The Tanna’it: Osnat Barazani

 

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from the art of the Tiberias Open Air Museum

 

In the 17th century, Kurdistan’s most illustrious rabbi, Rav Shmuel Barazani, a charismatic reformer and yeshiva builder, produced no sons.

Finding he is unable to continue his line in the usual manner, he drills his beautiful daughter, Osnat (Asenath) Barazani, in Hebrew, Torah, and the Kabbalah.  He marries her to his nephew and favorite disciple, Rav Jacob, and makes the man swear he’ll never make her do housework.

When her father and then Rav Jacob die, Osnat remains the only one in the family with the training to take over the yeshiva the two men had run in Mosul.

Osnat became what is thought to be the world’s first female rabbi.  She proved herself a formidable leader, fundraiser, and intellectual, plus acquired herself the reputation as a kabbalist miracle worker and sage poet, winning over the local Jews.

Her ascent forced the bewildered brotherhood of local rabbis to coin a new Hebrew term: Tanna’it, or woman Talmudic scholar.

[from Ariel Sabar’s My Father’s Paradise, pp. 55-56]

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Gateway to Heaven

 

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from the art of the Tiberias Open Air Museum

 

The Land of Israel is a window and mirror

the eye of the world, the window to the soul

actions of Israel reflect upward

and are mirrored

like a one-way mirror

The House of Above will descend to that Below

a tzaddik of yeshiva of below

is called to Yeshiva of Above

Israel is the gateway connecting Heaven and earth

the Nation, the Land, the Torah thereof

what happens at this center of the world

spreads outward, affects all the worlds

ripples of water-like rings extending outward

what starts with Israel never ends with Israel

it’s the starting point of the concentric waves

From Zion will go out Torah

and the Word of God from Jerusalem.

Land & Nation of Israel

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step out and into the view to see

sides of rolling hills held up like cupped hands before me

showing off their palettes of colors

soul steps out right into the panorama

and I mesh and am whole with the landscape

energy of the land with mine

soul of Israel with the land of Israel

conflate till we are one.  I am there here

right there here within this palpable

holiness that permeates the land and air

invisible steam wafting throughout all Israel

all that is Israel, land and people

look up to the sky stretched above the holy land

I am there too, part of this whole

look out to the scenic Israel extension of me

likeness of kind resonates as on same frequency

all other lands’ wavelengths dissonance

the Promised Land’s singular transmission

set to broadcast Torah from Zion.

Galilee Legends

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Legends lay at the bottom of the hill

overlooking the legends they wrote and sang

Rachel the Poet and Naomi Shemer

by the Kinneret’s edge south

“There are the Golan mountains,

extend your hand and touch them”

but she never did or could, romantic

lover of Zion passed on years before those Six Days

legendary Golan now a short drive away

yearned for mountains from exile

no longer there but here by our map’s legend

That eucalyptus grove on the Jordan shore

“the bridge the boat the briny smell on the water”

now just outside my car window

driving by where the legends lay

legendary Land of Israel, Galil and Kinneret

today part of everyday living

dreamy songs of beyond the Jordan now within reality

tales of date palms relayed abroad

sold daily now even expected for granted

our legendary nation prayed for millennia for all this

look out over this Sea of Galilee by my home

stories of God’s Book, its people, tannaim and amoraim

mystical magical Jordan River our nation crossed over

fed from northern Chatzbani-Banyas-Dan

acronym moychin ChaBaD, as Nation as Land

tangible accessible palpable places and concepts

legend tales alive in the here and now

that were still legends close to those laid legends.

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From the Poetry of Hanna Senesh

 

20170924_001806[quoted in chapter 9 of To Cross The Line With A Bridge (Rabeinu Publications, 2015)]

 

Blessed is the match consumed in kindling flame.

Blessed is the flame that burns in the secret fastness of the heart.

Blessed is the heart with strength to stop its beating for honor’s sake.

Blessed is the match consumed in kindling flame.

 

 

The Besht Began the Work of Mashiach

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The Ba’al Shem Tov, the “Besht”, was only 5 years old when his father called him to his deathbed. Just before he passed away, the Besht’s father told his young son that he should not be afraid and that he should always see Hashem before him. Thus, when he needs something, he should not ask it of anybody – only from Hashem. And he should habituate himself to speak with Hashem in his own language, and walk only with Hashem. With these words, the five year old Besht then became orphaned of both parents, as his mother had already died at the time of his birth.

This story about his great-grandfather made such a strong impression on Rebbe Nachman when he was just a young boy that he incorporated this into his own service of Hashem – this practice of speaking to Hashem in his own language, on his own level, and in his own words and mother tongue (which was Yiddish). Later, Rebbe Nachman would insist on this practice of “Hitbodedut” to his followers.

In fact, Tefila & Hitbodedut constitute what is called “the holy ancient derech” – the holy ancient path or method. This was the derech of our Patriarchs, Prophets, masters, and all who “walked” with Hashem, since Adam and Noah.

Isaac, for instance, went out “to converse in the field” (Beresheet 24: 63). But the examples go on, from Yaacov Avinu, all of the Matriarchs, all of the Tribes, Yosef, Moshe, Kalev, Aaron, Pinchas, Yehoshua bin Nun, all of the Judges, Shimshon, Chana, Shmuel, Eliyahu, Elisha, all of the Prophets, King David, King Shlomo, Daniel, Mordechai and Esther, etc. all of the Anshei HaKnesset HaGedolah, Tannaim, Amoraim, the holy Ari, the holy Baal Shem Tov and all of his students. (For all the examples and their corresponding verses in the Tanach, please see the Introduction to Hishtapchut HaNefesh).

Moreover, the Geula is directly tied and dependent on Tefila & Hitbodedut (ibid, p. 35 citing Jeremiah 31: 9).

So, by Hitbodedut, the Besht and later his great-grandson Rebbe Nachman of Breslev were not paving a new derech in Judaism, but reviving and reinstating the ancient one, but for all Jews.

It is said that Mashiach will ‘cause the mute to speak’ and that that will be his main accomplishment and triumph. `Mashiach,’ the word itself, comes from the term “massiach ilmim” which means ‘causing the mute to speak’ (Likutei Moharan, The Writings of Rebbe Nachman, part II, section 83 – and btw, this passage is from one of the few surviving pages of Sefer HaNisraf).

That is, the word (from its letters) `Mashiach’ literally means, `one who causes to speak,’ i.e. causes others to speak.

But `speaking’ does not mean just any blah-blah out there. In fact, one can talk all day and way into overtime in meetings, presentations and other forms of spoken human interaction. One can even yap for hours on the phone and into the wee hours of the night. But if a person does not talk to Him, then he is defined as one of the `mute’ – spiritually mute.

The Ba’al Shem Tov, himself a descendant of King David, started Mashiach’s “job” and left an incredible legacy for us to complete the task of bringing Mashiach. May we merit just that & ASAP!

 

Haifa Southbound

 

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from the art of the Tiberias Open Air Museum

 

impossible landscape
nature and beyond nature
beauty, spirit, ancient, new
how so many idolaters trampled
but the holiness overcomes all
iconic crumbling Roman remnant
raw wild carefree Mediterranean
balmy fresh winds blowing away
all the past for travelers today
air-conditioned train as if nothing happened
start all over after millennia
impossibly anew afresh forever now
white caps on deep blue tranquility
tawny sand of low rolling dunes and beaches
on the right, on the left neighborhoods
building tops bopping up one over the other
proof of families, children, life
of survival of continuity
horizons lined with trees bushy green tops
planted into eroded ancient hills
mountains named in the Bible
red roof clusters polka dotting
kiss the clear blue wide open sky
train stops named after Roman Caesars
Atlit evoking the British Ottoman takeover
detention camps misery struggle blood
whisks by from high-back cushioned seats
bright sunshine cloudlessly radiates
sparkling glittering surface mirrors of fish ponds
cars in all colors and sizes ride by
today plump produce abound on fertile fields
just across the train tracks over
ancient conquering footprints marching armies
now lazy beach-goers and stretches of parking lots
the ancient idolaters were doomed as today
basked in their glory of the moment
now gone crumbled washed away
crisp Israeli flag peeking out waving over ruins
dilapidated ghost British Tegart forts
then retaining walls pop up to keep from falling
the newly planted and built on solid foundation
because this is my homeland
green stretches of land blessed for my people
bearing its fruit as prophesized only
fragmented reminders of long-gone past realities
today’s revived reality of this unique
nation scattered and trampled back now here
felling all statistical odds and bets and probable
natural causes override by the supernatural
improbable reality clothed in physical law
cloak that beguiles the eyes and senses
sensibilities and outrageous visions
grounded dreams alive with the scent of sea and earth
sensed from the hurried train
right outside this cabin I’ve experienced
smelled the fragrance and stepped in the paths
tremendous awe that this is even real
right now right here
result of two-thousand years of tears and prayers
I’m home I’m at home.