Walking in Circles

My body, bound by time;
My soul, cycles within cycles.
What has been will be again;
This life is brief, fleeting, flying,
My inner man awaits the new dawn.
Resisting the beast within,
My soul is sustained
On the bread from heaven.
Restraining my flesh,
My soul grows stronger,
Till I no longer desire to eat
From the tree of knowing
Both good and bad.
The more I retrain my mind,
The closer I get
To the One Who’s divine.
The Holy One, blessed is He,
Calls me to be just as holy as He.
Rectify, sanctify, purify, justify–
Walking in circles,
My soul goes on,
Till I make my final return to Zion.

Song of Songs Abbreviated

Limbs entwined.
Which are yours?
Which are mine?
This is true love found,
Once in a lifetime.

Souls encircled.
No end and no beginning.
Moments, glimpses,
Outside of time,
Invoking eternity.

Before Dawn

The sun sets,
And darkness descends
The beasts begin to roam.
They form a band,
Going from town to town,
Searching for their prey,
And devouring the flesh
Of lesser men.

Where does hope live?
Where can safety be found?
All seems lost–
Just out of reach.
No words bring comfort,
Compassion wanes,
Terror reigns
In the world of men.

Souls wrapped in skin,
Souls of fire light;
Candles in the wind,
Beacons for their brethren–
Hope lives in them.
Safety is found in the One
Who said, “Look up,
Your Redemption draws nigh.”

Stars shine brightly;
In the clear night sky,
The full moon ascends.
No earthly realm will bring peace.
Look up, for Our Hope
Descends from the heavens.
Safety comes riding
On the clouds of the Dawn.

God’s Promises to Israel

The poem I am about to share is one from a little book of poems that my great, great grandmother wrote. Her parents immigrated from Ireland, and she was born in Quebec, Canada in 1848. In the 1870’s, she married my great, great grandfather John Gibson, and they had eleven children together.

She had a beautiful faith in the Lord as I have seen from the content of her poems in the book; this poem is one of my favorites, so that is why I want to share it with you today.

God’s Promises to Israel

by Rosanna Irwin Gibson (1848-1937)

~Deut. ch.7~

If in my statutes ye do walk,
And keep my just commands,
I will give rain to refresh
And beautify your land.

So the land shall yield her increase,
Your barns with plenty filled,
And your years be passed in safety,
And all fears of want be stilled.

The wild beast of the forest
Shall be held at my command,
And neither sword nor famine
Shall be found in all your land.

Ye shall pursue your enemies
And over come them all,
For the God of heaven is with thee
And shall cause them for to fall.

And ten of you shall put to flight
And chase one hundred men,
One thousand shall be conquered
By the same as one to ten.

And unto you I’ll have respect,
And cause to multiply,
My covenant with you I will keep,
And register on high.

My presence shall be with you,
For among you I will dwell,
And ye shall be my people,
And with you ’twill be well.

Those are great and precious promises,
That to Israel God did give,
And unto us they do apply
If for the Lord we live.

But then we read that God did say,
That those who did dispise,
Or break His just commandments,
Should be guilty in His eyes.

And that He them would punish,
By afflictions very sore,
If they their sins did not forsake,
He’d punish seven times more.

So we may from this lesson learn,
From God we must not stray,
If we expect Him for to keep,
And bless us day by day.

 

GodKeepsHis6x24

“Hot” Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies

Okay, so the original recipe in the book Trim Healthy Mama is really good, and I like it just fine, but when you’re me, you tend to modify recipes by finding ways to “improve” them. So here is my variation on the recipe for the Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies found in the book (pg. 387)

In all honesty, I didn’t know if I’d like them or throw them out, because these cookies have cayenne pepper in them! Yes, I am borderline crazy. I just remember watching the movie Chocolat and seeing the chocolatier add red pepper to her hot chocolate, and thought, I’ll give a try. The result? a more intense, but amazing flavor. The pepper obviously adds a hint of heat, which I happen to love, but it also makes the chocolate taste more chocolatey. Not only did I like them, but my kids, who usually don’t finish the cookies (original recipe), gobbled these up!

[S] Trim Healthy Mama "Hot" Chocolate PB Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1-16 oz. all natural chunky peanut butter
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 3/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 4 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 eggs, slightly beaten
  • scant 1/2 cup erythritol
  • 1/2 tsp. pure stevia powder

Directions:

Mix all ingredients together in a bowl, and then roll out into 1-1 1/2 inch balls. (I usually get about 20 balls.) Bake at 350 for 8-10 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes and then enjoy!

My Thoughts on Family Purity

Right away I want to make it very clear that these are only my opinions based on my own personal study of the Scriptures and extra-biblical sources; that I am still learning; and that I may at some time in the future append my beliefs on this subject. I am not fomenting rebellion against Chazal (the Holy Sages), as they have much wisdom to offer on this and other subjects found in Torah, but rather I desire to provide a basic foundation for the observance on the laws of family purity in the simplest of terms, so that women (and their husbands) who may be new to this walk will not be overwhelmed by the extra-biblical observances found within the traditions of Judaism.

Note: The goal should always be to do the things Hashem asks of us in His Word to the best of our ability and knowledge, and allow for more understanding as we continue in walking in His commandments out of love and reverential fear.

What constitutes Niddah?

In Leviticus 15:19 and 24, we are told:

“If a woman has an emission, and her emission in her flesh is blood, she shall be seven days in her [menstrual] separation, and anyone who touches her shall be tamei [a bearer of tum'ah] until evening…And if any man lie with her at all and her [menstrual] separation will be upon him, he will be tamei for seven days….”

Next, Leviticus 18:19 warns:

“Also you shall not approach a woman in the tum’ah of her [menstrual] separation, to uncover her nakedness.”

Finally, Leviticus 20:18 states:

“And if a man lie with a menstruating woman and reveal her nakedness, and she revealed the fountain of her blood, both of them will be cut off from among their people.”

Through the pashut–simple reading/interpretation of the text, we see that a woman is ritually impure for seven days, from the time she begins to bleed until the end of the seventh day. It is with the ceasing of blood flow and the allotted seven days that allows her to mikveh–immerse and become ritually pure.

More than seven days?

The rabbis in the Talmud (BT Niddah 66a) claim that women took upon themselves to extend the time during which couples are to refrain from sexual relations from the biblical minimum of seven days to at least twelve by waiting until the end of her flow, as described above — five or more days — and then waiting an additional seven days in which there is no flow or spotting. ~Issues in Jewish Ethics: Menstruation & “Family Purity” (Taharat HaMishpacha)

As we can see from the quote above, the plain interpretation of the texts in Leviticus were added to by the women of Israel, as a way to ensure that they did not transgress the laws of niddah. There is nothing in and of itself that is wrong with adding to the Torah if the motive is to ensure complete obedience–this is called conviction. It is a very serious thing to be cut off from one’s people. I, therefore, commend the heart of these women to obey the letter in the spirit of fear and love of their Creator.

If a woman wishes to extend the days of her purification because of conviction, then this is, I believe, permissible especially when she and her husband are in agreement. However, if a woman is not inclined to count past the required of seven days of separation, it should be understood that she is in compliance with the Torah and nothing more is needful, except immersion.

What about Physical Touch?

Again, taking the pashut into account, there is no explicit command to not touch, only the clarification that a person who touches a woman will become tamei, and were the Temple to be built, any man who desires to go and worship and/or offer sacrifices should refrain from touching his wife in order to not become tamei. Specifically the Torah states that a husband and wife are not to engage in sexual intercourse during the period of a woman’s niddah. It should be noted that it is highly encouraged by the Orthodox Jewish rabbinate, for a man and wife to abstain from all touch, even casual touch, so as to allow a woman complete separation and personal space during the time of her separation. Again, if a woman wants to completely separate from all contact with her spouse, it should be talked about and agreed upon between she and her husband.

Separate beds? Separate seating?

As with personal touch, the need for awareness is greater when the Tabernacle/Temple is present so that the man not become tamei, excluding him from freely going to worship and offer sacrifices. It is not required to sleep in separate beds or to sit on different chairs during a woman’s niddah. It should be clearly understood that should the Temple be rebuilt in our days, so may it be, that we all may want to rethink the necessity of separate sleeping arrangements and being more conscious of sitting on seats that would cause our husband to become tamei. Hashem is not saying that a man cannot become tamei, but that he should be aware of his spiritual state before coming into Hashem’s presence.

What about Mikveh?

Now this is something that I really have an increasing desire to do in a more ritualistic manner. I think it is because of the spiritual meaning I see. Mikveh is alluded to in the book of Exodus with the exodus of the Children of Israel. After they rushed through the bloody door of their homes, departing Egypt, and were born again as a holy nation, they entered the waters of the Reed Sea and mikvehed, being “purified”, in order to prepare them for the divine revelation they would receive at Mount Sinai.

Every month, [there is a great] potential for holiness, a woman’s potential to engage in the sublime power of creation, reaches a peak in her body (an “ascent”). When the potential is not fulfilled and the holiness departs, the now-lifeless remnants leave the body. And this “descent” is susceptible to tum’ah. It is precisely because of the high level of G‑dliness involved in the procreative process that tum’ah can occur at all.

But here again, this “descent” into niddah is for the purpose of a higher ascent, through purification in the mikvah and a new cycle of building up to a higher level of holiness the next month. The mikvah—as will be presently explained—enables one to ascend even higher than the previous month.

In this sense the mikvah and the monthly cycle of a woman may be compared to Shabbat and the weekly cycle of every Jew. The alternation of the holy day of Shabbat with the mundane days of the week is the same cycle of ascent and descent, reenacted every seven days. The six mundane days lead up to Shabbat, during which the world becomes elevated, purified, ascends to its source. Every Jew then receives an “extra soul,” which he loses as the Shabbat departs and he must “go down” again into the struggles of the coming week. It is the very struggle to purify ourselves and the world we confront during the six days that becomes elevated on the Shabbat, and enables us to ascend higher and higher every week, in constant progression. ~On the Essence of Ritual Impurity

It is this belief as stated above–that a woman’s cycle teaches us about the potential for holiness–that leads me to be more observant in the immersion following my own niddah, not only as a woman, but as a daughter of Israel.


I hope that this brief overview of my thoughts on family purity has given you a balanced view of what I believe is required and what is simply conviction-based. Regardless of the level one’s observance–whether sticking strictly with Scripture, or adding to the Scripture out of conviction–we should all be responsible for and aware of our bodies, so that we do not sin or cause our husbands to sin.

In this, as should be with all the commandments found in the Torah, let us be careful to do all as the Lord our God commanded.

If you have any questions, please feel free to ask!

Blessings and Shalom,
S~

A Laughing Lesson

You know you have a special relationship with Hashem, when something that should make you cry, makes you laugh hysterically.

This morning started out fairly normal, but we had plans to go to a friend’s house, so we had to get dressed and do some extra things we’re not usually accustomed to doing that early in the day.


We get out the door, and I notice Isaac doesn’t have a kippa on, so I search for about 10 minutes while trying to gather the last things I need to load. I finally find it tucked between a nightside stand and a bed. We’re going to be late–again. I’m not usually on time–hello, I’m a random, flitty mother of three–but being married to Ishi for 10 years, has made me a little more conscious of the time and other people.

As I am lecturing Isaac about being responsible and taking care of what he knows he needs to do before we go out anywhere, I call my friend, because I forgot to call her before we left. Then I look down and see that the car needs to be refilled with gas. And you know what happened next? I’m pretty sure you have a guess, but I’ll just tell you–Judah threw up. Perhaps, I should have known that he was ill when right after breakfast, he lay down on the dining room floor in child’s pose. But hindsight is always 20/20, so I call my friend back and let her know that we have a sick kiddo. The car now smells of vomit, so I roll down the windows while cruising at 55 miles an hour; the gas gauge is slowly creeping toward the “E”.  It’s another 2 miles before I finally reach a gas station. Thank You, Hashem.

Okay, no big deal, I’ll just fill up the tank and clean up Judah a little before we head back home–WHAT? Where’s my wallet? Where’s my wallet?

I begin to panic a little. Three dollar bills; that’s all I have in my purse, there’s not even any extra loose change, just three measly dollar bills. I get out of the car and walk in to pay for $3 of gas at pump 11. I walk back out the door, and at that moment, I must look like a crazy person, because I burst out laughing. I can’t believe what is happening. I immediately know this whole charade is from Hashem.


After, I got home I had time to reflect on what happened. I realized Hashem was trying to make me laugh, but He was also trying to teach me a lesson. This is not the first time Hashem has gone to great lengths to get my attention and get me to “lighten up”. Today was just another lesson in teaching me to laugh, even when everything is going wrong, because He loves me and wants me to not fear or be sad when the harder trials come; and believe me, they are coming.

The trials that we deal now will look like child’s play compared to the things that we will have to deal with in, what I believe to be, the very near future. It’s time to prepare to go through the tougher times, by learning to laugh now. And when I get to those tougher times, I will be able to look back and thank Hashem for getting me ready.

Later on, I realized that He wasn’t just trying to get me prepared emotionally, but also psychologically and physically. If I had been more prepared this morning, perhaps the only mishap to occur would have been Judah throwing up. If I had started planning last night, I would have known what I needed to take and I would have left a little earlier to fill up the gas tank.

I see the news; I don’t have to be a genius to know that this world is going crazy. It’s time to get ready; it’s time to prepare; it’s time to be prepared. I pray that if you need a little wake up call, He’ll be as gracious and loving to you as He was to me this morning. We are all works in progress. We all need help navigating through the waters of life. I am just so grateful for a Father in Heaven Who takes the time to teach me to accept a spanking with simcha–joy.

Blessings and Shalom,
S~

Yeshua as Messiah: My Testimony (Part 1)

Is Yeshua the Messiah? Some people say, yes; some people say, no. Certainly, if you want to believe He is Messiah, you can find adequate proof, and if you don’t want to believe He is Messiah, you can, again, find adequate proof. So how are we supposed to know the truth?

There is no doubt that people standing under the banner of Christianity have killed countless Jews and other people groups in the name of Jesus in order to further their religious dogmas. There is not even a question of these actions being justified or right in the eyes of Hashem. But does this negate Yeshua from being the Messiah just because people have misused His words and abused and killed others in His name?

I grew up in a deeply, devout Christian home, because that was what Hashem ordained for me. I accepted Jesus as my Master and Messiah at two years old. You might think a child of two is too young to understand or profess any belief in God or Jesus, but I still remember it so clearly. Jesus was the Door that I came to believe in the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

My parents have always loved the Jewish people and believed that the Jews were and always will be God’s chosen people. When my mother was a little girl, she told her mother that she wanted to be Jewish, so my grandmother bought her a Star of David. When I was a child, I remember going into her room and rummaging in her jewelry box just to look at it, and, later on, beg to wear it around my own neck.

When I was in high school, my parents hosted a Passover seder in our home. I remember feeling so incredibly content and comfortable celebrating something that maybe would have felt foreign to other people. I felt a connection to Hashem and His people like I had never felt before.

Then in 2003, my parents took me, my sisters, and my brother-in-law to Israel. Being in the land of Israel–how can one describe what it is like to be there, in that place, to someone who has never been? It is supernatural; it awakens something inside. There is a profound connection to the people of God and the history of that place that one feels with all of one’s senses when walking down those ancient paths.

Our guide, on that trip, was a Messianic Jew, and he took us to places and told us things, I had never heard growing up in the church. Looking back on that trip, I can now see that a seed was planted in my heart by that man’s words that began to grow up toward the the surface. It took seven more years, but that seed finally began sprout and take root in May of 2010.

If you recall, the flotilla incident was all over the news at that time, and I began looking at end times prophecy. I ran across Mark Biltz’s teaching on Youtube on the blood moon tetrad of 2014-2015 and was intrigued by the way he taught. I decided to go to his website and listen to more of his teachings. He taught from the first five books of the Bible (what I now know as the Torah) and interwove the words of Jesus to connect the two “testaments” and make one complete Book. I began to look at my beliefs and the doctrines I had grown up with and reexamine everything with a fresh pair of eyes. My perception of Jesus changed, and as I began to call Him by His Hebrew name, Yeshua, I began to think differently about just why He came and what He came to do.

I had been looking for permission all my life be a Jew; I was always looking for a reason to keep the commandments found in the Torah. So why didn’t I just convert to Judaism, you may ask? The best answer I can give you, is that I have a long history with Jesus. His presence was always there with me. I believed that He had died because of my sins. When I had walked away from Christianity for a short time in college, His Holy Spirit kept goading me and prodding me to come back to what I knew to be truth.

I needed a Savior; I needed a Guide; I needed boundaries. When I repented of my sins, according to the understanding I had been given up to that point in my life, I regained a Savior and a loving Guide. It was not until 9 years later that I was provided with clear, divine boundaries which are found in His Torah. But I held onto hope, believing that Jesus was my Rock, and He would continue to lead me and guide me like a Good Shepherd. Baruch Hashem, He led me back to the home I didn’t even know I’d left–God’s prodigal daughter had returned.

Everything that had happened to me, had led me to that moment on the 14 Elul 5770, when the first 29 years became my past life, and I began to see just how gracious and patient Hashem had been with me up until that point. I have never done anything deserving of the revelation of His holy Torah. Even the desire that I had as a child to be part of God’s chosen people was not my own, but placed there by Hashem. He alone is to be praised and glorified for the life I now live.

Four years later, I can now see just how lost I was without Hashem’s Guidebook. Yes, His Holy Spirit was with me, but the Spirit only speaks in accordance with Hashem’s Word. How can one truly walk the straight and narrow path, if one has been told constantly that the Guidebook has become outdated? One is bound to get off track, very easily. But thanks be to God, that He never gave up on me, that He opened my eyes and ears, and He let me see the beauty of that divine Guidebook. It is the source of all life, peace, goodness, justice, wisdom, and light.

The source by which I came to Torah remains the same; I came through Yeshua. I know there are many out there who also came to a belief and Torah and have since denied their belief in Him as their Messiah, but I cannot ever do this. His death and resurrection means too much; what He did in order to restore me to the Father means too much.

I do wish to make myself very clear as to what I believe. Yeshua is my Messiah, He is the First Begotten Son of the Living God, the Right Hand of the Father, the Word made flesh. He came in the likeness of man in order to lead humanity to a right relationship with the Father–the Ribono Shel Olam (Master of the Universe)–not to create another religion, and not to build His own following, and most importantly not to “do away with” His Father’s Word.

I’d like to explain my reasoning for these beliefs more later; will you join me? I hope you will!

Shalom and blessings,
Sarah

Tzniut: Modesty and Headcovering (Part 3)

Today, I want to share a post from Rivka Malka that she wrote for Fashion-Isha’s blog. Rivka Malka’s view of modesty and headcovering is so very helpful in getting a proper perspective of what modesty/tzniut is really all about. I have posted the first bit of the article for you here so as not to infringe on the original blog’s rights to the material, so to read the rest, go to Fashion-Isha’s post: Wrapping With Wrapunzel

“My 17 year old daughter sat in class the other week and the teacher asked “When I say modesty, what words come to mind in the first sixty seconds.”

In the living room tonight, my daughter posed that same question to me. “What would you say, Ma?”

I easily answered “self – worth, protection, inner beauty, creative, gorgeous, inspired, whole.”

“That’s so you Ma. The girls in my class answered, ‘Rules, below the knee too tight’ etc”

Why? Why is that their response?

Blessings and Shalom,
Sarah