From Fear to Awe

When we arrived here two months ago, we’d put everything we had (and then some) into working on the homestead all summer. We had… *still have* a vision for being self-sustaining and independent, with a healthy level of interdependence and greater capacity for tzedakah (giving / justice) and tikkun ha olam (healing the world). We came back here to rest, to recover, and to build a nest egg to be able to go back and complete that task. The trip back wasn’t easy, but we were blessed with multiple miracles along the way, and we finally made it. When we arrived, we found that the promised “great house for the winter” could not offer us breathable air.

“Pachad,” or fear, is not knowing where you’ll put your children to bed at night, or what you’ll feed them, or if you’ll survive to continue to care for them long enough for them to learn how to take care of themselves. I’ve felt that kind of fear. It can readily give rise to anger at the very real and very rigged game that has been played to oppress those who weren’t born into a lineage of people who have worked closely with politicians and CEO’s for generations to secure their continued privilege and dominion. It is not by accident that wages have not really risen since the 1970’s, or that the price of food and housing and sick care have more than tripled.

Basic needs are three times as expensive, while income has remained stagnant. Those who own stocks in banks do not want the vacant housing to be put back on the market. That would cause housing prices to plummet back down to where people could actually afford a home, rather than scraping and scratching for money they can barely sustain for a few years, only to have that money lost to the bank when the home is repossessed, where it sits and rots, becoming an unhealthy environment until the bank deems the market to have “recovered” sufficiently to put it back up for sale again. The next buyer (or renter) who lives there is then oppressed not only by the high price of housing, but also by the health ramifications of sick housing. The diseases caused by mold, formalin gas released from moisture-compromised particleboard, or whatever other issues the structure may have, send the tenants or “homeowners” to the doctor. The doctor, being “the only choice for an educated person” for health care will then write them a prescription to medicate the symptoms of the “incurable” disease. Those prescriptions translate directly into money for big pharma, the majority of whose stocks are owned by the same trillionaires who own the majority of the bank stocks.  While all of these concerns are real, it’s also depressing and debilitating to focus on that reality for too long. That kind of fear can kill from the inside just as quickly as from the outside. In Hebrew, “Pachad,” or dread. The letters spelling the word are as follows:

Pey: The open mouth, signifying break, eat, open

Chet: The tent wall: separation, division

Dalet: The tent door: moving in & out

The next miracle arrived the next morning, being offered a room in our Hebrew teacher’s home, just as her son was moving the last of his things out, was a door out of Pachad and into Yare. I will not say that I am forever and perfectly changed to recognize Pachad (the lower-level fear) as only a door to see the awe in the other side of the miracle from behind the veil. I’m just not that highly-developed yet. I still get angry at “the system” that makes money off of demoralizing human beings here and abroad. I still have all of the lower-level instincts of survival to contend with. Some of that its functional, in that it drives us to continue to work to provide for our families, and to fight against oppression and evil in high places by making what buying choices we do have wisely. Oppressing the Chinese children by purchasing slave-labor-built toys for ours serves neither their physical good nor our personal development, but it’s also abhorrent on the level where we do not want to support the same trillionaires who own the petroleum / plastics / toys corporations. Allowing our children to make their own toys out of recycled materials serves their personal development and teaches them honor for the earth we’ve been given, as well as for the children in China, in whom they now feel invested. Our lower-level pachad is soothed by knowing that, in some small way, we’ve refused to contribute that mite to their power to oppress.

“Yare” is a different kind of “fear.” It’s better-translated “Awe.”

Yud: The arm: strength, administrative authority

Resh: The head: Leadership, top

Aleph: The ox’s head: strong, first, authority

This form of “fear” or “Awe” is all about doing something good in the world, leading with the head and putting our strength into functional administration of the empowerment we feel, knowing that we are provided for by the Almighty. We stand in AWE of the Source of our strength, so we implement it for function and for tikkun ha olam, out of respect for the One who gave it.

May our Yare be stronger than the Pachad, and may the Pachad we do experience only serve to open that “tent door” toward the Yare beyond it.







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