"The earth was without form and void, and a wind of God
was sweeping upon the waters."
"The wind conceived and gave birth to wisdom."
—Exodus Rabbah 15:22
is ruach, the wind. Air is the breath of life (nishmat
chayyim) that God blew into the nostrils of the first human.
Air is the creative spirit of God (ruach elohim), sweeping
upon the primordial waters at the beginning of time. Air is the
holy wind (ruach hakodesh) that the prophets turned into
words of truth. Air is the wind of liberation, the strong east
wind that blew to part the Sea of Reeds and let the slaves go
free from Egypt. Air is the whirlwind and the wings of the eagle.
Air is beriyah, the world of the intellect, the word
of lofty ideas and ivory towers, and of balance and truth (tiferet).
It is the world of Uriel, angel of clear sight, and of Leah, the
matriarch of inner wisdom. And it is the world of the dark womb
of creation, Immah Ilaah, High Mother, the empty, airy
space that makes room for all things.
Jewish texts use the word ruach, wind, spirit, or air,
to describe living beings. The same word is also used to describe
the spirits that we encounter in the natural and supernatural
worlds: the angels who encounter us on our way as they encountered
lawmakers and mystics, the spirits who instruct us as they did
the sages of the Talmud, the inner lions and sea serpents who
teach us, as they did the authors of midrash, about our unconscious
minds. So this section makes room for thoughts about air and the
intellect, meditations on the soul, and writings on the spirits
of angels, ancestors, demons, and animals who accompany us on
the journey of life.