apples and honey, sweeten the New Year’s advent; Rosh HaShannah bliss.
As Rosh HaShannah, the New Year on the Hebrew calendar approaches, I prepare my soul, so that I might be able to stand before the King on Judgment Day. Selichos (the penitential prayers) have already begun; these prayers will continue, until the eve of the Day of Judgment, when all the world is judged, and decrees are made for the New Year. Yet, charity, prayer, and repentance have the effect of lessening the severity of any negative decrees placed upon us.
The two days of Rosh HaShannah are said, according to the Zohar, to symbolically represent a day of judgment, and a day of mercy, resting upon G-d’s attributes of both justice and mercy. Because the world could not survive upon being judged without mercy. Justice alone would bring harsh condemnation upon all the earth, for no one is able to sincerely live 100% by G-d’s standard; everyone falls short of the mark to varying degrees, because of our “human nature,” as some say, inherited by Adam and Eve, who disobeyed G-d, even while living in Gan Eden (Paradise). So, mercy has a sweetening effect upon our judgment, so that we can be reconciled to G-d.
I have found my niche, here, at the desk where I sit; staying connected.
Pixels appear in harmony, arranged as letters in words, forming sentences in scripture, poetry, and essays. Sometimes, appearing as colorful details in art or photography. While outside, according to the news, if I dare to read, it seems there is still no reason or rhyme in the world.
I’ll take my solitude in front of the screen, 12hrsperday, excepting Shabbos, when I seek my connection to G-d. And, the world may continue on its own, for I know that G-d is sovereign; and, despite the appearance of chaos, all is running according to His plan.
There is still a certain feeling, bittersweet in character, that pervades my existence. Unlike most, I have no recourse to seek a “new normal,” beyond my own cozy solitude. I concede, that everything seems to have fallen into place for me, as I sit, study, and pray, while awaiting the new day.
Inasmuch that I am inclined by my pensive nature to perpetual reflection, if not melancholy, when the Hebrew month of Av arrives, I look forward to the demarcation between sorrow and joy on the fifteenth of the month, known as Tu b’Av. The month begins with solemn and intense mourning for the destruction of both the first and second Temples, culminating on Tish b’Av – the ninth of Av – the date on the Hebrew calendar when both Temples were actually destroyed, about 6oo years apart from each other. Yet, Tu b’Av is a day of joy, for almost inexplicable reasons; moreover, on the first Sabbath after Tish b’Av, we begin the readings from the prophets that have to do with consolation.
And, so, while the month recalls a world in turmoil, that brought down our sacred building, where the presence of G-d dwelt, we acknowledge that the Jewish people have always rebuilt after times of disruption. Chaos and order was the natural order of progression, beginning with the Creation, when order prevailed over chaos; at least, up until the time of mankind’s expulsion from Gan Eden, after the first act of disobedience towards G-d. Yet, all yearn to return to Him, even if that yearning expresses itself in pathways that sidetrack the route prescribed for return. A wake up call is sometimes necessary to jar ourselves, that we might be shaken out of our confines, to realign with the Divine.
The stars spin around, at heights, above and below the earth’s equator.
On the summer solstice, the longest day of the year, the concealment of G-d’s presence is greatest (Accidental Talmudist: Summer Solstice and Judaism). While other ancient traditions mark the day of solstice in their own ways, Jewish tradition evokes the quietude of an inward reflection (Chagigah 14b). Additionally, the month of Tammuz, that always occurs around this time, is a time of introspection, as we prepare to mourn the destruction of Jerusalem, and the subsequent loss of the Temple(s).
Interestingly, the summer has already begun, according to the religious calendar of prayer, whereas the liturgy demarcates only two seasons: summer and winter, encompassing two seasons each, out of the four observed on the civil calendar. On the first day of summer, on the liturgical calendar, the Tefillat Tal (Prayer for Dew) is recited. This always occurs on the first day of Passover in the Spring (according to the four seasons model).
O Aviv, upon your full moon, hinge all of the promises anew. The grains of the barley harvest, are roasted, ground, and sifted. Mixed with oil, a handful of frankincense placed on top. Then, consumed by the flames, it’s smoke arises to Shomayim. Thus, completed, we may partake of the abundance of the harvest.
The sheaf of the first fruits stands as a reminder across the generations. To all who aspire towards righteousness, as upright sheaves, standing in the field. Waiting for the harvest, we seek renewal, when the day arrives for joyful reaping. And, the sheaves will be gathered, waived like lulav branches in the wind. Carried across the lands of the earth, to be planted anew in Yerushalayim.
Pesach offering, unleavened bread, wine, and guests; waiting for next year.
Sometimes, like an ineffable puzzle, my mind rests in the midst of an incomplete picture, with the past on hold, and the future on pause. Time seems to be a superimposed structure upon eternity. Mood becomes everything – the ultimate color of an endless reality, never changing, always experienced from the center of being. The rain is a reminder that everything happens in the present moment.
Worry dissipates, fear diminishes, and peace reigns in the stillness of the heart. A meditative experience that blends into the passing hours of the day. There is no room for regret, nor concern for tomorrow. The potential of renewal exists in every moment of time, that passes unnoticed, because there is no linear reckoning of time as such. As is written, G-d placed eternity in the heart of man (Ecclesiastes 3:11).
The telephone is my only connection to the outside world, that is to anyone not living on Gabriola Island. Otherwise, my friends, family, and associates are three thousand miles away; mostly none of them no where I am, for I have wandered far north to Canada. I only recall one phone call, wherein I was compelled to liquidate an investment that was originally made upon recommendation of a friend. Honestly, I think that the small group of investors no longer wanted to be in partnership with me, after I had abruptly left Philadelphia. I kindly accepted the offer to receive back the exact amount that I had invested.
Every morning, I wake up around 4:00 a.m., when I begin to feel the cold of the room. This is my reminder to put more wood on the fire. My day begins with facing the challenges of a Canadian winter; yet, I am mostly snug in my modest place of residence. The restroom is always cold; so, I usually splash a little bit of water on my face, without immediately taking a shower. Later, I get a ride to Haven from L., who works there in the kitchen; she and her husband are renting this place to me.
Because I am taking workshops at Haven, this is an ideal situation for now; in retrospect, I should have felt blessed by these accommodations; however, I did not actually realize, nor fully appreciating the conveniences. Surely, I lacked gratitude at the time to both my landlords, as well as G-d, who arranges everything from His lofty place in Seventh Heaven. Yet, my New Age worldview at the time, seemed to offer, by way of osmosis from various teachings, a sort of go with the flow of the Universe attitude; yet, without proper respect towards the Creator of the Universe.
On Gabriola Island, I lived for several months, in a few locations, the most charming, sheltered in a small structure, with a bunk bed, and wood stove, three thousand miles away from Philadelphia. I felt secure, and as isolated as Thoreau at Walden, so far from everything that I had known in my life. A new chapter began on that island, as my life unfolded in an unexpected way.
The wings of the Shechinah, next took me to find shelter in Sedona, Arizona, where I lay my head down on the red rocks of the desert. Initially sleeping at first in the early days, in my car in Oak Creek Canyon, a tent on Schnebly Hill, and only my street clothes and a leather jacket, with my back up against a brick wall, while my knees were pulled up towards my chest all night for two weeks, as the cool November moon cast its glow upon my place of refuge, hidden amongst the shadows of a church building.
From the States to Canada and back again, only to be redirected, to a city on the edge of the Colorado plateau; miles from home, where familiarity had faded into oblivion. Now, a pilgrim on the earth, like Abraham, who knew that his true home was only with G-d alone. Wherever I may be called eventually to roam next, perhaps, even being uprooted again from this place near the San Francisco Peaks, I will heed the call, going in faith to where I am called.
Never before, have I had this sense of freedom; having left everything behind me, the new horizon seems endless. I digress, for this is but a moment in time, captured by the pen; yet, the actuality lives on. Having received a perpetual blessing, it seemed at the time; now, I realize that while memories like this never seem to fade, time continues to take its toll on my life. Still, nearby the peaks, sheltering in place, daily blessings are renewed like the cycle of the sunset and sunrise.