Wind (Ruach)

רוּחַ

Wind (in Hebrew ru-ach רוּחַ, “ch” as in Bach) is invisible, borne on the air, and beyond human control. It can be gentle and restorative or powerful enough to cause great destruction. And the added mystery is that within each one of us is a tiny wind—our breath—keeping us alive from moment to moment. Ruach is the power of animation, whether stirring the branches of a tree, scattering seeds, lifting flocks of birds, or enlivening a human being. In the Tanakh, Hebrew Bible, the word Ruach can have all these meanings: wind, breath and spirit. A related word, Rei-ach, means scent, which holds the key to many precious soul memories.

Join me on this path in this Gateway of Wind and Spirit to explore the rustlings of Spirit in Jewish tradition and in your 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.

Ambiance: Windy Jungle in Kauai

Featured Image: Kauai coast, by Elisheva Danan Learn about the science of wind, or return to the Gateway of Wind.  

Why Does the Wind Blow?

    Learn some Torah about the power of wind, or return to the Gateway of Wind

The Power of Wind

Winds can be fearsome and awe-inspiring. Even today, with all our advances in science and technology, we are still at the mercy of powerful winds like hurricanes and tornadoes. The prophet Jeremiah declares the weather as signs of God’s power over nature: “When His...

Splitting the Sea with Wind

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...

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...

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...

Elijah’s Spirit Shared

Another important story of Elijah the prophet uses the word Ruach in the sense of spirit. When Elijah ascends to the heavens in a fiery chariot, his student and disciple Elisha receives a double portion of his spirit.   Elijah took his mantle, and rolling it up,...

A Double Measure of Spirit

My mother Betty Hilton, of blessed memory, was a truly righteous woman who overcame challenges including early widowhood to found several spiritual groups for women. She became a leader in our local Jewish community, and ultimately served as a professional hospital...

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...

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,...

Song: “I Am Alive”

This chanting song by the late Rabbi David Zeller is from the teaching of Rebbe Menachem Nachum of Chernobyl. He marvels at the breath of God enlivening us. And who is this aliveness I am? Is it not the Holy Blessed One?   Learn the power of meditative breathing,...

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...

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...

Blessings of Scent

This website can bring you a video or recording of wind's image and sound, but it cannot convey the feel of the wind in your hair, scent of a pine forest in the Cascade mountains, or the heady perfume of orange blossoms and jasmine in an Israeli spring. For that you...

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 Shofar: Holy Wind, Holy Sound

    Breath and wind are instrumental in playing the sacred instrument, the Shofar, or ram's horn (or sometimes an antelope horn) that is blown on Rosh Hashanah and at the end of Yom Kippur as a call to repentance, a spiritual wake-up. The word shofar is from...

Tikkun Olam: The Shofar Calls to Justice

The blowing of the shofar is also a call to take action for justice in the world. Jewish advocates for social justice consider the call of the shofar a demand for righteous action in the world. Rabbi Arthur Waskow of the Shalom Center has often used the shofar as a...

Tikkun Olam: Clean the Air

I sometimes think of streams as the arteries of our planet, forests as the lungs, and wind as the breath.Yet millions of children and adults breathe polluted air.  To live healthfully on the earth, we need to clean our air, the breath of life, both by better everyday...

Poem: Who has Seen the Wind?

by Christina Rossetti Who has seen the wind? Neither I nor you: But when the leaves hang trembling, The wind is passing through. Who has seen the wind? Neither you nor I: But when the trees bow down their heads, The wind is passing by. Share your thoughts on the...

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...