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Mah Tovu

Mah Tovu

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Dear friend,

Synchronistic that tonight, the following is your question to me.
"What does the translation mean to 'MAH TOVU'?
What are the children singing about?"

I just returned tonight from my weekly drumming dancing session at Remo's Rhythm Jam. For ten years I drum at Remo. The evening was glorious with fine drummers, musicians and dancing 'goddesses'.

For the first time in a decade, from my younger belly dancing days, I took out my vast, immense, happy, hand-painted rainbow sunburst colored silk scarf that I had purchased from the artist in the Mendocino forest, where I had been tenting. Freely unfolding, nine feet long and four feet wide, springing to life; Extending way beyond outstretched arms-my wings to fly, and almost height of standing body. Glorious billowing silk of vibrant joyous spiraling colors of fire and sherbet--raspberry, blueberry, plum, orange, lemon, lime swirled as a breeze twirled cloud over a tent at dawn with morning's sunrise. Just as the sun rises new each day, I am rising from exactly nine months of grieving and trying to stand in my own tent. These were my first High Holidays in thirty six years without my husband, Marcel z"l, with whom I shared a tent.

It was a time to mourn. Now it is time to be born, to emerge, a time to dance. Zeman Simchateinu / Season of our Joy. A time for my tent to be filled reclaiming Joy-my self, and for new cycles of life, new beginnings in the New Year. I have already gone to Mikvah for spiritual purification, and accepted vows by the Torah. My spirit, mind, heart and body are a new expressive tent of consciousness and awakening.

"Mah tovu ohalecha, Yaakov, mishkenotecha, Yisrael."
How fair are your tents, O Jacob, and your dwelling places, O Israel!

I danced in my scarf.
My scarf became a tent for me. Wrapped around me. Hidden from desert sands of time. A dwelling place. A sacred space.
A place for privacy. A dance for my insides. For protection from self-expression viewed by others.
A holy tent. Why?
Because my sacred soul was hidden inside of my tent. My body, heart and mind veiled, but I could see out. I covered my head--my long wavy greying hair. I covered my arms. I covered my presence. My cocoon made from a cocoon.
The scarf danced me. The scarf shined as silk and took on presence and a life of it's own. I was inside being danced.

Shema. I listened. I heard the beat of the drums--faster, louder, pulsating energy, the beat of my heart. Sounds vibrating through my feet as I danced. I soared. I floated. My silken wings outstretched, flapping tent openings. My soul was being revealed gently and released in all directions. I circled around. Like a Lulav I prayed upwards to Spirit. Downwards, I honored holy ground, meeting earth. Opening, outside of my tent I honored the six directions. I connected to the seventh holy direction in my tent, myself, my Jerusalem--centering position as I touched my heart. A holy place to return to, to dwell. I prayed. I gave thanks, gratitude to G‑d--Source of All BlesSings.

My body is a temple and this garment played with my neshama / my soul. Was I quiet within? Was I wild and winged without? What was my prayer? For others to witness, or could I pull up and draw down my prayer shawl, my tent over me for intimacy between the Holy One and myself? This was my temple, my Makom (place), my Mishkan (tabernacle)where I was dwelling and dancing in G*d's Glory.

Our dwelling places are our bodies-our temples, our homes-our temples, our shuls-prayer temples. A place to play, pray, study, for friendship, love, chesed, compassion, confidence, joy, sorrow, grief, tears. A place for Oneness, unity, community, for peace / Shalom, O Israel. How fair, how sweet, how goodly / Mah Tovu, how protective, and embracing. How open are our tents, our dwelling places, for us to enter. A place to exit, and dance with others inside and outside, and with the Divine One. Not only on Sukkot.

Sing about the joy of Shekhina-Indwelling Feminine Presence coming to rest within us, through us, around us, and upon our holy tents as G*d's Glory visiting. Tents from the desert, tents from our Matriarchs--Sarah's Tent, tents from the cities of our mothers and fathers, and our teachers. Tents from our musical or silent retreats in the forest. Tents of our souls dancing and singing tears or joy.

Friend, thanks for asking, "What does it mean, 'Mah Tovu?' "

One love, shalom and abundant blessings of Goodly Tents, health and joy to you,

Joy

Joy Krauthammer, a spiritual Jewish woman serving G-d in Joy, is a visual and performing artist living in Northridge, CA.
The artwork was done by Joy at a Chabad Women's Circle event.
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Carole Foley los angeles, ca via chabadenmark.com July 12, 2008

Joy's story "Mah Tovu" The article is beautiful but the poem itself danced off the page.

"I danced in my scarf.
"My scarf became a tent for me. Wrapped around me. Hidden from desert sands of time. A dwelling place. A sacred space.
A place for privacy. A dance for my insides. A holy tent. Why?
"Because my sacred soul was hidden inside of my tent. My body, heart and mind veiled, but I could see out. I covered my head--my long wavy greying hair. I covered my arms. I covered my presence. My cocoon made from a cocoon.
"The scarf danced me. The scarf shined as silk and took on presence and a life of it's own. I was inside being danced.ed of the page - a vision of delight." Reply