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B’reishit THAT SNAKE!!!

Chapter 3 starts out by saying: Now the serpent was the shrewdest of all the wild beasts that YHVH Elohim had made.

Looks like that snake was a wild beast.  Now let’s examine that word translated into shrewdest,or in some other translations it’s translated cunning, subtle, crafty, etc. That word is the hebrew word ערום [arum]. This word is the same hebrew word that is used in the last verse of chapter 2, that is translated as naked. That word in chapter 2, is the plural of arum, ערומים [arumim].  Now either the serpent is either more NAKED than any other beast of the field, or the man and the woman in the previous chapter were both cunning, shrewd, crafty or subtle….Take your pick.

Some interesting facts about Asherah , are that some of her symbols were  Serpent and Tree Of Life.

As a result of their “fall”,  because of their eating of the Tree of knowledge of good and evil, they are tossed out of the garden, so that they can not partake of the TREE OF LIFE.

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Sh’mini Azaret, a winter festival that was placed at the end of the fall festival,when the people were still at the Temple. It’s origins are found in Leviticus 23:36 and Numbers 29: 35-38. It was to gather as an assembly and to bring a fire offering.

During the period of the Second Temple, it became the norm to pray for rain for the first time each year on Sh’mini Azaret, Arthur Waskow, Seasons of our Joy.

Later, the festival morphed into 2 days and Simchat Torah became the 2nd day. Today in our Reform Temple Sh’mini Azaret is only mentioned and we celebrate Simchat Torah during the weekly Shabbat servicenot on the actual day of the festival. We dance with the Torah on that night.

I learned about Sh’mini Azaret from Waskow’s book and I also learned for the first time about the Jews who gathered at the United States Capitol plant a tree for peace. I think I will make it a tradition of my own to plant a tree somewhere and dance around it with a small Torah scroll. I wonder how many trees I can plant during the remaining years of my lifetime…..

Seasons Of Our Joy: Sukkot

 

I attend a Reform Temple, although my interests lean more in the direction of Renewal or Earth Based, Feminine Divine. We only have a Reform Temple in our area, so my choices are kind of limited.  Basically, in celebration of Sukkot, we build a sukkah inside the building (Yep, you read that right). I don’t know why they do it that way, but they do. Our spiritual leader (we have no rabbi.), explains why we are doing this. Then he proceeds to show us as best he can, about the etrog, the lulav, and how to wave them. He does explain that it’s a harvest festival. That’s our Sukkot. They leave the sukkah up for a few days and take it down. I once went camping during Sukkot with a friend and her children to our local campground and although we didn’t build a sukkah, we slept in a tent and basically read scriptures, fished, cooked out, and communed with nature. It wasn’t your traditional Sukkot, but it was meaningful in it’s way. ..We also almost froze our butts off. It Got Cold Out There at night..lol

When I was reading Seasons Of Our Joy, I learned that while it is a festival to celebrate the agricultural harvest, it is also a celebration of our spiritual harvest. As Waskov puts it,” We have experienced the moment of rebirth,…at Rosh Hashanah, the moment of the new moon….Reconciliation at Yom Kippur, in the swelling of the moon. And now at the full moon we celebrate Sukkot--the festival of fulfillment, of gathering in the benefits that flow from repentance and forgiveness. The harvest that takes the form of joy and shalom, harmony, in the world”.

I also learned that Sukkot is the fulfillment of the moon of Tishri….But it is also the fulfillment of the yearly cycle of the sun, which began at Pesach.with the rebirth of the earth and ends with the ripening harvest of Sukkot.

Sukkot is a celebration harvesting the blessings of our life, both the earthly and the spiritual.

Seasons Of Our Joy: Yom Kippur

 

Yom Kippur comes on the 10th day after Rosh Hashanah. It is a day of fasting and prayer (atonement). I’ve had people come up to me at shul at the end of Yom Kippur and say things, like “Well, we’re good for another year. I was thinking of that when reading the chapter in Seasons of Our Joy and it occurred to me, as far as the day goes. Yeah, we are good for another year, before the day comes around again. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that we are good for another year, if we weren’t sincere or if we were just going through the motions. If we didn’t learn anything from our “sins” or “atonement”, and walk away striving to be a better person, then I don’t see how we can be “good for another year.”  It’s a wonderful tradition, but traditions without inner meanings for us, are only just that traditions and empty ones, at that. I hope that in the coming year, I am a better person..and a better Jew.. Although for me, the two are one and the same.

I always wondered why there were two Jewish New Years. No one was ever able to explain to my why, really. Then I read Arthur Waskow’s Seasons Of Our Joy and what he had written about the two  cycles, one being the cycle of the sun and the other being the cycle of the moon. It made sense to me that the cycle of the sun  began at Passover and the cycle of the moon began at Rosh Hashanah.  The beginning of the cycle of the sun,representing and celebrating the birth of the the Israelites  as a free people and the beginning of the cycle of the moon is a “renewing” or a starting over of our spiritual lives, almost a cleansing, if you will.

Continuing with my thoughts on B’reishit….

And Elohim said: “Let us make humankind in our image, after our likeness.”

With Elohim being both male and female, it stands to reason that mankind would be too.  In chapter 1 verse 27, it says that Elohim created mankind( ha adam)in (the divine) image, creating them male and female.  This version would lead one to believe that there is G-d and G-ddess. But then in chapter 2…we have another version.

Many Goddess traditions, see the Goddess as Mother and  even look on the earth as Mother Earth. Could the following  verse have anything to do with it?  Or could the verse have been born out of  those earliest traditions? Could our earliest ancestors have understood things from this perspective?

In verse 7 of  the second chapter, we read that … YHVH Elohim fashioned  the man (ha adam)  out of the of the dust of the soil, or earth (adamah) and  breathed into his nostrils, the neshmat  נשמת (breath  of  life).

Verse 21 of the 2nd chapter says that Elohim causes a sleep to come up the adam and removes half of the being…one side. The word used here is tsela and  every other place it is used it’s to designate a side..not a rib.  Since chapter two says that the 2 sides were separated, it stands to reason that mankind was originally androgynos. The mystics believe that is the reason that when we find our soul mate and fall in love, feel complete…The two sides are reunited and made whole again…It kind of makes you wonder if it’s possible that mankind was originally androgynos, was the Divine, as well?

Another thought on this parashah, is that I don’t think that we actually  know what that first man in the scriptures was actually named. The word adam was actually the term used for mankind in general, in other parts of the scriptures. This makes me think that originally it was also talking about mankind in general from the start and the editors did some slight altering, possibly. And then the man called his wife Chava. in B’reishit 3:20, which means the “Mother Of All Living” (Asherah also had this title applied to her). Interesting, huh?

B’reishit (G-d or G-ddess??)

Most of what I have ever heard or read about the creation of the world according to the “Bible”, ranged from “God” created the world out of nothing, to there was a big “Bang”. These thoughts never even considered there might be a Goddess connected to it. I constantly learn new stuff about the scriptures and what they are saying.  My thoughts therefore seem to evolve about the subjects of religions  and their writings. And this blog will by no means cover it all and sometimes  I might even have to amend it.  That being said, I will start my thought processes and knowledge on the subject.

Genesis Chapter 1, verse 1:

When Elohim was about the to create the heaven and earth….

To start with, the word Elohim means so much more than just a single male G-d, to me. There is such a richness to the term. Elohim is the feminine Ehoah (G-ddess), but it has a masculine plural suffix. There is no other word in the Tanach, that I am aware of, that mixes up the genders in a word, except for the word Asherah (singular)/Asherim( masculine plural suffix).  So, in my mind, plural could mean a couple of things. It could mean androgynos (one being, two side, masculine and feminine). It could also mean more than one goddess and/or more than one god.

I find it ironic how many terms are feminine gender. The chaotic water, or (the deep), in verse two,  is a Hebrew noun, t’hom, which alsois  feminine. T’hom  was a shapeless form that had existed prior to the moving  or gliding of  “G-d’s Spirit” over the face of the waters, (Hebrew: Spirit= Ruach) is ALSO feminine. This word Ruach, also could mean Wind, Soul, or Breath.  This stands to reason that the “Holy Spirit” is NOT male or masculine gendered..but in reality, a feminine gendered Ruach HaKodesh.

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