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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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...

Elijah: God is not in the wind

Jewish folklore portrays Elijah the Prophet (Eliyahu HaNavi) as a kindly old man who visits our Passover Seder to drink his cup of wine. In the Tanakh/Hebrew Bible, Elijah was known as a zealous champion of monotheism and opponent of idolatry. Since Elijah ascended to...

Be Like the Bird (song and video)

  https://youtu.be/kEANteNY0h0 "Be Like the Bird" is a simple, exquisite song about the power of faith to bear us up, even when we lose the sense of a solid foundation beneath us.   At the end of a shiva service, my friend, Rabbi Pam Wax, in mourning after...

Wings of Peace: Draw Water in Joy

Wings of Peace,  Rabbi Aryeh Hirschfield  <http://rebaryeh.com/> This beautiful song in Hebrew and English by the late and much beloved Rabbi Aryeh Hirschfield is about "drawing water in joy" (Isaiah 12:3) from the living well of God's spirit. After I listen to...

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...

Meditative Breathing

Our breath, our inner wind, keeps us alive. I learned from Reb Zalman and from Rabbi Arthur Waskow, that the divine name YHWH represents the breath of life. The sounds of our breath are the very sounds of that sacred unpronounceable name. God is as close as our...

“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...

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....

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...

A Daily Spirit of Gratitue

Modah Ani 12, chant by Rabbi Shefa Gold Ruach also means "Spirit." Rabbi Shefa Gold has composed 36* chants for "Modah Ani," I am thankful, the short prayer of gratitude recited upon awakening each morning. These chants are free to download and also available in a...

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,...

Dirge for the earth and climate change

A haunting ancient Jewish melody with lyrics in Hebrew and English, chanted by Cantor Richard Kaplan. Dirges (kinot) of Tisha B'av, the summer fast to commemorate the destruction of the ancient Temples in Jerusalem, are here combined with visuals of our planet's...

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,...

Scents Feed the Soul

  Neuroscientists and psychologists tell us that the sense of smell is closely connected to memory and emotion. Scents can tie us to our traditions (the smell of challah baking or latkes frying), and to Nature and places of the soul. I remember that when we moved...

The Holy Spirit: Ruach Ha-Kodesh

The term "Holy Spirit" is first found in the Bible and extensively developed in rabbinic understanding. The early Rabbis referred to Ruach (also spelled Ruah) Ha-Kodesh, the Holy Spirit, in two distinct ways. First, the Holy Spirit is the force of divine...

Sharing Circle: Wind and Spirit

Sharing the Spirit Join the virtual Sharing Circle and comment here to share your experiences with wind, spirit, scent, or any of the other themes in this Gateway. A few questions to get you started: Is there a scent that has an important association or memory with it...

A Shabbat Experience: Relax in a Hammock

A hammock is the perfect place to hear the wind. In the hammock between two oak trees at our ranch in the Texas Hill Country, I imagined the wind in the branches as the echo of the long-gone ocean that had flowed there millions of years ago. Near Mt. Lassen,...

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...

Gallery of Birds

I'm fascinated by birds and they are probably my most sought (and most challenging) subjects to photograph. Here are some favorite bird photos that I took, mostly at Rockefeller State Park Preserve. Learn more about birding (birdwatching) and conservation...

Breathing Meditation

This breathing Meditation is a simple way to connect to your soul and to feel the divine gift of every breath, Rabbi Julie Danan   Featured image: Great Blue Heron over Swan Lake, Rockefeller State Park Preserve, New York, JHD Enjoy and bless a scent, or return...