and resources including all about Tu Bishvat, as well as music,...

New Beginnings in the New Year

  This is a time for new beginnings. There’s a New Year coming on the calendar, 2022. And the corresponding Hebrew month will also bring one of the Jewish New Years: Tu Bishvat, the New Year of Trees. I think these dates have something in common. Our Sages...

The Lights of Hanukkah

  Many people like to have a different poem or reflection for each night of Hanukkah. I think that's great, and I also like to just feel into the lights and what they awaken in my soul. My teacher, Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, emphasized the importance of...

My New Photography Site

  As my interest in Nature Photography has blossomed, people have asked to buy prints. So in addition to Wellsprings of Wisdom, I have started a separate site dedicated to my Nature Photography: Inspired Images. You can enjoy my galleries, browse my Instagram...

New Posts on Ancient Wisdom for Sustainability

  As I work to complete the Gateway of Holy Land, I've updated my pathway/post on Shemitah (Shmita), the Biblical Sabbatical year. It now appears both in the Gateway of Gardens and the Gateway of Holy Land. The Torah teaches that every seven years, the land must...

Peacemakers make the Holy Land Holy

  Shalom-Salaam-Peace! Peacemakers from the Interfaith Encounter Association never fail to inspire me with their tireless and dedicated work for dialogue and understanding among Jews, Muslims, Christians, and others in the Holy Land. Read and watch a short video...

This Rosh Hashanah, Return to Yourself: My Un-Sermon for 5782

  For the first time in a quarter century, I'm not leading the fall holiday services and I'm not writing and delivering sermons to a congregation. My job was one of the many lost over the pandemic, as my congregation's finances suffered. Now I've relocated to a...

Time to Blow the Shofar!

  It's Elul, the month preceding Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish New Year) and time to sound the ram's horn to awaken our souls for the New Year ahead. This Wellsprings post on the shofar has been revised with a new video from Hazon, the premier Jewish environmental...

Let Nature Guide You into a New Year: Online Gathering on August 30

  As we begin the lunar month of Elul, directly preceding Rosh Hashanah, Wellsprings of Wisdom invites you to an online class in which we enter the mystical field of divinity that prepares us for the New Year. Together we will explore and discuss teachings on...

Join Wellsprings for an evening of Reflection, Ritual, and Renewal

  You are invited to join me ONLINE, Thursday, June 17, 7-9pm ET, through The Aligned Center, a unique holistic organization on the banks of the Hudson River in Westchester New York, for an evening of reflection, ritual, and renewal as we navigate our gradual...

Happy Earth Day!

Happy Earth Day! 🌎 I truly believe that our planet is our original temple, our real garden of Eden gifted from the Divine. Look at the vastness of the cosmos and marvel at our tiny spectacular oasis that sustains an abundance of diverse life. The ancient Midrash...

Proud to Partner on The Shmita Project (a Sabbatical for the Earth)

At this time of year, many Jews are "counting the Omer," literally counting the days and weeks each night for the seven weeks between Passover and Shavuot, the holiday of the giving of the Torah. In mystical tradition, this is a time to work on our personal qualities...

Passover Inspiration on Wellsprings of Wisdom

  As Passover approaches, be sure to check out these Wellsprings Pathways (posts) that relate to themes of the season: Splitting the Sea With Wind looks at the Biblical account of the Exodus and invites us to explore the nature of miracles. MIriam's Well explores...

Happy Purim!

  Today is Purim, the full moon of the Hebrew month of Adar, and the Feast of Esther. Happy Purim to all who celebrate...and you might want to enrich your celebration even more by learning about the Moon in Jewish tradition. In Jewish legends, the Moon is a...

Tu Bishvat Seder and Big Bold Jewish Climate Fest

  This week marks Tu Bishvat, the Jewish New Year for Trees.  The Gateway of Trees on this site is a perfect place to learn about Trees in Jewish lore and in our lives. The Tu Bishvat Seder is a mystical custom to honor trees and the earth. I will be leading a Tu...

Haftarah (prophetic reading) for MLK Day

  Midway down this page in the Gateway of Mountains, you can find a recording of speech selections by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., set to traditional Haftarah (prophetic reading) trope (melody) by Hazzan Jack Kessler. Thank you, Cantor Jack, for sharing...

Earth

Gardens
Trees
Wilderness
Holy Land

Water

Flowing Water
Water From Underground
The Sea
 

Air

Mountains
Wind
Seasons
Wings

Fire

Light
Darkness
Rainbows
The Moon

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Trees

Trees (Eitz)

עץ

Start On Your Journey

The first option below is the suggested next step on your journey.  Feel free to browse the following paths and explore in your own time at your own pace.

Wind in the Trees and Ambiance at Tejon Ranch, California

Listen to the wind and the birds and insects in the trees, or if you are indoors enjoy this recording. Featured Image: TejonWest by RangerX via Flickr See the famous fruit trees of Israel, or return to the Gateway of Trees.

Gallery: Famous Fruit Trees of Israel

The five famous fruit trees of the Holy Land are noted along with two grains as the "Seven Species" (Shivat Haminim, (Deuteronomy 8:8). Embrace their bounty in artwork, Sukkah and home decorations, and foods for Jewish celebrations, especially Tu Bishvat (New Year of...

Torah Study: The Tree in the Garden

At the heart of the Bible's first story, humanity in the Garden of Eden, two trees play a central role, the Tree of Knowledge and the Tree of Life And out of the ground the Eternal God (YHWH Elohim) made grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for...

The Tree of Life: Divine Wisdom

Are we really exiled from the Tree of Life? While the book of Genesis depicts the exile from the Garden of Eden and it's Tree of Life, elsewhere Bible declares that the Tree of Life is available to us in another form.   She is a tree of life to those that hold on...

Video: Ne’ot Kedumim, Israel’s Biblical Landscape

  Learn traditional blessings for eating fruit, or return to the Gateway of Trees.

From our Sages: The Story of Honi

Honi (or Choni) ha-Ma'agel (the Circle Maker) was a second century tzadik (righteous person) who was kind of a cross between Johnny Appleseed (or Carob-Seed) and Rip Van Winkle. Honi was known for his ability to pray successfully for rain in times of drought, while...

Blessings for Fruits and Trees

Every time we eat a piece of fruit from a tree, we have an opportunity to pause and appreciate the divine force that flows through all creation and brings this delicious bounty to our lips. We can do this with a spiritual practice of saying a berachah, a blessing,...

Meditation for Mindful Eating of Fruit:

 You can make eating a piece of fruit into a meditative experience. Say the blessing and consider what a gift has come to you from God's bounty. Our Sages saw the blessing as a kind of thank-you or payment, as it were, for partaking of God's creation. I am filled with...

Tu Bishvat: The New Year of the Tree

My youngest daughter's friends were impressed that Judaism celebrates a New Year of Trees, marked by planting and honoring trees. Here’s a round-up of how to observe this special day. Tu Bishvat means the 15th Day–at the full moon–of the Hebrew month of Shevat,...

The Tree of Life in Kabbalah

In Jewish mystical thought, the Tree of Knowledge and the Tree of Life were intended to flourish together in the Garden, but human beings forsook the vital Tree of Life to pursue knowledge alone, introducing duality to the world and preventing the ideal Edenic state...

Guided Meditation on Tree of Life in Our Bodies

This is a guided meditation on the Sephirotic energy in our bodies, based on the teachings of Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi. According to Kabbalistic tradition, the world was created with 10 Sephirot. In  Jewish mysticism, the Tree of Life refers to much more than a...

Hugging the Tree of Life

By the end of my first retreat at Elat Chayyim, I had internalized the paradigm of living fully in the mystic’s “Four Worlds” of body, emotions, mind, and spirit and I wanted to commune physically with a  tree. I approached a great Pine (I think a White Pine) that...

Tikkun Olam: Trees and the Environment

"Planting a tree" for a happy occasion has become almost a Jewish stereotype, but it really is a huge mitzvah. The classic way to plant a tree in Israel is through the Jewish National Fund.  In over a century, they have planted 250 million trees and helped to...

Rainforests: Lungs of Our Planet

  The scenes in this video help me to see the rainforests as the lungs of our planet. The Rainforest Alliance is a network of people working together to preserve forests and the communities that depend on them, in 78 countries around the world. Learn how to get...

Sharing Circle: Trees

Trees in Your Life Join the virtual circle and share your  reflections. Did (or do) have have a tree that played a big role in your life? What kind of tree, where was/is it, and what is your relationship to it? How do you protect, enjoy, and celebrate trees? Please...

Earth

Gardens
Trees
Wilderness
Holy Land

Water

Flowing Water
Water From Underground
The Sea
 

Air

Mountains
Wind
Seasons
Wings

Fire

Light
Darkness
Rainbows
The Moon

Take a Virtual Retreat

Making the Most of Your Retreat
Sacred Obligations & Boundaries
Your Guide
Our Sacred Sources
Additional Resources

Login

Subscribe

Contact Us

(235) 462-4623
info@divilibrary.com

Follow Wellsprings

Holy Land

Holy Land

Holy Land (Eretz Kodesh)

ארץ קודש

The Torah (Five Books of Moses) is a story of a people and our ties to a sacred land, the Land of Israel. Promised to the Patriarchs, its habitation was still conditional on love of God and obedience to God’s ways. The Saga of the Jewish people became the story of living in the land, being exiled twice by powerful empires, and longing for our native land over two millennia. In modern times, Jews returned to and rebuilt a national homeland in Israel.

Just as love for one child can open our hearts to the needs of children everywhere, so, too can the persistent love for one ancestral landscape, ultimately open one’s heart to the sanctity of the entire earth. “The Earth belongs to God, with all that it holds, the planet and everyone in it.” (Psalm 24). One of the premises of Wellsprings of Wisdom is that our entire planet –uniquely hospitable, verdant, and filled with beauty and life–is our Holy Land, our living Temple, our sacred Garden of Eden.

Enter the Gateway of Holy Land to explore the holiness of all natural places: whether meandering, encountering animals, or finding your sanctuary outdoors. While you are here, you can also explore the ways in which the geography and climate of the Land of Israel shaped the Jewish people, and learn about some of the holy people working tirelessly for peace in the Holy Land. 

Choose your favorite Pathway, or follow them in order:

Finding a Sanctuary in Nature

Finding a Sanctuary in Nature

After the drama of the ten plagues, the splitting of the Red Sea, and receiving the Torah at Sinai, the Biblical book of Exodus turns to what seems a much more mundane subject: building the first Jewish temple, a portable sanctuary known as the Mishkan. Where do we...

Talk to the animals; listen to Nature

Talk to the animals; listen to Nature

The Bible relates that King Solomon was known as the wisest of men. One verse suggests that he was able to converse about--the more-than-human world: יְדַבֵּר֮ עַל־הָֽעֵצִים֒ מִן־הָאֶ֙רֶז֙ אֲשֶׁ֣ר בַּלְּבָנ֔וֹן וְעַד֙ הָאֵז֔וֹב אֲשֶׁ֥ר יֹצֵ֖א בַּקִּ֑יר וַיְדַבֵּר֙...

The Ecology of Canaan, in the Eyes of Our Ancestors

The Ecology of Canaan, in the Eyes of Our Ancestors

Note: My friend and colleague Rabbi David Seidenberg is one of the leading scholars on Judaism and the environment. Whether writing about Kabbalah and Ecology, or the Biblical vision of a justice and sustainability, his teachings are both inspiring and timely. -JHD by...

Let Nature Guide You Into a New Year

Let Nature Guide You Into a New Year

I treasure the late summer, just before the Jewish New Year, as a wonderful time to get out in nature, and I relate it to a Hasidic teaching. “The King is in the Field,” is a parable of Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi (1745-1812), founder of Chabad Hasidism. He likened...

The King is In the Field: A Meadow Gallery

The King is In the Field: A Meadow Gallery

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...

Wings

Wings

Wings (K’nafayim)

כנפיים

We are surrounded by winged creatures, from butterflies and bees, to hummingbirds to hawks. All are amazing, but since time immemorial birds in particular have inspired human beings with a dream of flying and freedom. They have always been part of human culture, religion and mythology. Birds and their wings figure in Biblical literature, such as the dove as a symbol of peace and safety, or the eagle as one of power and support. The fact that birds’ wings can bear them into the heavens gives them an association with divinity. Wings can symbolize nurturance, shelter and protection, or in the case of a butterfly, the possibility of utter transformation. The ubiquitous nature of winged creatures is an ever-present reminder of transcendence in everyday life.

Soar into the Gateway of Wings, as we explore the symbolism of birds and flying creatures in Jewish tradition and in your life.

Choose your favorite Pathway, or follow them in order:

A Guide’s Perspective: Encounters With Birds

A Guide’s Perspective: Encounters With Birds

When I get too wrapped up in my merely human concerns, all I need to do is to look outside my window or take a walk in the park to enter a different world, the world of birds that surround us everywhere.  (In fact, I hear them chirping as I write this post). Here...

Doves and Eagles: Two Paradigms of Biblical Spirituality

Doves and Eagles: Two Paradigms of Biblical Spirituality

Two of the most prominent birds in biblical tradition are very different in nature: the dove and the eagle. The gentle dove that dwells close to earth is an important symbol in Jewish and other ancient Near Easter religious traditions. After the Great Flood recorded...

Light as a Feather

Light as a Feather

I was in the car from the airport to my annual rabbinic conference in Colorado. Whenever I go to an event like this, I try to set an intention, a kavannah, to guide me during the experience. At the time, I was feeling a heavy preoccupation with career and personal...

Great Egret Takes Flight

https://www.instagram.com/p/BYJbaW2hmXI/?taken-by=wellsprings This is one of my favorite videos that I took of a bird: Great Egret taking flight across Swan Lake at Rockfeller State Park Preserve. Follow @wellsprings on Instragram for my nature photography and videos...

AGAMI (a poem)

AGAMI (a poem)

AGAMI by Steve Margolin Shlayma Zalman! Huh? Shlayma Zalman! I am here. Go to the bridge. An agami is there. An agami? At the bridge? Where Clear Creek runs, its west branch? The bridge where the agami is. It is downstream. An agami heron? You know, Agamia agami? Yes....

Winged Insects as Soul Symbols

Winged Insects as Soul Symbols

  Recently I got to see a "butterfly release" in the park. A woman and her daughter who grow a butterfly friendly garden, had raised Monarchs and were releasing them into their native habitat. From there, the butterflies would live for two weeks, but the third...

The Moon

The Moon

The Moon (Ha’yrah)

הירח

Gazing skyward at night and spotting the moon, I feel greeted by a friend who shows up in many different outfits and moods. Sometimes she appears as a thin crescent in the dark night, sometimes a fully glowing round beacon with a halo. Sometimes she floats above the horizon, a giant orange orb lit by the setting sun. Other nights she peeks demurely from behind a veil of shifting clouds. Most wonderfully, sometimes I gaze up in the morning or at dusk and find her winking at me then, too.

The Moon is important to life on earth, including regulation of tides, influence on nocturnal animal behavior, and even stabilization of the earth’s rotation on its axis. The Moon is also an important symbol in Jewish tradition. We base our calendar and holidays primarily on the moon and its cycles. In Rabbinic tradition, the Moon and its cycle of restoration became a symbol of the Jewish people. In Jewish mysticism. the Moon is associated with the Shechinah, the feminine Divine Presence, and with the role of women in general. Celebrating the new moon (Rosh Hodesh) and blessing the waxing moon (Kiddush Levanah) are ancient traditions that have become important expressions of contemporary Jewish spirituality.

Choose your favorite Pathway, or follow them in order:

Moonrise in Oregon

Moonrise in Oregon

Enjoy a beautiful full moon in nature anytime with this serene and meditative video that starts with verses from Genesis. The video continues with calming views of the Oregon lake and mountains.   Explore the Moon's relationship to time and renewal, or return to...

The Moon, Jewish Time, and Renewal

The Moon, Jewish Time, and Renewal

הַחֹ֧דֶשׁ הַזֶּ֛ה לָכֶ֖ם רֹ֣אשׁ חֳדָשִׁ֑ים רִאשׁ֥וֹן הוּא֙ לָכֶ֔ם לְחָדְשֵׁ֖י הַשָּׁנָֽה׃ This month shall mark for you the beginning of the months; it shall be the first of the months of the year for you. Exodus 12:1  :החדש הזה. הֶרְאָהוּ לְבָנָה בְּחִדּוּשָׁהּ וְאָמַר לוֹ...

Rosh Hodesh: Celebration of the New Moon

Rosh Hodesh: Celebration of the New Moon

Rosh Hodesh, also spelled Rosh Chodesh ("Ch" as in "Bach"), is the celebration of the new Hebrew month, an ancient festival finding renewal among contemporary Jews. Rosh Hodesh means the "head" or first day of the lunar month (just as "Rosh Hashanah" means the "head...

Rosh Hodesh Moon, song by Rabbi Geela Rayzel Raphael

Rosh Hodesh Moon, song by Rabbi Geela Rayzel Raphael

Its a moon song Bubbling up and over me Darkness, sets my spirit free. Rosh Hodesh, enchanted time to hallow the month Rosh Hodesh (also spelled Chodesh) the new moon, is traditionally a special day of rest and celebration for women. Rabbi Geela Rayzel Raphael wrote...

Midrash: How the Moon Shrank

Midrash: How the Moon Shrank

וַיַּ֣עַשׂ אֱלֹהִ֔ים אֶת־שְׁנֵ֥י הַמְּאֹרֹ֖ת הַגְּדֹלִ֑ים אֶת־הַמָּא֤וֹר הַגָּדֹל֙ לְמֶמְשֶׁ֣לֶת הַיּ֔וֹם וְאֶת־הַמָּא֤וֹר הַקָּטֹן֙ לְמֶמְשֶׁ֣לֶת הַלַּ֔יְלָה וְאֵ֖ת הַכּוֹכָבִֽים׃ God made the two great lights, the greater light to rule by day and the lesser light to...

The Myth of Moon, Reinvented Over the Ages

The Myth of Moon, Reinvented Over the Ages

The midrash about the Moon's diminishment in the previous post did not remain static over the centuries, but was reinvented to reveal new meanings. Explore the changing face of this ancient legend in depth, through this fascinating article by Melila Hellner-Eshed, the...

The Sea

The Sea

Basking in the sun and gazing at the waves, swimming and floating in the salt water: a seaside retreat is a timeless way to promote calm and healing. On a spiritual level, the depth, power, and mystery of the ocean evoke our awe and open us to a state of wonder more readily than almost anywhere else on earth. Diving near a coral reef or visiting an aquarium, we see that beneath the surface of the sea are worlds upon worlds of eco-systems filled with myriads of amazing creatures.

Earth might be called the sea planet, since over 70% of our globe is covered with great oceans, which can really be described as one World Ocean. Seas are technically just parts of those oceans that are partly enclosed by land. Oceans and seas are vital to life on our planet: containing 97% of our water, half of our oxygen and absorbing much of the carbon dioxide from our atmosphere to slow down global warming. Over half the world’s people live in the coastal zone, and over 140 million tons of food from the ocean are part of the global diets. But pollution, over-fishing, and destruction of fragile habitats continue to threaten this cradle of our global life.

The Sea is an important part of Jewish tradition. According to the Torah, the formative experience of our nation was escape from slavery through the parting of the Red (or Reed) Sea, and seafaring made its way into biblical stories from Noah to Jonah.  In Israel, the big salt sea to the west is the Mediterranean, but Israel’s lakes are also called “seas,” from the freshwater “Sea” of Galilee (in Hebrew, Ha-Kineret, the harp-shaped lake), down the Jordan River to what we call in English the Dead Sea (known in Hebrew as Yam Ha-Melach the Salt Sea). Our Sages borrowed the Greek word “Okeanus” for Ocean. Spiritually, the Sea can be a symbol of birth or destruction, a place of depth, mystery, and power.

 

Dive into this Gateway of The Sea to explore the symbolism of oceans, seas, and lakes in our tradition and in our lives.

Choose your favorite Pathway, or follow them in order:

Gallery of the Seashore in Israel

Gallery of the Seashore in Israel

Cellist and humanitarian Yo-Yo Ma speaks about the “edge,” the natural or cultural place where environments intersect, as one that always has more life forms and new life forms. Bach taught him to balance going to his center and to the edge. In cultural...

Winter at the Beach

Gazing at the waves is meditative and calming, especially when you have the beach to yourself on a crisp winter morning. Beach at Cape May South Meadows, New Jersey (The Nature Conservancy), Video by JHD, January, 2017  

The Sea in the Bible

The Sea in the Bible

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....

As the Sands on the Shore

As the Sands on the Shore

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. --Genesis 22:17 The...

Voices of Many Waters by Nava Tehila Ensemble, Jerusalem

Voices of Many Waters by Nava Tehila Ensemble, Jerusalem

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. -Psalms 93:4 From Nava Tehila, Jerusalem community for Jewish Renewal...

Gallery: Mediterranean Sea in Israel in Spring

The Mediterranean Sea in Spring, Kibbutz Ma'agan Michael and Habonim-Dor Nature Reserve, by Daphna Rosenberg. Learn a blessing on seeing the sea, or return to the Gateway of The Sea.

Seasons

Seasons

Seasons (Onot)

עונות

The blossoms and buds of spring, the hot sun and cool water of summer, the colors of autumn and the chill of winter: each season has its treasures to offer.

The seasons and cycles of the year point to larger seasons and cycles in our lives. The Bible (Tanach) and the wisdom of our Sages emphasize timeliness, “a season and a time for every purpose under heaven.” Learning to live with wisdom is also learning to value and honor the seasons of our lives, the seasons of our relationships.

Seasons have a new and urgent significance today. The Bible describes unseasonable weather, such as rain or drought out of season, as a sign of divine displeasure with human sin. For modern people such notions once seemed naive. Now, in this age of Climate Change, they have new relevance, as we yearn to preserve the natural seasonal rhythms of God’s earth.

עֹ֖ד כָּל־יְמֵ֣י הָאָ֑רֶץ זֶ֡רַע וְ֠קָצִיר וְקֹ֨ר וָחֹ֜ם וְקַ֧יִץ וָחֹ֛רֶף וְי֥וֹם וָלַ֖יְלָה לֹ֥א יִשְׁבֹּֽתוּ׃

So long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night shall not cease.

Genesis 8:22

Choose your favorite Pathway, or follow them in order:

Springtime: Song of Songs in Nature

I made this slide show of my original photos for the launch of "Love at the Center" by Rabbi Shefa Gold. Click here to receive a weekly chant from the Biblical Song of Songs, and put Love at the center of your heart. The program took place after the Jewish New Year...

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...

A Time to Every Purpose

A Time to Every Purpose

אמֶר אֱלֹהִ֗ים יְהִ֤י מְאֹרֹת֙ בִּרְקִ֣יעַ הַשָּׁמַ֔יִם לְהַבְדִּ֕יל בֵּ֥ין הַיּ֖וֹם וּבֵ֣ין הַלָּ֑יְלָה וְהָי֤וּ לְאֹתֹת֙ וּלְמ֣וֹעֲדִ֔ים וּלְיָמִ֖ים וְשָׁנִֽים׃ God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate between day and night; and they will...

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.

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...

Living in the Season

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...

Darkness

Darkness

Darkness (Hoshech)

חושך

We tend to equate light with good and darkness with bad. But darkness is the inseparable partner of light; indeed, we cannot see one without the other. Our modern world is lit up 24 hours a day; even when we turn off the lights at bedtime, our homes glow with blinking lights from our various electronic devices. We need dark nights as much as sunny days, to maintain our circadian rhythms, allow us rest and promote our health. 

On a spiritual level, we may fear darkness because it symbolizes times of struggle or even despair. Yet we know from life experience that it is often those dark times of life that forge our greatest growth.

Conversely, darkness may be a gift, inviting us to restfulness, inwardness, intimacy. Natural beauty, art, and aesthetics require a balance of light and shadow. Modern theologians of many faiths are recognizing that darkness is just as necessary to our growth as light.

God “forms light and creates darkness” (Isaiah 45:7, quoted in the traditional Jewish morning prayers). Indeed, according to the Torah’s account of creation in the first chapter of Genesis, darkness exists before light is created. There is evening before there is morning, and so all Jewish holy days begin with sunset and not with sunrise.

So head out into the night and explore this Gateway of Darkness to explore the symbolism of darkness and night in Jewish Tradition and in your own life.

Choose your favorite Pathway, or follow them in order:

Ambiance: Forest at Night

Ambiance: Forest at Night

Featured photo: "Sunset" by Laurence Louis, via Flickr   Learn about "Dark Nights of the Soul" in the Torah, or teturn to the Gateway of Darkness

Dark Nights of the Soul

Dark Nights of the Soul

Many pivotal biblical encounters with the Divine take place during the darkness of night, when dreams, blessings and visions are imparted. and one of the most important is when our forefather Jacob wrestles with a mysterious stranger. Jacob (Ya'akov) was left alone....

You Want it Darker, by Leonard Cohen

Enter the darkness of the human experience in the powerful music of Leonard Cohen, of blessed memory, from his last album, interspersed with the Hebrew word, "Hineni," here I am, and words from the Kaddish, "Magnified and Sanctified." Continue to learn about facing...

Enter the Darkness to Greet the Dawn

Enter the Darkness to Greet the Dawn

Can we face the darkness of our own depths? Individuals and societies who can't face their own shadow side will often project it on others. A fairly literal translation of Genesis 1:2 would be: The earth was unformed and void -- and darkness on the face of the...

Song: Evening the Evenings

Song: Evening the Evenings

"Evening the Evenings" by Rabbi Geela Rayzel Raphael Based on the traditional Evening Prayer   Featured Image: Sunset in Chobe National Park, Botswana, Elisheva Danan Explore the Darkness Before Creation with Rabbi Fern Feldman, or return to the Gateway of...

The Darkness Before Creation

The Darkness Before Creation

When I explore my own nature, or experience the sacred, most often I feel a deepening into darkness.  Although dominating theologies create binaries, in which light is good and darkness is evil, when we recognize the multivalent nature of all that is, we see wave upon...