Love and Giving, Presents and Presence

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I learned recently that there is a difference between a gift and a present.

For a present, you have to be present, to PREsent it. And of course, presence---really being available and attending to someone--really hearing them-- is the best gift of all. In fact, I believe being present is an act of loving. 

With Spring coming soon we humans are somehow designed to rise with a fullness in our hearts. Have you ever felt so overflowing that you wanted to exclaim that joy and love to the Universe? Perhaps this is behind one of our human needs to devise a concept of God---as a receiver of our joy, our gratitude, our anguish. Perhaps this is why we have created holidays of love in the Spring. 

If you are finding your heart bursting forth about someone, and you would like to gift them with a present  they will look at often, and remind them of you, here are two suggestions:

The Rains are Over and Gone, and

Set Me as a Seal Upon Your Heart

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Consider sending a gift directly to someone whose home, office, or personal space would light up with new art! To send a gift, simply fill in the recipient's mailing address in your order form. Contact me with any questions.

May your springtime be filled with love and gratitude and joy and good friends.


Rabbi Me'irah

First of Video Offerings

We have added a new section to Verses Illuminated--Video Resources.

The first video offering, "Illustrated Jewish Values at End of Life," is available free for you to use as a teaching aid.  The video is a great introduction to learning about the last phase of the life cycle.  It employs a unique approach developed by educator Rabbi Joshua Elkin, PhD by presenting the topic from the aspect of Jewish values rather than simply telling what we "do" in chronological order.  In this way the emphasis is on the meaning of what we do.

Have a look!  It's 11 minutes long and is illustrated with my drawings executed on the iPad.

If you would like to receive (approximately monthly) announcements of what's new at Verses Illuminated, including my upcoming booklet, "Journey of the Mourner, Journey of the Soul: A Jewish Map," please sign up here.


Rabbi Me'irah

Earth Day!

I was surprised to find that I have  four illuminations related to the Earth. But then, The Earth---it's our most foundational/grounded/tangible/concrete reality, isn't it? There are many aspects of the Earth represented here: How we cannot own it, how it is medium that makes us part of the life cycle, how it is alive, and sustains everything living, and how it needs our loving care, and a rest. Scroll down to see these these paintings, and learn the story behind each one. 

The Earth is MINE!

The Earth is MINE!

This image portrays some humans somewhere engaged in a Talmudic argument from Pirke Avot 5:13, clarifying what is legitimately "mine," and "yours..." Meanwhile, Leviticus 25:23 responds in Eternal words reminding us that we are but "sojourners and settlers" on God's Earth. Click here for more.

East of Eden

Both birth and death are found in this page styled like a page of Talmud, with the central text in the center. Texts from both Torah, and a contemporary Catholic poet, Donna Henderson, round out the human relationship to the Earth. Read more about it here.

Earth Becoming Beet

Earth Becoming Beet

How DOES a funny looking little seed become a juicy, beautifully colored, delectable vegetable? This illumination reminds us that everything is transforming all the time, quietly, magnificently, whether we notice it or not. Click here for more information.

A Sabbath of Sacred Rest for the Land

A Sabbath of Sacred Rest for the Land

And finally, a wisdom known to all ancient traditions, that as a living entity, we must nurture not merely exploit the land.  "But the seventh year shall be a sabbath of solemn rest for the land, a sabbath to the Lord; your field you shall not sow, and your vineyard you shall not prune." Leviticus 25:4 Click here for more.

Passover Gifts

On the evening of April 10, all over the world, Jews will sit together, eat ritual foods, and retell our story of freedom and self determination. The Passover story, along with the receiving of the Torah on Mt. Sinai, is a foundational pillar of Judaism. We are enjoined to teach the story of the Exodus to our children, so  I would like to celebrate with you with the following two gifts.

Miriam Watching

My first gift for you is this depiction of Miriam, Moses' older sister, watching him in his little ark that his mother Yocheved carefully made for him, on the Nile. Look at the picture for a few seconds, and see where your eye is drawn. What else matches that shape in the picture? How do we know that this is Miriam and not Pharaoh's daughter? Click here to download the PDF. Print it out and laminate it to make a Passover placemat. 

Seder Table

This second image depicts the ritual foods that remind us of the story of Pesach. Color them in, and look in the Haggadah to find the symbolic meaning of each item. For those with Hebrew skills, match the Hebrew name with the item. Click here to download.


Celebrate Women's Day

To Celebrate Women's Day, on March 8 this year,

I am bringing two examples of the "feminine" for you from my art prints: Everywoman, and Sowing the Seeds of Creation. These visual reminders of the feminine spirit make great gifts for the women in your life, including yourself.


"Awake, Awake for your light has come! Rise up! Sing a song!

The glory of God upon you is revealed!"            


      I couldn't stop singing these words from Lecha Dodi, in the Shabbat evening service as I was working on this image. I had volunteered to paint a commemoration for a special "Women Rabbis of Northern California" Retreat. I decided to use a medieval device of superimposing the sephirot, the mystical emanantions of God, upon the human body.  However this time, uniquely, these sephirot would not be upon the body of a man, but a woman! Rethinking the meanings of the qualities of the sephirot in this context was exhilarating. Click HERE to find out what I learned.







"The Great Light is sowing seeds for God's glory." Zohar

The feminine ability to carry life into a new generation is mysterious and wondrous and the way we come closest to experiencing the Master of Creativity, the Holy One. The lowest sephirah of the lower seven is titled Malchut, or Shechinah. This is the portal between Heaven and Earth. In this image, the seeds from the world above are being sown into our world, the only place where they have the possibility to come into bloom. Click here for more information.