Earth Wisdom
Plants, Stones, and Seasons

Water Wisdom
Moons and Tides

Air Wisdom
Animals and Spirit Beings

Fire Wisdom
Sabbath and Sacred Space


"The earth was without form and void, and a wind of God was sweeping upon the waters."
—Genesis 1:2

"The wind conceived and gave birth to wisdom."
—Exodus Rabbah 15:22

air photoAir 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.

Jill Hammer


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