Water

 

מים

According to the opening words of the Torah, the primordial element is water. Water, מים Mayim, is one of the most powerful and pervasive forces in Hebrew tradition. We all got our start in the waters of our mother’s womb, and water covers over 70 percent of the earth’s surface and comprises about 60 percent of our own bodies. It became a symbol of life, of Torah, even of the Divine.

Through this portal are Gateways that explore themes and symbols of water in its many forms and sources, above us, below us, and running through us. Dive in, immerse, and navigate the currents of life. Water is life, and conversely can also cause chaos and destruction, so we’ll explore how to stay afloat in life’s floods.

 

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You can browse the entire Water catalog here and jump in anywhere.

Gallery of Flowing Water

Flowing creeks in Northern California, photos by Julie Hilton Danan  

Guided Meditation: Miriam’s Well in the Desert

Enjoy this guided meditation on your inner Wellsprings, based on the legends of Miriam's Well, written and read by Rabbi Julie Danan. The imagery in the meditation is based on teachings from the Midrash and ancient Jewish lore. Featured Image: Natural spring mikveh...

Reb Zalman Teaches About the Flow of Life

My teacher, Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi taught that the concept of free will can be compared to a river. Life is seldom smooth as Lake Placid, and not usually like going over Niagara Falls in a barrel, but it is often more like shooting the rapids. We don't get to...

A Guide’s Perspective: Meditation by a Spring

The waters emerge from deep within the earth, from the southern end of the Edwards Aquifer. The Blue Hole, or San Antonio Springs, is the headwaters of the San Antonio River. The flow varies depending on rain, and since it had been a record year for rain, the spring...

Guided Mikveh Meditation to Prepare for Shabbat

Another Mikveh meditation Rabbi Haviva Ner-David and Shira Gura (read and recorded by Rabbi Julie Danan) to help you prepare for Shabbat. You can experience this relaxing meditation either seated comfortably or lying down. Mikveh Meditation for Erev Shabbat by Rabbi...

Tikkun Olam: Saving Our Seas, Saving Us

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...

Mikveh: Traditional and Personal Rituals of Immersion

A Mikveh is an in-ground ritual pool which can be a natural gathering of water (such as a spring, spring-fed river or the ocean),or an indoor mikveh constructed according to Jewish law. Immersing in the Mikveh is associated with rebirth and purification,and today is...

Personal Creative Ritual: Tashlich for Letting Go

My situation had no ritual, and that nearly sent me into despair. As a rabbi, I lead rituals to help people deal with change and loss. Joyful yet sometimes stressful occasions like weddings, brit ceremonies, b'nei mitzvah.  Sad passages like funerals, shivah and even...

Ritual Handwashing: a Mini Mikveh

Washing hands in the ritual way is like a mini-mikveh. The traditional way is to use a cup of water (there are special two-handled cups that can be purchased, or just use a regular cup)when getting up in the morning, after going to the bathroom, and before saying...

Two Seas: Giving and Receiving

There is an old parable about two seas in Israel, one fresh and one very salty. One, the Sea of Galilee, in Hebrew is called Yam Kinneret  יָם כִּנֶּרֶת‎ in Hebrew, because it is shaped like a harp, kinor. This freshwater lake teams with fish and is ringed by rich...

Torah Study: Well as Meeting Place

Wells play an important role in the Torah. Abraham and his son Isaac measure wealth in terms of the many wells they have dug (Genesis 26:12-22). The Torah has a number of stories about matches being made at a village well. That makes sense since the job of drawing...

Moroccan Jewish “Song at the Sea”

The Song at the Sea, Shirat Ha-Yam, Exodus 15, with a classic Moroccan-Jewish Melody. Performed by Rabbi Hillel Hayyim Lavery-Yisraeli. Learn more here. Learn about the Parting of the Red Sea, or return to the Gateway of the Sea.

A Midrash: Wellsprings as Source of Divine Inspiration

The Midrash takes the biblical story of Jacob meeting Rachel at the well, and "runs with it," insisting that the scene, with its evocative well, three (mystical number) flocks, and stone (gateway to the well) holds many symbolic allusions to future Jewish history. In...

As the Sea fills a Cave

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...

Ambiance: Sitting by a running stream

Featured photo by JHD, Mill Creek, California View a Gallery of Flowing Water images, or return to the Gateway of Flowing Water

Torah Study: Named by the Rivers

Flowing water can be considered as a metaphor for change as it runs continually down the riverbed. It can also be considered as a metaphor for change in terms of making a crossing. In fact, the Jewish people gained two of our names from crossing rivers. Our first...

A Guide’s Perspective: Life is But a Stream

    Time is but the stream I go a-fishing in. I drink at it; but while I drink I see the sandy bottom and detect how shallow it is. Its thin current slides away, but eternity remains.” ― Henry David Thoreau, Walden Flowing water has always been a part of my...

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...

Flowing Song

This song by Rabbi David Shneyer is from his album "Psalm Songs from Rock Creek," a title which evokes both Psalms and flowing water. This lively melody reminds me of a rapid, rushing brook. The lyrics, from the Jewish liturgy, ask God to answer our prayers and to "Do...

Keeping a Spiritual Journal

Almost everyone has spiritual experiences, but often they fade with time unless we have a vessel to contain them. A journal can be one such vessel. I think that the hands-on experience of journaling in one's own handwriting can itself be a spiritual practice. If you...