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Table of Contents:
- Journal Inquiries
- Community Wisdom
- Netivah Messages
- Connection Points
- External Offerings
Sakranut / Curiosity by Kohenet Ketzirah HaMa’agelet
In this month of Tevet, we engage with the soul-trait (middah) of sakranut (סקרנות) curiosity. In the Kesharim K’doshim cycle of soul-traits, sakranut (סקרנות) lives between yirah (יראה) radical amazement/awe and ahavah (אהבה) love/beloved. This is the key to why sakranut (סקרנות) is an important soul-trait to cultivate and balance. When we encounter things that inspire awe – they can live in our bodies as “radical amazement” and reverence that lead to being a more loving person or they can easily be transformed into fear and cause us to become hardened.
This first turning of the seasons each year, is a perfect time to work with the soul-trait of sakranut (סקרנות) curiosity to explore and understand the state of the “nefesh” layer of the soul. In Judaism, we are taught that there are five layers to the soul which are developed throughout our lives:
- Nefesh (נפש) | soul | physicality, body awareness
- Ruach (רוח) | spirit | elementary consciousness, emotional awareness
- Neshamah (נשמה) | breath | higher awareness and connection to angelic realms
- Chayah (חיה) | life | living essenceYechidah (יחידה) | singularity | Divine/etheric connection
- Yechidah (יחידה) | singularity | Divine/etheric connection
By five names is the soul/nefesh called: nefesh, ru’ach, n’shamah, chayah (living one), y’chidah (unique one). Nefesh – this is the blood . . . Ru’ach – for she rises and falls, [as in:] “Who knows if the ru’ach of human beings goes upward?” [Ec 3:21]. N’shamah – this is the visage/character/ofah. . . Chayah – that all the limbs die and (i.e., unless) she lives in the body. Y’chidah – that all the limbs are two by two [but] she is singular in the body.Beresheit Rabbah 14.9
The nefesh layer of the soul is the part that is in regular contact with the world around us. In it’s ideal state, it is fluid and flexible boundary – not too rigid and not too porous. One of the true purposes of mussar practice, is to keep our nefesh in a healthy state. When our nefesh is to rigid, we become hardened emotionally and spiritually. Sometimes we need this for brief periods of time as a survival tactic, but if we leave our nefesh in this state we become cut off. When our nefesh is too porous, we can let too much in and damage our ruach. This leaves us emotionally damaged, drained, and without healthy boundaries.
Mussar trains us to maintain our Nefesh in a semi-permeable state, allowing the Neshama of the Other to enter and our own Neshama to reach outward. Or we might imagine maintaining the translucence of the Nefesh to allow the light of the Other and the light within us to freely exchange.In Search of the Holy Life: Rediscovering the Kabbalistic Roots of Mussar by Ira Stone
Sakranut (סקרנות) curiosity is the soul-trait that allows us, most directly, to assess and adjust our nefesh to a healthy flexible state. It’s also the soul-trait that we need to heal our nefesh, if we discover that has become too hardened or too porous. Anger and fear are the soul-traits that often what cause us to transform our nefesh souls into hard shells. Generally this begins for real self-protection. Unfortunately, too many of us get stuck there, because we lose our curiosity about the outside world out of fear of being physically, spiritually, or emotionally harmed.
This middah reminds us to cultivate gratitude for the alarm bell of our anger and quickly move instead to curiosity about what we do not know or understand.In Search of the Holy Life: Rediscovering the Kabbalistic Roots of Mussar by Ira Stone
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CONTRIBUTORS THIS MONTH
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.
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.
Rav Kohenet Rabbi Jill Hammer, PhD
Rabbi Jill Hammer, PhD, is the Director of Spiritual Education at the Academy for Jewish Religion, and the co-founder of the Kohenet Hebrew Priestess Institute. She is the author of a number of books, including The Jewish Book of Days: A Companion for all Seasons, The Omer Calendar of Biblical Women, The Hebrew Priestess: Ancient and New Visions of Jewish Women’s Spiritual Leadership (with Taya Shere), and The Book of Earth and Other Mysteries.
Her forthcoming book is titled Return to the Place: The Magic, Meditation, and Mystery of Sefer Yetzirah.
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.
Amy Wachtel (Tzovah)
Keeper of Sacred Time & Space inna Reggae Jewess Musical & Joyful stylee; Night Nurse pon the radio.