It’s good to be back.
I know I took a little time off from Jewish Gems, a weekly visit to the weekly parasha, but it’s a new year and the scroll has been rolled, and it’s Bereshit/Genesis, all is new….again. And my weekly Torah class started up again. As you know, I take a lot of notes in that class, and when an idea really stands out to me, I put little asterisks in the margin, and the thought I’m expanding upon had a few, so I knew it was important! With my gorgeous group of chevruta-niks (study partners), we begin.
In the beginning …
In the beginning when God was creating…
In the beginning when God was creating heaven and earth..
In the beginning when God was creating heaven and earth, the earth was tohu v’vohu…unformed and void.
The first thing is light. An undefined, primordial, not-the-Sun-yet light.
Y’hi or, v’yehi Or. “let there be light and there was light.” Y-HI…Y-HI… If you say the words out loud, you hear a lot of Y’s and H’s. Say them out loud. They’re light and breathy, silent but not silent. You have to listen really close to hear those sounds, you almost feel them more than you hear them.
That first light was different from the one that came on the 4th day, when the Sun and Moon were placed in the heavens, fully set into their courses in the sky. They became fixed for always, but that first light was anything but. It was like breath. Breath takes effort, but it’s barely felt unless you’re up close. Breath is subtle – you may not be able to see or feel it, but you can see what it does. Breath is personal.
Breath is powerful; anyone who’s ever taken yoga knows that.
The world was created by words and actions, very concrete and “loud”. But that first one…Y’hi or, v’y’hi or…was quiet and personal. Maybe not such a Big Bang, and more of a cosmic snap-crackle-pop. But it was enough.
I took some time away from this weekly endeavor, through the month of so of holidays. I think I wanted to hear the snap-crackle-pop, and needed to withdraw a little to do that. The Kabbalists said that God withdrew just before Creation, so there would be room for it. After all, if God was all and everywhere, where would there be space for Creation? So God’s first act of creation, the Kabbalists said, was shrinking, a turning-in, a contraction. When I wrote songs, I know I needed to clear out my head, quiet all the voices in there (and there are a lot..it gets noisy!), make space for the creation, before I could write.
So now I’m writing again. Welcome back. May you find time this Shabbat/Simchat Torah to listen for the breath.