Growing up in Texas, we spent many of our summer vacations in the alpine loftiness of the Rocky Mountains. It was an experience of exaltation, seeing farther and feeling more expansive by going higher and higher.
Back home, climbing the bluff near our ranch afforded 360 degree views of the Texas Hill Country. Here there was a little climb, but the magnificence came not so much from being above it all, but from the sensation of being in the center, able to spin around and see all the surrounding countryside in a circle.
For our ancestors, ascending a mountain was a chance to get the perspective of being airborne. Mountains are regarded as sacred places in many religions and cultures. For Jews, formative experiences of our people took place atop hills or beside mountains. Going up a mountain, having that higher perspective, entered our spiritual lexicon. Aliyah is the language of ascent that we use to describe a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, moving to Israel, or coming up to bless the Torah in the synagogue.
Half of the human population depends on vital resources, especially water, from highly diverse and fragile mountains ecosystems. (Learn more about Mountain Ecosystems on The Encyclopedia of Earth.)
Psychologists use the metaphor of a Peak Experience to describe life’s high points and experiences of transcendence. Spiritual practice is not just about attaining the heights, but about bringing down and containing the energy from life’s summits.
Wander and climb through this Gateway of Mountains to explore the symbolism of mountains and peaks in Jewish tradition and in your own life.
Cascades Mountain Range, Charles Danan
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.