“Time is the soul of this world,” wrote Greek philosopher Pythagoras over two millenia ago. How right he was! The span of our lives is so often marked by noting the passage of time: a birthday to mark our increasing age, an anniversary to acknowledge our loving partnerships, the counting of school grades our children and grandchildren pass through…and so on.
The Danforth Jewish Circle is blessed to be in its 26th year. While the community celebrated its 25th anniversary last year with great joy (and a beautiful book!) it’s equally important to continue to note the continuation of this legacy. Even a seemingly less-significant year such as 26 is to be lifted up and celebrated.
The number 26 bears great meaning according to Gematria, the ancient tool that ascribes numerical value to each Hebrew letter. This approach of finding mystical messages and hidden depths of meaning can be found in the Talmud and Midrash, in Medieval works, and the Zohar. And so, on the occasion of DJC turning 26 years old, I’d like to share some of my favourite Hebrew words/roots of words which letter values add up to 26:
- יהוה (usually pronounced as “Adonai”) – This is the name for the Divine One, the Source, the Ineffable One. Whatever our feelings about or relationship to God, we hold fast to the knowledge that our tradition encourages us to engage with it. We are Yisrael, “ones who struggle with the Divine One,” and our task is to wrestle and struggle and ask and implore and wonder. This is the work we do here at DJC together, whether in prayer, in study, or over coffee. Speaking of, I’d love to chat all things יהוה with you (or anything else you’d like to talk about) anytime. Please feel free to schedule a Zoom meeting with me HERE).
- חגיה – This is “A Festival for The Divine One”. This word is a combination of the noun חג (chag), meaning a feast or festival gathering and יה (Yah), a name for God. At DJC we come together for holiday and festivals and we do so in loving community. We gather in our homes, at the Danforth Multifaith Commons, and even outdoors surrounded by nature. By coming together for such festivals and holidays, we mark Jewish time as one large family, committed to this endeavour of fellowship and kehillah (Intentional Community).
- יטבה (Yotvah) – This word means “pleasantness” and its origins are from a biblical city in ancient Judah. When we see our friends and fellow community members here at DJC we engage in pleasantness with a hug or an elbow bump. And when we go out of our way to smile at new folks (after all, a stranger is a friend you haven’t met yet) we begin the sacred work of creating and building community together. There are lots of new(ish) members here at DJC so let’s share our pleasantness with one another.
- כאה (Ka’ah) – Meaning to be sad or dejected, this word points to the importance our DJC community plays in our lives when we experience hardships or loss. Our Chesed Caring Committee ensures that when we, or our loved ones, experience health challenges no one is alone. Likewise, should you experience a death of a beloved one, they reach out and hold you in their embrace. My role is to shepherd you through these deep, dark, and sometimes confusing waters and it is my honour to do so.
- .ד.ב.כ – This three letter root means to stick or to join together. In all the ways that DJC operates – as a learning, spiritual, giving, justice-seeking, and social community – we know that anything is possible when we do it as one. We are stronger when we join together our energies, skills, passions, time, and resources.
It is a true honour and sacred task to be travelling on this road of community building with you. I’ll conclude with the words of Shehecheyanu, a blessing shared when one embarks on new adventures. May we go and grow from strength to strength…
.בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה, יְיָ אֱלֹהֵינוּ, מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, שֶׁהֶחֱיָנוּ וְקִיְּמָנוּ וְהִגִּיעָנוּ לַזְּמַן הַזֶּה
Baruch atah, Adonai Eloheinu, Melech haolam, shehecheyanu, v’kiy’manu, v’higiyanu laz’man hazeh
Praised are You, Spirit of the Universe, who keeps us alive, sustains us, and brings us to this moment
Rabbi Ilyse Glickman
Want to connect? You are warmly invited to find a time for us to meet through this link.