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Table of Contents:
- Journal Inquiries
- Community Wisdom
- Netivah Messages
- Connection Points
- External Offerings
Zehirut (זהירות) Shining Awareness by Kohenet Ketzirah HaMa’agelet
Zehirut (זהירות), the soul-trait for Adar, simply translates as “watchfulness”, but within mussar it has a different meaning which is illuminated or shining awarness. One might think this is a really creative translation – and it is and it isn’t. Remember that all Hebrew words have a three letter root, and the root of zehirut is same as zahar (זָהַר) – to be bright and zohar (זֹהַר) – shining. This makes much more sense to me, considering that the genesis of zehirut in mussar is this saying: Torah brings to zehirut (תורה מביאה לידי זהירות) – (Talmud: Avodah Zara 20b).
What makes more sense to you – learning brings illuminated/shining awareness or caution/watchfulness?
This translation isn’t just a modern, new age, wishful thinking that is uncomfortable with structure, order, or darkness, just read Daniel 12:3. These teachings really come from David ben Joshua Maimonides (15th century), descendent of the Great Rambam (Rabbi Moses ben Maimonides). In his teachings of mussar, The Guide To Detachment, that I learned about from an article by the Mussar Institute, he introduces this reconceptualizing of zehirut.
David ben Joshua (c. 1335-1415), the last of the Maimonideans recorded by history, was also interested in Sufism. His work al-Murshid ila t-tafarrud (The Guide to Detachment), one of the last creations of neoclassical Judeo-Arabic literature, represents the most far-reaching synthesis between traditional rabbinical ethics and the spiritual states of the Sufi path. Followingthe tradition of Sufi manuals, which begin with a definition of Sufism, the author first proposes a definition of hasidut. The body of the work is based on an ethical formula [Mussar] taught by the rabbis, which David develops as the central motif of a spiritual program largely construed int he light of mystical stations of the stuff path and the Illuminationist philosophy of Suhrawardi. Thus he drives the initial virtue, zehirut, normally signifying ‘precaution,’ from the root zhr “to shine,” associating it with the Illuminationist notion of ishraq, since the first step on the path to perfection is motivated by the quest for light.The Cambridge Companion to Medieval Jewish Philosophy (pg 211-212)
Yes. The descendent of the great RAMBAN (aka Maimonides) mixed Jewish mussar with Sufism. If this isn’t a soul-trait made for Adar, when we turn things upside down and break all the rules, what is?!
In truth, until the modern era there was a lot of cross-pollination between the Islamic and Jewish worlds. By the way, If this excites you, check out the work of my teacher Taya Mâ and especially the pilgrimage she is co-leading with Sufi spiritual leaders to Morocco.
Did that blow your mind? Turn your world a bit upside down? Maybe, maybe not — but it’s that upending of the traditional order / default mindset that is one of the reasons this is the soul-trait for the month of Adar.
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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).
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.
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.