Friday 3 May 2013

Water is life: maim khayim

One of our  stops was at a cistern. Cisterns, we learned, had to be maintained every year: the plaster had to be done up every year, otherwise the water would leak away. BOR MAIM.

Miryam showed us the parchment that is placed inside the mezuzah and the tefillin: the writing is from Deut 11:10-14 (not Deut 6). This land is not like Egypt, where you would irrigate the land with your foot (making way for the water to flow, the water being in abundance because of the Nile). Here you will drink water from heaven – which means, you will depend on the rain. The only thing you can do therefore is to obey, and pray that the rain comes in due season, the autumn rain and the spring rain, the first rain (YOREH) and the last rain (MALKOSH).

British children sing:

“Rain, rain, go away
Come again another day”

But Israeli children sing:

"Come, come cloud
Bring us the rain."

And Indian children sing:

"Ye re ye re pausa
Tula deto paisa
Paus ala motha
Paisa zhala khota."

The whole question of rain is delicate. In April, the wheat needs one more rain if it is to grow big and strong, but at the same time the olive is just flowering, and strong rain can destroy the crop. So the growing of the 7 species depends completely on proper rain, on the blessing of the Lord. The almond instead does not depend on the rain: it will flower even in a drought year.

Heaven in Hebrew is SHA-MAIM: water is there. There is a strong relationship between the people and God, because they depend completely on God for water.

Jeremiah speaks of broken cisterns. They have abandoned me, the spring of living water, for leaky cisterns.

When there was no water, cisterns were used as prisons, as we see in the case of Jeremiah himself, and of Joseph, and of Jesus, who was probably imprisoned in the house of Caiaphas (see now the church of Gallicantu).

The book of Daniel, in its Septuagint version, has the Canticle of the Three Young Men, and the first creature to be invited to praise God are the clouds!

MAIM KHAYIM – water is life. See Jn 7:37-38, which takes places at the Feast of Sukkoth, at the end of summer, when there is hardly any water in the cisterns. Jesus says: If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink! Springs of living water will flow from my heart.  Water is Life!

At the end of summer, the water in the cisterns becomes smelly and dirty. That is why it was mixed with wine: wine was a disinfectant. That is why also so many winepresses are found around cisterns. In the NT: “Drink a little wine with your water, it is good for your stomach.” In Hebrew, “pouring water” is LIM ZOG, which literally means mix the water with wine.

And then there is LEHAIM! When we cheer with wine, we say: To Life! Water / wine is life.

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