Seed the World

adapted from Meta Parshyiot R David Wolfe-Blank and The Living Torah R Aryeh Kaplan

The top of the Jewish year is Nissan and the Aries lamb


Today is Shabbat Rosh Hodesh, (the New Moon of) Nissan. It is the start of the Jewish year, and called the first month in Torah,. This is different from Rosh Hashanah, in autumn, which marks the birthday of the world.


This Torah portion begins with brief details of laws related to healing from childbirth. A postpartum ritual is given to heal the mother following the powerful, physical, often exhausting, experience of giving birth. This ritual happened in The Mishkon (Sanctuary) after a waiting period following birth.

Tazria goes on to describe at length a now obscure disease often translated as leprosery (Hansen’s disease), but differs from it. This disease in Torah seems to be highly contagious. As a result, people were very afraid of it. The priest takes on the role as healer. Rituals for healing, including quarantine, are explained.


We live in a world that too often has a binary perspective, something is good or bad, high or low, a one or a zero. Life is much more nuanced than that.  Our world is made up of cycles; Earth rotates on her own axis, Earth orbits sun and Moon’s orbit around Earth.  These cycles impact life on Earth, like the way the Moon’s gravity tugs on Earth’s water, creating waves and motion. Everything is impacted by our celestial neighbors, only less dramatically.

Every wave has a crest and a valley. These are two dynamic points that are maximally distant from each other. Breathing, inhaling and exhaling are extreme points an ongoing cyclical process. Tahor and Tamei share aspects of this dynamic modality.

Tamei and Tahor are most frequently translated as pure and not pure. This over simplification loses the important aspects of these states of being.

Consider “Tahor” as that holy state of being where one can multi-task – leaser, parent, boss, worker, student, community member — all at the same time.  “Tamei“, then, is that holy state of being where we are so completely focused on one aspect of our life — giving birth, coping with the death of an intimate, falling in love, working on a creative project when it comes to life within us — that we cannot take on community responsibilities. – Adapted from Rabbi Phyliss Berman’s teaching for Rabbi Zalman’s Schachter-Shalomi zt”l’s 75th birthday.

Both states are necessary for a healthy dynamic life.

Nissan and the The Aries Lamb

The new year of the Jewish people begins this month. The ancient mystical text Sefer Yetzirah says

Formed, how? Anointed the letter heh (ה ) and tied it to crown, and formed through it Ram in Space, Nissan in time, and the right hand in spirit…

Sefer Yetzirah 5:2

The Passover lamb offering is a key aspect of the Temple celebration. Christian traditions also connect with the lamb sacrifice and relate it to Jesus.

The letter “heh” is the first simple letter in the Aleph Bet. It’s gematria is five, like fingers on each hand. It is one of the three letters in the Four Letter Name and so, It is a holy letter. You can’t say “Heh” without breath. Heh represents breath the Divine breathed into humanity. It means “the” when preceding a word, giving it a sense of uniqueness and elevation.

Heh is the first simple letter in the Aleph Bet. Sefer Yetzirah distinguishes three types of letter; Mothers, Doubles, and Simples. Mother letter rule the seasons, double letter the days of the week, and simple letters months of the year.

This image shows the letter and the associations from Sefer Yetzirah


The Question

Bnay Yisaskhar gives over a wonderful Torah he attributes to the Arizal. Why is it that can people pray and pray and their prayers are not answered.

An Answer

This teaching draws of the phrase from Psalm 91.

Bnay Yisakhar

I will raise you up because you know my name.

Psalm 91

Accessing connection through the sequence of the Divine Name designated for the specific month on Rosh Hodesh can deepen receptivity. This Name, according to Bnay Yiasakhar, is used in Rosh Hodesh Musaf Amidah (standing prayer). It is also a worthy vehicle for meditation. A Divine Name is like a password, for the month, as it were.

The sequence of the Name for Nissan, is the sequence we are most accustomed to; YHVH. Nissan, is the first month and connectivity is clear, direct and unencumbered.

Knowing someone’s name invites a relationship with The Holy One. That in itself is powerful It is the reaching on its own out that can change us, and how we walk in the world. Even more so if we are blessed with a response.

If you want to add a level of potency to your prayers and meditations try this out. You will find a chart at the link below with association related to this and the secret of twelve for the full year. Adar 2 holds all these Names at the same time. There are prayer books that include the Musaf meditation. Contact me if you want help locating a prayer book like that.


Hod seeks to bring some balance to overambitious Netzah. Being on the left side of the Tree, Hod tends to be more of an introvert than and extravert; staying out of the limelight, attracting clients rather than aggressively pursuing them. It is therefore appropriate in this Torah portion to deal with post partum issues, that take place after the flash and glory of bringing a new soul into the world. In a similar vein it is fitting that issues of quarantine which involve staying isolated and away from the buzz of the city and busy market place are in this Torah portion.

By means of Hod exercising its strong “Yin” (receptive) quality, the “Yang” (aggressive) quality of Netzah comes under control.

Tmimah Audrey ickovits

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