Chanukah – The Shamash Candle

The shamash candle is a servant. That’s what the word means in Hebrew. In many old-world synagogues the shamash was commonly listed along with a rabbi or chazzan. The shamash was able to stand in for the rabbi at any service or ceremony, except legal ones, and often acted as the administrator for the temple.

It’s interesting that Shamash also refers to a sun-god in ancient Babylonia and Assyria. The reference to servant is also relevant here, as some believe that in this pantheon Shamash was the child of the moon god and therefore second in position.

Think of the shamash candle as your connection to the fire of the Divine that exists in all creation. Through this candle you light the others. Try to connect your inner spark to the shamash candle as you say the prayers and light each candle.

Learn more about Shamash:

Spiritual Math

1 = The Source of Life
2 = The Tablets
3 = The Patriarchs
4 = The Matriarchs

The lives of the 3 and the 4 = The 5 books

The lives of the 3 times the 4 = The 12 tribes


I know this has been said by others, but it bears repeating.

Halloween Parsha

I originally wrote this on Halloween 2003

Someone asked me what I was doing on Halloween, especially considering that it falls on Shabbat this year. Even though Halloween/Samhain isn’t really part of my spiritual practice, I became curious about what the Torah portion for this Shabbat is. It turns out that it is The Flood and The Tower of Babel. I was floored.

As I re-read the passages, I was struck by the layers of extra meaning & symbolism I found by linking the two stories together. Two stories of destruction brought on by the failings of humanity; two stories where not only humanity learns lessons from choices made, but also G-d. It is strange to think of G-d ‘learning,’ but if man is made in G-d’s image and can grow and learn – why not G-d.

So often we are presented with an image of G-d as immoveable and unchanging through-out all time, but a careful reading of the Torah presents us with many examples of G-d growing and changing over time.

At the end of the story of Noah, G-d promises never again to wreak destruction on the world to punish humanity. In the very next story instead of drowning the world or reducing it to ashes, G-d acts surgically and goes right after the human world. Animals don’t really care if we all speak different languages.

Over and over, G-d reacts in new and different ways. Here a whole city is destroyed. There – a single person is punished. In our quests to grow closer to the Divine we should look to learn and grow and not remain unchangeable and steadfast when new information presents itself.

Triple Goddess in Judaism

[box type=”info”] Note: this was the first official post on – June 21, 2004.[/box]

So as a result of my reading/research binge to get ready for the workshops I’m doing in July I’ve been playing with a few new ideas – here’s one.

Triple Goddess Figure / Archetype as represented in Judaism:

    • Maiden – Sabbath
      the eternal bride who comes to rejuvinate us


    • Mother – Shekinah
      The Presence who watches over us and cares for us


    • Crone – Torah
      The venerated elder who is dressed in fine robes, given the place of
      honor, and looked to for wisdom

The Sabbath as Goddess figure is pretty common I realize, as is clearly Shekhinah, but I started looking at Torah as being elevated to Goddess level the last time I went to a Sabbath service with a local Renewal group. I started looking at the people dancing around with it, reaching for it, kissing it, and treating the scrolls with such incredible reverence — that it seemed beyond respect for a sacred text.

I started seeing the pattern of the triple goddess archetype appearing and
thought it was interesting. Granted, traditional scholars would balk at this — but that is why I’m looking at it as an archetype, like the Sephirot of the kabbalist tree of life.