The upside-down tree of life
I finally see within me:
my lungs!

Or rather,
I don’t see them;
I am reliant on what I learnt
in biology classes

and what I saw
in the butchery
my father owned –

lungs of cattle

Soft
Squidgy
Sliced up

for sale
as a delicacy…

Like an upside-down tree
if on two legs
the mammalian creature walks –

Like us
Human beings
Homo sapiens
Wise man…

What a wonderful addition
to creation we are
when we are attentive to our power

and even more so
when we are attentive
to the source of our power;

Sensitive to the impact we have

on one another
on those around us
on the whole wide world.

Free
and empowered
I feel
at this moment –

capable of holding
the two poles of Jewish understanding
regarding creation:

In our relationship
with creation
‘animate’
and ‘inanimate’

Homo sapiens has dominion over the earth
and her creatures;
Human beings are the bosses on this planet
and every creature had better watch out

for the power of life and death we hold…

Yet the Torah disagrees –
the sense of power over the earth’s resources
is a veil
that hides the Truth

for in reality
in the all-encompassing holistic perspective
G-d made Homo sapiens in His image and likeness

which we only activate
when we know that the earth is a treasure
owned by Another

the Creator of earth
and all her creatures
the One
who made us,

Managers
Conservationists
Stewards

Servant leaders.

Puzzled I was
by the perceived lack
of Jewish literature

on the wilds
on the wild spaces
on the wilderness

until I remembered
that the desert
was the Israelite wilderness

and that some desserts
are biomes
while others
are merely man-made barren spaces

depleted
of resources
to the point of no recovery –

degraded lands
not to be confused
with biomes
adapted to low levels of moisture…

What Judaism has to say
about nature wild
is below the surface of its sacred texts

for I have heard
that the lesson my Jewish ancestors learnt
or were meant to internalize

while wandering through the desert
for forty years
was that G-d provided
for each creature’s needs –

So barren was that sandscape…

For water
G-d provided them with a rock-well –
in the merit of Miriam

For food
G-d provided them with manna –
in the merit of Moses

For guidance
G-d provided them with the cloud –
in the merit of Aaron

So that this barren space
became a secure place
for G-d’s children;

these former slaves
had not the inner resources
to take care of themselves –

on their Creator
they were completely reliant;

their leaders
their G-d attentive mediators
were proof of this…

Which is why
they were reluctant to move
into the Promised Land

for there
grown-ups were required
to work the land

wise people

to generate
livelihoods
through their labour

which G-d promised
would go well
if they listened to Him

if they listened to His word,
his Torah
written and oral

if they remembered
and kept His commandments
as taught by Moses

if they did not turn their backs
on Him
for He would still be with them

As co-adult.
As co-creator.
As co-steward.

For it seems that when
in wildernesses fruitful
human beings
are like children

dependent…

On nature dependent.
On natural resources reliant.
To natural abundance attuned.

Yet, in the Jewish narrative,
it seems that freedom of choice
is the basis of an adult relationship

and that this freedom
is best served
through covenant

which has come down
through Judaism’s oral tradition
in the concept of a marriage

where the groom is faithful
and the bride is free;
where the masculine is a trustworthy adult…

And the feminine is authentic?
And the feminine is empathetic?
And the feminine holds the centre?

And the feminine receives
in order to give
back;

both feminine
and masculine
building up merits
to add to G-d’s glory

as compassion
as mercy.

Yet the world has changed
for like children
the masculine seems

and it is the feminine
in women and in men
that the world is calling.

In the Jewish narrative,
it seems that freedom of choice
is the basis of an adult relationship

and that this freedom
us best served
through covenant

which has come down
through Judaism’s oral tradition
in the concept of a marriage

where the groom is faithful
and the bride is free;
where the masculine is a trustworthy adult

is a potential
that has been squandered?

Yet, is it possible that all along
the feminine has been the rock
the solid foundation
on which secure homes are built?

And that the maternal is strong?

Is it not the Mother who is under attack
by sciences
attached to business models
earth destructive?

Is it not the Mother who is under attack
by religions
attached to business models
earth destructive?

Is it not the Mother who is under attack
by philosophies
attached to business models
earth destructive?

Is it not the Mother who is under attack
by politics
attached to business models
earth destructive?

Is it not the Mother who is under attack
by consumption habits
attached to business models
earth destructive?

Is it not the Feminine who is under attack
by Esau
attached to hierarchical models
earth destructive?

Is it not the Feminine who is under attack
in the West –
attached to greed
earth destructive?

Is it not the Feminine who is under attack
in the East –
attached to West-mimicry
earth destructive?

Is it not the Feminine who is under attack
in the South –
attached to self-preservation
earth destructive?

Is it not the Feminine who is under attack
by the feminine
attached to male-mimcry
earth destructive?

I sense it might be

And that my reverting
to Judaism
is a step in owning
my own femininity,

for Judaism’s master sages
tell us that we are a nation
of moon-people

Aware of the stars
Aware of the sun
Aware of the planets

Aware of the angels in all forms of creativity

Aware that the moon’s light
is but a reflection of sunlight;
Aware that the feminine light
is a mirror for the masculine to shine.

Aware that the moon
is closer to earth –
guides her cycles
more intimately than the sun.

Yet simultaneously aware
that earth-life
is dependent
on both heavenly lights

to enable earth to thrive…

And that beyond both
is the Creator
of Adam

of mankind
of humankind;
of Homo sapiens
of wise men.

Yet who is wise?

I have learnt
that Chochmah
the Hebrew word translated as ‘wisdom’
refers to science

and the philosophies behind the sciences…

Wisdom refers to general knowledge
gleaned from the observation of nature
in a particular place on the planet;

Wisdom was given to every nation
to each
according to the purpose
G-d placed in them,

making science
a companion to Indigenous Knowledge Systems?
And Indigenous Knowledge Systems
a source of earth-attuned wisdom
for western scientific efforts?

Bringing sun and moon
into alignment with the Source
of sources –

In alignment with Hashem’s Will?

Making the Jewish people
a channel of G-dly blessings
for the whole planet?

Making Jewish contributions
to the theology of conversation
blessings for humanity

For we Jewish people
never pray for ourselves alone;
earth-people we are
I realized

when praying the winter prayer
for dew and rain
in Israel:

“Bless on our behalf –
O HASHEM our God –
this year and all its kinds of crops for the best,
and give dew and rain for a blessing on all the face of the earth.
Saturate the face of the world,
satisfy all the world from your bounty,
fill our hands with Your blessings
and from the wealth of the gifts of your hands.
Watch over this year and save it from anything bad,
from all types of destruction and travail,
and give it good hope and a peaceful end.
Have pity and compassion on it,
its produce and its fruit and bless it with desirable rain,
with blessing and grace.
May its end be one of life, satiety and peace,
like the best years for blessing.
For You are the good and beneficent God Who blesses the years.
Blessed are You, HASHEM, who blesses the years.”

Shared for the sake of Truth seeking.
Shared for authentic conversations having.
Shared for blessing.

(©Archaela 5782 Tevet 12, 16, 17)

Sources

Rabbi Dr David Nossel: The Upside-Down Tree of Life: Lessons for Virtuous Living Inspired by the Weekly Torah Readings.

Rabbi Jonathan Sacks: Future Tense: A Vision for Jews and Judaism in the Global Culture.

https://jwa.org/encyclopedia/article/miriam-midrash-and-aggadah#

The Artscroll Sephardic Siddur

Inspiration:

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