The Torah places great stress
on the fact that -Passover occurs- in the spring. In biblical times, the month in which the holiday fell was called Aviv (spring).
During the 'first exile" in Babylon,
the months were given Babylonian names. Passover’s month was renamed Nisan.
Although the "name shifted,"
we upheld the Torah’s insistence on the link of spring and "Passover."
It connects spring festivals (the Feast of -Unleavened Bread- from pastoral roots and the -Paschal lamb from shepherd- traditions)
that were absorbed into the Passover holiday.
The ritual elements were incorporated as historical reminders of redemption.
Maimonides saw the connection to having the
"Sinaitic revelation transform "earlier elements"
into the Torah’s
as long as its -divinity-
The Torah stresses both the "agricultural and the historical" aspects
There is a strong but subtle relationship of nature and history
in the Bible's teachings.
The human being is a body/soul fusion. Somatic states affect the mind just as strong emotions–jealousy, anger, lust–rack the body.
Because the "spiritual" and the biological are intertwined, shifts in one "dimension" translate into shifts in the other. The "reward of righteousness" is long life; living in -harmony with the divine- blessing yields "prosperity and fertility."
Moral evil pollutes the land; cruelty to other humans
drives away the Divine.
The fullest spiritual development will take place when the people
"feel secure and rooted in the land."
In the messianic age,
when humans will “know”
people will DWELL UNDER their
"own trees and vines in peace and harmony."
Thus, in the Bible, human and natural phenomena are read at
two levels simultaneously.
The Hebrew Scriptures are "this-worldly."
The divine spirit realm is "other-worldly"
Nature is merely earthly substance;
the world of biological phenomena is illusion.
The spiritual realm is TRUTH, not an illusion or distortion of reality.
Yet, while these phenomena are real, they also reflect the
divine realm, which "transcends nature."
The people of Israel
are at once a human family
without sibling rivalries and daily cares,
and also WITNESSES of Divine Presence in the world.
The land of Israel
is at once a land of milk and honey,
of RAIN and mountain springs,
and the land on which
God keeps a "divine eye from year’s beginning to year’s end."
Biblical language and symbol
-point to spring- as the "proper season for deliverance."
The -rebirth of earth- after winter is nature’s indication that
"life overcomes death" spring is nature’s analogue to
Life blossoming, breaking winter’s death grip,
gives great credence to the human yearning
A correct reading of the spring season
would hear its message of breaking out
and life reborn
at the biological level
simultaneously with an Exodus message of
good overcoming evil,
love overpowering death,
of freedom and redemption.
The Bible envisions a world in which
-moral and physical states-
coincide, when nature and history, in harmony,
confirm the triumph of life.
The Exodus paradigm suggests that the
"outcome of history will be an eternal" spring.
Water of Life.
Read with a historical/theological hermeneutic,
SPRING RAIN is Exodus.
The former rains just started to fall here in Israel,
Right on Time.
From Passover to Sukkot, the "blessing of dew" is recited,
but from the end of Sukkot, it’s
Time to get PRAYING for rain.
The phrase “Mashiv Ha’Ruach u’morid Hagashem” is a praise included in the daily prayers, praising
The God who causes the RAIN to FALL and the WIND to blow.
Starting on the
last day of the "Feast of Tabernacles."
If you've been to Cedars-Sinai during fall in past years,
you may have noticed a large hut-like structure on the Plaza Level terrace.
That structure is a sukkah, which means "booth" in Hebrew.
The sukkah is erected in honor of Sukkot,
held in the fall to
"celebrate the gathering of the harvest"
as well as the
"Jewish exodus from Egypt."
Cedars-Sinai has constructed a sukkah each fall for more than 30 years. It takes an entire day to build and is made out of bamboo and other organic materials. Sukkahs are
built outdoors with "3 walls"
which must be firm enough not to "sway in the wind."
They also have a "roof" that must be made of something that
"grew from the ground" such as "palm leaves."
Many also choose to adorn their sukkah with decorations.
In addition to enjoying meals in the sukkah, it is customary during Sukkot to "shake four plants together" each day, usually inside the sukkah.
This ritual involves reciting a blessing and bringing together plants from the so-called 4 species:
a palm branch (lulav, the palm branch is associated with
Yeshuas' Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem,
celebrated on Palm Sunday,
when the Gospel of John says of the citizens,
"they took palm branches and went out to meet Him,"
two willows (aravot, aravot - ערבות) is a leafy branch of the willow tree. If the plant possesses good taste, then it symbolizes strong learning of the Torah. If the plant has a strong fragrance to it, then it symbolizes a passion for doing mitzvot. Each of these species represents a broad variety of Jews, all differing in priorities),
three myrtles (hadassim, Hebrew: הדס, pl. hadassim - הדסים) is a branch of the myrtle tree that forms part of the lulav, Three hadassim are incorporated into the Four Species and are bound together with the lulav and aravah. Together with the etrog, the lulav is waved in all four directions, plus up and down, to attest to God's mastery over all of creation, and to symbolically voice a prayer for adequate rainfall over all the Earth's vegetation in the coming year. The hadass grows in tiers of three leaves. According to the Halakha, the most perfect hadass is one whose leaves grow evenly in each set of three, much like the father, son, and HOLY SPIRIT),
and one citron (etrog; fruit tree), we began a series of 12 expressions and idioms that is bound to enrich your Hebrew vocabulary,
both in physical and spiritual aspects,
all involving a common noun that most of us use daily without giving it too much thought.
This noun is p’ri: fruit.
“And you shall take on the first day the boughs of goodly trees, branches of palm trees, and the boughs of thick trees, and willows of the brook; and you shall rejoice before the Lord your God seven days” Leviticus 23:40
The English translation here to ‘p’ri etz (tree) hadar,’ as it is written in Hebrew, is ‘goodly trees’ or ‘goodly fruit.’ Why goodly?
Because the word ‘hadar’ means
This is, as far as we understand, the source of the name p’ri ha•dar (citrus) in Hebrew:
Fruit of Glory.
If you look closely at the Feast of Tabernacles as described above, you see that the particular kind of citrus (the etrog), along with the other
was and still is
used to glorify God
during this glorious feast. Today’s word, ‘p’ri ha•dar,’ is the general Hebrew name for ‘citrus.’
It includes the entire citrus family:
Citrus medica, orange, grapefruit, lemon, pomelo, key lime and more. The first fruit on this list, Citrus medica (citron), is called in Hebrew ‘etrog,’
and it has major importance in Jewish tradition;
it is one of the four species used during Sukkot, the Feast of Tabernacles* In fact, the etrog is one of 5 original species of natural citrus, alongside pomelo, Key lime, mandarin and the Citrus halimii that was discovered in 1973. All other kinds of citrus were developed by either natural or artificial hybridization of different species.
Each species "represents a different type of person."
UNITY is a -central theme-
during Sukkot and the four plants help emphasize the -
need for various types of people who serve- God.
Much like the four Apostles who wrote the four Gospels, delivering the gospel's message of one new humanity comprised of every nation, language, tongue and tribe.
"It is always very moving to see it out on the Plaza—a small feeble shack, next to this "massive, innovative, modern medical center," says Rabbi Weiner. "It's a reminder of the -fragility of life- and also of the
importance of FAITH- and religious symbols to give people HOPE while they are
--receiving medical treatment.--"
And now rain is falling on the parched land.
Rain is -so important- here in Israel that there are several different words for it in the Biblical Hebrew, the four main ones being: yoreh, matar, geshem and melkosh. What do these Hebrew words mean?
YOREH AND MALKOSH
Even though it is fairly late in the year in terms of the Western calendar, the rains that begin in the Fall are known as the yoreh, or the early rains, since it is the start of the rainy season. These early rains are reason to be glad after a hot, dry summer, and the ground can be broken up ready to work the fields. Towards the springtime, around the time of Passover, Israel will have the latter rains, known as the malkosh, necessary for the -ripening- of the barley and grain.
The word for the former rains, yoreh, comes from the -same root- as to shoot or cast, or teach! Like an arrow being shot to its target, or information being directly delivered from teacher to pupil, the yoreh rains are sent down to soften up the ground, ready for the -first round- of planting. In fact, God’s teaching is also compared to the sending of rain in Deuteronomy 32:2,
“May my teaching drop as the rain, my speech distill as the dew, like gentle rain upon the tender grass, and like showers upon the herb”. Much like that dripping ceiling light that is directly below my only son's bathtub. It JUST "dawned" on me. How will he ever get clean? Besides, the plumber says the drain part they need is on back-order. Hopefully it shows up soon, it's are running out of time before the point of no return.
The latter rains, malkosh, are much harder rains that would have just caused flooding and devastation if they had come earlier on the dusty, dry ground.
Much like a devastating, catastrophic hurricane that occurred right before this past Sukkah. Here in Israel, it begin with two exciting days in the Galilee, including glorious worship services each evening along the beautiful "shores of the Sea of Galilee." Then we moved up to Jerusalem for five days of Feast events, starting with the traditional Roll Call of the Nations in the Pais Arena. There were evening worship, morning seminars, special prayer gatherings, "Communion at the Garden Tomb" and the ever-popular Jerusalem March, and of course plenty of time for touring biblical sites. The Feast concluded with a special tree-planting ceremony and solidarity rally in the Negev with JNF and the resilient Israeli communities along the Gaza border.
But these latter Spring rains are essential for the -agricultural cycle- too; the “Gezer Calendar” (an archeological relic with inscriptions from the time of Solomon ) tells us that in January / February time, there will be a second round of later planting in Israel’s agricultural year, called the lekesh.
The word for these harder, later rains, malkosh, is related to the lekesh: the latter downpours can more easily penetrate the softer ground and bring forth the -second harvest this Spring-
The Spirit of God is connected with water in the Bible, and God’s provision of water, and some would see the “former rain” and the “latter rain” as -outpourings of the HOLY SPIRIT- as vindication of the message of the gospel. Joel 2:23 says,
“Be glad, O children of Zion, and rejoice in the LORD your God, for he has given the early rain for your vindication; he has poured down for you abundant rain, the early and the latter rain, as before.”
The remarkable signs and wonders that followed the *first apostles* validated their message so that it was widely believed, causing the gospel spread far and wide in a relatively short time.
Perhaps as the days get darker and message carried by the -TRUE followers of Yeshua- seems more and more preposterous, God will send another “latter day downpour” of his Spirit to accompany -his servants- vindicating their message.
Time will tell.
One thing is for certain, rain is repeatedly equated with God’s blessing throughout the Bible:
“For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground;
I will pour out my Spirit on your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants.” (Isaiah 44:3)
MATAR AND GESHEM
Matar is the main generic word for rain used in the Bible. As we use the word rain as both a noun and a verb, the root מטר (MTR) is both the noun for rain and can be made into the verb to rain as well.
As a rabbi I knew once said, God didn’t choose Egypt with its Nile or Assyria with the Euphrates for his chosen land – no, he chose Israel -without a sufficient- natural water source, so that the Israelites would have to -look- up to the heavens to God for their life-giving water.
Just as verses just before Deuteronomy 11:14 say,
“For the land that you are -entering to take possession of- it is not like the -land of Egypt, from which you have come- where you -sowed "your" seed and irrigated it, "like a garden of vegetables."
But the land that you are going over to possess is a land of hills and valleys, which "drinks water by the rain [matar] from heaven," a land that the Lord your God cares for. The eyes of the Lord your God are -always- upon it, from the beginning of the year to the -end- of the year”. (11:10-12)
God himself would see to the irrigation of Israel, unlike the surrounding countries who could count on -huge rivers on the ground- Israel -had to look- up to heaven, and -relate to God- for the -blessing- of rain.
The word we use today in Israel more often though is geshem. One of my favourite passages is in Hosea 6:
“Come, let us return to the Lord; for -he has torn us- that he may -heal- us;
He has struck us down, and HE WILL bind us up.
After -two- days he will -revive- us; on the -third- day he will raise us up that we may LIVE before him.
Let us know; let us -press on- to -know the Lord- his going out
is sure as the "dawn"
he will come to us as the showers [geshem], as the spring rains [malkosh] that water the earth.”
GESHEM AND LEHITGASHEM – CALLING FORTH THAT WHICH IS NOT (YET) INTO BEING
The three letter root for the word geshem (גשם) is also the root for the word lehitgashem (להתגשם), which means to -fulfill or realise- something. Making something come -into being- that was not, the way that rain causes things to sprout up into life from shrivelled, buried and invisible seeds. This always make me think of Abraham, SO SURE that God’s promises to him would be realised, as the author of Romans tells us, God -calls into existence- things that do not currently "appear to exist"
“As it is written, “I have made you the father of many nations”—in the -presence of the God- in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist. In hope he "believed against hope," that he should become the father of many nations, as he had been told… No unbelief made him waver concerning the PROMISE of GOD, but he grew strong in his FAITH as he gave GLORY to God, FULLY convinced that God was ABLE to do what he had promised. (Romans 4:17-21)
God will fulfill all his promises to his people – to Israel and to you – as surely as the "going out of the DAWN."
“Let us know; let us press on to -know- the Lord; his going out is sure as the dawn; he will come to us as the showers [geshem], as the SPRING rains [malkosh] that water the earth.”
Our faith so pleases God, and is more valuable to him than gold, so it is important that we really do press in to know the Lord and believe his promises, just as Abraham did. God can call into existence things that only exist in seed form – the seeds of his word and his promises. And we can see them as if they already are, with eyes of faith.
James 5:7-8 also relates this to the idea of rain in this way:
“Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains.
You also, be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.”
Christ Came to Fulfill the Law, Matthew 5:17
'Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.'