Tu B’Shvat, the 15th of the month of Shvat, is the “New Year of the Trees,” kind of like the Jewish version of Earth Day… only with a whole bunch of mysticism. On Saturday night, we had a JMC/Brooklyn Jews Taste of Tu B’Shvat Seder in Brooklyn. It was a seder based on divine sustainability and mindfulness. We went through the Kabbalists’ Four Worlds, the four seasons, drank wine, ate fruit and nuts (and dinner), and ended with a seriously beautiful havdalah ceremony.
As we moved higher and higher and up through to the third world, Beriah, creation, we had already eaten fruit that is inedible on the outside and soft on the inside, fruit that is soft on the outside and inedible on the inside, and drank pure white wine and a glass of white with some red. In the third world, we drank a half and half mixture of red and white wine and ate fruit that is wholly edible. This world of creation is also the world of the mind. In this world there is an understanding of divine connection, the oneness of creation. Here’s the meditation that we did for the world of Beriah:
Start by connecting to your breath in this moment. Close your eyes or soften your gaze and breathe deeply. Inhale and exhale. Deepening your inhale and extending your exhale. Paying attention to your full cycle of breath. As you breathe in, remind yourself that your inhale is also the exhale of every green, living plant on earth. Your exhale is also the inhale of trees and plants. Our cycle of breath is part of a larger cycle of breath, of life. As we go through this short meditation, keep bringing yourself back to your breath and the breath of the world.
Thinking about the unpronounceable name of God, in the Torah, yud hay vav hay. Four letters, no vowels, and we really have no idea how to pronounce it. One of my favorite teachings is that if we transliterate these letters into English (but using an ancient pronunciation for the letter vav), it would be YHWH. YHWH, this combination of letters could be said as a breath: YH for the inhale; WH for the exhale. Every breath a reminder of our connection to all living things on earth. Every breath a blessing. Every breath a prayer of awe.
“Then we would not only eat, we would taste, we would not only hear, we would listen, we would not only be awake, but be aware, we would not only be standing, but be upstanding, then we would not only be released from prison, we would be free: Free to say our thanks, free to feel our love, free to feel our pain, free to struggle, free to submit, and free to inspire the breath of life infusing all matter, all energy in all time and space. When that breath is our breath, then every breath will speak the secret holy name.” (Rabbi David Cooper)
Let us use our breath to connect to the oneness of our world, to remind ourselves that isn’t any separation, to live fully and wholly, blessing the world and letting the world bless us.