Ma'yan Tikvah - A Wellspring of Hope
Ma'yan Tikvah - A Wellspring of Hope

Spiritual Wisdom from Earth and Torah

Divrei Earth

The views and opinions expressed in the d'vrei Earth

represent those of the author.

21.05.2019
Ma'yan Tikvah - A Wellspring of Hope
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by Rabbi Benjamin Weiner At this time of year, two things coincide: the counting of the Omer and the planting of my crops. The Omer is the period of seven weeks that stretch between the second seder of Passover and the holiday of Shavuot. They represent the time that elapsed between the moment when the Israelites were finally free of their Egyptian bondage, and the moment when they stood at the foot of the holy mountain to receive Torah. We count them each year, as if journeying ourselves, once again, out of narrow conceptions and into a deeper understanding of our relationship with what is holy. According to mystical tradition, we mark these days by reference to seven of the kabbalistic sefirot, understood to be aspects or emanations of the divine, including, among others, abounding love, restricting firmness, splendor, endurance, and majesty. Beyond any single one of them, though, I am struck by how the totality of the system challenges us to relinquish the monomania that often passes for monotheism—inspiring us not to perceive the oneness of the divine as a simple, reductive dictatorship of any one single entity, but rather as the interactive tension of a multitude of forces held in balance. I am thinking of them this year, in particular, after reading the reporting surrounding the latest UN study on species extinction, which confirmed, in the starkest of terms, what those who are aware already knew. We are at the beginning of a “sixth extinction” in which human activity is driving a staggering number of species of fauna and flora out of existence. This is not simply a moral or aesthetic crisis but also imminently threatens the future of the clever biped that thinks it is running the show.  In the light of the sefirot, I see this crisis as perhaps the ultimate expression of a monomania subsittued for the sacred complexity of a whole and variegated fabric, and find myself wondering if there is, in fact, any way we can still escape from this Egypt, and toward a holier understanding of our relationship, as humans, to the holiness that is more than just us.  So, as I plant this season, seeking to draw my family's food, sustainably and regeneratively, from the earth entrusted to my care, I am paying special attention to the insect life and the bees, in their reduced number, as they zip around me, to the milkweed and wild clover, to the hawks overheard and the worms and rodents in the soil, to the cluster of bats that paid a call a few nights ago at sunset.  And I am thinking: whatever I find at Sinai this year, I hope it helps me, truly, to “choose life.” Rabbi Benjamin Weiner is the spiritual leader of the Jewish Community of Amherst.  He lives with his wife and son on their three-acre homestead.  
02.05.2019
Ma'yan Tikvah - A Wellspring of Hope
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by Rabbi Katy Z. Allen Innermost is just a word, but with connections-- the Innermost Sanctuary, the Holy of Holies; the innermost recesses, the sanctuary of my heart. The sanctuary of my heart, an inner space, hidden; from whence emerge words-- deepest, innermost words. When a door slams shut, unrelenting silence rules; when a troubled mind overpowers, words tumble out, unchecked, shouting out pain, anger fear, despair-- the past controls. When pathways open wide abundance flows, words stream forth freely, sharing understanding, wisdom, courage and compassion-- the present reigns.  Innermost is just a word. The innermost recesses, the sanctuary of my heart-- that is another matter. דביר רק מילה, אבל עם קשרים-- דביר קודשך, דביר ביתך; דביר מִשְׁקָעִים, דביר לבי. דביר לבי, מקום פנימי, מוסתר; משם יוצאות מילים-- דיבור. כשדלת נטרקת ונסגרת, שקט אַכְזָרי שׁורר; כשדעה עכורה גוברת, מילים, לא מבוקרות, נוהרות החוצה, זועקות כאב, כעס, פחד, ייאוש-- העבר שולט. כששבילים  נפתחים בִרְחָבָה, שפע זורם, מילים מתגלגלותהחוצהבחופשיות, מפיצות הבנה, חכמה, אומץ ורחמים-- ההווה מולך . דביר רק מילה. דביר מִשְׁקָעִים,  דביר לבי-- זה דבר אחר. Rabbi Katy Allen is the founder and rabbi of Ma'yan Tikvah - A Wellspring of Hope, which holds services outdoors all year long, and the co-founder and President pro-tem of the Boston-based Jewish Climate Action Network. She is a board certified chaplain and serves as an Eco-Chaplain and the Facilitator of One Earth Collaborative, a program of Open Spirit, and is a former hospital and hospice chaplain. She received her ordination from the Academy for Jewish Religion in Yonkers, NY in 2005 and lives in Wayland, MA, with her spouse, Gabi Mezger, who leads the singing at Ma'yan Tikvah.
23.04.2019
Ma'yan Tikvah - A Wellspring of Hope
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by Rabbi Katy Z. Allen [This post was originally published on www.JewishBoston.com.] Earth Day is April 22. This year, it falls on the 17thof Nisan. But it isn't always on the 17thof Nisan. It doesn't begin in the evening and end in the evening. We don't light candles or eat special Jewish foods. There are no special prayers. We won't find Earth Day on the Jewish calendar. Sounds like it isn't a Jewish holiday. And it isn't. At least not officially. And yet, there is so much about Earth Day that is Jewish, beginning with the story of creation in the first chapter of the Torah. All the Universe is part of that story, including this precious planet. In the second story of creation, the Garden of Eden presents an image of what life on Earth could be like, and in that image we read that G!d placed ha'adam, Adam, the person, in the garden, l'ovdah ul'shomrah, generally translated as “to till and to tend it” or “to cultivate (or work) and keep it.”  What might our relationship to the Earth look like if we to think about it as though we were ha'adamin the Garden of Eden? Another meaning for the root ayin, vet, daletis “to serve”, either a ruler or G!d. What might our actions in connection to the Earth look like if we considered our all of them as service to G!d through the maintenance of this Divine Creation upon which we live? How might we behave in relation to the trees and sky and water and fungi and whales – and everything else? We have many opportunities in the Jewish calendar to consider our relationship to the Earth – Rosh HaShanah, sometimes described as the Birthday of the World; parashat Bereshitwhen we read the creation stories; parashat Noah, when we read about the flood, parshiot Mishpatim and B'harwhen we read about letting the Earth rest during the Sabbatical year; and Tu BiShvat, sometimes known as the “Jewish Earth Day.”  But there are actually so many other opportunities. A reading through the Five Books of Moses provides encounters with the Earth in one way or another in almost every weekly portion. G!d told Abraham that his offspring would be as many as there are stars in the sky – is that the starless city sky or the dazzling wilderness night sky? Jacob laid his head upon a stone at night and dreamed of angels going up and down on a ladder – is that a bit of the crushed gravel in one's garden or driveway, or a red desert rock? Sacrifices were made of animals in fire. The list goes on and on. And if we turn to the Psalms, there are even more references to the natural world Another way to consider Judaism's connection to the Earth is in the morning blessings, Birkat HaShachar. In the diagram below, the 13 short blessings have been rearranged and placed in concentric circles, starting with the person reciting the blessings at the core. The blessings in blue express what is being requested or stated in a very personal way, beginning with the understanding of our own free will. Moving outward to those that are related to being part of a community, the Jewish people (in green), “who made me of the people Israel” (turquoise) expresses the transition from the personal to the communal. In yellow are found blessings that are universal, such as opening the eyes of the blind. In orange are two blessings that relate to the natural world, widening our connections to include the Earth and its more-than-human inhabitants.  At the outer edge of the diagram, in the deep orange, is an extra blessing not in the siddur, but in the spirit of Jewish tradition. Rabbi David Seidenberg in his seminal work, Kabbalah and Ecology: The Diving Image in the More-Than-Human World, presents a clear case that everything, not just humans, but the plants and animals and rocks – everything– is created in G!d's image. As a second grader explained, when presented with the idea of a blessing “Who made usin your image”: “It comes from the creation story, because G!d created everything.” So, it must all be in G!d's image and therefore sacred. And returning to the dark blue, the core, G!d made us free – free to choose how we will be in relationship to the sacred Earth. From an understanding of the Earth as sacred, as created by G!d, as made in G!d's image, the Jewishness of Earth Day becomes readily apparent. Earth Day is a reminder of the sacredness and importance of the Earth and of our role and responsibility in maintaining it for all its inhabitants, both human and more-than-human. It is a reminder that there is a time and a place when the secular becomes sacred. It is a reminder to renew our effort to preserve this planet while it is still possible, because – it is up to us. We are free to choose to stand idly by or to act and “keep” or preserve this amazing planet and and all it contains. Rabbi Katy Allen is the founder and rabbi of Ma'yan Tikvah - A Wellspring of Hope, which holds services outdoors all year long, and the co-founder and President pro-tem of the Boston-based Jewish Climate Action Network. She is a board certified chaplain and serves as an Eco-Chaplain and the Facilitator of One Earth Collaborative, a program of Open Spirit, and is a former hospital and hospice chaplain. She received her ordination from the Academy for Jewish Religion in Yonkers, NY in 2005 and lives in Wayland, MA, with her spouse, Gabi Mezger, who leads the singing at Ma'yan Tikvah.

The above are examples of Divrei Earth - spiritual wisdom from Earth and Torah, in the blog written by Rabbi Katy Allen and members and friends of Ma'yan Tikvah. 

 

Divrei Earth - literally words of Earth, provide reflections on the weekly Torah portion, as well as Earth Etudes for Elul, reflections in preparation for the New Year during the month leading up to Rosh Hashanah, and Counting the Omer, reflections on Earth and Torah from Passover to Shavuot.

 

CLICK HERE to view the blog, where you can subscribe to receive the posts via email.

 

 

Ma'yan Tikvah Makes the Globe!

Thank you to Lisa Wangsness at The Boston Globe for the fantastic article about Ma'yan Tikvah! Check it out here.

 

Help Protect and Save the Earth - 13 Tips

CLICK HERE to find 13 environmental tips with accompanying texts and commentary by Rabbi Katy Allen.

 

Watch at Eden Keeper

Webinar : A Transformation from Environamental Grief to Environmental Action

 

Watch Eden Keeper Webinar, "A Transformation from Environmental Grief to Environmental Action." During this half-hour video, Director Robin Purchia hosts Rabbi Katy and the two discuss grief, the management of feelings of loss, and how to tranform our dark inner places into joy and a spiritual connection to the environment. 

 

Link to YouTube Webinar

 

Link to Eden Keeper Website

 

Some Spiritual Tips

Are you feeling a bit blue? Wondering about meaning? Despairing about the state of the world? Here are a few suggestions to help yourself get re-grounded spiritually.

 

  • Find a spot outdoors where you can focus on the natural world. Even in the city, you can always look up at the sky. Pay attention to what you see. Let it speak to you. Let the image, sound, or smell enter deep into your being.
  • Draw a picture. It doesn't matter if you "know how to draw" or not. Simply focus on something meaningful to you and record something of what you see, in either an abstract form or something more representative.
  • Think back to a moment in nature from your childhood or youth. Record your memory in words or images.
  • Sit still in a quiet place. Breathe deeply. Image yourself enveloped in love and mercy, beneath the wings of the Shechinah, the Divine Presence.
  • Find a passage from a sacred text, in the broadest sense of the word, Torah or other Jewish texts, your favorite children's book, a poem, or whatever strikes you. Connect it to your experience in nature or your drawing or writing. Think about how the two enrich each other.
  • Call a friend to ask how he or she is doing.

Upcoming Outdoor Services & Other Events

 

Rail Trail & Woods Shabbat  

Saturday, June 29

Mass Central Rail Trail, Wayland

 

Shabbat by the River Saturday, July 13

Carol Getchell Nature Trail, Framingham

 

Hilltop Shabbat

Saturday, July 20

Round Hill, Sudbury

 

Shabbat with the Beavers

Saturday, July 27

Pod Meadow, Wayland

 

Summer Garden Shabbat Saturday, August 3 (Raindate, August 10) Private Garden, Natick

(a members-only event)

 

Glacial Tour Shabbat Saturday, August 10

Grey Reservation, Sudbury

 

Wildlife Refuge Shabbat

Saturday, August 17

Great Meadows National

Wildlife Refuge, Sudbury

 

Where to Find Us

 

Ma'yan Tikvah - A Wellspring of Hope


237 Old Connecticut Path
Wayland, MA 01778


Phone: 1 508.358.5996

 

Email: rabbi@mayantikvah.org

 

Blog: www.mayantikvah.

blogspot.com

Affiliated with the Synagogue Council of Massachusetts

 

 

 

 

 

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© Katy Z. Allen 2012