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Posts Tagged ‘Rabbinic’

“The Blessing of the Sun” is getting quite a bit of press lately, so I thought I would post a little information on it. It appears to be a Rabbinical practice that has found its way into Hebrew Roots:

APRIL 2, 2009, 11:54 P.M. ET Love the Earth? Bless the Sun

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123872560930985495.html

By JULIE WIENER
According to Talmudic calculations, every 28 years the sun is in the exact position it occupied at the time of Creation. As it happens, that moment falls on Wednesday, April 8, of this year, at sunrise — just hours before Passover begins. There is a brief blessing for the occasion, too. It is called Birchat Hachamah, Hebrew for “blessing of the sun.” But the sun is a hot topic these days, not least because of global warming, and this time around the blessing, in itself, is not enough: A whole environmental message is being attached to what was once a simple ceremony.

The Hebrew blessing itself — the English translation is “Blessed are You, King of the Universe, who makes the works of creation” — is quite brief, its text the same as the blessing one is commanded to say upon seeing a natural wonder like lightning or the Grand Canyon. At its last scheduled recitation, back in 1981, Birchat Hachamah was virtually unheard of outside the Orthodox community. While approximately 300 “neo-chasidic” and “renewal” Jews, led by Orthodox rabbis Zalman Schachter and Shlomo Carlebach, commemorated the moment atop the Empire State Building, the event generated little media coverage, and most people who recited the blessing simply did so as a postscript to daily morning services in Orthodox synagogues. In 1953, according to Jonathan Sarna, a professor of American Jewish history at Brandeis University, the ritual didn’t even garner a mention in “The American Jewish Yearbook.”

The year 5769 (2008-2009) will be the little known Jewish year of “Birkhat HaHammah” the “blessing of the sun.” Every 28 years, the ancient rabbis demarked a time in the Jewish calendar that celebrates the ceremonial return of the sun to its original place in the cosmos during creation.

Jewish Reconstructionist Federation

http://www.jrf.org/birkat-hahammah

Tradition holds that the sun was created at the spring equinox, the first hour of the night before the fourth day of Creation. Every 10,227 days – according to the Babylonian Talmud, tractate Berachot 59b – the sun returns to its position at Creation. As codified in the Shulchan Aruch and on the basis of intricate calculations reconciling the Jewish and Gregorian calendars, Birkat HaChammah, a prayer service marking this 28-year cycle, is conducted on a Wednesday in the month of Nissan, when the sun is about 90 degrees above the eastern horizon.

The year 5769 is such a year. The Blessing of the Sun takes place on April 8, 2009 (erev Pesach). It is interesting to note that the secular date was the same throughout the 20th century, and scholars have determined it will continue to be marked on this date throughout the current century.

http://www.ritualwell.org/holidays/sitef…411107743/

Here is a Messianic teaching on it from FFOZ – First Fruits of Zion, headed by Boaz Michaels. FFOZ is known for their kabbalistic and Talmudic teachings as they are incorporated into the Hebrew Roots venue.

A certain traditional Jewish ceremony has been in the news and blogs lately, known as Birkat HaChammah, or the Blessing of the Sun. This blessing is recited on an extraordinarily infrequent basis: only once every 28 years! The last time it was recited was 1981, which means that this is the year for the blessing to come around again.

If you have heard of this blessing for the first time this year, it may have aroused your suspicion. Is it legitimate, or some weird idea out of nowhere?

Good news: the blessing is not pagan, new age, magical, astrological, or even kabbalistic. The origin of the blessing is at least from the Talmudic era (c. 200-500 CE), although it could be earlier. It is possible that the blessing existed in the days of the Master and the apostles.

The idea behind the blessing is simple. The universe is comprised of a wide variety of cycles. From earth, those cycles appear as day and night, the phases of the moon, the courses of planets through their backdrop of stars, the changing of the seasons, etc. Many practices in Judaism are connected with these cycles, such as the daily prayers, the new moons, and the yearly holidays. This corresponds with God’s intended purpose: “let them be for signs and for seasons, and for days and years” (Genesis 1:14).

The 28 Year Cycle of the Sun

Like the moon and planets, the sun itself can be seen as going through a cycle. Throughout the year, the sun’s position in the sky changes, corresponding with the variety of seasons. There are four milestones in these fluctuations: the two solstices (winter and summer) and the two equinoxes (autumn and spring).

One Jewish tradition holds that the sun was created in the position of the spring (vernal) equinox. Thus, each spring, the sun completes a yearly cycle.

The Torah (Genesis 1:14-19) teaches that the sun was created on the fourth day. The fourth day of the week is the period from Tuesday evening through Wednesday afternoon. Once in seven years, the spring equinox occurs during that period of the week. So in a sense, every seven years, when the spring equinox occurs on the fourth day, we can consider the sun as having completed another, larger cycle.

The day can be divided into four parts: evening, night, morning and afternoon. According to Jewish tradition, the sun was not only created during the fourth day, but specifically the first part of the day, that is, the evening. The evening of the fourth day of the week corresponds with Tuesday evening.

Each year, the exact moment of the equinox could occur in any of those four parts of the day, adding a factor of four to our cycle. When all three of those factors coincide (the spring equinox of the year, the fourth day of the week, and the evening part of the day), we could consider the sun as having completed a full cycle, bringing it back to its original point at the time of creation.

This cycle occurs once every 28 years, which makes sense if you think about it:Spring equinox:1 day each year
Fourth day:1 out of 7 days of the week
First part of day:1 out of 4 parts of the day
1 year × 7 × 4 = 28 years.

The Blessing

The blessing itself is not uncommon. Like most blessings in Judaism, it begins with the phrase “Blessed are You, O LORD, our God, King of the universe.” While the name of the blessing is “the blessing of the sun,” we don’t actually bless the sun, we bless God.

The Symbolism of Birkat HaChammah

Birkat HaChammah does not have any inherent symbolism, except to say that a natural cycle has occurred, which prompts us to bless the Creator. But on the other hand, it is very easy to draw out symbolism from the ceremony. In fact, it is so easy to draw out symbolism that the ceremony reflects whatever community or individual recites it. To environmentalists, the blessing has a message of global warming or conservation. To mystics, the ceremony spurs deep and esoteric ideas. To rationalists, the ceremony is naturalistic. To messianics, the ceremony is ripe with messianic imagery.

Consider this: since the ceremony marks the return of the sun to its original position at the time of creation, it can be seen as a token for a return of the created world to its original, perfect condition. This is what will occur with the ultimate messianic redemption. This ceremony always occurs in the month of Nisan, which is called the month of redemption. It is the month of the year that God redeemed the Israelites from slavery in Egypt, and in some opinions, it is the destined time of the future redemption (b.Rosh Hashanah 11a).

Also of interest is the connection between the Messiah and sun imagery. In the Talmud (b.Sandhedrin 98b), a statement is made connecting this verse with the Messiah:

May his name endure forever,
his fame continue as long as the sun!
May people be blessed in him,
all nations call him blessed! (Psalm 72:17)

This entire Psalm has very strong messianic overtones, as it was written by King David for his son, Solomon. An earlier verse in the same chapter also contains sun imagery. This verse is often included in the liturgy for Birkat HaChammah:

May they fear you while the sun endures,
and as long as the moon, throughout all generations! (Psalm 72:5)
(One fascinating feature of this Psalm is that it contains “encoded” within it both the names “Messiah” and “Yeshua.”)

It is worth remembering that Joseph, who strongly foreshadowed the Messiah, had a dream in which the sun bowed down to him (Genesis 37:9).
Also of note is the identification between the sun and light and the Messiah himself. The prophets speak of the “sun of righteousness” (Malachi 4:2) and tell of the redemption and the Messiah in terms of light. The apostles frequently connect the Messiah to light and brilliance.

One amazing moment when this connection was exemplified was the transfiguration, when “his face shone like the sun” (Matthew 17:2). Perhaps the transfiguration is a good topic of study for the event. The transfiguration always makes me think of this beautiful passage from Yalkut Shimoni (a late compilation of aggadic midrash):

At the time when King Messiah comes, he will stand on the roof of the Holy Temple, and he will proclaim to Israel, saying: “Humble ones! The time of your redemption has arrived! And if you don’t believe me, look at my light which is shining upon you!” (Yalkut Shimoni Yeshayahu 60:499)

This Year’s Unique Timing

This year, the ceremony of Birkat HaChammah remarkably coincides with the day prior to the Passover seder (April 8). This is the day of the year when we burn our leftover chametz (leaven), and when the Temple stood, it was the day when the Passover lambs were slaughtered. Since Birkat HaChammah is based on a solar cycle rather than a lunar one, the date of Birkat HaChammah on the Hebrew calendar varies, and the correspondence between these two events is rare. Many people feel that this connection has messianic or redemptive implications.

(Some of you may have noted that the spring equinox this year has already occurred. The discrepancy is due to the fact that when this tradition first developed, the Sages chose the simpler and less accurate Julian calendar for reckoning the equinox. This has slowly shifted and become less and less accurate over time. But as this event is more symbolic rather than astronomical, it is not really a concern.)

Once in 28 Years

I want to really encourage you to participate in this ceremony. Try and gather a minyan if at all possible. Think about it: if humanity continues on its current path, the next time the opportunity for this blessing will occur, it will be the year 2038. At that time, you will probably have children about your age now. Most likely, many people reading this will not be alive. Many new people will have been born. Technology will be dramatically different. It is impossible to predict what the political world will be like.

Due to advances in communication and education, this Birkat HaChammah has the potential to be the most widely observed in all of history. Are you going to join the worldwide chorus?

http://ffoz.org/blogs/2009/03/birkat_hac…ssing.html

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

From the SeekGod Forum – posted by Vic

http://www.seekgod.ca/forum/showthread.php?tid=232&pid=1611#pid1611

Bless the Sun actually has a website, promoting the Jewish tradition as well as noting how it melds with earth/envirnmental groups. They also have a list of events taking place across the United States, as well as Israel.

It was rather a surprise to see a few listings stating the following:

…GEORGIA
Time: 6:45 – 7:15am, April 8 (followed by breakfast)
Place: Grant Park Bandstand, Atlanta (at the corner of Boulevard and Atlanta – across from the playground)
What: A short service, a gentle yoga cycle of sun salutations and recite the blessing together. For those that can stay we will have breakfast and coffee at the near by Solstice Café. Bring your yoga mat or towel. For more information,…

And >

Quote:MARYLAND Time: April 8, 7:15am yoga and 8:30am prayer and study
Place: Adat Shalom Reconstructionist Congregation, 7727 Persimmon Tree Lane, Bethesda, MD 20817

What: Birkat Hakhama and Ta’anit HaBechorot observances beginning with yoga, followed by prayer and study using Masekhet HaKhama

Many celebrations listed include a Fast for the Firstborn, and that aside from the talmud sourcing we see also listed from Israel:

Place: Safed/Tzfat
What: SUN BLESSING FESTIVAL – BIRKAT HaCHAMA FESTIVAL
For Whom: Northern Galilee and Israel, International

Time: April 8-15
Place: Tsfat (Safed), Israel
What: Kabbalah, Tours Prayers, Ceremony, Hallel, Art shows, Workshops, Solar Energy presentations and much more
For Whom: All walks of life are WELCOME!

…. http://www.sunblessing.org/festival


From that website, we read:

Birkat HaChama Festival in SAFED, April 8-15, 2009

The Birkat HaChama (The Blessing of the Sun) Festival will begin on the morning of April 8th, Erev Pesach, next Spring 2009. Erev Pesach (literally, the Eve of Passover) is the day preceding the annual seven-day Festival of Freedom.

The actual Blessing of the Sun Prayer will be recited on Erev Pesach morning (Hebrew date: 14 Nissan 5769). According to ancient Jewish tradition, once every 28 years, the Sun returns to the position it occupied when it was created at the beginning of the fourth day of creation (Genesis 1: 14).

THE SUN IS OUR MAJOR ENERGY SOURCE, yet how often do we thank God …. This … is an invitation for us to co-create a better future, together, by honoring its source and each other. This is the first year after Shmita (in the Jewish tradition, every seventh year one stops all agricultural activities in order to let Mother Earth rest). Thus, this is a time to re-plant, to grow anew, and to bring fresh blossoms to the world. We are planting new seeds for a better future and for the renewal of the next 28-year cycle. The Kabbalists believe that the Messianic times will come at the end of a Shmita year, so let’s help in the miracle making! (See Kabbalistic Information for an explanation of the Kabbalistic tradition and the significance of the year leading up to this Passover 2009.)

This Safed-based Kabbalistic Blessing of the Sun Festival is…

A Modern Biblical Community Event
A Renewal of Alternative Solar Energies – recharging our environment for another 28-year cycle
An Evocation of Mystical Experiences, featuring a ceremony on the Metsudah, the ancient citadel in the geographic center of our town
A Celebration of Cultural Diversity, with musical performances, art displays, poetry readings, healing workshops,…
Is Blessed with Exceptional Timing, as it is considered by the Kadosh Elyon to be the third most auspicious Birkat HaChama in history

… let’s co-create the next 28-year cycle of a PURER ENVIRONMENT!

MISSION STATEMENT
This Sun Blessing Festival will be an opportunity for Bridging of worlds; culturally and traditionally, between non – religious and religious people in the Holy land and world wide. To mingle culturally and learn new alternative ideas and artistic methods. To invite and inspire people from all over the world to partake in a mystical Passover in the most Kabbalah-rich town in the world, which also happens to fall on Easter Sunday. ….

many Kabbalists discovered the secrets of Jewish mysticism, through the Zohar, attributed to Shimon Bar Yochai (whose tomb is in nearby Meron), master kabbalist Isaac Luria’s explanations of the Tree of Life, his revelation of the secrets of reincarnation, and his creation of the Kabbalat Shabbat ritual, ….

This Holy City is said to host the Shekhinah Herself (the female principle of God), so by our coming together to honor the Blessing of the Sun, in Her midst, we may be able to elicit and enhance the messianic times, B’ezrat HaShem. As a consequence, we may inspire our sister city Jerusalem to co-celebrate this event, as the Birkat HaChama is recited there at the Western Wall on Pesach 2009….

http://www.sunblessing.org/festival

Likely many in HR and Messianics will embrace this Talmudic and Kabbalistic celebration as is found with FFOZ, and others.

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A Jewish Perspective

It seems that I can’t get away from a “Jewish perspective of the first century”. From emails to posts on various forums, to books and articles online/in book stores, there is an abundance of theories referring to this strange phenomenon. It’s as if suddenly, to be in the “loop” of solid spirituality, one must discover some kind of ancient culture or language in order to understand who Jesus is and what He said with complete clarity.

That probably comes as shock to some and for others, total agreement. It’s as if the NT forgot that itsy bitsy detail and so for 2,000 years, most of the believers in the world have “missed it” for the sake of blindness to their “true” historical “roots” …. or as some have termed it, to “enhance their faith” and their walk with Christ.

There was a time when I was caught up into the Jewishness of the Bible or going back to “the ancient paths” of the time of Jesus. It was how I got drawn into the Messianic Hebrew Roots movement. That was the hook for me [and it brought me down some very slippery slopes toward orthodox Judaism and kabbalah]. I supposed that if I found Jewish believers, they could accurately speak to me of the truths of the Bible hidden from Christians who had been guided away from the “real truth”. That canard is played rather heavily in the HR movement, but interestingly now being promoted with Christianity as well. Does it have any credibility?

What is a Jewish perspective?

Depending on the venue it can be defined as first century Jewish practice that is thought to be applied to Christ and the disciples. Or it can mean discovering Hebraic primacy of the NT, which would leave the Greek as a “mistranslation” of the text. Or worst of all, a Hellenistic [Greek] pagan influenced view of Hebraic “Judaism”.

From the sources that I have studied, Jewish practice is pretty much defined by the Talmud, which is a Rabbinical look at the history of Judaism from Mt Sinai onwards. The Talmud, in the broadest terms, is considered the “oral law” transmitted by mouth, from generation to generation from Mt Sinai until about 150 CE when the Mishneh began to record those “transmissions”. The Talmud, from 200-500 CE continued with the process and throughout the centuries till the middle ages, the Rabbinical system contributed to Talmudic concepts and interpretations of the Torah [Mosaic Law] by a debate system from Rabbi to Rabbi in the ensuing centuries. The Talmud consists of many volumes of works – an extensive library of discussions and “rulings” that are Judaism.

An early form of Judaism was expressed through the Pharisees from about 300 BCE [birthed from the Hasmodean period also known as Maccabeen] until 70 CE when the Temple was destroyed. From there, the pharisaical sect “morphed” into what is the Rabbinical system today.

Other than through the Talmud and Josephus, there is not much “history” of first century practices. What we read in the NT is pretty sketchy, but that is probably because it was not necessary. The Gospel, the Good News, is not bound or explained by historical significance. That is the beauty of the cross. The cross of Christ completely transcends history, culture and language – for those IN Christ know Him by His indwelt Spirit.

I have heard it said that because Jesus was Jewish, therefore; we need information about that Jewishness in order to understand Him and what He spoke. According to this concept, the true meaning of the parables and allegory of the NT is hidden from those who do not have this Jewish perspective. I really have to smile at that one. I am not sure what is so important about what Jesus said that has to be filtered though “Jewishness”. Loving God above all, loving your neighbor as yourself. Wow. That’s really tough to grasp [smile].

This same Jewish perspective is quite fond of calling Jesus “Rabbi” who taught/practiced the true “Jewishness” of the “Law” and therefore, one must “follow in His footsteps” by being Jewish. For some this means keeping the Mosaic Law. However; a “Rabbi” is a Talmudic classification, it is not a first century position. There were no Rabbis in Jesus’ day. There were Pharisees, Sadducees, and Scribes. The Rabbinic title is given to Jewish men who study Talmud specifically to be ordained as a Rabbi. There was no Talmud in the first century.

When Jesus was referred to as “Rabbi”, it simply meant teacher. A Rabbi today, within Judaism, is an expert on Talmudic Law. So the obvious question is: what did Jesus need with a Talmudic title to teach what is interpreted to be the Law through a man made system that denies Him and His finished work?

In case one points out the “oral law” from Mt Sinai as part of the first century Jewish practice, I should probably explain a bit on that concept. If there was an oral law [extremely speculative because of Israel’s history of disseminations, dispersements, and separations – it would be highly unlikely for any kind of accuracy ….. it’s just common sense … think telephone game], we need to check what the Bible has to say on it. According to a multitude of Scriptures, ALL the laws of Moses were WRITTEN DOWN. There is not one reference to oral transmission of the laws given at Mt Sinai in the OT. This poses a huge problem for those who try to wedge anything that Jesus said into the oral law tradition.

It is a fact that Jesus condemned the traditions and laws of the Pharisees. He hated their interpretations and added laws that put a yoke on people. He even stated that by those traditions they rendered the Law of Moses worthless. Those are hurting words! Isn’t that like a “DUH” moment? It amazes me that people think Jesus took phrases and sayings from a pharisaical sect that He condemned and then supposedly promoted their heresy? It’s like, WOW – who woulda thunk it?

Another favorite ploy is to assign Jesus an affiliation with Hillel who lived middle 1 BCE to about 10 CE. So things that Jesus said like “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” comes from the negative Hillel: “What is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow”. Unfortunately, the only assumed recorded Hillel version was written long after Jesus ……. in the Talmud. So let’s take another look at the Talmud to find the answer.

The Talmud [including other works like the Toldot Yeshu] is the most polemical anti-Christ writing ever written. It contains many references to His birth, life, and death and of Mary and Joseph in the most denigrating and perverted ways. The Talmud was written to replace Christianity’s influence and to keep Jews from converting to Christ. From the amount of teachings in the Talmud that reflect what Jesus spoke, but twisted, I suspect that the Talmud took from Him, not the other way around – and probably to inflate their system to make Jesus look bad. The Talmud is considered superior to the written Word [Mosaic Law specifically] so why would they not elevate themselves above Christ, saying that He took their sayings as His own? I cannot imagine how people would think that Jesus would “paraphrase” the ungodliness of the “oral law” that was supposedly spoken before Jesus’ time and included in the Talmud, which denies and hates Him. It does not add up. Why would anyone want to reference that work as customs and teachings that Jesus adhered to in the first century?

The traditions of the Talmud like the tallit, bar mitzvah, the Passover Seder, mikveh, the title of Rabbi, the 8 day miracle of oil for Hanukkah, etc are all Talmudic traditions added around the middle ages CE. None of the customs that people apply to Christ were part of the first century. So how can one now say that we must return to those traditions when they did not exist then?

Does it make one feel more “Jewish”? Probably. But is that a necessary part of knowing Christ? I find it interesting that Paul said all of his Jewishness was dung. WOW. Not that being Jewish was bad, but what he practiced as a Jew – the culture, the traditions, his position as a Pharisee were dung. What Paul focused on was the cross of Christ and running unhindered with his eyes focused on Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith. Unbelievably simple.

One of the most favorite ploys of the “Jewish perspective” is that the “Jewishness of the Gospel” was stolen by Hellenistic Christians aka the converted Greek gentiles. Of course, the full load is dumped on Constantine who is the “fall guy” because he “ordered” the elimination of all Hebraicness from Christianity in 325 CE. I sometimes wonder at people’s ability to gloss over one little fact. If God wanted the Gospel to retain “Jewishness” it would not have disappeared in the first place. I also am puzzled as to why the NT never refers to keeping Jewish traditions and a Hebraic mindset in order to understand Jesus’words or the writings of the disciples. I probably just over-looked it (smile).

Hellenism was a huge part of the Jewish life style during the first century. It was not some “new” philosophy that overcame the Gospel. Rome had ruled Israel from about 325 BCE. If anyone understands how the culture and language are integrated into the current culture and language, it’s not difficult to grasp that the Jews not only spoke Greek [Aramaic and Hebrew as well], but were affected religiously by the Greek “mind set”. Plus we read in the NT that Hellenism had already infiltrated the church.

It amazes me that people actually think the first century Jews were “pure”. They had broken their covenant with God and were quite literally without the presence of God in the Temple [no ark of the covenant]. The priesthood was in shambles and a cursed king was on the throne. The ruling leadership [Pharisees, Sadducess, and scribes] were corrupt. Jewish history consisted of rebellion against God and idolatry, not to mention the kingly line of David, and the Levitical [Zadok] priesthood that were both overthrown by the Maccabees. Quite a background for “pure” Jewishness in the first century.

I think the problem lies in the lack of knowledge of who Jesus is. As God, He had no need of a culture or language to teach. People understood Him quite well – at least those who believed on Him. If we look at the people who believed on Him and took His teachings to heart, they were not just Jewish people. There were Samaritans, Greeks, Roman centurians and others. For some odd reason, they did not have a “Jewish” perspective, but understood from the heart as revealed through the Holy Spirit. Peter is a great example of this. He declared Jesus to be the Christ, the Son of God because God revealed it to Him, not because of his Jewishness. When Jesus called the disciples, it was not because of His Jewishness, but because God stirred them to follow Jesus.

Paul tells us that we have the mind of Christ. Is Jesus’ mind, Hebrew? Or is the NT correct when it states that He grew in the wisdom of the Holy Spirit? Did Jesus need a Jewish mind set to teach the things of God? Wasn’t the Jewish mind set corrupted by years of sin and rebellion?

Hopefully my commentary has given you some thought as to your current understanding of a “Jewish” perspective. I have several articles that go in-depth on many of the topics I included here with Scriptural and historical documentation. Please read them for further study. Please take time, also, to surf through my “daily” posts and the topics listed at the top of my blog page or at the right side. I ask that you not take my word for what I have written, but search these things out for yourself and prove all things, as we are instructed to do.

Another great place to come and get involved in an open discussion is the Seek God Forum. We have tons of topics and you are more than welcome to sign up as a member to post or to start new topics [you can read as much as you like without joining, but we’d love to have you jump right in and give us your thoughts! – http://www.seekgod.ca/forum/index.php ]

Some articles to look at:

https://fortheloveoftruth.wordpress.com/ancient-paths/

https://fortheloveoftruth.wordpress.com/jesus-a-pharisee/

https://fortheloveoftruth.wordpress.com/tallit/

https://fortheloveoftruth.wordpress.com/2009/02/11/a-brief-view-of-the-talmud/

https://fortheloveoftruth.wordpress.com/2009/02/07/be-not-called-rabbi/

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The term “shekinah” is used within the Messianic movement to refer to the presence of God – or His “dwelling” in the Tabernacle.  Shekinah is also used to define the glory of God within His Presence.  Shekinah comes from Rabbinial Judaism and is a term that found it’s origins in kabbalah.   The concept of  shekinah has become so popular that it is used across the board in Christianity as well as Hebrew Roots.  I think if people understood that shekinah is the feminine essence of God interwoven with the feminine Spirit of God, known as the “Mother Spirit”, they would probably run, not walk away from using it Lightning
[alternative transliterations of shekinah:  shechinah, shekina, shechina, schechinah, sh’khinah (this variation is used by David Stern in his Complete Jewish Bible version)].

Please note, in this first definition, it shows that shekinah comes from the Hebrew word “shk’n” [shaw-kan – H7931]. The word shawkan is used 92 times in the OT, but there is no such hebrew word called “shekinah” in the Bible  No

The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition. 2001-07.

Shekinah

(shk´n) (KEY) [Heb.,=dwelling, presence], in Judaism, term used in the Targum (Aramaic translation of the Hebrew Bible) and elsewhere to indicate the manifestation of the presence of God among people. Whenever the Hebrew text speaks of the presence of God in a way that implies certain human limitations, the Targum paraphrases by substituting the word Shekinah for the word God (e.g., “And I will cause my Shekinah to dwell,” in the Targum Onkelos). Although the Shekinah is rarely intended by the rabbis in the Talmud and Midrash as an intermediary between God and people, the word is sometimes used in such a manner that it cannot be identical with God, e.g., “God allows his Shekinah to rest.” The medieval Jewish philosophers, however, wishing to avoid the problems of anthropomorphic interpretation of this concept, posited a separate existence for the Shekinah, which played a minor role at best in their systems. In the kabbalah and other mystical works of the later medieval and modern periods, the Shekinah is given far more importance and is often treated as the consort of God who can only be reunited with God through human fulfillment of all the divine commandments, which would likewise signal the messianic age. 1
See S. Schechter, Aspects of Rabbinic Theology (1909, repr. 1961); G. Scholem, Major Trends in Jewish Mysticism (1946, repr. 1961); R. Patai, The Hebrew Goddess (1967).

http://www.bartleby.com/65/sh/Shekinah.html

Please note that “shekinah” is the feminine essence of God in kabbalah as found in this article:

Shekinah-Shakti

Shekinah: The Feminine Element in Divinity

Gershom Scholem: On the Mystical Shape of the Godhead, Schocken, 1991

VII

In conclusion, I would like to respond to a question that has no doubt occurred to a number of readers during the discussion of these notions of the feminine within the divine. Can the Shekhinah be described as a cosmic force in the same sense as we find the feminine in the image of Shakti in Indian Tantric religion? To my mind, I believe that we can discern quite clear differences between the two conceptions — differences no less profound than their affinities.

It is impossible to apply this to the Kabbalist schema without misconstruing the sense of the symbols. None of the Sepheroth appearing as male in these pairs could be identified with the masculine in Indian symbolism, albeit the idea of femininity as producing the motion of time may indeed correspond to an astonishing passage in Sefer ha-Bahir.

This passage describes the Shekhinah as the precious gem that brings forth the years i.e., time, which flows from the primal time gathered therein, but I am by no means certain that this primal time can be identified with eternity

On the other hand, when dealing with these comparisons, we must not forget that the Shekhinah is split in the Kabbalah, so that the active element within the feminine has been primarily absorbed in the symbolism of the upper Shekhinah. The latter is the womb of the Sefiroth, of the aeons and cycles of the worlds (shemitoth), while other aspects of Shakti, such as the eternal feminine and the destructive element, are expressed in the final Sefirah or Malkhuth. On the other hand, the notion of the masculine as purely inactive and passive, an idea that seems intrinsic to the doctrine of Shakti, is totally alien to the Kabbalah, in which the male is perceived as active and flowing.

http://www.psyche.com/psyche/txt/scholem_msog_194.html

Here is a common understanding by Judaism of “shekinah” and how some poor deceived soul is comparing shekinah to the presence of God/Christ in the NT. Also, it should be noted that in the Talmud/kabbalah, the Holy Spirit is considered feminine – there is a link between the “feminine essence” as found in the “shekinah” and the Holy Spirit Shocked6838


THE HOLY SHEKINAH SPIRIT

Among the Hebrews one of the traditional names of God is the Shekinah, and, interestingly, it is a feminine gender noun. Many Hebrews saw her as the mother or feminine aspect of God. The early scribes (later called rabbis) added Shekinah in biblical verses where the verb shakhan is used in relation to God. Shakhan literally means “to dwell” or “to live with”, or even “to pitch one’s tent.” The Shekinah means the God-Who-Dwells-Within, and developed primarily after the destruction of the Temple of Solomon in 587 BCE, especially as it proffered hope to a people lost in bitter exile. To console an Israel in Diaspora, the comforting, forgiving and loyal presence of the Shekinah emerged. In the Talmud it says: “They were exiled to Babylon, the Shekinah with them. They were exiled to Egypt, the Shekinah with them.” And, it says in Lamentations 1, 5, “Her children are gone into captivity,” and immediately after (1,6), “From Zion her splendour is departed.” (Note the use of “her” for God and “splendour” is also one of the ways to describe the Shekinah). Other terms referring to the Shekinah are “the glory” and “radiance”, and she was the cloud by day and pillar of fire by night that led the Israelites through the Sinai wilderness. She is also closely related to the Sophia tradition in the Hebrew Bible (the Old Testament) in Proverbs and other books. Sophia (a Greek feminine noun) is the Wisdom aspect of God. As a Wisdom Teacher Jesus was very closely related to the Sophia Tradition.

The Shekinah eventually became an interchangeable term with the Holy Spirit in both Judaism and Christianity. She is often pictured as a bird or dove. In Christianity the Holy Spirit is seen as the Advocate, Guide and Comforter (John 14:16-26 and Acts 9:31), and we can clearly see the Judaic origins of this tradition. There is even a more direct connection to the Hebrew tradition of the Shekinah, as St. Paul, the former Pharisee, stresses the indwelling nature of the Holy Spirit throughout his famous passage in Romans 8: “But you are not in the flesh; you are in the Spirit, since the Spirit of God dwells in you.” (Romans 8:8) There is even a universalist tradition in some Hebrew Midrash writings: “I call heaven and earth to witness that whether it be Gentile or Israelite, man or woman, slave or handmaid, according to the deeds which he does, so will the Holy Spirit rest upon him.” This is reminiscent of John’s report of Jesus’ statements to Nicodemus, when Jesus said: “The wind [Spirit] blows where it chooses . . . ” (John 3:8), that is, the Holy Spirit will serve all peoples, not just Christians or Jews. Paul also offers a similar notion in Galatians 3:28: “There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave and free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.” And, it is well-established that both Paul and John frequently equated Jesus Christ with the Holy Spirit as seen in the Romans 8 passages and the Paraclete passages of John 14-16.

Call upon her for comfort, for advise, for blessing, and for guidance. She will only respond in love and radiant light.

http://shekinah.elysiumgates.com/

I think you get the idea Swoon These are only the “mild” references. It gets pretty icky the deeper into kabbalah that you study this phenomenon because of the feminine nature of shekinah Gaah

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An excerpt from My Testimony [ https://fortheloveoftruth.wordpress.com/ancient-paths/]:


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Quote:
Although the Messianic movement replaces Christian baptism with the mikveh, they are different procedures. Baptism requires a pastor or leader to submerge one backwards under the water [usually up to waist deep] and raise them up out of the water.

Mikveh requires a deep [a little over chest deep] fresh water source in which one is completely naked and alone. A sauna, whirlpool and swimming pool are not considered “kosher”, but only a Rabbinically defined and built mikveh pool. One must be physically clean before one does a mikveh and must shower with soap and water beforehand. All jewelry must be taken off and the hair combed to prevent knots that would keep one from total immersion – every part of the body must be completely wet. One enters the water in a forward motion, submerging into the water and then floating without touching any part of the mikveh pool for a few moments. This is repeated two or three times depending on tradition. A prayer is offered before immersion, in most cases. It is a mystic experience and not a “baptism” as an outward expression from sin and into Messiah. It is a ritual process to purify one’s self from uncleanness [tamei]. This does not refer to a sinful condition, but Talmudically defined impurity – like a woman’s monthly cycle [niddah] for instance. A donation or paid membership is usually required in order to use the mikveh (4).

The purification system of the OT Temple is not rendered as a “mikveh” – although Judaism teaches this. Mikveh, in the OT text, is used only as a body of water. It appears to be a Rabbinic addition [middle ages].

Picture a Messianic “mikveh” done in the shallow end of a swimming pool, baptized Christian style, while clothed in some way (smile). [end quote]

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The following is from a Jewish website describing and explaining Judaism’s mikveh. In no way does this resemble what Messianics are promoting as a mikveh, which is a Rabbinic concept filled with mystical associations.

Quote:

Conversion

Mikveh: Immersing in the Ritual Pool

Immersion in the mikveh actualizes the transition between the convert’s old identity and his or her new one as a Jew.

By Rabbi Maurice Lamm

Excerpted with permission from Becoming a Jew (Jonathan David Publishers, Inc.).

What physical act could a person perform in order to symbolize a radical change of heart, a total commitment? Is there a sign so dramatic, dynamic, and all-encompassing that it could represent the radical change undergone by the convert to Judaism?

Jewish tradition prescribes a profound symbol. It instructs the conversion candidate to place himself or herself in a radically different physical environment–in water rather than air. This leaves the person floating–momentarily suspended without breathing–substituting the usual forward moving nature and purposeful stride that characterize his or her waking movements with an aimlessness, a weightlessness, a detachment from the former environment. Individuality, passion, ego–all are submerged in the metamorphosis from the larval state of the present to a new existence.

Ritual immersion is the total submersion of the body in a pool of water. This pool and its water are precisely prescribed by Jewish law. Immersion, tevillah, is the common core component of every [traditional] Jewish conversion process, for male and female, adult and child, ignoramus and scholar. It is sine qua non, and a conversion ceremony without immersion is unacceptable to the traditional religious community and simply not Jewish in character.

This requirement of immersion admits of no compromise, no matter where in the world one finds oneself. {While Conservative rabbis similarly require mikveh for conversion, Reform rabbis generally do not, although a tendency to more traditional symbols and a sense that a uniform conversion process is desirable are encouraging greater use of the immersion component even among the Reform.)

Religious Functions of the Mikveh

Several religious functions are served by this powerful symbol of submerging in water. In the days of the ancient Temple in Jerusalem, the mikveh was used by all Jews who wanted to enter the precincts of the Sanctuary. The law required every person inside the Temple grounds to be in a spiritually pure state appropriate to the pristine spirituality of the Sanctuary itself.

Throughout Jewish history, unmarried women have immersed in the mikveh prior to their wedding; married women immerse at the end of seven days of stainless purity from the end of each monthly menstrual cycle, in preparation for the resumption of family relations in their most fertile days.

A major function of immersion in the mikveh is for conversion to Judaism. The sages declare that a gentile who wishes to become a Jew must undergo the identical process by which Jewish ancestors converted. As Jews performed immersion at Mt. Sinai to complete the conversion process they had begun with circumcision as they left Egypt, so converts in every age must immerse in a mikveh.

Water Symbolizes Birth as a Jew

Submerging in a pool of water for the purpose not of using the water’s physical cleansing properties but expressly to symbolize a change-of-soul is a statement at once deeply spiritual and immensely compelling. No other symbolic act can so totally embrace a person as being submerged in water, which must touch and cover every lesion, every strand of hair, every birthmark. No other religious act is so freighted with meaning as this one which touches every aspect of life and proclaims a total commitment to a new idea and a new way of life as it swallows up the old and gives birth to the new.

The water of the mikveh is designed to ritually cleanse a person from deeds of the past. The convert is considered by Jewish law to be like a newborn child. By spiritually cleansing the convert, the mikveh water prepares him or her to confront God, life, and people with a fresh spirit and new eyes–it washes away the past, leaving only the future. Of course, this does not deny that there were good and beautiful aspects of the past. But, in the strictest religious sense, that past was only prologue to a future life as a Jew.

There is a second layer of meaning to mikveh. It marks the beginning of the ascent to an elevated religious state. This function of mikveh goes beyond the basic purpose of purification. Anthropologists refer to this threshold of higher social status as “liminality.” The person at this moment of transition is a “liminal” or “threshold” person. The liminal state is common to virtually all persons and societies, ancient and modern, and it marks a move to an altered status or to a life transition. Entering adulthood from adolescence, for example, requires a tunnel of time, a rite of passage, a liminal state that acknowledges by symbolic acts the stark changes taking place in one’s self-identity, behavior, and attitude.

In a sense, it is nothing short of the spiritual drama of death and rebirth cast onto the canvas of the convert’s soul. Submerging into waters over her head, she enters into an environment in which she cannot breathe and cannot live for more than moments. It is the death of all that has gone before. As she emerges from the gagging waters into the clear air, she begins to breathe anew and live anew–as a baby struggling to be born.

If we take this graphic metaphor a step further, we can sense that the mikveh is a spiritual womb. The human fetus is surrounded by water. It does not yet live. The water breaks in a split second and the child emerges into a new world. “As soon as the convert immerses and emerges, he is a Jew in every respect” (Yevamot 47b).

What is a Mikveh, Halakhically?

The mikveh must comply with a number of precise halakhic [Jewish legal] qualifications. The mikveh must be built into the ground or the structure of the building. It must hold a minimum of 24 cubic feet of water–200 gallons. The depth must be such as to enable an average adult to stand upright and have the water reach at least 11 inches above the waist, so that immersion can be performed without backbreaking contortions.

The water must originally have been transported to the mikveh in a manner resembling the natural flow of waters. The general practice is to build cement channels at the sides of the mikveh roof, which will enable rainwater to flow directly into the mikveh. Done right the first time, with the required initial amount of water, other piped waters may be added later in whatever quantities and at any time, and the mikveh will still retain its religious validity.

The waters must be stationary and not flow (not even the flow caused by a filter) while the mikveh is in use. The water, by all means, should be chlorinated to assure its meeting the highest standards of hygienic cleanliness. (While the chlorinated water may be somewhat discolored, it does have to retain natural water color.)

Water deriving from a natural spring is considered a valid mikveh if it complies with halakhic conditions. Also quite proper is immersing in the ocean, where there is no mikveh available, given the satisfaction of certain halakhic conditions.

Parameters of the Mikveh Experience

The ceremony must take place on a weekday [and not on Shabbat, the Sabbath] and during daylight, as do all other Jewish court procedures. In cases when a full circumcision has to be performed (unlike the touch of blood for previously circumcised males), enough time will have to elapse to be certain that the wound has healed completely.

The only assurance that the immersion will accord with halakhic requirements for a male convert is the presence of the rabbi at the mikveh; a female is to be accompanied by a person familiar with the practice, such as a rabbi’s wife, the mikveh escort, or a very knowledgeable friend who herself uses the mikveh.

The body must be thoroughly cleansed immediately before the immersion. The convert should be careful that there are no adhesions such as bandages, Band-Aids, or ointment; that the hair is thoroughly brushed; the nails of the hands and feet are pared; and that no traces of cosmetics or nail polish remain. The whole body must be immersed at one time, not sequentially, and the submerging must be total, without even a single hair remaining above the water.

The Conversion Blessings and When They Are Recited

The blessing in the mikveh is as follows:

Barukh atah Ado-nai Elo-henu melekh ha’olam asher kideshanu b’mitzvotav v’tzivanu al ha’tevillah.

Blessed are You, O Lord, our God, King of the universe, who has sanctified us with His commandments and commanded us regarding the immersion.

Blessings over the performance of mitzvot [commandments] in Jewish life always take place before the action of the mitzvah. The reason for this is that it focuses the soul, raising the consciousness for the action to be undertaken, establishing the purpose of the mitzvah, and demonstrating that its origins are in God’s command. Also, the blessing enhances the mitzvah by providing the reason for undertaking the symbolic action. Ritva [a medieval Talmud commentator] notes that, since the blessing is a statement of the soul, it should precede the statement made by the physical action of the body.

There is one exception to this general practice of placing the blessing before the mitzvah–the immersion of a convert. The convert needs to recite the blessing after the immersion, not before. The reason is simple: One cannot declare “God commanded us” if one is not commanded by God because he or she is not Jewish. The convert becomes a Jew only after the immersion is completed.

After the blessing, the convert immerses twice more and then leaves the mikveh.

A second blessing is required by most, but not all, authorities. It is called she’hecheyanu, and with it a person thanks God that He has enabled him to live to experience the greatness of this moment.

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Rabbi Maurice Lamm holds the Chair in Professional Rabbinics at Yeshiva University, is the former senior Rabbi of Beth Jacob Congregation–Beverly Hills, and is President of National Institute for Jewish Hospice. He has written five books and sold 450,000.

http://www.myjewishlearning.com/lifecycl…eh_Prn.htm

[end quote]

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The following,  is a very interesting story about mikveh’s from 1934. It is a true story that gets to the heart of the Jewish people and how much they esteem the mikveh. My intent with posting the story is to allow you to reach into the soul of the Jewish people. They have obviously denied Christ, but they are human beings who have misplaced traditions having been ingrained into a system that they believe is of God. This is no different than others who also are in deep deception for their choice of a religious system, like Messianic Judaism and Hebrew Roots.

For the Jewish people, nothing is as offensive to them as Messianics who play at their religion – it is a very sad commentary that Messianics come in the name of the Lord – or whatever they perceive as the Almighty – to take part in Jewish rituals like the mikveh. These rituals are way out of line from New Covenant beliefs in which we serve a risen Savior, who shed His blood for our sins to reconcile us to God. I fear for their lack of understanding to incept a system that is so far removed from the teachings of the Bible.

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In May 1934, a young doctor completed his studies in Warsaw and returned to Byalestok. With the help of his father, a well-to-do farmer who some years earlier had moved his family to the city, he set up a small office in view of the town clock.

As the months sped by, his reputation grew and with it the size of the crowd in his waiting room. Handsome and amiable, he was at ease in the social circles of Byalestok, quickly becoming the toast of the secular Jewish community. Wealthy industrialists vied for the opportunity to introduce their daughters to him and the intellectual elite were constantly after him to address their groups and attend their social gatherings. More often than not he declined their invitations, unimpressed by the glitter of their parties and by the all-too-familiar topics of their conversations. He devoted his time to his practice; his leisure hours he spent strolling through the streets and parks of the city.

Between patients, he often glanced across the room at the graduation photograph of his elementary school class, dated 1922. Time was passing quickly. He was a doctor, respected, almost famous in Byalestok, but he was not happy with his accomplishments – something was missing. The life around him lacked purpose and consistency. Even his work depressed him at times. The death of a young patient, as he looked helplessly on, touched him deeply. What was the meaning of his life, he asked in his heart. Why did it have to happen?

One day late in October the Assistant Mayor of Byalestok, a tall educated Pole, called on the doctor.

A year earlier, the city administration had hired a new District Attorney, Andrei Maritus, who immediately set in motion a number of projects. The unabashed purpose of one of them was to close down all the mikvehs in Byalestok. On the second day of Rosh Hashanah, after hundreds of Jews had immersed themselves in the mikveh of the Main Synagogue, Andrei Maritus, accompanied by the City Health Inspector and three policemen, collected two samples from the water that had become dark and turbid. A day later all the mikvehs in the city were ordered closed, pending a hearing to be held two weeks hence. Late that same afternoon, the Assistant Mayor paid Dr. Schreiber a visit.

“It’s simply a matter of health,” said the Assistant Mayor, a tall, square-shouldered Pole with a rim of reddish hair around his bald scalp, smiling genially. “The community must be protected from an outbreak of typhoid fever. Why, only last month six cases were discovered in Olsztyn, another four in Siedlce.” Dr. Schreiber stared expressionlessly across the table. The Pole met his gaze and grinned affectedly. “This is a sample taken from the mikveh”, he said, placing the vial on the table. “We want you to examine it and report to us in three days.”

“I see,” Dr. Schreiber said. Now the purpose of the visit was clear to him: he, a respected member of the Jewish community, was to provide the conclusive evidence.

Sensing a hint of indecision in the Doctor’s eyes, the Assistant Mayor said: “It is a simple matter of health, Dr. Schreiber – the water is clearly polluted. We want your confirmation. Needless to say, you will be handsomely rewarded for your time.”

Dr. Schreiber sat for a long time at his desk. From the street below came the sounds of children playing. He went to the window and looked down. Squeezed between shadows the roseate sunlight of evening blanched the faces of the children. For the first time since he had taken occupancy in this office, he wondered if they were Jewish. At length, he turned around and picked up the sample. He placed a drop on a slide, then slipped it under the eyepiece of the microscope. One glance showed him that it was full of bacteria – he did not bother to analyze it further.

He apologized to the patients waiting outside his office and hurried down the stairs into the street. He walked through the main square with the pedestrian traffic, then strolled pensively through the gardens to the commercial center of Byalestok. From there he headed toward the Main Synagogue. The enormous, domed structure dominated the surroundings for many blocks. Here and there, Jewish children played in the dusty streets, dressed in rags, their earlocks drifting in the breeze.

The doctor had never made real contact with the observant Jews of Byalestok; in his social circle they were regarded with disdain, as one thinks of a distant relative who is squandering his life, but at whom one can only shrug one’s shoulders in helpless disapproval. He never understood their ways – then again, he never tried. His university days came to mind; there had been more than a trace of anti-Semitism in the air but, somehow, absorbed as he was in his studies, he made little of it, attributing it to the ignorance of a few misguided individuals in the faculty.

Suddenly, a five or six year old boy came out of a lane carrying a pail of water, and stood directly in front of Dr. Schreiber. A brown cap with a narrow visor extending over his brow covered his head, while a torn black coat concealed the little biy’s body from neck to ankles.

“Where is your skull cap?” he demanded with a nuance of contempt, jutting his chin upward.

“I don’t wear one,” said the doctor, smiling.

“Every Jew must wear a skull cap!” asserted the boy, hot with anger.

“Not every Jew.”

“Yes, every Jew!” he insisted stubbornly, pursed his lips, and shook his head reproachfully like an adult. “You wear glasses, don’t you, but glasses are heavier than a skull cap,” he said, with a talmudic thrust of the thumb.

The following week two elderly Jews came to Dr. Schreiber’s office. One was the Chief Rabbi of Byalestok, the other Leib Orenstein, President of the Main Synagogue. They had learned that the doctor was scheduled to testify at the upcoming hearing.

“The mikveh is not a place to wash ourselves,” said the aged Rabbi through the slit in his long, white beard. The axe-like handle of his cane leaned against his breast; he clasped it tremulously and went on, his narrow eyes set deeply between the swollen lids: “The mikveh is life; it is like the waters of the placenta in which the fetus lives and develops – when the infant breaks through the waters, it is alive. And so it is with a Jew when he comes out of the mikveh in the morning; he is rejuvenated, eager to serve the Creator.”

The wan cheeks of the Rabbi merged into his beard and all one saw was the dark, patient eyes and the serrated outline of his beard against the backdrop of his black coat. Dr. Schreiber nodded respectfully.

“Even if you do not understand what a mikveh means”, said Leib Orenstein, a clean-shaven man of sixty, in a voice straining to be calm, “you must respect that it is of the greatest importance to thousands of Jews in Byalestok. When a woman goes to the mikveh, she feels assured of a healthy child. This is not a detail in our lives; it is everything!” Unable to contain his emotion, he went on: “And do not deceive yourself into believing that this is an isolated event and that is will end here. Should they, G-d forbid, force the mikvehs to close it will encourage them to attempt more; soon they will want to destroy our slaughter-houses – cruelty to animals they will charge! Then our schools will be attacked, and then Dr. Schreiber – I ask you – what will be left?”

Dr Schreiber gazed somberly at his visitors.

“The water is full of bacteria,” he said frankly. “it is a health hazard.”

“No Jew has ever become sick from a mikveh,” stated Mr. Orenstein, his lips trembling at the Doctor’s misconception.

“That may be so, but nevertheless the water does pose a danger to the health of the community,” he said, weighing his words carefully.

“Science and logic are not everything, Dr. Schreiber,” said the Rabbi. “The history of the Jews is ample evidence of that.”

The visitors stood up to leave. The doctor accompanied them to the corridor. He expected them to plead with him, to evoke in him a sense of guilt. But they said no more, and he respected them for it. He extended his hand to them; the Rabbi held it lightly between both his hands as if to transmit a final message through it.

Dr. Schreiber took to wandering through the streets alone, a deeply troubled look on his face. In the religious district he imbibed the hum of Torah talk seeping out of the windows and the smell of challah baking for Shabbos. He was touched by the simplicity and devotion of their activity, admiring with envy the consistency of it all. But in the Jewish secular districts he reverted to his concern for truth, his intellectual desire to defend it wherever it might be threatened.

The night before the hearing Dr. Schreiber made his way into the dark deserted mikveh room of the main synagogue. He switched on the small electric lamp. The stark nakedness of the dressing room made him shudder; the piebald walls were cracked in many places; the toilet, uncomfortably close to the benches, leaked a vivid brown fluid, and in the high corners of the room, spiders spun their gossamer webs. He stepped slowly over the wooden floor to the stairs leading down to the pool. The dressing room lamp shed a pale light over the murky water. He crouched for a better look, leaning to a side to allow the light past him. Here and there, little clusters of lint intertwined with hair floated on the dark, still surface of the water that had not been changed for weeks. He scooped up a handful and let it spill through his fingers. He smelled it, then wiped his hand thoroughly on the sleeve of his coat. A frown suffused his face and he could not remove it.

The highly publicized hearing attracted officials and journalists from all over Poland. The hall was crowded. In the front row to the left, sat three rabbis, the Chief Rabbi in the middle, his trembling fingers dovetailed over the handle of his cane. The stage was set. The District Attorney, a tall bespectacled Pole with a grape-sized growth in the middle of his right cheek, veritably bursting with confidence, strutted back and forth between his colleagues, adding the final touches. The judge, a towering man distinguished by his flowing gray hair and an involuntary smile, called the hearing to order.

Andrei Maritus wasted no time. First on the witness stand was a former janitor of the Main Synagogue, a drunkard named Babules. Anyone who was even vaguely acquainted with Babules knew that for a swig of whiskey he would testify that grass was blue. Today, however, he was a different man. Dressed in a new suit and tie, his pitch black hair slicked down, he indeed had the appearance of a decent, law-abiding citizen. Only his eyes betokened the real Babules; bloodshot, they strove in vain to follow the District Attorney as he paced back and forth in front of him a little too quickly. With a coherence that surprised many of the onlookers, Babules described conditions at the mikveh as he claimed to know them. Using adjectives and superlatives utterly alien to him, his description of the squalid conditions brought the hostile audience to shouts of outrage.

“How often I pleaded with the rabbis to permit me to change the water daily!” he testified bitterly.

“And did they let you?” prompted the District Attorney, radiant with anticipation of victory.

“No! Never!”

“Why?”

“Money! What else?”

“You should have offered to do it for free,” suggested Andrei Maritus magnanimously.

“I did! Out of the goodness of my heart, Babules offered! I could not endure the odor, Sir! You see – I should have mentioned this earlier – but the older men were not reluctant to sneeze into the water.”

“That’s all for now, Mr. Babules”, said the District Attorney, smiling unrestrainedly as he fondled the growth on his cheek. He glanced meaningfully at the judge, who lowered his eyes to the notepad on his desk.

Six witnesses followed. The testimony of each was increasingly more devastating. However, it was clear that the prosecutor’s case rested on statements of questionable witnesses. There was no hard evidence, no scientific facts. For that, he called on Dr. Schreiber, who was seated in the back row of the hall.

“Now, Dr. Schreiber,” began the District Attorney, slowly and deliberately, “you were given a sample of water from the mikveh and asked to analyze it. I presume you have had an opportunity to do so.”

“Yes, Sir,” Dr. Schreiber answered politely, his stern gaze wrinkling the corners of his eyes into a tiny staircase of furrows.

“What are you findings, Doctor?” asked Andrei Maritus, pointing to the glass of blackened water which a court officer had placed on the ledge of the witness stand.

“The water is dirty,” said Dr. Schreiber without a trace of hesitation, meeting the Attorney’s eyes with a hard stare.

“How dirty, Doctor?” he continued with confidence, glancing discreetly at the judge.

“Very dirty,” answered the Doctor in the same resolute tone. A wave of silence rippled through the room.

Feeling the firm ground of his case, Andrei Maritus glanced at the crowd with a slight inclination of the head. He could barely collect himself to pose the decisive question. Meanwhile the visitors had become noisy with excitement. The District Attorney beckoned the crowd to be silent. At length, he turned to Dr. Schreiber, straining to control his every muscle.

“Would you say, then, that the water is hazardous to health?” he asked in a tone that permitted only one answer.

“The health of whom, Sir?” the doctor asked with exaggerated politeness.

A sudden hum of voices coursed through the hall.

“Silence!” the Judge ordered.

“Humans, of course!” the District Attorney enunciated haltingly, a shocked look of outrage on his face. Then he grinned nervously at the judges and pinched his cheek.

Dr. Schreiber lifted the glass to his eyes as if to ponder the question.

“For humans?” he asked reflectively, pausing for one final glance at the water. Before the stunned eyes of the crowd he brought the glass to his lips and drank it down in one gulp. Showing no sign of discomfort he placed it back on the ledge in front of him. “Are there any more questions, Sir?” he asked courteously.

Originally published in Di Yiddishe Heim Journal
Reproduced from http://www.chabad.org
© 2001-2004 Chabad-Lubavitch Media Center

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Yrachmiel Tilles is co-founder and associate director of Ascent-of-Safed, and editor of Ascent Quarterly and the AscentOfSafed.com and KabbalaOnline.org websites. He has hundreds of published stories to his credit.

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Editor’s note:

The unsavory condition of the mikveh in the story was clearly a function of the oppressive conditions under which Judaism struggled to survive in communist USSR. The mikvehs of today are clean and sanitary, with the women’s mikvehs at a level that can accurately be described as aristocratic.

https://www.ascentofsafed.com/cgi-bin/as…mode=print

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