Tishrei: Achrayut (אחריות) Responsibility | G’virah

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New to Mussar or the Kesharim K’doshim approach? Read the intro first.


TEACHING by Kohenet Ketzirah HaMa’agelet

In my naming of the moons, Tishrei is the month of gathering. We gather as tribe and as families and we gather our ancestors back to us. It is also the month of the High Holy Days, a time when we take responsibility for our souls as individuals as well as collectively as a community. Tishrei is also the month where we celebrate the critical autumn harvest that would have meant life or death, in ancient days (and still does in many places). While the simple definition of the soul-trait for Tishrei, Achrayut (אחריות), is “responsibility,” it means more than just being accountable for success or failures of your own decisions. The deeper layer of Achrayut (אחריות) is knowing that we are called to address the needs of others.

“Just as my ancestors planted trees for me, I too am planting trees for my descendants” (Taanit 23a.15)

Through the Netivah of the month, the G’virah (queen/matriarch/warrior), we can see that responsibility is more than just taking care of yourself. A queen must know how to take responsibility for those whose lives, health, safety with which she is entrusted. She must also know how to delegate and allow others to bear some of the responsibility of caring for the community. We can learn more about the lessons of achrayut (אחריות) through a true Jewish G’virah ancestor: Doña Gracia Nasi. She was one the most powerful women of Renaissance Europe and you’ve probably never heard anything about. She was a converso (forced to pretend she was Catholic), whose family was one of the wealthiest banking families in Europe. Her family was expelled from Spain, then Portugal and then landed in Italy before she eventually moved to Turkey. When her husband died very young, she took control of the family business and the task of caring for the other conversos around her – both in body and spirit. When you are looking for G’virah inspiration, and the layers of what it can mean to embody, building a relationship with this ancestress may be of great service.

Embodied Presence: rooted in the earth while open and receiving from above.
(Kohenet Judith Idit Breier)

The word G’virah is also closely connected to the word Gevurah, which is the soul-trait of strength/boundaries. This is how we learn that we should not give more than we can. “Being” responsible and “taking” responsibility are two ways to engage with Achrayut (אחריות). Both have strong sense of boundaries, but different connotations.

I am reminded each day that I render decisions that affect people concretely and that I owe them constant and complete vigilance in checking my assumptions, presumptions and perspectives.
(Hon. Sonia Sotomayor)

When we look at the Netivah and middah (soul-trait) that is connected across the wheel of the year from achrayut (אחריות) and the G’virah — we see the Na’arah (Maiden) and the soul-trait of joy. I find this such a good reminder that it’s easy when we are in a situation where we feel responsible that we lose our sense of joy. This is when a responsibility becomes a burden. This sacred connection across the wheel of the year can serve as a reminder and a tool, to continue to infuse our leadership with joy and to find joy in our leadership.

Tishrei and its soul-trait achrayut (אחריות), ask us to look at our spiritual commitments. What are our personal spiritual responsibilities and our collective responsibilities? Tzitzit are a visible reminder of our spiritual responsibilities. Tzitzit are the fringes that one sees on the corners of a Tallit, prayer shawl, or Canfot (Kohenet prayer shawl) and that some Jews also wear at all times on a special under-garment called a tallit-katan. I’ve had a practice for the past few years of cutting them off of my Canfot between Rosh Hashanah and re-tying them before Yom Kippur. It’s a way of actively acknowledging and re-committing to my spiritual practice and transforming the spiritual into something physical and embodied.

As you explore achrayut (אחריות), find your ‘tzitzit’ – literally or figuratively. How can you take what is in your mind, soul, body and manifest it? What reminders will serve you well? What do you need reminding of? And regardless of your choice, let it be done with joy.


COMMUNITY WISDOM

Dr. Claudia Hall
One of my most difficult learnings, as someone who is always “doing”, is that there are times when not doing is more responsible. Whether it’s taking time for family, for myself, or to listen to others instead of working on tasks, it’s crucially important for me to not let the seemingly urgent crowd out the truly meaningful. My inbox will wait, the laughter of my baby cannot. Part of a healthy sense of responsibility is knowing when to let go, when to not do, when to rest.

Kohenet Liviah Baldwin
I think of my own spin on a teaching by Rav Kohenet Shoshanah Jedwab that the queen is responsible for the boundaries of her domain, her community–that part of that responsibility is tending those at the edges of the community, holding fast the fringes for the marginalized, speaking up for those in need, guarding the safety of the whole. I think also of the Greek notion that the conduct of the rulers manifests itself in the wellness of the entire domain, including the earth, the people, the weather, the livestock, making the queen responsible in her own conduct for the entire body of the world she represents.

Kohenet Matira Taalumot
The gevirah rises from anger; I would say.The gevirah rides the waves seamlessly. The gevirah plays with everyone in her queendom. She is the movement that comes from fierce discipline. She is that look in the face of a picture of a woman in a yoga class advertisement that urged woman to speak and take action with a determined look in her eye. She’s a really good friend, because she takes responsibility for her sh*t; all of it…and therefore gives fully.

Hamsa with crown at top and crown at bottom and spiral line connecting the two.

Kohenet Bekah Starr
The Guardian Queen Crowns of distinction protect spiral time. Difficult choices will balance the brightness and the shadow side. What do you protect?


NETIVAH MESSAGES

The Netivah, sacred pathway of Shekhinah, for the month of Tishrei is the G’virah – the Queen, Matriarch, and Warrior.

from Eht/Aht: a netivot wisdom oracle
The G’virah (Queen/Matriarch/Warrior) invites us to:

  • Exercise the Power from the Place of Spirit 
  • Be Aligned, Clear, & Strong
  • Embrace the Fullness of Your Power

Message of the G’virah by Rachel Kann

CONNECTION POINTS

Netivot Wheel of the Year with marker at Tishrei (G'virah) and Nisan (Na'arah)

Counterpoint

  • Netivah: Na’arah (Maiden)
  • Middah: Simchah (שמחה) Joy
  • Season: Spring
  • Month: Nisan

Correspondences for Tishrei

  • Moon of: Gathering
  • Mazal: Libra (מאזניים)
  • Tribe: Ephraim
  •  Sense: Touch
  • Letter: Lamed (ל)
  • Color: Red-Violet
  • Guide: Gallbladder (aka “green humor”)
  • Netivah: G’virah (Queen, Matriarch, Warrior)
  • Seasonal Elements: Air (רוח) within Earth (עפר)

Holidays in Tishrei

Special Sabbaths &
Torah Portions


EMBODYING THE MIDDAH by Kohenet Alumah

 Listen to Kohenet Alumah give this teaching and movement practice.

…..Neither a hunger for bread nor a thirst for water, but to hear the words of The One…

Amos 8:11

I feel it’s pretty safe to say we all know the power of words and the potentials that lie within the letters that helped to create them.  Yes, we want to hear them and yes, to understand deeper what they are telling us, and by looking at each letter, its energy, its form and by feeling them in our bodies, we may be able to carry the trait of that word forward not just this month but in our lives.

I will parse out a bit of each letter as it flows into the word and then incorporate movement either classic yoga postures, somatics or other movement to embody both the letters and the flow they create to make the word.

Achrayut (אחריות)…responsibility is curiously not a word from biblical times and yet brilliantly both its root   achar which means other or after and fact that it begins with aleph and ends with tav speaks immediately of the depth this word holds. Another interesting note is that the very word for letter exist in this word , to me signifying the sign of the importance of responsibility. Another thing you may notice is that the word ot also is plural ending, as if to say the act of responsibility is an act of othering of sorts, an act that includes more than self.

The  aleph, first letter of this word , and the alef beit,  is a solid unified form. It teaches us to be grounded, get back to basics.Made up of two yuds and a vav, it represents the unique and necessary value of holding dynamic tension, while it shines its (hebrew word or here) on the other letters. It is the (ani) of self and the (anochi) of greater Self bridging ahavah and the echadness of this world. It’s strength and solid form flows into the gate of chet.

The chet, holds the very threshold we step thru to chochmah, chesed and chadash helping us arrive at and with the spirit of reish. Bowed and humble, reish asks us to receive  ruach hakodesh and utilize compassion as all is poured into the point of the yud, dripping its potentials of the future in the vav of connection , connecting us to the ability to move forward to healing, to Torah, teshuvah thru tefillah.

So responsibility  can be seen as taking a solid stand, as we hold the tension of the opposites within us , giving us the ability to step through the threshold of change to wisdom, and love, encompassing spirit, tapping into the great potentials of connections to healing and return of others and self. It is indeed a gathering, a supreme act of boundaried blaance, it touches others and ourselves, like the letter lamed it helps us learn to rise to the heart of things, with the empowered presence of G’virah.

MOVEMENT PRACTICE

As we begin to embrace and embody the posture of responsibility, it’s important to see where we stand, how we stand,  how we move and how we are still….. To notice our relationship to the space around us and the space within us, to sense boundaries of within, without, or merging..

Let’s come to a standing position.

Close your eyes if you feel comfortable, sway, be still whatever feels good right now. Notice what it feels like to stand. What do you notice first? For now, avoid thinking about your feet, think about where you fit in relation to the space around you…..what you hands feel, your neck, your spine. What is your  responsibility to self in relation to the world and space around you. After playing with this for awhile , then alter your stance so feet are hip width, tailbone down, head aligned with and over spine, arms and hands next to body.

Receive a breath and as you exhale feel that breath moving through your mouth, into the sinuses, down the cranium, the neck, the spine, thru the heart ,belly, pelvis, thighs, legs feet.

Ground yourself in this moment right now, in this body..ma nora ha makom hazeh

If you don’t feel like actually doing these postrues , imagine them, feel them as they would feel in your body

Come into triangle  by bringing your feet fully apart, right foot faces the left, left foot faces forward with left leg straight. Bring arms out to sides and begin shifting torso back and forth until you bring left arm to rest on shin or floor or a block, right arm extending toward sky. Feel how the heart opens in the bridging of upper and lower, Feel how this pose creates unity in body, feel the vertebrae pop and open, as the lungs receive breath after breath. THe left foot and leg in the past, the right in the future, the torso right here, right now. Feel the ani in this pose, the ani of integration, of balance  of alignment and awareness. Stay here for a count of five breathes and slowly rise to standing.

As you have arrived back at standing see if there is a difference in the way you are feeling. Slowly raise your arms over your head, bend from the waist, letting fingertips graze the floor.Feel the energy rise from the ground to the ground through your feet,  as it travels up your legs, your pelvis, spine , shoulders , down the arms as you form a doorway of sorts and within that doorway a space.Close your eyes and imagine how you would enter into this gateway to responsibility. Receive another five breathes here.

As you come to standing, moving from chet to reish, try to keep your eyes closed. After entering the gateway or chuppah, to enter reish is simple. Simply stand, arms out in front of you head bowed.What does it feel like to come from the gateway to a place of bowed humility? With your arms forward , do you feel like you are reaching out to gather and act in a responsible way. Again five breaths here. Can you feel the power of potential moving

Coming back to standing, from the spirit of reish, bring your arms up over your head, have palms meet above so you have created a yud above your head. slowly come to kneeling while holding the hands above in a flame like manner. Can you feel the power of burning potential that has come from moving from solid foundation, to the gateway of change , meeting spirit as potential moves through you?
Come to standing as you form the connection of vav, connecting not just earth to sky but the flow of all these energies that help bring about responsible behaviour and responsibility. Slowly, bend all the way down, keeping your legs and arms straight, until you can touch the floor with your palms while allowing head to hang. Can you feel the energy of completion,can you feel the space between legs and arms, what will you or better yet how will this space of ending be filled for you, how does the tav seal these letters inside you and your idea of responsibility, how do you see endings enwedged in beginnings?

Slowly rise to standing, eyes closed, hands to heart
May you  gather yourself and your powers and may you stand in service 
May you open and make space for new thresholds to move thru
May your spirit rise on wings with prayer
May your potentials be activated
May you connect to ever greater forms of practice and service
May you move forward in true tikkun, with Torah and tefillah, tamid


JOURNAL INQUIRIES

At this moment in time…

  • WHAT does responsibility mean to you?
  • WHO are you responsible for outside yourself?
  • HOW would you explain the difference between “taking responsibility” and “being responsible”?
  • WHEN was a time when you felt responsible but didn’t take action or when have you taken responsibility where you shouldn’t have?
  • WHY do you feel or take responsibility in one situation or another?
  • WHERE do you need support being or taking responsibility — or letting go of responsibility?

PRACTICES

Scentuality by Kohenet Alumah
…..the sense of smell is closely related to the soul.. (Berakhot 43b)
As so many have inferred, responsibility and being responsible comes from a sense of deep alignment, awareness and awakening  to self, to SELF and to relationships and community. The oils chosen for this month are; oud, patchouli, myrrh, clove, cinnamon, spikenard, orange and rose.,As there are many aspects needed to manifest this quality, the scentuality of this month also is a merging of oils with properties that ground, warm, protect, enrich, tap into hidden qualities, strengthen immune system, heal wounds, ward off depression and offer a transcendent peace. By opening to the traits of these oils as they open us, responsibility and the act of being responsible will come from a grounded, heart opened depth of being and we can not only claim our gevirah but act  responsible and with responsibility.
Place on tailbone, occipital, soles of feet, palms of hands, temples, earlobes,under nostrils , throat..

Meditation by Kohenet Judith Idit Breier
As I sit and breath into my body feeling the earth under my feet, I tune into my body, allowing my inhale to fill me. With my exhale I follow the front of my spine down into my pelvic girdle. I repeat this over and over until I can feel I have arrived, my heart open, fully embodied.  There I rest in “not knowing,” listening. When I am ready I ask the question: What is the difference between taking responsibility and being responsible? With curiosity I listen/feel the answer. 

Offerings by Kohenet Ketzirah haMa’agelet
Sweet spices, like those we offer at Havdalah in gratitude for the presence of the Sabbath Queen.

Record by Amy Wachtel (aka The Night Nurse), Tzovah
Wake up and Live by Bob Marley and the Wailers

Garmenting by Kohenet Liviah Baldwin
Each morning, I dress for the day, putting on my amulet or whatever outer manifestations of my status are called for, and as I do, I say the Sh’ma. I create a container for each of the individuals I know are in need of protection and then widen the container for the communities with which I identify, and eventually with all of humanity.  I ask Shekhinah to maintain my protections. When I’m out in nature, I call in Shekhinah to walk with me and teach me, through the elements, to be a just guardian to those in need.

Altar of Dedicated Focus by Claudia Hall
What do you need to do? What is your soul calling you to manifest? Start with a clean space, and resist the urge to add to it until it looks like a ‘proper’ altar. In this totally blank area, put a thing that represents your soul’s urging. Just one thing. Spend time with that idea, that object, maybe even that nothingness, every day. 

Every time the urge to do more, to add more, or to get distracted from that single urge comes into your mind, acknowledge it, and then let go. Focus on the one thing that calls to you, as represented by the Altar of Dedicated Focus.

Besamim/Tea Blend by Kohenet Judith Idit Brier
Marsala Chai Tea-From Bon Appetit Magazine

INGREDIENTS:
1 1½-inch piece fresh ginger, unpeeled, coarsely grated
1 3-inch cinnamon stick, lightly crushed with the flat side of a knife
6 teaspoons loose strong black tea (such as Assam) or 6 tea bags (such as PG Tips)
14 green cardamom pods, lightly crushed, or ¾ teaspoon cardamom seeds, lightly crushed
2¾ cups milk
¼ cup pure maple syrup

Bring ginger, cinnamon, and 3½ cups water to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Lower heat and simmer rapidly, stirring occasionally, until liquid is reduced by a third and very fragrant, about 20 minutes.

Remove pan from heat, stir in tea and cardamom, and let steep 2 minutes

Return pan to medium-high heat and stir in milk and maple syrup.  

Cook, stirring occasionally and keeping a close watch, until mixture begins to foam up and boil, about 5 minutes. Immediately remove from heat and let sit 5 minutes. Strain chai through a fine-mesh sieve into a teapot or pitcher and serve.

Dish:  Mushroom Pâté by Kohenet Nancy Wolfson-Moche
Because mushrooms are filters, responsibly separating and culling the nourishing from the toxic. This dish is one of earthly balance because its ingredients come from below: onion/allium/bulb expanding beneath the soil surface + mushroom, the spore-bearing body of a fungus, standing tall above the earth, growing above the soil or on its food source + walnut, growing on trees, and suspended from the branches in protective shells in the air.

Ingredients to serve 6

  • ½ pound mushrooms (shitake, white button, cremini or Portobello), sliced into fine slivers
  • 1 small onion, sliced into half moons
  • 3 Tablespoons EVOO (Extra Virgin Olive Oil)
  • 1 cup dry roasted, chopped walnuts
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1 Tablespoon water
  • Garnishes: dandelion greens, arugula, cress, umeboshi plum paste
  • Celery boats or radish disks; Rice or rye crackers for serving

Process

  • Heat a medium-sized stainless steel or cast-iron skillet (note: do not use Teflon or any other treated metal) over a medium flame until the pan is very warm.
    Add the EVOO and swill it around so it covers the bottom of the pan.
  • Place the sliced onion in the pan and sauté it for a minute or two.
  • Add the sliced mushrooms and sauté them together with the onions until the onions are translucent and the mushrooms soft and lightly browned, about 15-20 minutes in all.  Sprinkle with sea salt as soon as the onions have been sweating fora few minutes.
  • Turn into a blender or food processor; add the walnuts, a bit more salt and pepper, and the water. Process until blended but not too smooth.
  • Spread in a celery boat, on radish or cucumber, on a cracker or crusty whole grain bread, topped with a dab of ume plum paste and fresh bitter greens (like dandelion, arugula or cress).


EXTERNAL OFFERINGS

“Hamsas for the Divine Feminine” is a series of 13 Altar Coloring Cards Inspired by the Kohenet Hebrew Priestess Institute. Each card is one, of many pathways, that offer us deeper connection with different aspects of the divine.

​The images are available as altar coloring cards (5×7; cardstock) with words for contemplation on the reverse side.

Purchase an altar coloring card of the Gevirah Hamsa


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Limited edition 318 decks only.


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How to Bless the New Moon: The Priestess Paths Cycle and Other Poems for Queens (Jewish Poetry Project)

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How to Bless the New Moon: The Priestess Paths Cycle and Other Poems for Queens (Jewish Poetry Project)  by Rachel Kann
Available October 29, 2019



CONTRIBUTORS THIS MONTH

Content Weavers

Kohenet Ketzirah HaMa’agelet
Kohenet Ketzirah HaMa’agelet, founder of Devotaj Sacred Arts, is a maker and teacher of the sacred arts. In 2009, she received ordination as a Kohenet as well as a Celebrant of Becoming, a spiritual community she co-led in Washington DC from 2002-2012. She is the creatix of Kesharim K’doshim Mussar and the Eht/Aht: a netivot wisdom oracle, as well as author of several haggadot and a collection of poetry, prayers, and midrash. Kohenet Ketzirah is also known for her work crafting fiber art and mixed media amulets, altars, and shiviti.  Learn more about her work and creations at www.devotaj.com, and you can find her regularly on Instagram (@devotaj_arts), and occasionally Facebook/devotaj.arts and Tumblr (devotaj.tumblr.com).

Kohenet Alumah Schuster
As Shomerit Eish Lavananh, Guardian of the White Fire, Kohenet Alumah ardently witnesses, and gently guides . She enters, explores, delves and honors the often silent vast expanse of potentiality that exists in the innermost spaces between. Whether that be  the space between bodies as she works as a Hospice Chaplain and end of life doula, or helping to find the wisdom hidden deep inside the body as both a somatic practitioner and yoga instructor, or in the body of Torah as she parses thru the letters and the spaces they inhabit . As a certified aromatherapist her ability to scent and sense space helps her to help others deepen the arc of devotion with both reverent and irreverent methods. Her deep commitment to learning through embodiment and text opens others to remove and drop their outer garments and reveal their inner light, under the skin, revealing the true nature and bringing them ever closer to Self and self.

Contributors

Kohenet Judith Idit Breier
Kohenet Judith Idit (Shoma’at baTehomot) is a shrinekeeper clearing the way for the alchemical process of transformation and liberation for the self and collective to occur.   As a teacher of youth she creates the space for inquiry supporting the empowerment of children to create a world based on lovingkindness and justice. As a bodyworker Judith Idit focuses on weaving the fractured aspects of self into wholeness.  She is also the mother of two amazing and insightful adult daughters.

Dr. Claudia Hall
A Kohenet Initiate (Anticipating Smicha in 2020), Claudia leads a Jewish gathering online and at holidays in her home, works with various progressive and Queer Jewish spaces, and is the grateful parent to an incredible newborn human who makes life a delight. Claudia lives with and is supported by her two partners in St. Louis. A minister of many years before her conversion, she is especially focused on helping those who are attracted to Judaism find a Jewish space to call home. Her most recent work is the Madrichat HaKohanot. www.jewishkitchenwitch.com is her blog and musing space.

Rachel Kann
Poet. Performer. Author. Practitioner. Ceremonialist. Seeker, Dancer. Jew. Teacher. Artist.
TEDx Poet Rachel Kann has been featured on Morning Becomes Eclectic on NPR and as The Weather on the podcast phenomenon, Welcome to Night Vale. She’s received accolades from the James Kirkwood Fiction Awards, Writer’s Digest Short-Short Story Awards, LA Weekly Awards, International Poetry Slam Idol and Write Club Los Angeles. She’s performed from The Nuyorican Poets’ Cafe to Disney Concert Hall with people like Marianne Williamson and DaKAH Hip Hop Orchestra. She teaches poetry through UCLA Extension Writers’ Program, where she is the 2017 Instructor of the Year. Visit her at rachelkann.com.

Kohenet Bekah Starr
I am a Sacred Artist.
In creating visual art & ritual I weave the magical, mystical, often hidden, wisdom of the Hebrew people, and the Divine Feminine, in a way that allows me to be a translator for you. I use embodied artistic practices to assist us in being present to spiritual moments.
www.bekahstarrart.com 

Kohenet Matira Taalumot
Is a 2015 ordinee of the Kohenet Hebrew Priestess Institute.

Amy Wachtel (Tzovah)
Keeper of Sacred Time & Space inna Reggae Jewess Musical & Joyful stylee; Night Nurse pon the radio.

Kohenet Nancy Wolfson-Moche
Kohenet Nancy Wolfson-Moche (Kindler of Sacred Sparks) guides people and communities to awaken, connect and celebrate through transformative embodied practices including soul-to-table cooking, eating and yoga. www.youarebecauseyoueat.com

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