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This is the letter SHIN.
Just say the word ‘Shin’ and stretch it out. Ssshhhhhin….
Do you hear the wind blowing when you say that? Do you see the wind blowing behind my SHIN? It almost looks like my SHIN is being blown away by the wind.
One interpretation of the three pillars in the SHIN suggests the 3 pillars upon which the world stands: Torah, T’filah, and Gimilut Chasidim; The Torah, Prayer and Good Deeds.
Read through this post to the end and discover a story I heard many years ago.
But first, I thought of the first words that came to mind that begin with SHIN: ‘Sheket’ (Quiet), ‘Shalom’ (Peace), and ‘Shana’ (Year). Please join me in praying for a little more ‘Sheket’ and a lot more ‘Shalom’, in the ‘Shana’ to come.
Now for the story: Leonard Nimoy -who I actually saw at my son in law’s graduation from the University of Judaism!.
Seeing him, I remembered this story he told about an early life experience. Mr. Spock was a child at a synagogue service that included the tradition of the Kohanim blessing the congregation with their hands forming the shape of the SHIN.
In Leonard Nimoy’s words: “The light from this Deity could be very damaging. So we are told to protect ourselves by closing our eyes. I peeked. And when I saw the split-fingered gesture of these men… I was entranced. I learned to do it simply because it seemed so magical. It was probably 25 years later that I introduced that gesture as a Vulcan greeting in Star Trek and it has resonated with fans around the world ever since. It gives me great pleasure since it is, after all, a blessing.”
This is the letter MEM.
What choice did I have to use as my mnemonic device than the “Block M”!! And of course, the MEM and the “M” are in Maize and Blue!
All Hebrew letters (like the Latin alphabet) have a numerical value. MEM is 40, and forty is so often referred to in the Bible as a unit of time. Moses (Moshe, which begins with a MEM) spent forty days and forty nights on Mt. Sinai while receiving the 10 Commandments. Noah was out to sea for 40 days while the world was being destroyed. It seems that every ancient culture has a flood story. If I’ve peaked your interest, check out Utnapishtim and his Babylonian Ark epic. The Greeks, Aztecs, Indian, Mesopotamian and Assyrian culture all have flood stories similar to those in the Bible.
So, interestingly, the first two Hebrew words that came to mind when I made my MEM were “MAYIM” – Water, and “MABOOL” – Flood.
But wait – there are far more references to 40 in the Bible. How many years did The Children of Israel wander in the desert? When Jonah went to Ninveh, how many days did he give the people to repent?
I’ve already mentioned Moses (Moshe), but one of my Biblical (and present day) heroes is Mordechai. And of course, even though I can’t find a Biblical reference, there’s Mira!
P.S.: Go Blue!!
ZAYEN is the 7th letter in the Hebrew alphabet.
Z’man, the word for Time begins with a ZAYEN. In our lives we are aware of the constant, steady irreversible passage of time. Unlike in fiction, our time flows onward, and cannot be ignored, destroyed nor nullified.
I find it interesting that the word Zachor (to remember) and Zikaron (remembrance), two words that take us Back In time – both begin with the letter ZAYEN.
We recently celebrated the High Holy Days when we ask to be “Remembered in the Book of Life”.
Zachor is one of two basic commandments of the Sabbath, there seems to be a very strong link between the seventh letter in the Hebrew alphabet and the day of rest.
The original meaning of the letter Zayin is a “sword” or “sharp weapon,” with the word “lezayen” coming to mean “to arm” in the Modern Hebrew language. However, please note – the word in slang and common talk has come to mean something else. You might note in the photo and video how my ZAYEN glows and comes alive in the dark…! (Edited version: None of the previous viewers have bitten on my ZAYEN reference)
And finally, are you feeling rushed or pressured? Meditate on the letter ZAYIN. Are you feeling unmotivated or frozen in time? Meditate on the letter ZAYEN.
This is the letter REISH. Some of my non-Hebrew speaking followers mentioned they liked the wind whossssshhhing behind my SHIN. I thought, what device could I use to make the REISH easier to remember. (This one is easy peesie!). REISH is the first letter in my Hebrew name (Re’uvain) and the letter “R” is the first letter in Ron! ** Note how the blue “R” is intertwined with the red REISH.
Now onto the fun part. I always like to give a little background to the Hebrew letters. Sometimes it’s historic; sometimes it’s Biblical; and sometimes it’s a modern use of a word starting with that letter. I like to give the first 3 words that come to mind when I think of that letter. What’s fun is when friends start adding to my list with additional words that were the first that popped into their minds. So – I invite friends to add to my short list of REISH words.
My first work is “Rosh”. Some may smile when the first Rosh that popped in my mind was Rosh Machaneh, the Head of the Camp – the program director. If you’re smiling, I’ll bet we share a little history. The word Rosh means Head – or Beginning. There’s Rosh HaShana – the New Year, and so many more.
My next word is “Ruach”. Ruach has so many uses. There’s wind. There’s breath. But there’s also Spirit. Ruach HaKodesh is the Holy Spirit.
My third word is R’fooah – Healing. My prayer is that all who are health compromised – or might be in the future have a “R’fooah Shleima” – a complete recovery!
There’s a tradition that someone who has the letter REISH at the beginning of their name is a person with influence on their surroundings. These people have great communication with people, and they have the ability to open the hearts of others, even those who are usually closed to their surroundings.
This piece is special to me.
It recalls Parshat B’reishit – Genesis, Chapter 1 – “And there was light
The first two photos are daytime pics.
The 3rd is nighttime.
I used a bright copper patina and it made all the difference in the night view
The 4th is how my picture window looks at this moment.
And the last photo is the nighttime view from outside.
I like that people walking by at night get to enjoy the view.
The gift for Greg Gafni-Pappas as retiring president of
The Hebrew Day School Of Ann Arbor.
Mazal Tov to the HDS for another successful year.