Adar: Food as Transformation

My latest post over at PunkTorah.org explores the transformational power of food, especially during the Jewish month of Adar and the Purim tradition (mitzvah) of sending Mishloach Manot — baskets of food to family, friends or those in need.  I explore the history of the tradition, the possible earth-based roots, and modern ways to think about how and why to do this.   This post will have you thinking beyond hamentashen this Purim!

Ever thought of this tradition as a social justice issue?

Maybe you will…. Read on at PunkTorah.org

 

.

Hamantaschen: Symbol of Adar

Making Hamantshen -- Yummy and Spiritual!

Adar 5772 begins at sundown February 23rd, 2012 and ends at sundown March 23rd, 2012.

Yes, it’s Adar and I decided to go exactly where  you expected me to this month — Purim and Hamantaschen.  But as opposed to doing a history of the fabled, and delicious, Purim cookie — I’m going to explore some of the mythic and ritual opportunities these humble cookies offer us.

If you are unfamiliar with the history of hamantaschen, this post from Seforim Blog is a great place to start (thanks to Velveteen Rabbi for the link).   For some the triangle shaped cookies represent Haman’s (the villian of Purim) hat, pockets or ears.  There are also dozens of different recipes for the delicious cookies, and debates over whether jam or poppy-seed filling is the best. There are yeast dough recipes, regular old cookie dough recipes, and even this cream cheese recipes that seems to merge rugelach and hamantaschen.

But enough about the actual cookie.  Let’s talk ritual experience.

Continue reading “Hamantaschen: Symbol of Adar”

Adar II – The Lesson of Naphtali

Photo by Don DeBold. Used by Creative Commons Attribution Copyright.
Photo by Don DeBold. Used by Creative Commons Attribution Copyright.

Adar II  (אֲדָר א) begins at sundown on March 6th, 2011 and ends sundown on April 4th, 2011

~Excerpt from Adar II Guide – Subscribe for Free and Receive the Complete Guide Each Month ~

(Cross Posted to PunkTorah.org)

Naphtali is the second son of Jacob and Bilah, a handmaiden of Rachel. His name, as relayed in Genesis 30:8 means, “ And Rachel said: ‘With mighty wrestlings have I wrestled with my sister, and have prevailed.’ And she called his name Naphtali.”  When I read this, I immediately went to check and see if this was the same word used in Genesis 32:25 to describe Jacob wrestling with the angel, and it is not.  That word seems to be translated “struggled” (יֵּאָבֵק) where as the root of Naphtali’s name (נַפְתּוּלֵי) seems to translate more truly as wrestling, or “twists.”  I find the translation of “twists” to be fascinating.  It seems lighter and less ominous than struggling.

Naphtali is traditionally symbolized by a leaping dear.  This is from Jacob’s blessing in Genesis 49:21, “Naphtali is a hind let loose: he giveth goodly words.”  According to some commentaries, this refers to how quickly the fruit in the tribal district of Naphtali ripened, which gave cause for blessings.  In Moses’ blessing, Deuteronomy 33:23, Naphtali is describe as, “O Naphtali, satisfied with favour, and full with the blessing of the LORD: possess thou the sea and the south.”  If nothing else we can see from these blessings that Naphtali was favored, and I think good with words.

Let us imagine that the message of Naphtali is that of the poet or minstrel.  If this were not a leap year, the Netivah, face of Shekhinah, associated with the month would be the Fool.  I can easily see Naphtali as the poet-jester,  entertaining us by leaping, dancing and reciting poetry and songs.  So what does that mean in a leap year?  What happens to Naphtali when the Weaver (אורגת) is our Netivah of the month?  In this case, Naphtali uses his poetic gifts to weave a beautiful tapestry to help us find all the meaning hidden away in the Book of Esther.

The lesson of Naphtali is to use all the powers of dance and verse to uncover the mysteries of the Book of Esther, to weave our world into a better place.  If G!d(dess) created the world with words, then maybe we affect Tikkun Olam, repairing of the world, or at least Tikkun haNefesh, repairing of the soul, through the power of art, verse, music, and dance.

More insight into Adar

Part IV – Adar I | Elements of Embodied Judaism

Ether - Photo by Kieran Huggins. Used by Creative Commons Attributions Permissions.
Ether – Photo by Kieran Huggins. Used by Creative Commons Attributions Permissions.

I started this series in  January 2010, with an Introduction to Embodied Judaism and  “ Part I: Elements.”   In the fall of 2010, I picked it back up in earnest with the first of four planned seasonal guides,  Part II – Autumn and Part III – Winter.  I started writing these in a fortuitous year, because it is a leap year.  We don’t move straight from Winter to Spring in leap years — we have a pause, a moment of liminal space, a moment to explore the element of Aether/Void.

Adar I, in a leap year, is the moment where the element of Aether/Void comes to the forefront.  Truthfully, this fifth element — like all elements is always present.  It is the element that transmits all other things.    While the other four elements are well founded in Jewish tradition, you may be asking if Aether is really Jewish.

I don’t know.

Continue reading “Part IV – Adar I | Elements of Embodied Judaism”

Adar I: The Lesson of Dinah

Liminal Space - Photo by MSimonLevin, used by Creative Commons Attribution Permisions
Liminal Space - Photo by MSimonLevin, used by Creative Commons Attribution Permisions

~Excerpt from Adar 1 Guide – Subscribe for Free and Receive the Complete Guide Each Month ~

(Cross Posted to PunkTorah.org)

Adar I (אֲדָר א) is Dinah’s (דִּינָה) month, at least as far as I’m concerned.  Rabbinical tradition equates Naphtali with both Adar I & Adar II in a leap year, but many modern feminists have argued well that the extra month should belong to Jacob’s daughter, the 13th tribe.  Next month, we’ll talk about Naphtali.  This month, we talk about Dinah.  To be honest, I’ve really struggled with whether or not Dinah should be Adar I or Adar II. I’ve gone back and forth dozens of times.  Even while writing this, I struggled. Right or wrong, I needed to choose.

Continue reading “Adar I: The Lesson of Dinah”