By Rabbi Daria Jacobs-Velde
Special to WJW
Passover begins on Saturday at sunset.
I awoke early this morning. My body contemplated the possibility of returning to sleep, but my mind knew that it was time to rise. What possibilities would unfold over the course of the turning of this planet today?
I enter my dark office. The light on the wall catches my attention. A silvery glow shines through the window, illuminating a small segment of it. Yes! One of my favorite experiences beckons to me: a clear view of that wondrous mass of rock and metal that circles our earth, reflecting the brilliance of the hot sun and transforming it into the cool light of the moon. Jewish mystical traditions teach us that the moon symbolizes the Shekhinah, the imminent presence of the Divine.
In this time-warp world that we live in now, where it can be hard to differentiate between days, the moon provides a clear marker of the passage of time. My internal clock knew that the new moon of Nisan would soon clearly announce the arrival of Passover on the upcoming full moon. As I look through the window, the crescent moon matches the curve of my left hand, reminding me that only one week remains of Adar. Soon, Nisan — the first month of the Jewish year according to the Torah — will bring with it unknown possibilities.
The moon — where has it gone? The stillness allows my senses to awaken and I notice a brief panic entering my heart. The calm that had flowed through my being just moments before has evaporated. How did this rapid change come about? What else eludes my awareness? Where else has subtle constriction taken over, narrowing or closing my heart and mind like Pharaoh’s? How do brightness — and busy-ness — dull my senses to these insights?
Moments later, from behind the outline of the dark trees peek the tips of the moon and its gentle glow. Of course! The local trees — even without their leaves — had simply obscured my view for the moment. All is well and as it should be. How I love the sweet moon — which has accompanied me, guided me, supported me and connected me over the decades and around the world.
Rock of Israel, Tzur Yisrael, I feel Your presence and possibilities for groundedness and power through every stage of the moon’s transformation. How do I transform over time? What are my cycles and rhythms? What transformation awaits me on my journey from constriction to expansiveness?
The moon continues its game of peek-a-boo with me this morning, and time and again my mind jumps in to calm my heart and assure her that the moon will return. Dear almost-Nisan moon, your simple game teaches me about sensitivity, openness, vulnerability, fear, patterns and possibilities for freedom through awareness.
I again rise early, this time prepared with a “growth mindset” and sense of curiosity. Going to my office I look out through the window and bask in my dear friend’s familiar light. How long will it take her to move from visibility to hiding, and back to visibility? How can this help me viscerally understand the awesomeness of the rapidly spinning earth, revolving moon and vast universe?
Time stands still, or so it seems. And then… The sweet tips of her graceful arc appear ever so slightly from behind the tree. Instantaneous excitement! Awe and wonder fill me — not only at her reappearance but at the dramatic and lightning-fast shift in my internal state.
Dear Sister Moon/Shekhinah, a prayer for myself and all of us:
We will soon embody our sacred story of transformation. This year, may we seek out structures that increase our sensitivity and heighten our awareness of who we each are now, on our personal and communal journey of becoming deeply free. Amen.
Rabbi Daria Jacobs-Velde is co-rabbi of Oseh Shalom — A Reconstructionist Congregation, in Laurel.