Earth Wisdom
Plants, Stones, and Seasons

Water Wisdom
Moons and Tides

Air Wisdom
Animals and Spirit Beings

Fire Wisdom
Sabbath and Sacred Space


"The voice of the Divine is upon the waters, the power of the Presence is in thunder. The Divine is on many waters!"
—Psalms 29

"The water conceived and gave birth to darkness."
—Exodus Rabbah 15:22

water photoWater is mayim, a word always plural, for water is multiplicity and change. Water flowed in the deep when the earth was without form and void, and waters consumed the earth in the time of Noah. A well of water stood by while Jacob and Rachel fell in love, as it is said “A fountain of gardens, a well of living waters [is my sister, my bride].” Water sprang up from the desert when the fleeing Israelites passed through to give them rest and comfort. The Torah rained down on Mount Sinai like sweet rain. The prophets called righteousness and justice “waters” and “a mighty stream,” and the priests washed with water as a symbol of purity. The waters swallowed Jonah and taught him compassion, and the waters lifted up the basket of Moses and saved him from drowning. Waters are the home of Leviathan, the chaotic sea monster of the depths, and waters herald redemption, as it is said: “with joy you shall draw water from the wells of salvation.” Water is yetzirah, the world of emotion, the world of dreaming, and it is the world of chesed, of love. It is the world of Michael, angel of God’s compassion, and the world of Sarah, a woman whose aged womb suddenly flowed with new life. It is the world of the Holy One, the kind heart that beats in time with all creation.

Jewish texts use the word water to speak of Torah and wisdom, to describe eternal life, and also to speak of the overflowing of the heart in sorrow. Jewish sources also see the link between the waters and the moon that pulls them, saying that the sea and the moon forever yearn toward one another. This section makes room for thoughts about water and the emotions, the moon, and the weavings of fate and journey, and also the inner tides that pull us toward one another.

Jill Hammer


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