A New Moon for Roots

Keep the Waters Rising
by Shaul Judelman, Yeshivat Bat Ayin
Here rolls a little Jewschool frabrengin…
It’s the new moon of Shevat tonight… according to the infamous outdated and awaited House of Shamai, tonight is the birthday of the trees…Not the full moon Tu b’shevat of Hillel, but right now, in the as yet unseen space. Here in Israel, it was a beautiful sunny day after a cloudy rainy Shabbat- and we hit the hills, digging out new holes for some 4 year old olive transplants. Digging the earth- the preparation for planting… Tu b’Shevat is a holiday in reference to the fruits- and I feel Shammai is more connected to the roots…I and I at the Root… That Bob Marley song, Blood is thicker than water… our Blood, our roots, the place where we come from.. Today is a time to dig into it… for the deeper one’s roots are- the farther out the branches may spread (that was a torah I learned from a Big Leaf Maple in Seattle WA)) the longer we develop our trunk, “That’s why I build my house, on a solid foundation.” Gladiators…
There is a principal I like to test out that says the more I can pull back the rubber band, the farther out I can go… The more deeply and integratedly I am connected to Hashem, our peoples path and my self as a member of these webs- the more I can act freely in the world. So much of our time, action and energies can be wasted on “proving our selves’ in the eyes of others- yet the people who are at home with their self- even if confused as to the bigger questions of what it means and where really to focus- there is a great calming energy from not running after this style or that fad to be identified with. The identity politics that our sociology prof talked about- is a very real phenomena lying behind the restlessness of our generation. There is a very real Yetzer (urge) to run after what my eyes, or the television report as cool. And it is especially true in the culture that disassociates itself from the mainstream… The drive to dive into a cause- Free Tibet, Save the Whales, anti-WTO… I am not saying anything about these causes- they are the most righteous of righteous things to be done- and there is absolutely no shortage of them in this mixed up upside down mess we’ve created for ourselves… But that inner rest of first listening deeply for my roots- and then to let that guide my activism…It means my actions are coming from a deep space.. The Zohar teaches that a mitzvah, an action by itself, is like a candle, easily snuffed by the wind… But a mitzvah done by a person connected to the Torah of that mitzvah- to the depth from which that Mitzvah stems, is actual LIGHT< beyond being put out. This teaching about mitzvoth sheds understanding on all our actions. When they are not rooted from a real personal connection they are all too easily dismissed and forgotten. The real affective actions and life paths are those that are grassroots, coming from within a greater context. It also allows for our spiritual life to bleed into our actions, imbuing everyday decisions with a higher connection. That was the real attraction that Israel and Judaism offered me, a grounding from within a world so writhing with choice and illusory opportunities to “find myself,” be a part of something greater… Our roots are such a blessing in the post-modern age- The more comfortable we become with them- the teshuva returning to our selves- the less we have to define ourselves in such sharp ways… It is the religious ba’al teshuva who is still forging personal identity that needs to slam on a black hat and castigate those not holding their truth… There is a deeper more expansive place of roots that will allow a true flowering for our people…Rosh Chodesh Shevat, the Beit Shamai time, is a day for digging deeper searching for our own personal connection to the waters of our faith… May we blessed with compassion, connection and commitment- forward vision-eyes that see goodness, and hearts of flesh… Chodesh Tov

5 thoughts on “A New Moon for Roots

  1. It’s an abbreviated form of yasher kochachah, the hebrew form being on the above comment. It takes the last sound of the first word and the first sound of the last word for its final phonology – sher-koach, or as you’ve heard it, shkoyach! Isn’t it interesting how new words get formed? 🙂

  2. I just learnt the word “Shekoiach” on a jewish awareness retreat, a yeshiva student translated it as “power to you”.
    Something he taught us too (Jewish Winnipegers) was that in New York they say “Pshhhh” to someone who has read the torah nicely slash gave a good d’var torah, etc.
    I really prefer Shekoiach, it sounds so much cooler… It makes the fire inside me burn brighter
    Beautiful post, Shekoiach! Do you know were I could get some information on Beit Shammai? I tried but it doesn’t work, and wikipedia does not help very much

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