Tuesday, July 31, 2018

The Shema

The Shema is contained in the book of Deuteronomy.  The Shema is also "contained" in the mezuzah (see below)
You shall speak of them when you walkest by the way

Pointer at the start of the Ten Commandments, you can also see the left side of the scroll winding down

The grass withers, the flower fades.  
But the word of God stands forever.
--Isaiah 40:8, from this week`s Haftarah 

In this week`s Torah Portion, we are drawing nearer to the end of the Torah cycle.
Its like a crescendo right now, everything from the beginning is coming together in the fifth book of Torah as Moses speaks the words (Devarim) to the Children of Israel.  Can you feel it even now, as the left side of the scroll shortens, and we are coming into the last month of the Hebrew year.

At the same time closer to the beginning.  The Day of Atonement, the Fall Feasts that mark the end of one cycle and beginning of the next, as well as the New Year on the Hebrew calendar are approaching.  God`s cycle of time is eternal and it is also clearly marked with Shabbatot and `Chagim` (Feasts).

This past Shabbat is also called the Shabbat of Comfort, from the first words in the Haftarah from Isaiah, that is read in the same week.
It follows a series of Shabbatot that marked some of the sad and bitter times in Jewish history.

But now is a time of `Comfort`.

"Comfort, comfort My people,"
says your God.   ---Isaiah 40:1

Reading this portion,  it is indeed `comforting` as there is both the Ten Commandments and the `Shema` in this week's reading.
Do you know what the Shema refers to?
It is the scriptures in Deuteronomy 6:4 , which start, Hear O Israel.
In Hebrew, Shema Y`Israel.

 I grew up knowing these words as the Shema, and that they are  "the watchword of our faith." 
I am amazed when I look at my childhood, that my parents  obediently followed the command to "teach these words diligently to your children."  I don`t remember `learning` them, but I don`t remember ever not knowing them.  Its like they were always there... and they were! And they are!!

Even my years as a runaway from the God of Israel (you may know that part of my story from elsewhere on the blog!), I still said these words as a prayer before bedtime, it was almost automatic, and I never really thought that I was keeping my connection by saying them, I just said them.  Its like a piece of me wasn't rebelling and knew that they were a treasure to keep.  So when I returned to the God of Israel, and said these words, it was like they really were a lifeline and felt soo....well... to use a word from this week...comforting!!

   As I reflect on them in reading in this week cycle, their eternal place in our lives  and the way they are a direct connect to the God of Israel just spoke to me in a new way.  I don't know if you were brought up saying them every day as maybe it is something that just Jewish parents teach, I am not sure, but if you don`t say them each day, I would just like to invite you to!!  Like a parent teaching them diligently to a child, I would leave these words here,  and if someone is reading this and inspired to begin to incorporate them into your daily prayer times, then I will have done my `mitzvot` for today.

These are the words of the Shema Israel.

Shema Israel ADONAI Eloheinu

Hear O Israel
The Lord our God
the Lord is One.

שְׁמַע, יִשְׂרָאֵל:  יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵינוּ, יְהוָה אֶחָד

וְאָהַבְתָּ, אֵת יְהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ, בְּכָל-לְבָבְךָ וּבְכָל-נַפְשְׁךָ, וּבְכָל-מְאֹדֶךָ
וְהָיוּ הַדְּבָרִים הָאֵלֶּה, אֲשֶׁר אָנֹכִי מְצַוְּךָ הַיּוֹם--עַל-לְבָבֶךָ
 וְשִׁנַּנְתָּם לְבָנֶיךָ, וְדִבַּרְתָּ בָּם, בְּשִׁבְתְּךָ בְּבֵיתֶךָ וּבְלֶכְתְּךָ בַדֶּרֶךְ, וּבְשָׁכְבְּךָ
 וּקְשַׁרְתָּם לְאוֹת, עַל-יָדֶךָ; וְהָיוּ לְטֹטָפֹת, בֵּין עֵינֶיךָ
 וּכְתַבְתָּם עַל-מְזֻזוֹת בֵּיתֶךָ, וּבִשְׁעָרֶיךָ

V'ahavta et ADONAI Elohecha b'chol-l'vav'cha oovchol-nafsh'cha oovchol-m'odecha.
V'hayu had'varim ha'elleh asher anochi m'tzav'cha hayom al-l'vavecha
Oovlecht'cha vaderech oov'shochb'cha oovkumecha.
ookshartam l'ot al-yadecha v'hayu l'totafot bein einecha.
oochtavtam al-m'zuzot beitecha oovisharecha.

Love ADONAI your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.  These words, which I am commanding you today, are to be on your heart.  You are to teach them diligently to your children, and speak of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down and when you rise up.  Bind them as a sign on your hand, they are to be as frontlets between your eyes, and write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

Deuteronomy 6:4~9


Note:  A  `Mezuzah`is pictured (a little exaggerated so you can see it!) in the picture.   
The Mezuzah is a box that contains a scroll which has written on it the words of the Shema.  The letter `Shin` that you see drawn on it is the Hebrew letter with the sound `Sh` that starts the Shema.   When you come in to the house it is customary to kiss the mezuzah by kissing your hand and touching the `Sh` thus acknowledging the words contained in the Shema!!

Hebrew notes if you would like to read on!
1.  Something I noticed as I was writing the transliteration, the word Devarim, which I have used in a few posts recently.  This word is the name of the Fifth book of the bible in Hebrew and means "Words".  In English we call this book, Deuteronomy.   Of course the Parsha is always named after the first words in the reading, but I find it also interesting how often Devarim, or words is used throughout the book!!

Other note'  You can see the word "Mezuzot" in the last line in the Hebrew and it is the plural of "Mezuzah" and means doorpost.

this post's Hebrew lesson!

Shema=hear, listen
Ha devarim=these words
al m'zuzot=on the doorposts

Nachamu= Comfort
Shabbat Nachamu=Sabbath of Comfort

and one bonus word
Ahava =  Love
(as in Ve ahavta et Adonai Elohecha, you shall love the Lord thy God)

Friday, July 27, 2018

Bittersweet but mostly sweet morning story

Every good gift  and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow. 
James 1:17

I went outside this morning to read by the Castle.  Finding shade under a cherry tree, drawing, convening with the Lord through time to sit and read His word, especially Deuteronomy 6, in this week of  Parsha Va`etchanan.  

At some point in to the reading, I realized He was showing me something, a picture, that He knew I would want to take, and I looked up. I  was moved to get up! And found a good spot to take it!

It was A heron high in a tree.  Up there, can you see?

Then I sat and drew some more.  There were workers doing upkeep on the Castle walls and around the moat, and everything bathed in His light.
if you look closely, you can see a workman on a ladder here he is clearing weeds from the stone walls

Then after a little while of being there, two women,  a little older and with Japanese parasols, appeared walking towards me.  They were sweet and ladylike and expressed that they were glad to see me there admiring the beauty of creation.   They seemed to come out of a world where once people did so, and  commented that people don`t stop to admire the beauty so much these days.

I showed them some of my sketches and they flatteringly said `上手``jo-u-zu`(it means `very good!`)  though I don`t know that they are `jo-u-zu` really they are quite child-like, but they are from my heart.   Standing in that spot with them the morning seemed alive as we three watched the fish swimming in the moat, turtles too, birds flying, and the dappled light making patterns through the trees.

 Then one of the women signaled to the other and she opened up a package one of them was holding and took out two sparkling rings of some kind of treat.  It was goya!

Goya is a summer season vegetable in Japan that is very bitter! It has a rough skin on the outside.  You have to prepare it by scooping out the seeds and there are ways to cut the bitterness if you prefer to.   I have recently been cooking it on summer nights as it is said to give stamina in the hot days.  But I never saw it like this, all coated with sugar and in perfect rings!!  I believe it was a delicacy and a new taste, something from the Almighty himself to give me strength and taste His sweetness on this summer day.

Soon they continued on their way, these two Japanese women receding into the far distance with their umbrellas.  I held the rings of goya up close to see the castle through them, like vignettes of all the views I had been seeing.  Then I gave thanks and tasted the bitter sweet.  It was a new taste, sparkling with sweetness more than bitter, with the sugar all around in a ring.

Everyday is, a gift from our King.

Shabbat Shalom! 


Sunday, July 22, 2018

Devarim Stationary Set!

letter paper


1 set includes:
letter paper

For You

*Devarim= Words

 the Fifth book of the Torah


Saturday, July 14, 2018

Butterfly Challah for Parsha Masei and Matot

 These are the journeys of Bnei-Yisrael when they came out of Egypt by their divisions under the hand of Moses and Aaron.  Moses recorded the stages of their journeys at ADONAI`s command.  These then are their journeys by stages.    ---Numbers 33:1, Parsha Masei, Journeys

This week the meeting with the butterfly stayed with me and as I was getting ready for Shabbat I knew that this weeks challah would be a Butterfly Challah!

The shapes just came naturally, as I rolled the dough and divided it into three.  The body became a braided shape and the antennae really just formed themselves.  Then I rolled out a few strands to shape the wings.

I made some plum filling to go inside to honor my meeting with the butterfly and having left her in the ume (plum) tree, from where she would fly to her next place.

 The makings of a Butterfly Challah

I rolled the plum paste, well actually prune, into another strand and the next thing that happened was I realized I could make 6 little rounds in each wing to make a pattern. These would represent the 12 tribes as this weeks Parsha is Matot and Masei, double portion, Tribes and Journeys!!  And be reminiscent of the black ink like patterns and dots on her precious wings.  Then another thin line around the middle also remniscient of a journey, and see how it also made a kind of heart! 

Connecting with the Parsha

Masei, the second portion, means Journey.  It  also seemed to speak to my spirit this week with the butterfly.  And it connected the dots to think about the journey of the children of Israel as we are finishing the book of Numbers, as well as my journey from point to point, and all our journeys and transformation.

I was happy with how the butterfly challah came out, and somehow it seems to also go with the double portion readings of Masei and Matot.  As if she was a tribes and journey butterfly, coming to meet me at just this time.   As I have challah that I make for different Shabbat, I can see this becoming one on the challah cycle.  A butterfly challah for parsha Masei and Matot.

Shabbat Shalom! 

As we finish the book of Numbers and get ready to start the book of Deuteronomy, we say these words, words to say at the end of each book of the Torah.  This year I say them and dedicate to my sweet butterfly friend.

Chazak, chazak,v`nitchazek!
Be strong, be strong, and be strengthened!!


Postcards to Color and a song

These are postcards to go with my butterfly story below.
Please enjoy to color them in!  
As you know I often like to connect the dots of my life in the week to the readings that we are reading in the week`s Torah portion.  This week is Matot and Masei, Tribes and Journeys.  I had the image of putting the `dots` in the wings of the butterfly to represent the twelve tribes of Israel, like the way they are arranged on the breastplate of Aaron.  A butterfly reminds us of our journeys and transformation.
The words in two of the postcards say Sim Shalom, which means grant peace, and is one of a series of daily Jewish prayers.  There are many beautiful versions of it in  song (click for song).

I made a butterfly shaped challah this week as you will see in the next post.

May the dots in your week and on your journey connect to finding God`s great peace in our lives and hearts!!

Blessings and Shalom! Shabbat Shalom!


Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Healing in His Wings

But for you who revere My Name, 
the sun of righteousness will come with healing in his wings.

Malachi 4:2

Seeing this little butterfly today on the pavement, with broken wings,  I thought of this scripture, and prayed to Yeshua to heal her wings.  It started an adventure and a morning and an afternoon and all the way into evening.  I  never imagined that I would spend a whole day with  a little butterfly.  There must have been something surely God wanted to show me in bringing her this close today.

This morning I  ran  out to the 7-eleven to fax something to my Dad in the US.  I had written the fax number on a  butterfly shape memo paper.   That is why it amazed me to see the butterfly while I was holding the butterfly memo, soon after I left our apartment house.
 It was just the way the Holy Spirit was calling attention to Himself.

So I kneeled down and saw one of the wings was overlapped on the other, and she couldn`t fly and  was having a struggle moving.

Amazingly she started to crawl towards the paper and I picked her up.  Then we went together to the convenience store just a block away and in that block she started to come closer to me, and soon I  was able to hold her gently in my hand.  She even climbed up on my arms.  Once she fell down to the ground, as there was a wind and she was weak, and she found my foot and crawled up again!!

I didn`t know what to do about the fax, as my Dad was waiting but I couldn`t bring her inside, as I remember hearing that butterflies can`t live in side without outside natural air... not sure if that is true, but I didn`t want to take a chance, and eyed the scene outside to see if I could ask someone to watch her.. so I asked a man sitting on a bench outside the 7-eleven , he was a businessman on a break and in between calls.  I  felt boldness and the instinct to protect this creature of God and asked , challenged, him to watch her while I went in to make a fax!! I might have astonished him, but that is good.  It is what we need to do sometimes as the salt and the light!

So I left my new butterfly friend with him and ran inside only to find out that the fax machine doesn`t do international fax.  So I thanked the man and  picked her up and continued on our way to the next convenience store nearby.  There I know they have international fax.  I found a safe place to leave the butterfly when I went in, and told her I would be right back, and there she waited!!

After finishing the business, I wanted to bring her to a place she might be happy in, and brought her to my favorite place where the ume (plum) tree is.  I set her on a leaf of the ume tree, and the breath of God breathed into her as she settled on to a leaf.  I prayed for her to be healed and be able to fly again.  The wing that had been completely folded over was now opening and she expanded and contracted, like she was stretching her muscles!!  Then I noticed myself, here I was crouched and kneeling in the shade of the plum tree on a very hot summer day.  It was a wonderful place to be, but not somewhere I would have brought myself.  God, through this butterfly , brought me there.

The time with her continued through out the day.  This sounds like a story made up but it is true, several times during the day I left her for even several hours to take care of other things in the day, and each time I came back she was there waiting for me! We had such a splendid time, and I really believed she would fly.   I turned on some music and danced with her to Sim Shalom.  And she kept trying to walk and stretch her wings, finding my feet and climbing up and finding my hat and echoing the bow!!

At the end of the day I left her on a leaf in the ume tree.  Sim Shalom means give peace.  I felt sad to leave her but she seemed so peaceful and I know that she is in His hands.  It was a special time with her today.

Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.   --James 4:8

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Postcards from Parsha Pinchas

SHALOM over Mt. Fuji

Let the Shalom of Messiah rule in your hearts.

--Colossians 3:15A

In this weeks Parsha, Pinchas` opening act (actually the closing act in Parsha Balak, Numbers 25:7~9) reveals his  zeal for ADONAI.   It results in a stopping of the plague and atonement for the Children of Israel.  He received a perpetual covenant of Peace --Shalom-- from ADONAI for him and his descendants after him.  Hence the word Shalom, in these postcards.  Why the Pineapple?  Well, maybe that it starts with P for Pinchas, and Peace, and also the little (piercing) pricklies somehow made it seem an appropriate fruit for this week (Numbers chapter 25).  
Blessings and Shalom.
Shabbat Shalom.