For me, it all started on Rosh Hashannah. I knew I wanted to be in the service of retrospection and hear the call of the shofar to shed my year’s constipative moments imbedded in my mind, body, and soul. And yet, I didn’t feel ready. My internal calendar didn’t quite align. Nevertheless, I landed in Adamah, ready or not, for Yom Kippur, Sukkot and Simhat Torah.
Parshat Noah mirrors parts of my experience so intimately at Adamah. I have been the flood, the unrighteous and righteous, the animals and plants. Although I haven’t quite reached the 40 days of rains of Adamah, I sense the cleansing taking place. The rains have perfectly aligned themselves with my prayers and those shared with Jews world wide as well as surely others experiencing drought, famine, or chalenging harvests: Rain! They have arrived after a parched summer, and tomorrow they are supposedly going to release us from Parsha Noah’s flood. I now face questions upon my heart. During Yom Kippur Rabbi Piskin spoke of recognizing the High Holidays in everyday, just as Shabbat teaches us the importance of rest on it’s day, it also seeks to enter our body, mind, and hearts throughout our week.
What does this look like? How can I align myself with Noah in the midst of a daily Shabbat, Rosh Hashannah, Yom kippur, Sukkot, and Simhat Torah? My prayer is to sit in the place of life as a process as my shofar sounds to awaken me to her mystery. In this mystery I will yearn in deep silence, tugging my soul with gevurah and hesed to connect to God and all this creation; to then light incense in my Holy of Holy’s, as the Kohanim did on Yom Kippur, to bathe and celebrate the protection of personal clouds of glory where I can relax into the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual connection of joy and security with Hashen. When I feel this, I awaken to the love affair I have with Hashem, to dance the dance of Simhat Torah where every moment is present and a present of awe and celebration.
Hineini, Here I am. I am that, I am. As the Moses Code lays it out- when I say, I am that; God replies I am. And so the choice is clear in this moment, as the floods of Noah come to fruition from our prayers on Sukkot and Shemini yasterez. The question that arises is how will we get off our arc? Will we make burnt offerings to God in grattitude or will we choose to be vegan? Will we plant a vineyard to get drunk or will we offer up blessings higher than any high could ever get us? Will our yetzer hara overcome our desire to connect with Hashem? It is unclear what took a man like Noah from a place of “walking with Hashem” as a righteous man of his generation, whole hearted, to descend from his vessel and create a drama God may not have envisioned: animal offerings and drunkenness. Maybe the lesson is to realize that we are human beings, and we are complicated as in presented by Koheleth. His message finally sits: Eat, Drink and Be Happy. Sounds good to me. But I think I might add, laugh, sing Dodi lee ve ani lo haroeh bashoshanim while caretaking for the earth: plants animals, and loving the other as oneself.
As the Adamaniks, a microcosmic am yisrael, emerge from the sukkah this week, the mantra yakim lanu et sukkat david hanofelet, raise the shattered sparks of our Self, reverberates from my spirit. We have been spending our days in the fields harvesting the bounties of the summer as the autumn begins to slow the sadeh down. It is impossible not to shout out in awe at this sprouting bronze and rust landscape, at the misty fresh mornings, at the towering twelve foot tall sunflowers, or the site of a colony of brussel sprouts growing in the ground.
The field has become my temple. I can take a step back from the ego mind and become a steward in the humming ecosystem that is a function of so many vital and separate elements. I think of the Adamahniks of seasons past that put their love and sweat into preparing the fields and sowing seeds so that we can enter and join the throngs of work while we whistle songs of peace.
During Sukkahfest at Isabella Freedman we sat with community of all sorts, sang in the most goosebumps of harmony, and ate food from not even a mile away. This is something that I savor from this week. Like Avraham sat and welcomed guests from a tent of no sides, I think of sitting in this tent of three sides as gradually moving toward a space of Chesed, lovingkindness that Avraham incarnated. This concept can seem overwhelming to me. I have made intentions to reconnect with the earth, to learn about her seasons and how to protect and work in symbiosis with her. I have made intentions to feed myself and others consciously with an awareness of health and eco-kashrut and so as the new year and its Indian wedding of celebrations has flown by I stand by the value in living chesed, in living in a way that is creative and cooperative standing against destruction and division.
We learned this week in more ways than one of Rav Kook’s teaching to pray in the field so that the blades of grass and the shrubs of the field will come into our prayer strengthening our song. This again enlivens the work that we do by reconnecting with the land so that this, be it sowing or harvesting, laying compost or mulching becomes a prayer with nature which raises our voices in peace and communion.
Chag Sameach and Shana Tova!
Faryn-Beth Hart, Fall 2010 Fellow
The following post is written by Rachel Bickel, a fall 2010 Adamah fellow.
I imagine the content of these last days and see movement. Movement in and out… from one state to another… from the forest into my tent and deeper into my sleeping bag. And then out again. Into boots and onto a bicycle, traversing a landscape that seems to be changing before my very eyes, becoming both familiar and slightly different as we transition into autumn. I feel the movement now even as I write this – the ache in my body, the fatigue. But I’m satisfied. Next to the ache there is the warmth of sun and the residue of soil… traces of all that we have done in such a short time.
And so here we are, preparing for Sukkot… moving furniture, assigning tasks. Who will do Torah reading, someone asks. Where are the decorative gourds that we harvested this morning? Just days ago we were fasting, steeped in the depth and solemnity of Yom Kippur and immediately the mood has shifted to one of joy and celebration. And thus the theme of movement feels so profound, so fitting for this season of both awe and harvest, this shifting from the depths of ourselves to the miracle and joy that is community and abundance. And yet we have this stunning sukkah to remind us of the impermanence of it all.
The season, this flannel shirt, my fatigue, this tent dwelling of mine and the faces and energies that make up Isabella Freedman… these things will change and become something else. But here we are, walking at once along our own paths and yet building a life and a home together, in a way that feels right.
It reminds me of an essay I read by Arthur Green a couple of years ago, one that has remained with me for a long time. In it he asks, “What does it mean to be yisra’el amekha? It means that our job is to seeks always to do what comes after Sinai: to erect a dwelling place for God on earth. We Jews are mishkan builders; that’s what its all about. ‘From the beginning,’ says the Midrash, ‘the Shekinah sough to dwell below,’ on earth, within the natural and human communities. Our job is to live in such a way, to create a community of such holiness that the divine presence will feel comfortable, at home, dwelling in our midst.”
So my hope and perhaps my blessing is that we keep on building, whether it is a sukkah, a community or a mishkan, in the context this tradition, with love and reverence for the natural world and all that is within and upon it. And may our roots remain firm, even in our impermanence. L’chaim.