Combat Zone: Your Soul

By SoulBreaths Author [ 4 years ago ]

Soul Combat

Connected upward, yet pulled downward. 

That is the battle within your soul.

But it’s for a purpose. And it’s good.

© All rights reserved.
[Combat Zone article originally created 2009, then updated January 2015, July 2016, and December 2019.]


Italians might wish a newborn benvenuti alla lucewelcome to the light—but whenever I see a baby, one of my first thoughts is “Welcome to the battlefield.”


The dynamics have begun. Within that little body lies a great commission . . . its soul’s journey, purpose, identity. Designed to reach up and connect with G-d.


That journey can be anything but easy because the soul’s matrix—composed of three distinct, yet interwoven parts—will engage in a no-holds-barred tug of war vs. resting in a holy balance.


At times, the inner battle will transect, disturb, sharpen, and engage both the spiritual and physical dimensions. The world-bound self challenging His righteousness. The earthly desire racing to overtake holiness. The outer chaos impeaching inner silence.


I know that battle well. Too well. It’s been the substance of the war within my soul matrix for years. More than likely, for you too. It is, after all, the stuff within all of us who reside on this side of heaven.




Let’s take a look at your three-component soul matrix through a rabbinic window  based on the Hebrew in G-d’s Word—and then walk the Judaic-Messianic bridge, merging it with mirrored wording from Messianic Judaism/Christianity (New Testament).


Your soul-breath of life, attached to G-d: Neshama [neh-shah-mah]—soul, breath of life, nishmat chayim [נִשְׁמַת חַיִּים], that G-d breathed into Adam per Genesis 2:7—higher/holy part of the soul, attached to G-d, bringing His light and voice through, impassioned to pull your entire soul upward to live a holy life in and toward Him, reflecting G-d’s presence; every human (Jew or Gentile) has a neshama, but animals don’t.


The neshama holds the identity of what He made you to be in Him vs. the illusion that whispers to you from the world and other sources. The neshama funnels G-d’s light and truth into the soul matrix.


Your human spirit: Ruach [roo-akh]wind per Genesis 8:1—human spirit, rises/descends, births emotions, and is attached to and sandwiched between the neshama (soul-breath) and nefesh (life force/body, lower soul part); humanity and animals have a ruach.


The ruach is like a transmitter, assigned to work in tandem with the neshama to fan the flame of love for G-d and pull the nefesh and entire soul matrix up into G-d’s will and ways—moving within His flow for a Shechinah (שכינה, divine presence dwelling within) soul walk.


Life force and body: Nefesh [neh-fesh]living being, but from Hebrew root nafash meaning to rest per Exodus 31:17—lowest part of the soul, life force (Leviticus 17:11), includes the physical body, tethered to the physical world, compelled by the things of this world, self-focused, physical desires, fear; attached to ruach; humans and animals have a nefesh.


The New Testament writers often refer to this world-tethered component (nefesh) as our “flesh”—focusing on the physical body and its self-driven characteristics and mindset.


“For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit [of God] is life and peace . . . Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.” —Romans 8:5, 6, 8



Like a glassblower, G-d’s action of exhaling a soul
is like the breath [neshama] leaving His lips,
traveling as wind [ruach/spirit],
coming to rest [nefesh] in the vessel [you/me/everyone].

—Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzato





The good news: When the true light of G-d flows unhindered through the soul-breath (neshama), your human spirit (ruach), and your flesh (nefesh), the soul matrix as a whole emanates His ways, becoming a menorah, a witness of His light to the world.


The challenging news: Sin (rebellion against G-d’s way of living/doing things) can, in time, erode the connection between the soul-breath  and your human spirit, nearly dissolving the connection. That can cause your human spirit to disengage from the things of G-d—leaving the rogue, world-driven flesh (nefesh) at the helm. And that pulls down your entire soul matrix, eventually into spiritual darkness, and impairs your walk with G-d.


There are more characters in your soul story to contend with—many opponents on many battlefronts that need to be fought, spiritually and physically:


(1) the world—earthly, mundane, carnal, temporal pursuits

(2) your DNA

(3) outer—cultural/environmental—impacts

(4) relationships—family, friends, coworkers, neighbors, congregant members, etc.

(5) life encounters/experiences

(6) your since-the-beginning-of-time adversary, satan


And let’s not forget free will . . . complete with your two-sided inclinations: yetzer tov (יֵצֶר טוב), a drive toward doing/choosing things that are good, and yetzer hara (יֵצֶר הַרַע), a drive toward doing/choosing not-so-good things.


So it doesn’t take much to stir up a war—instead of
doing what the soul matrix should be doing . . .
stirring up the heart to love Him. 


A little compromise here. An ignoring of G-d there. Toying with this. Hanging around that. In time, the nefesh/flesh becomes so strong in its earthbound desires that even doctrines of demons—guised as light, acceptable social mores at odds with G-d’s standards—can seep into your soul and blind your spiritual sight.


Isaiah 7:9b bottom lines it:

Without firm faith,
you’re not firmly established—you won’t stand at all


G-d’s not asking you to stand on ceremony, get caught up in religious acts, or drown your soul in legalism. G-d wants your love—and a restored relationship with Him, walking in His truth, His Word, and His love.


In Joel 2:13, G-d gives a clear image . . .


Tear your hearts, not your garments.
Return to the Lord for He is gracious and compassionate,
slow to anger, abounding in love.


That’s why it’s so critical to learn the rules of engagement for this soul battle down here. Isaiah 8: 11-14 gives some basic guidelines. In a nutshell . . .


Don’t fear what people fear or
be awed by what awes them.
Let G-d be the object of your awe . . . consecrate Him.
He alone is to be your sanctuary.




This isn’t about gaining”spirituality” . . . being or getting religious. And it’s not about rote mantras, transcendental meditation, or trance-like states—all of those things are outside of G-d’s ways. Nor is it about creating your version of G-d—that’s idolatry.


It’s about connecting with G-d on His terms, not the world’s, not ours.


I believe G-d has made it clear from Genesis onward of what His terms entail. He consistently has revealed His character, His desires, His rules of engagement. And since the beginning, He has made it clear that humanity has a disconnect with Him, so He made a way to restore relationship with Him. There were temporary measures at first—sacrifices that had to be repeated daily, annually.


But those were mere shadows of what was coming, the greatest gift . . . a one-time holy sacrifice. A doorway giving us access to the Father, to the King of Kings.


God’s way of restoring relationship with Him: 

“I am the Truth, the Life, the Way . . . no man comes to the Father except through me.”

— John 14:6. The Messiah, Jesus (Yeshua, his Hebrew name)



Fulfilling the soul’s journey begins with receiving the restoration gift from G-d: Jesus. From there, your soul matrix grows and is transformed by being . . . resting within the fibers of His presence, His Word, His ways  . . . being hidden in Him, where you’re surrendered. Total white-flag territory.


It’s where your soul matrix gets into sync,
working as a whole with Him,
bowing before Him.



Psalm 42:7 says, “Deep is calling to deep at the thunder of your [G-d’s] waterfalls; all your surging rapids and waves are sweeping over me.”


That’s where holy communication is sparked, where you discover yet another layer of who He is, what He is, where He’s moving, how He’s guiding you, what He’s saying to you for this season of your life.


It’s where you’ll swim in the glorious waterfall that flows from His throne and releases . . .


words of knowledge
discernment & understanding
mercy & grace
His consuming fire




No matter which side of the Judaic-Messianic Judaic-Christian bridge you’re on, this fact is mutually agreed upon and scripture-based: people are souls clothed in a life force/body that is tethered/drawn to this world. And for the most part, both camps also understand the need to let G-d’s light of His scriptures and His truth breathe in and through the soul—and exhale out to humanity.


You, me, and the next guy are all called to be more than a menorah of light—we’re called to love and worship Him in truth and in spirit, becoming His menorah of true light, reflecting that great light of His Word to the world around us. Connecting . . . resting . . . gently, humbly loving.


Psalm 16:7*. My soul instructs me.
[Note: The kidneys denote inner parts, deep parts . . . where the truths of faith exist.]


Psalm 63:2, 9*. My soul is attached to G-d, my heart clings to Him.


Deuteronomy 6:5* & Matthew 22:37. You are to love Adonai your G-d with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.


Proverbs 20:27*. The human spirit is a lamp of ADONAI; it searches one’s inmost being.


Hebrews 4:12. See, the Word of G-d is alive! It is at work and is sharper than any double-edged sword — it cuts right through to where soul meets spirit and joints meet marrow, and it is quick to judge the inner reflections and attitudes of the heart.


Matthew  11:29. [And Yeshua/Jesus said] Come to me, all of you who are struggling and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.


John 4:23-24. But the hour is coming—indeed, it’s here now—when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. G-d is spirit and those who worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth.


NOTE: Hebrew Bible scripture/numeral reference




Judaic scripture numbering used for references in the Tanakh/Hebrew Bible (“Old Testament”)


Combat Zone article originally created 2009, then revised January 2015 and July 2016.

Soul Remodeling: Going Down Deep

By SoulBreaths Author [ 4 years ago ]

Seeing you as G-d sees you.

Deconstructing . . . for your soul’s reconstruction.
Breaking free from preconceived “factions”—
Divergent, your unique self in the L-rd.


© All rights reserved.
[Article originally created July 17, 2015.]


He said, “Go.” But I wondered, “Where? When? For how long?” A shift was in motion. It was palpable, stirring in the pit of my soul, pushing me to the edge of a cliff with no way back.


So I waited. Waited for His move that would move me. I stood before Him . . . praying . . . pacing . . . questioning . . . seeking . . . kneeling . . . standing some more. But He wasn’t “moving” me anywhere. I felt like I’d been dropped into no-man’s-land. 


It will be difficult to break the habits of thinking . . .
instilled in me, like tugging a single thread
from a complex work of embroidery.
—Tris, Divergent by Veronica Roth


That doesn’t mean things were stilled. I had become a girl interrupted—on a cliff in a G-d-designed wilderness. Recently widowed, followed by what felt like an avalanche of even more losses, relationship changes, twists, and turns. Suspended.


I felt like I was free falling. I couldn’t breathe. My body, yes. My soul, not so much. I felt like it was suffocating. And in some ways, it was.




G-d is in the soul business. And He was moving deep within mine to set it apart for His purpose, taking me off the grid of my life and into a six-year-and-counting lech lecha (lek leh-kahלֶךְ-לְךָ) process à la Avraham in Genesis (Bereishit) 12:1—where the soul traverses deeper, going to itself, within itself, and for itself.  A special period of time He sets apart. Not a disciplinary action. It’s a love call.


A wooing-from-G-d wilderness journey
away from the common,
into the holy,
uncovering the soul’s hiddenness.


It’s where He does the deepest work in your soul so it can emerge in another level of its potential in Him—a matter of the soul where it becomes its purpose, which is always linked to bringing forth the kingdom of G-d.


He removes any heaviness in your soul that’s hindering its movement . . . anything that’s muffling His voice or words . . . anything that’s blinding the soul from seeing or receiving His visions and revelations.


It’s like G-d is parting the Red Sea inside you. Rabbinic thought says that G-d peeled back the sea to reveal a mystery. The earth represents the physical, what is visible, tangible. But the hidden under the sea represents the spiritual, what isn’t discerned in the physical and natural.


During your soul remodeling process, G-d peels your life back. He removes you from what’s been your “natural” way of moving and being to expose what is flowing in those subterranean waters within your soul matrix, your soul parts . . .


  • neshamahigher/holy part of the soul, attached to G-d and releases His voice/truth through your soul matrix to pull it upward, toward and in Him; humanity has a neshama, but animals don’t
  • ruachhuman spirit, rises/descends, helps the neshama bring the holy fire of G-d through the soul; attached to neshama and nefesh, sandwiched between the two; humans and animals have a ruach
  • nefeshlower part of the soul (includes your body), life force, bound to the physical world and self-focused, attempts to control the world around it; attached to ruach; humans and animals have a nefesh


Hit pause—more about soul parts.
Click this popup: Soul Matrix recap


When the neshama is free to stream the light and heart of G-d unhindered, the soul is in alignment and flooded with things of G-d. But when sin and self prevail, the neshama is nearly cut off, the ruach can separate from the neshama, and the self-driven nefesh is manning the ship.


The deconstruction-reconstruction process doesn’t necessarily occur because someone is steeped in sin and out of alignment . . . although that can happen. The deconstruction-reconstruction process is first and foremost a time when G-d wants to go deeper and draw you closer. It’s a time where things are stripped away so the soul can get newly aligned with Him, making room for what is to come. 


The process isn’t comfortable. Seriously not comfortable. It will seem as if everything you put your hand to doesn’t work. Even if it flowed smoothly before. Losses may surround you—like in finances, personal endeavors, work, relationships, family matters, health issues. The way you and G-d used to communicate and interact takes a hard right turn—your prayer life, study time, worship time.

It may all seem
not your norm.




And you can feel like you’re floating on a drifting domus in the midst of a rocky sea with no shore in sight. But there will be flashes of light. Maybe small like a firefly—or greater, like lightning cracking the sky. In bits here and there, you’ll get a glimpse of where your soul is, what’s going on, and what He expects through the process.


I throw my arms out to the side and imagine that I am flying . . .
My heart beats so hard it hurts, and I can’t scream and I can’t breathe,
but I also feel everything, every vein, and every fiber, every bone
and every nerve, all awake and buzzing in my body
as if charged with electricity.
I am pure adrenaline.

—Tris, Divergent by Veronica Roth




I had walked in His wilderness-called journey before. I knew the basic process: The love call. The soul’s deconstruction and reconstruction. The emergence.


But this time, I felt like there was more at stake on many levels. So I seriously wanted to once again emerge like the lover in Song of Solomon 8:5: “Who is this coming up from the wilderness leaning on her beloved?” Stripped, humbled, taught, infused with His presence, transformed by His voice, reconstructed. And resting on Him, even more than before.


Human viewpoint says you have to get tougher, stronger through life’s valleys and potholes. But toughening up solely via your human strength can make you bitter, harder, harsher, louder, colder. Filled with a false sense of power.


In the world’s eyes, the beloved in the Song of Solomon should have left her wilderness experience like part of the Dauntless faction in Divergentbulging muscles, ninja-like skills, kicking some downright serious butt along the way.

Move it, G-d, I got this.

Not even. That would mean her soul was disengaged from Him. Flowing in its own words, standards, strength, darkness.


G-d says that in your weakness, He is made strong. It’s His strength flowing through your soul that you need to rely on—not yours. He arises, not you.


So look again at that Song of Solomon 8:5 scripture. She spent time in her soul’s wilderness with her beloved and comes up out of that desert experience. Her soul has ascended from where it was, what it was.


How? Leaning on Him. L-e-a-n-i-n-g.


Her soul was no longer rushing ahead in its own strength, own ways, own timing. Nor was it dragging behind Him, fearful, shivering in a corner, not taking any action. Instead, there was a deeper rapport with Him, soul to soul.


Remember that when He gives you a lech lecha call. G-d is your soul’s breath, strength, wisdom, direction, power source. He wants to flow from His throne to your opened, connected, humbled neshama and on through your surrendered ruach and nefesh.




Midway in my multi-year soul reconstruction process, I had questioned G-d about my wilderness journey. Well, actually, I had questioned Him at the beginning, middle, and just about every place along the way. But I digress.


In His kindness, He gave me this vision as His answer.


An image of an arrow flashed before me.
It was notched and rested in the bow’s string, then pulled back. Way, way back.
G-d revealed to me that for the arrow to be launched a great distance, it had to be properly rested within the bow, then brought as far back as the tension would allow so it could catapult forward . . . fly higher . . .
go further than ever before.


G-d was the archer. His faithfulness, the bow. His strategy, the tension. And I was the arrow that had to “rest” in Him through it all.


I knew where this was headed. Sort of. It was going to take more shifts. Deep shifts. Intentional shifts. Subterranean work. G-d likes to hit His target goal—creating something better, greater, eternal within the soul. And that something takes time, precision, and pulling those He loves away from the common and into the holy.


Of course, in the process, you can feel more like a broken arrow, shattered into a gazillion pieces like Moses’ tablets. But that actually can be a good thing.


I used to think the Dauntless were fearless. That is how they seemed, anyway. But maybe what I saw as fearless was actually fear under control.
—Tris, Divergent by Veronica Roth


According to Talmudic thought, Moses put the new tablets and the shattered tablets into the Ark of the Covenant, אֲרוֹן בְּרִית. The two sets of tablets stood as a paradoxical lesson.


Both sets reflect your soul. Shattered, yet whole.
Broken, yet engraved with the hand of G-d.

Your soul arises.
Remade—standing on its brokenness, strengthened by it.


Whether working within the soul of a person or a nation, G-d’s modus operandi is deconstruction before reconstructing and birthing the soul into its destiny. I imagine G-d stretching out His hand to touch our souls during this precarious process much the same way He reached out to touch Jeremiah’s mouth to birth the prophetic, delivering those destiny-driven words in Jeremiah 1:10—uproot and tear down, build and plant.


But the soul’s deconstruction-reconstruction process
takes walking according to His timetable.


So forget thinking you can speed things up. You can’t. Although your balking, rebellion, and ingratitude can alter His time frames. Yes indeedy.


You probably know the story. Israel made the exodus from the hard toils of their deconstructive Egyptian experience, yoke free in the natural and witnessing the glorious might of G-d’s hand. Spiritually? Ah, no.


Their grumbling, rebellion, lack of gratitude, and lack of joy cost them big time. G-d gave them one year of discipline for each day of their faith-failed reconnaissance—40 years in the desert vs. G-d’s intended one-year preferred plan.


Like a woman unable to conceive, their souls were in a state of barrenness. They needed to lech lecha, go down into their souls and allow G-d to deconstruct them further so their spiritual womb could be healed, opened, and fruitful. But that first generation couldn’t get with His program.


It would take time, more wilderness, and a totally new generation of believers who would surrender to His process. A generation whose souls would emerge as carriers of His presence, reconstructed, bravely able to stand on their shattered tablets, ready to enter the Land and bring forth the kingdom of G-d.


It’s easy to be brave when they’re not my fears.
—Tris, Divergent by Veronica Roth




The Bible is the word of G-d, instructing us from what is written and drawing us into the hidden . . . what’s not said, and what happens between the lines, between the words, between the strokes of each Hebraic letter—where revelation is cradled and behind-the-scene stories reside.


Throughout the Bible, you can see G-d’s soul process at work: the love call (lech lecha), the deconstruction-reconstruction soul process, the emergence.


I think we’ve made a mistake . . .
We’ve all started to put down the virtues
of the other factions in the process of bolstering our own.
I don’t want to do that.
I want to be brave, and selfless,
and smart, and honest . . .
I continually struggle with kindness.

—Four/Tobias, Divergent by Veronica Roth


Let’s take a firefly-flash look at five such lives—people who became soul arrows in G-d’s archery bow. Each one answered the lech lecha call to a soul wilderness journey where His “cracks of lightning” periodically pierced their souls to light up the way through a seemingly spiritual no-mans-land.


from barrenness of soul to prophet—and the world’s matriarch

Each crack of lightning in her story—the call from the polytheistic, cosmopolitan Ur to Haran, move from Haran to Canaan, dealings with Lot, battle with the five kings, sweepings into pharaoh’s and Abimelech’s harems—was a flash of His light, revealing a moment in the soul that sparked attention. Something had to be learned here, absorbed here, infused here, stripped here in order to birth something of greater magnitude later. Read the rest of her story here.


favor lost, favor regained—in spite of himself

Position doesn’t just happen. It’s given by G-d. Joseph’s prophetic dreams weren’t a free pass to ride the tails of his royal or priest-like, multi-colored coat, k’tonet pasim, כתנת פסים—k’tonet is the name of the high priest’s garment, perhaps a hint of Joseph’s future soul story. No, those dreams were manifestations of a calling that would first become a lightning rod in G-d’s hands— a tool that would spark situations and form a wilderness path for Joseph’s soul. Read the rest of his story here.


fugitive prince turned bride guardian—who almost missed his calling

Egypt proved a blessing for the 12 tribes of Israel during the famine years when Joseph held a high position. Then the shift emerged and Israel experienced over 400 years of oppressive enslavement. But G-d, in precision timing, was on the move. He separated Moses from the common—his birth tribe and his adopted, privileged position in Egypt—for a series of deconstructing-reconstructing encounters with G-d to beat all others. His lightning revelations flashed through the soul of Moses time and time again. Moses was humbled at the burning bush, silenced at the sight of G-d’s glory, illuminated at G-d’s giving of the Torah. Read the rest of his story here.


accidental prophet—cohen priest turned pillar of iron

G-d’s lightning flashes pierced young Jeremiah’s soul and pronounced its destiny. There would be no discussion, no demonstrations as He had done with Moses. G-d knew Jeremiah in his mother’s womb. It was a done deal. The initial calling was merely a polite gesture. Jeremiah was going to be strategically placed in G-d’s archery bow with all kinds of tensions—dark moments taking him to near death—pulling him back so he could be launched higher, further for the sake of G-d’s mercy, love, covenant with Israel. G-d’s voice, a “fire” in Jeremiah’s bones would not be silenced. Read the rest of his story here.


persecuting zealot turned G-d’s servant—the famed pharisee some Jews and Christians love to hate

[Heads-up: Bridge crossing to foster understanding.]

A Jew from the tribe of Benjamin, circumcised on the eighth day, of the nation of Israel, a Hebrew born of Hebrews, a Pharisee and son of a Pharisee, a talmid (student) of the renowned Rabbi Gamaliel, both Jew and Roman citizen (hence his dual name, Saul Paulus).

He made his raison d’être the destruction of Messianic Jews—followers of “The Way” (Yeshua/Jesus). Saul oversaw the stoning of Stephen, the first Messianic Jew martyred. But then his soul underwent a spiritual event that impacted the physical—a transformational encounter with the resurrected and risen Yeshua that left Saul physically blinded for three days and caused him to emerge with radically different spiritual sight.

It took years, solitary time, and near abandonment from his fellow messianic believers before his soul was readied for its destiny as a chosen vessel to bear his Messiah’s name “before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel” (Acts 9:15). Read the rest of his story here.




The harder and longer the deconstruction, the deeper the work He is doing within you. It’s not easy, but He is good. He is faithful. Remember that if you’re going through the process. Your foes—depression, anger, and bitterness—are standing outside the door waiting for the slightest cracked opening. Slam the door shut, and get supportive friends to help. And remind yourself, it’s a deconstructingreconstructing process. That means new things, new seasons are up ahead.


Ezekiel (Yechezkel) 44:23.* They are to teach my people the difference between the holy and the common and enable them to distinguish between the clean and unclean.


Isaiah (Yeshayahu) 43:2-4.* I will go ahead of you, leveling the hills, shattering the bronze gates, smashing the iron bars. I will give you treasures hoarded in the dark, secret riches hidden away so that you will know that I, Adonai, calling you by your name, am the G-d of Israel.


Isaiah (Yeshayahu) 43:18-19.*Stop brooding over past events and times gone by. I am doing something new; it’s springing up—can’t you see it? I am making a road in the desert, rivers in the wasteland.


Hosea (Hoshea) 2:14-17a* But now I’m going to woo her, bring her out to the desert and speak to her heart . . . I will give her vineyards from there and the Akhor Valley [valley of trouble, gloom] as a gateway to hope.


John 15:2, 4. Every branch that bears fruit, G-d prunes so that it may bear more fruit . . . Stay united with Me as I will with you—for just as the branch can’t put forth by itself apart from the vine, so you can’t bear fruit apart from Me.


* Hebrew Bible scripture/numeral reference

Article created July 17, 2015.

Soul Arrow: Sarah

By SoulBreaths Author [ 4 years ago ]

Bedewed Marigold

from barrenness of soul to prophet—and the world’s matriarch

© All rights reserved.


Before you begin—click this pop-up for a recap of the Soul Arrow series.


Flashes of His light. A moment of revelation. The soul pricked with divine sparks. That was Sarah as every crack of lightning cut through her story. The call from the polytheistic, cosmopolitan Ur to Haran, move from Haran to Canaan, dealings with Lot, battle with the five kings, sweepings into pharaoh’s and Abimelech’s harems.


Something had to be learned here, absorbed  here, infused here, stripped here in order to birth something of greater magnitude later.


Sarah was strong, independent, vocal, and faithful to G-d’s calling on her soul. Rashi, a renowned medieval French rabbi, said the various meanings of her name reveal Sarah’s identity, her soul’s ascent as it were . . . divine spirit, beauty, royal leadership, and prophetic gifting that surpassed Avraham’s.


After all, G-d did say, “Everything Sarah says to you—listen to her voice.” Genesis (Bereishit) 21:12.


Yet the catalyst of Sarah’s story—barrenness—could reveal even more.


Sketchy pieces of her earlier story appear in Genesis (Bereishit) 11:29-31. “The name of Avram’s wife was Sarai . . . And Sarai was barren; she had no child . . . And Terach took Abram his son, and Lot the son of Haran, his son’s son, and Sarai his daughter-in-law, his son Abram’s wife; and they went forth with them from Ur of the Chaldees, to go into the land of Canaan; and they came unto Haran, and dwelt there . . . And the days of Terach were 205 years; Terach died in Haran.”


The next line begins chapter 12 and jumps right to G-d giving Avram the lech lecha command. Meaning, go for yourself, to yourself, into yourself. But hold up. How did Avram know G-d at this point? There’s no introduction—unlike when G-d introduces Himself to Moses in Exodus 3 at the burning bush.


Not to mention that Terach, Avram’s father, was an idolater and an idol maker, per midrash. And just why was Terach moving Avram, Sarai, and the rest of the clan initially to Canaan? And why did they stop in Haran and stay there instead of reaching their destination?


Here’s where the “what’s not said” may give a window to the backstory. Some rabbinic teachings suggest that Avram got the call of G-d—or perhaps, the introduction to Him—earlier in Ur, where he convinced his father to head out toward Canaan. Rabbi Meir Schweiger of Pardes Institute posited in a 2008 podcast on the Lech Lecha Torah portion that Terach may have thought, why not? Change your locale, you could change your luck. [1]


Couldn’t hurt. Sarai was barren, after all. Things just may do a turnaround.


But Canaan wasn’t Terach’s calling, it was Avram’s. Terach stopped along the way after setting eyes on Haran . . . perhaps distracted by what it offered or perhaps seeing it as a place to profit for his idol business. He apparently wasn’t someone with “spiritual” endeavors in mind, someone who could keep his eye on the goal and finish the task—namely, Canaan.


As a result, Avram and Sarai were interrupted from their destiny call to Canaan until Terach dies. They lived those years with their souls compressurized in a pagan family that had a pagan business, in a pagan city, in a pagan world. When the lech lecha command came forth in Genesis (Bereishit) 12, Avram is 75 and Sarai is 65.


Her soul had to be freed from its barrenness. Even though she had met the one true G-d, her life had been steeped in the lie of paganism.


It was as if G-d were saying . . .


You’ve met Me, but I need to take you through a series of events to tenderize your soul and work out the toxic lies of satan and the far-from-my-ways human viewpoint that has been polluting your soul. I need you to come away with me to open up your neshama [the higher part of your soul’s matrix, attached to G-d] and flood your entire soul with My presence, My voice, My truth of
who I am—so you can discover the truth of who you are in me,
what I’ve called you to be.


Hit pause—reminder of soul parts.
Click this popup: Soul Matrix recap




Anticipation. Frustration. Each month, watching for signs of a pregnancy. Years passed. Was it a curse or sin? A divine abandonment? Something more . . . something different?


Sarai had her questions, maybe her doubts. What you have to wonder is . . .


Could her soul even breathe in its barren exile—or did that empty nest give rise to her independence and a more visible position along side her husband?


Was she consistently inundated with her in-law’s pagan fertility rituals, which added more pressure, physically and spiritually?


Did she eventually bury the hope of a child and learn to find contentment in her relationship and gifting from the one true G-d?


Actually, there’s a possibility that, in time, Sarai started growing and flowing in her barren state, and perhaps—with G-d’s strength—even getting a bit comfortable in her motherless wife role—free to move about, spiritually partnering with her husband.


BELOVED, gaze in thine own heart,
The holy tree is growing there;
From joy the holy branches start,
And all the trembling flowers they bear.

The Two Trees, W.B. Yeats




Pressurized, stark, or barren situations in the natural reflect, ignite, and even move the tensions within the soul. Like you and me, Sarai’s lech lecha call from G-d was no different. She and Avram sojourned in the physical desert—living nomadically, in infertility, leaving all that was common, their land, birthplace, and relatives, entertaining guests and angels—while traversing the untapped spiritual terrain within their souls. [2]


Up probably felt like down. Down felt like up. A sojourn wrought with emotional, physical, and spiritual trials—not to mention those infamous family matters. Certainly, no cakewalk.


Promises from G-d were still sitting on the table.
But they couldn’t be touched or lived out until decades later.


When G-d gave 86-year-old Avram the promise of having a child by his loins, the bold, faithful Sarai came up with a plan of how they could fulfill G-d’s decree—a “solution” in the natural that lagged lightyears behind G-d’s intentions.


Enter stage left, Hagar.


Sarai’s “plan” resulted in another 13 years of deconstruction-reconstruction soul work for her and Avram—enduring and resolving the consequences of her prior getting-ahead-of-G-d decision to use Hagar.


For there a fatal image grows
That the stormy night receives,
Roots half hidden under snows,
Broken boughs and blackened leaves.
For all things turn to barrenness
In the dim glass the demons hold,
The glass of outer weariness,
Made when God slept in times of old.

The Two Trees, W.B. Yeats




G-d had a plan. He voiced in them a promise and a new name that impacted their destiny . . . a move from having “a” mission to having a worldwide calling, per the Talmud.[3]


Ninety-nine-year-old Avram—his name meaning father of a nation—became Avraham, father of many nations.


Eighty-nine-year-old, Sarai—meaning my princess, of a tribe/household—became Sarah, princess of the world, mother of every Jewish convert.


At age 90, counterintuitive to any human logic, Sarah was finally ready in G-d’s eyes to exhale her soul’s purpose . . . not just the birth of Isaac, but becoming a vessel in G-d’s hands to birth a nation out of a wilderness womb that would transform the world.



[1] Rabbi Meir Schweiger’s newer podcasts can be found on Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies.

[2] Genesis 12:1-3, Genesis 13, Genesis 14, Genesis 15:1-6, Genesis 18, Genesis 22:16-18

[3] The Talmudic concept regarding Avraham and Sarah moving from a particular mission to a universal one is from Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Berachot 13a.


Article created July 26, 2015.

Soul Arrow: Joseph

By SoulBreaths Author [ 4 years ago ]

Wheat Field


favor lost, favor regained—in spite of himself

© All rights reserved.


Before you begin—click this pop-up for a recap of the Soul Arrow series.


Position doesn’t just happen. It’s given by G-d. Joseph’s prophetic dreams weren’t a free pass to ride the tails of his royal or priest-like, multi-colored coat, k’tonet pasim, כתנת פסים—k’tonet is the name of the high priest’s garment, perhaps a hint of Joseph’s future soul story.


No, those dreams were manifestations of a calling that would first become a lightning rod in G-d’s hands— a tool that would spark situations and form a wilderness path for Joseph’s soul.


It began with his father’s favoritism and skyrocketed to his brothers’ actions and reactions to Joseph’s golden position and arrogant dream talk.


Sforno—Italian rabbi and regarded Torah commentator (late 1400s)—chalked up Joseph’s behavior to “youthful immaturity.”


I disagree. His dream flaunting, scandalous reporting of his brothers, and overall swag demeanor were firefly flashes . . . momentary peeks into Joseph’s soul character.


Think of David. He had a significant calling and anointing from the L-rd early on—yet in his younger days, he walked honorably in humble service before G-d and King Saul, remarkably so despite the latter’s escalated jealousies and murderous attempts. True, later on David exposed his Achilles heel with Bathsheva. But when Natan the prophet confronted him, David owned up to his sins. He was, from beginning to the end,a man after G-d’s own heart.”


Likewise, Joseph’s soul had flashes of revelation from G-d when he was young. So he wasn’t suffering from a lost soul identity, reliance on his nefeshlower part of the soul’s matrix, entrenched in this earthly realm—or ignorance of his destiny.


It was a matter of Joseph’s soul not being prepared to walk in its destiny.


Hit pause—reminder of soul parts.
Click this popup: Soul Matrix recap


There was another thing. Like any of us, Joseph had to learn about prophetic gifting. Per Genesis (Bereishit) 37:8, his brothers hated him yet even more for his dreams and for his words.


Here’s the point. We’re not always meant to share the secrets Adonai gives us from the secret place. It shouldn’t matter who sees or learns what G-d revealed to us . . . or who recognizes our gifting.


We need to remain intentionally prayerful on if, when, where, to whom, and how much to share. And if we believe things need to be shared, we should double-check our motivations. Is it to seek self glory, recognition, position, approval?


And that was the thing with Joseph. His motives for the dream boasting were suspect. His brothers didn’t recognize him, didn’t approve, and the only position they wanted him to be in was down in that animal pit or out of Canaan altogether.


Nonetheless, Joseph was destined to become the linchpin—a sustainer for B’nai Israel—in spite of himself.


My heart was wandering in the sands,
a restless thing, a scorn apart;
Love set his fire in my hands,
I clasp’d the flame unto my heart.
—My Heart Was Wandering In The Sands, Christopher Brennan


So G-d steps in. Separated from the common in his life, Joseph was brought down physically to Egypt, which signified his soul being brought down to a lowly place spiritually to become deconstructed and then reconstructed into the holy. A place where Joseph would first have to become one with his barrenness (personal “desert” experience), unshackled from all that he felt he was due or previously “owned”—including physical and spiritual gifting, positions as prophesied, favor with his father, then Potiphar— and transformed into one who becomes ownerless (hefker,הֶפְקֵר).


It would take a while. Becoming ownerless and relying on G-d for promotion and release aren’t easy on the soul matrix.  The nefesh—grounded and pulled to things of this world—and its old habits die hard. Even with all Joseph had gone through, he still attempted to wield matters in the natural to force birth his prophesied future position.




Egypt’s king sent his chamberlains (cupbearer and baker) to prison, where they served for a year along side Joseph. The king’s duo each had a dream that only Joseph could interpret.


Despite his physical imprisonment and its boa-constrictor-like grip on his soul, Joseph still knew on some level that G-d was keeping the communication channels opened . . . flowing understanding through his neshama, higher part of the soul that’s connected to G-d.


It was undeniable. G-d’s authoritative words were echoing in Joseph’s soul.

Flashes of lightning lit up that prophetic-anointing moment within Joseph’s soul. He recognized it, stepped up, spoke out. After all, don’t interpretations belong to G-d?


But like in any dim room, after that flash of light, darkness returns.


Does Joseph remember all the flashes of G-d’s lightning through his soul over the years to carry him through? Not right then.


He doesn’t merely ask the cupbearer to remember him before the king when the dream comes to pass—that would have been understandable. The Hebrew reveals that Joseph pleaded, graveled, begged (nah, נא ) with the cupbearer to have lovingkindness/compassion (chesed, חסד) on him before the king so he could get released from prison because he was, after all, innocent.


נָּא עִמָּדִי חָסֶד וְהִזְכַּרְתַּנִי אֶל פַּרְעֹה וְהוֹצֵאתַנִי מִן הַבַּיִת הַזֶּה:


Joseph may have been thinking enough already.

My soul can’t breathe in this uncertain darkness any longer.
My mind is exhausted. My heart is weakened.
Favored in this prison pit or not, I want out—and I want out now.
And what about my prophetic dreams that I know G-d spoke to me?
I’ve waited long enough . . . time to take action.


There is a difference between faith (אמונה) and trust (בִּטָּחוֹן), per commentary in The Stone Edition of the Chumash (Parasha Vayeishev, Genesis 37-40:23, pg 221). Believing G-d exists is faith. But trust is having the certainty, the  confidence, that G-d is “involved in events and that their outcome accords with His will.”


Joseph’s faith was sure. G-d existed. G-d speaks to His people. G-d can do the impossible. G-d gives flashes of light to reveal our steps along the way.




Trust is faith in action. It would take his entire soul matrix—neshama, ruach (human spirit), nefesh—working in tandem, listening and daring to believe upwardly . . . maintaining a firm standing, going beyond what the physical eye and natural mind could perceive.


I can so appreciate Joseph’s soul moment. It’s the stuff these biblical soul-arrow stories are made of. These people are real. Human. Broken. Quivering or questioning themselves, others, G-d—even in their moments of faith and trust, regardless of who they are and what they are about to do with G-d that is amazing.


They are you, me, and everyone else on the planet.




He cast His light through Joseph’s soul to reveal things from a different perspective on high. Much had been gifted in Joseph. Now more was required to birth it forth. Two more years in the pit. Two more years of walking with G-d toward the uncommon, a holy place within his soul.


Surely, I said, my heart shall turn         

one fierce delight of pointed flame; 

and in that holocaust shall burn 

its old unrest and scorn and shame

—My Heart Was Wandering In The Sands, Christopher Brennan


Pride was worked out, and humility worked into the new fabric of his soul. Grace was deposited, mercy was infused, and forgiveness (especially for his brothers) was birthed. He not only was physically delivered from the prison, but delivered spiritually—and lifted up in his relationship with G-d, lifted up and into a position of authority among his captors, and later, lifted up in the eyes of his brothers and father.


Article created August 17, 2015.

Soul Arrow: Moses

By SoulBreaths Author [ 4 years ago ]

REDUCED SMALLER - iStock_000009489613XLarge

fugitive prince turned bride guardian—who almost missed his calling

© All rights reserved.


Before you begin—click this pop-up for a recap of the Soul Arrow series.


Ever since my younger years—later elementary school and decades forward—G-d has used Moses as a teacher and an example to awaken and stir my soul’s DNA (Judaic roots), guiding it into deeper understanding of G-d’s Word and His relationship with His people, His world.


Moses was a surrendered soul, truly in love with his G-d. But with all he was allowed to do under G-d’s hand, he was still a man.


Egypt proved a blessing for the 12 tribes of Israel during the famine years when Joseph held a high position. Then the shift emerged and Israel experienced over 400 years of oppressive enslavement.


But G-d, in precision timing, was on the move. He separated Moses from the common—his birth tribe and his adopted, privileged position in Egypt—for a series of deconstructing-reconstructing encounters with G-d to beat all others.


G-d’s lightning revelations flashed through the soul of Moses time and time again.
Moses was humbled at the burning bush,
silenced at the sight of G-d’s glory,
illuminated at G-d’s giving of the Torah.


It was a process of discovering who he was in G-d. Lightning cracked when Moses first encountered the Egyptian beating a Hebrew slave. His response was a natural one. He brought down the Egyptian to help raise up that slave. Moses’ destiny burst forth for a moment, like a firefly flash . . . a hint of what was to come, what would be birthed . . . a foretaste of the servant redeemer that his soul was meant to be.


From that major lightning crack across the sky at the burning bush, his soul’s relationship with the living G-d rose to such a magnitude that the flashes of lightning became his new norm. He had more lit moments once his life was totally surrendered to G-d. Times on the mountain, glory times in the tent. It all was part and parcel of what it would mean—for him and us—to flow in G-d’s presence, spirit, and the prophetic.


If to feel, in the ink of the slough,

And the sink of the mire,

Veins of glory and fire

Run through and transpierce and transpire,

And a secret purpose of glory in every part,

And the answering glory of battle fill my heart;

—If This Were Faith, Robert Louis Stevenson




Torah scholar/commentator/author Avivah Zornberg gave some insight about “The Transformation of Pharoah, Moses, and G-d,” during an interview she gave to’s Krista Tippet.


Moses argued with G-d for seven days no less when he was first called to lead Israel. He had yet to learn that his neshama—higher part of the soul matrix, attached to G-d—needed to take the reins of his ruach (human spirit) and nefesh (life force/lowest soul part). His thinking was rooted in earthly standards, not the holy.


Hit pause—reminder and more about soul parts.
Dive deeper: Click for a quick look at the soul matrix.


It basically went like this . . .


“They won’t believe me. They won’t listen to what I say. They’ll say you didn’t appear to me.”
“What’s in your hand, Moses?”
“ A staff.”
“Throw it on the ground.” Moses did and it turned into a snake.
“Moses, put your hand out and take it by the tail.” Moses did as instructed and the snake turned back into a staff.
“See, that’s how they’ll believe that I, Adonai, G-d of their fathers, appeared to you.”
“But . . .”
“Now put your hand inside your coat.” Once again, Moses obeyed. His hand turned leprous.
“Put your hand back inside your coat.” Moses did and his hand was healthy again.
“If they won’t believe the first sign, they’ll be convinced by the second. And if they aren’t persuaded by either, take some water from the river and pour it on the ground—the water you took will turn into blood on the dry land.”
“Yeah . . . but I’m like a terrible speaker. Always have been. My words come slowly and my tongue moves slowly.”


Internal resistance was stirring in his soul.


Psychologically, Zornberg says, Moses, like Pharoah and the Hebrews, has an unwillingness to open himself up to an alternative reality. He blames it on his speech—in the Hebrew the wording is heavy (kaved, kah-vehd,כָּבֵד). Moses says he’s got a heavy/impeding mouth and heavy/impeding tongue: כְבַד-פֶּה וּכְבַד לָשׁוֹן.  Clearly, a negative connotation.


There’s another word association, per Zornberg. The Hebrew word for heavy (kaved) is the same word used to describe Pharoah’s hardness of heart during the ten plagues—with the negative connotation of being closed in/off, impervious, resistant. [Note: Kaved is not kavod—ka-vohd (כָּבוד) means glory or honor. Same shoresh/root, so there’s a link. Yet, as we’re seeing, kaved often reflects a negative usage; kavod, a positive one.]


Was the heavy (kaved) tongue of Moses also closed off, resistant to G-d?


Moses, per Zornberg, appears willing to forego the whole opportunity to redeem Israel, seeing himself as not the right person for the job. He does recognize, she posits, that an “operation” of sorts is needed—since Moses is like a babe in need of a circumcision and refers to himself as a man of uncircumcised lips.


However, this “heaviness,” an inability to open up to G-d and His word—psychologically, spiritually, emotionally, or otherwise—appears to go well beyond Moses, Israel’s exodus years, and Pharoah.


The Cambridge Bible commentary states the “closed in” or “impervious to good impressions” wording in regards to a “heavy, uncircumcised heart” appears elsewhere in the Tanach: Leviticus 26:41, Jeremiah 9:25(26), and Ezekiel 44:7,9. The verbiage also is used similarly when speaking of the ear, in Jeremiah 6:10, revealing that the nation heard imperfectly.


I dare say this “heaviness” is a human condition. One that only a spiritual surgery in G-d’s wilderness venues can heal.


To thrill with the joy of girded men

To go on for ever and fail and go on again,

And be mauled to the earth and arise,

And contend for the shade of a word and a thing

not seen with the eyes:

—If This Were Faith, Robert Louis Stevenson




Fortunately for us, Moses surrendered to G-d’s soul deconstructing-reconstructing process and embraced his soul’s calling—as Israel’s leader, intercessor, shepherd, bride guardian. So much so that the Torah’s final words in Deuteronomy (Devarim) 34 say that “no prophet in Israel has since arose whom G-d knew face to face” and that Moses “evoked great terror before the eyes of all Israel.”


Rabbinic commentary says this great terror is none other than Moses’ shattering of the first set of tablets—which is linked to a midrash that goes something like this.


So there was a king, a bride-to-be, and her maidservants. The king heads out of town on some business, putting the maidservants in care of his bride. But their character was lacking, big time. They engaged in harlotry, consequently smudging the betrothed bride’s character.


Well, that pushed the king’s anger into overdrive. So much so that he wanted his betrothed killed and out of his life. Clean and tidy. But the bride’s guardian was quick on his feet. As soon as he learned of the king’s intentions, he swooped in and destroyed the marriage contract: “Even if she was found wanting, she wasn’t your wife yet. So . . .  all’s good. She’s not accountable to the contract.


Presto, there was no need to kill her. That appeased the king, which was a good thing because he later discovered his bride’s behavior really hadn’t been awry—just her maidservants’. At that, the bride’s guardian stepped in and suggested the king write a new marriage contract. The king agrees. “Fine. But since you tore up the first one, you provide the paper and I’ll write it in my own hand.”


Sound familiar? Israel is found wanting—though not all of them. Moses protects her covenant with G-d by destroying the first marriage agreement, the first set of tablets that G-d had carved and written on. Then when G-d is willing to redo the marriage contract, He has Moses co-labor with him by carving out the tablets that G-d will write on.


But the Ramban—Nachmanides, a Spanish Sephardic rabbi and noted medieval Jewish scholar—adds another component. He says Moses had a temper, i.e. killing the Egyptian and striking the rock incidents. So it wasn’t all about his acting as defender of the bride.


I tend to merge the two thoughts. When you have a critical position that has to be assigned to someone—maybe a person who will handle significant aspects of your business or oversee your health directive or your will—you need to choose someone who won’t be intimidated in making tough, wise decisions. Someone who can do that in a split moment, if needed.


That’s why I think G-d chose Moses. Yes, he had passion, a temper even. For Moses, when something was wrong, it was wrong. He acted on it. The excessive actions of the Egyptian, the excessive rebellion of Israel at the rock.


In his talmudic commentary Shabbat 87a, French medieval rabbi Rashi played with the reading of “ashur” (meaning “that” or “which”) for “ishur” (meaning “affirm” or “praise”) to basically suggest that when it comes to the shattered tablets, it’s as if G-d thanked or praised Moses for his actions.[1]


Was G-d saying this? “Thank you, bride guardian, for having the passion, wisdom, boldness, and courage to make the hard decision when needed to defend Israel and allow me to still make covenant with her via a new contract.”


With the half of a broken hope for a pillow at night

That somehow the right is the right

And the smooth shall bloom from the rough:

Lord, if that were enough!

—If This Were Faith, Robert Louis Stevenson




One thing remains for certain. Through all his soul’s wilderness travails with Israel and within himself, Moses humbly steadies the course at all costs—relinquishing any rights to a personal life or family legacy . . . G-d’s people became his legacy.


[1] Rashi’s comment per an article called “The Marriage Contract,” appearing on
Article created August 17, 2015.

Soul Arrow: Jeremiah

By SoulBreaths Author [ 4 years ago ]

Jeremiah, G-d's prophet


accidental prophet—cohen (priest) turned vessel of holy fire

© All rights reserved.


Before you begin—click this pop-up for a recap of the Soul Arrow series.


Personally, I love the 1998 Lux Vid film Jeremiah, directed/written by Harry Winer and starring Patrick Dempsey as the weeping prophet. It may weave in a non-Biblical plot line here and there—like a budding relationship with a never-to-be girlfriend—but it also breathes life into Jeremiah’s story. Not to mention that Dempsey’s easy-on-the-eyes looks and pithy performance give a whole new perspective on the mighty prophet. No wonder I watch it semi-frequently. If you’ve never seen it, check it out.


The real Jeremiah’s story begins with G-d’s voice awakening the soon-to-be prophet’s soul, pronouncing his destiny. There would be no discussion, no fiery bush, no staff-turned-snake demonstrations as Adonai had done with Moses. It would begin as it does for each of us—with G-d’s destiny calling known and voiced even before the womb.


Heaven and I wept together,

And its sweet tears were salt with mortal mine.

—The Hound Of Heaven, Francis Thompson


Born in Anatot—a town given to the tribe of Benjamin, per Joshua 21, about three miles northeast of Jerusalem by way of the Mount of Olives—Jeremiah’s call-to-action probably occurred sometime before he was 25 or 30 . . . old enough to marry, but not yet beginning his rightful cohen (priestly) duties, as son of the High Priest, Hilkiah.


Then the L-rd reached out His hand and touched my mouth and said to me,
“Now I have put my words in your mouth.
Today, I have placed you over nations and kingdoms
to uproot and to tear down, to destroy and to demolish,
to build and to plant.”
—Jeremiah 1:9


A soul-focused interpretation of what G-d was saying?


There, Jeremiah. As counterintuitive as it seems to you, it’s done. What your soul will grow into and what it will do for Me are already accomplished in the spiritual realm . . . I have spoken and My words are quick to perform. With the breath of My word, all that is—and will be—has been brought forth. So now with you, it is accomplished in the interwoven crevices of your unseen soul . . . yet it will be manifested in the natural at My appointed time and place.


Jeremiah was going to be strategically placed in G-d’s archery bow with all kinds of tensions—dark moments taking him to near death—pulling him back so he could be launched higher, further for the sake of G-d’s mercy, love, covenant with His people.


In fact, G-d’s orchestrated deconstruction/reconstruction soul process in Jeremiah would mirror the work He eventually would do in the soul of the wayward Southern Kingdom of Judah—deconstruction (captivity) and reconstruction (redemption, restoration).


Jeremiah would be the prophetic voice of G-d to Judah . . . just as Jeremiah
(a cohen/priest), would also stand in for Judah before the L-rd,
the Hound of Heaven—whose relentless love would chase Judah into captivity
for a national deconstruction-reconstruction process.


Back story: Around 755 BCE, Amos and Hosea prophesied to the Northern Kingdom of Israel, who had long meshed their Judaism with paganism. Israel ignored the warnings and landed in the middle of G-d’s divine discipline: Assyrian captivity, 721 BCE after a three-year seige. But Judah was not so quick to learn from the idolatrous falterings of its fellow tribesmen.


And so, along came G-d’s love call. Jeremiah.


For 20 years, Jeremiah sounded the alarm of the impending 70-year Babylonian captivity—gradual, in waves, beginning around 605 BCE, taking princes (like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, Azariah) for positions, then toward the end, deporting the poorest of the poor Judeans as slaves. He also encouraged them, prophesying about Judah’s restoration . . . and a new covenant in the future, where Torah would be written on our hearts.




Jeremiah’s calling was not going to be easy. He pretty much knew that going in. What was up ahead—a lonely soul experience with twists, turns, and chasmic drops—would break off any hardness and self-focus to uncover the soul’s holy hiddenness.


By G-d’s further command, there would be no wife. And no children. And no living his priestly heritage. No normality on any level. Only risks and danger—on the wings of a prophetic calling that would voice sorrow, pain, surrender, exile, and the promise of a future redemption for Judah, a nation whose “soul” was under the power of its earthbound, lower soul component (the nefesh) . . . unwilling, prideful, rebellious, delusional.

(SoulBreaths help note) Click this popup: Soul Matrix recap


But you [Jeremiah], dress for action, stand up, and tell them everything I order you to say. Don’t break down or I will break you down in front of them. For today, I have made you into a fortified city, a pillar of iron, a wall of bronze against the whole land—against the kings of Judah, against its princes, against its cohanim [priests], and the people of the land.
They [Judah] will fight against you, but will not overcome you,
for I am with you
and will rescue you, declares the LORD.
—Jeremiah 1:17-19


Jeremiah’s knee-jerk reaction? Like Moses, he thought G-d should look elsewhere.  His “I’m only a young man” response—the word is na’ar (נַעַר) in the Hebrew—reveals Jeremiah’s take on his lack of abilities and readiness.


A na’ar is a young man, defined by age (teen through twenties) or of marriageable age, and sometimes, rabbinically defined as not yet ready to fulfill his duties/position. (As an aside, 17-year-old Joseph in Genesis 37:2 was called a na’ar.)


Based on Jeremiah’s writings regarding his prophetic calling spanning five kings, his birth is set around 655 BCE. His prophetic calling began in the thirteenth year of King Josiah’s reign—putting him around age 25 – 29, as mentioned earlier in this post.


Jeremiah 1:6-7

 וָאֹמַר, אֲהָהּ אֲדֹנָי יְהוִה, הִנֵּה לֹא-יָדַעְתִּי, דַּבֵּר:  כִּי-נַעַר


And I said, “You are my LORD, ADONAI, here I am (or alas/behold), I  don’t know a thing because I am a young man.


וַיֹּאמֶר יְהוָה אֵלַי, אַל-תֹּאמַר נַעַר אָנֹכִי:  כִּי עַל-כָּל-אֲשֶׁר

שְׁלָחֲךָ, תֵּלֵךְ, וְאֵת כָּל-אֲשֶׁר אֲצַוְּךָ, תְּדַבֵּר.

And the LORD said to me, you shall not say I am a young man: because wherever I send you, you will go and all that I command you, you will say.


In the natural, I get why Jeremiah tried to excuse himself. To a young man who had yet to spread his wings, the call sounded well beyond the norm. You can almost hear him logically deduce it like this: At least a man trained in spiritual matters, matured, married, and long observant in his priestly duties would be far better suited to attempt the task.


Jeremiah may have studied Torah, but he had yet to swim in G-d’s deep, secret place.
He may have been a cohen, but he had yet to personally know the dunamis (power) of G-d.
It was never about Jeremiah’s strength, knowledge, bloodline, or abilities.
It was—and always is—about G-d and His strength, plan, power, abilities.


G-d never goes for the obvious. Or the best suited, smartest, most educated, strongest. Remember how G-d reduced Gideon’s army of 32,000 down to a mere 300—and then gave Israel a mighty victory over the Midianites?


G-d will do what He will do . . . will be what He will be. His name and character are one and the same.


He is the ineffable, holy name: יהוה


The real issue is the state of Jeremiah’s soul matrix, which was out of sync—his nefesh (lower part of the soul, tethered to this world) and ruach (human spirit) controlling things rather than his neshama (higher, holy part of the soul, attached to G-d, flooding the soul with His light, truth, ways).


That caused him to see his destiny call the way many of us do in confusing, fearful times—through the eyes of human viewpoint/human standards vs. G-d’s heavenly perspective and power.


But G-d was on the move—again. He used the soul deconstruction/reconstruction process to part the Red Sea, so to speak, inside Jeremiah’s soul. Peeling away the common—cultural mindsets, religiosities, human expectations, spiritual compromises—so Jeremiah could “lech l’cha” (לֶךְ-לְךָ) . . . go to yourself, for yourself, into yourself . . . and submerge into G-d’s secret place, His holy, murmuring deep. Truly seeing with G-d’s perspective of what is good and right.


Yet, this wasn’t a mission built for a single man. Besides working in Jeremiah’s soul for his own edification, G-d was working through Jeremiah’s soul—making him an instrument in His hands. An instrument that would see what G-d saw, feel what G-d felt, and experience in the physical what Judah was doing to G-d in the spiritual.


Two realms were clashing—with Jeremiah as both the scapegoat of Judah’s contempt for G-d’s ways and the conduit for G-d’s convictions, discipline, and hope.


Jeremiah had become G-d’s prophetic lightning rod.


He attracted the fiery anger of Judah . . . while being consumed by G-d’s righteous, fiery words. Within those blasts of light, Judah’s soul condition was exposed. There was no place to hide. No place to run. There was only surrender.


Ironically, it was a bit of a replay. Prior, G-d had commanded Hosea to marry a harlot—a portrayal of G-d’s relationship to the adulterous Northern Kingdom. In that deconstruction process, Hosea’s soul touched the holy, the uncommon, and lived out G-d’s experiences with his bride, Israel: betrayal, sorrow, longing, calling for her return to righteousness.




Moses led G-d’s nation out of captivity—toward a promise—and for 40 years dealt with their rebellion, grumblings, faithlessness, and near mutinies. And yet, he interceded for the people and pleaded with G-d to not take His presence from the nation.


Jeremiah prophesied for 40 years to Judah’s deaf ears and stoney hearts, nearly dying by their hands . . . beaten, put in stocks, flogged, mocked, imprisoned. And yet, he stood by them as they moved toward their destined 70-year Babylonian captivity—and waited in his encouragement of G-d’s promise of their return to Jerusalem and the Land.


I stand amid the dust o’ the mounded years—

My mangled youth lies dead beneath the heap.

My days have crackled and gone up in smoke,

Have puffed and burst as sun-starts on a stream.

—The Hound Of Heaven, Francis Thompson


And Jeremiah—like Moses in his soul-remodeling journey—underwent layers of G-d’s deconstruction/reconstruction process . . . slowly experiencing a holy, softening transformation where the sensitivities of the Father’s heart were infused into his own.


At times, feeling sad, angered, appalled, or overcome with grace, mercy, and hope. But at other times, feeling abandoned by G-d, then empowered by His presence. Don’t know about you, but that flip-flop of emotions sounds oh so familiar.


I am ridiculed all day long; everyone mocks me . . . so the word of the LORD has brought me insult and reproach all day long.—Jeremiah 20:7b, 8b


But the LORD is with me like a mighty warrior; so my persecutors will stumble and not prevail. —Jeremiah 20:11a


It’s always a matter of who’s on first—your neshama or your nefesh? Therein is the battle within the battle.


Jeremiah learned that. The wilderness journey and the battle humbled him. Knocked the wind out of him along the way. The timing. The disappointments. The rage. The angst. The depression.


Tensions rolled over him in every form, on every front. He once was among the privileged, a cohen. Then, he was an outcast.


But he couldn’t, wouldn’t stop. Why? Because he knew his calling. He surrendered to His king. He bore the weight of the Kingdom of G-d.




Moses may have wanted to stop at times. But couldn’t. His relationship with ADONAI was too real, too intense, too passionate. Jeremiah got exhausted and wanted out. His soul couldn’t take any more. He was boxed in on all sides—sometimes, literally. And yet . . . he had no choice but to move forward.


If I say, “I will not mention Him or speak any more in His name,” His word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot.—Jeremiah 20:9


G-d’s fiery voice in Jeremiah’s bones would not be silenced. It would flash within his soul matrix, permeating everywhere he was sent. Atmospheres were challenged by G-d’s words spoken through Jeremiah . . . but also by his mere presence. The prophetic burden on Jeremiah was heavy. The cost high. Extremely high.


If you’ve run with the footmen and they’ve exhausted you, then how will you compete against horses? You may feel secure in a land of peace, but how will you do in the Yarden’s thick brush?—Jeremiah 12:5


What was G-d conveying to Jeremiah? If you can’t keep up with the easier battle campaigns on the ground (footmen) when things aren’t that intense, how will you handle the thick of war? A slightly closer look with the Hebrew flushes out . . .


כִּי אֶת-רַגְלִים רַצְתָּה וַיַּלְאוּךָ,

If you’re running/as in “rushing” (רַצְתָּה) with soldiers/footmen and they’re tiring you out (וַיַּלְאוּךָ)

וְאֵיךְ תְּתַחֲרֶה אֶת-הַסּוּסִים;

then how will you vie for/rival against (תְּתַחֲרֶה) horses [symbolic of army strength, an animal used for war times]

וּבְאֶרֶץ שָׁלוֹם אַתָּה בוֹטֵחַ, וְאֵיךְ

and in the land of peace you confidently trust in (or feel secure in), then how

תַּעֲשֶׂה בִּגְאוֹן הַיַּרְדֵּן.

will you do in the thicket (or raging/swelling or magnificence) of the Jordan?


In its glory days, the Jordan—which means “descender”—had umpteen curves with varying widths, from 75 feet to 200 feet. Many rapids and falls were along its course, which usually had a rapid, strong current.*


Sounds similar to a soul wilderness journey to me.
Being called down into His murmuring deep, descending into a place with rugged terrain and raging waters . . . an uncommon place where G-d alone is your road map.


Along his destined journey, Jeremiah learned how to focus on what G-d was doing—not what He was removing during that soul wilderness process.


But that’s the thing, isn’t it? When G-d places any of us in a pressurized soul situation, we see what’s missing. What’s been taken away, diminished, lost. We mourn for what was—and wonder when, if ever, we will return to some state of our previous “normal.”


We long for release and hope for a new normal—the promise of something within that immerses us into His holiness and transforms us so we are not even a shadow of our former selves.




Life isn’t easy. And trials of any magnitude are disturbing. But the point is . . . are you first seeking G-d and believing His Word, following His leading, and getting covered in prayer from trusted believers in Him—or is your soul dial set for auto-tilt?


You know, nefesh at the wheel, ruach wavering, and neshama bound and gagged in the back seat? Basically, your spiritual compass hitting a “10” on the frustration richter scale.


Believe me, I’ve been there and can get there in no time, if I’m not staying in His flow.


That’s why Jeremiah 12:5 is special to me. G-d used it often to encourage me during one of my extremely difficult wilderness journeys.


When I didn’t think I could take another step, another hit, another disappointment—newly widowed, family issues, uncertainties on so many levels—He’d give me a vision . . . allowing me to see and hear the stampeding hooves of mighty horses.


Would I run with them or fall to the side? If these spiritual battles—in times of relative national peace with challenges common to humanity—would get me down, how will I ever finish the race against tougher enemies? And what will I do in times of more difficult hardships or even persecution?


My neshama knew the answer. It had to keep pushing forward in Him and with Him. But I had no strength on my own. Throughout that five-year process (and counting), I’ve had to take it step by step, soul breath by soul breath.


I’m in process, learning to rest on this truth in Jeremiah 20:11 . . .
G-d is with me like a mighty warrior.


*Stats on Jordan from


Article created July 28, 2015.

Soul Arrow: Saul Paulus

By SoulBreaths Author [ 4 years ago ]

The mighty pen of Saul Paulus

persecuting zealot—turned G-d’s messianic servant

© All rights reserved.


Before you begin—click this pop-up for a recap of the Soul Arrow series.


He’s the famed pharisee whom some Jews and some Christians love to hate. His story—a real page-turner. His name, Saul Paulus from Tarsus.


So who exactly was this love-him-or-hate-him Saul Paulus . . . who was privileged and free, yet caged behind bars of religious zealousness, then later caged by man, yet free in the Spirit of G-d?


  • A Jew. From the tribe of Benjamin, born in Tarsus of Cilicia (estimated 10 CE), circumcised on the eighth day, of the nation of Israel, a Hebrew born of Hebrews, in regards to the law, a pharisee—per Saul Paulus in his letter Philippians 3:5 and the book giving an accounting of the first Jewish believers, Acts 22:3
  • A pharisee. Descended from pharisees, moved to Jerusalem to be a talmid (devoted student of the law)—typically begun by age 16 with deeper study to follow in early 20s until age 25 or 30, potentially putting Saul Paulus in Jerusalem for his rabbinic/pharisaical schooling somewhere between 26-30 CE
  • Educated under the renowned Rabbi Gamaliel. Strictly according to the law of the patriarchs, “being zealous for G-d”—Rabbi Gamaliel taught from approximately 22 CE to 55 CE and in the more lenient, more welcoming of converts, non-radical, nonviolent tradition of his grandfather, the great Hillel
  • Yet, overzealous, persecuting—students were to become like their masters (rabbis), but Saul Paulus at times appeared more like the stricter, Jews-only traditions of Shammai (a sage opposing Hillel’s more lenient teachings) or in step with the oft blinding pride of the religious Sanhedrin—however, after his messianic conversion, Saul Paulus became more tender, more focused on love, promoting the one-new-man convergence—Jew and Gentile becoming one in Messiah, with joint access to ADONAI, per Amos 9:11-12 and Ephesians 2:14-15, 18, 22
  • Jew and Roman citizen. The Roman citizenship was purchased by his presumed “moderately wealthy” family, hence his Jewish-Roman name, Saul Paulus
  • A tentmaker of goat’s hair. Saul Paulus learned the trade from his father’s successful business and later on employed the trade to bear the expenses of his messianic ministry—Acts 18:3, I Thessalonians 2:9, II Thessalonians 3:8, I Corinthians 4:12, I Corinthians 9:6-18
  • Did not witness or interact with Jesus (Yeshua, Hebrew name) during his years of teaching/miracle works . . . the first time Saul Paulus encountered Jesus is via his Damascene experience with the resurrected/ascended Messiahmy posit for this is shared toward the end of this article


The free bird leaps
on the back of the wind
and floats downstream
till the current ends
and dips his wings
in the orange sun rays
and dares to claim the sky.

—I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, Maya Angelou




He may have had Torah knowledge. Pedigree. Been a rising star among the pharisees.









Shut off tight from G-d communication.


Revelation from above alluded him because his religiously spirited nefesh (the lower part of the soul, tethered to this world) had hardened his soul matrix. Made it stubborn like caliche, filled with cemented-together soil particles that restricted spiritual root growth and G-d’s river movement.


Click this popup: Soul Matrix recap


There was no rich soil, no aeration, no room, no flow from His throne so the soul could stretch upward. Sure, Saul Paulus’ dedication to Torah/Tanakh learning was good, painstaking, exhilarating, a worthy life immersed in the things of G-d.


However . . .


What G-d said. I recall the words the L-rd spoke to me back in 2005 as I sat reflective on the lower part of the southern steps in Jerusalem—Herod’s southern extension of the Temple Mount where Jews, including Jesua/Yeshua and the disciples, would have ascended to reach the Temple’s entrance, particularly during Pesach, Shavuot, Sukkot. In fact, these steps are where Jesus often would teach.


G-d’s words to me came with a soul-penetrating vision: Jesus/Yeshua standing beside me on those steps, his long robe, his feet, and an impression of the disciples standing behind him. I followed his gaze, which looked passed me and outward to the city, the people. Then I heard these words from the L-rd:


“I gave them the law,
but they loved the law more than Me.”


About three years later, the L-rd led me to share His words with an orthodox rabbi—who upon hearing them, sat back, silenced. As I explained it further, along the lines of the following words, he nodded in understanding and agreement. I said, “Adonai gave the law, but the law can become an idol too—anything that takes the place of G-d is idolatry.”


Perhaps Saul Paulus had made that blurry-line transition without knowing it. Perhaps he had became more enthralled by the religious elements, position, and spirituality—the law itself, the halachic steps, the learning, discussions about G-d, debates, commentaries, Hebraic word plays, standing apart from the masses.


Perhaps without realizing it, his nefesh-bound soul
was more in love with and actually
the stuff of the law, spiritual gifting, and heritage  . . .
rather than falling in love with and worshipping . . .
, the giver.


It’s a tricky business: Being spiritually minded, spiritually driven—yet misaligned in the soul. The swelling and swelling of knowledge . . . which can cause deeper fissures in the soul, releasing toxic, legalistic vapors.


Manmade laws. Manmade separations. Self-driven interpretations. Performance and self-ambition waif upward, act slick, and claim center stage in the soul.


The reality is, studying or talking about someone doesn’t mean you know the person. Studying scripture doesn’t mean you have a personal relationship with the living G-d. It simply means you’ve been acquiring knowledge—accurate, false, human, divine, or otherwise.


So with his nefesh running the show, Saul Paulus’ neshama (attached to G-d, highest part of the three-part soul matrix) could have been cut off, which would have restricted G-d’s flowing river of revelation and paled G-d’s light in his soul matrix.


His thinking would become heavy/impeded (kaved, kah-vehd,כָּבֵד), like the uncircumcised lips of Moses that almost cost him his calling, uncircumcised hearts of B’nai Israel during the wanderings that cost them entering the land, and the hard heart of Pharoah throughout the ten plagues that cost him his firstborn and much more.


Human intellect takes you only so far.

True revelation from spending time seeking G-d’s heart lifts your soul to His throne and ushers you into His secret place, where His deep calls to your deep, releasing the prophetic.
The unseen that is unveiled
in and through what’s seen.
And that is precisely where G-d wanted to take Saul Paulus. 




From early childhood to late teens, Saul Paulus probably studied the gamut: Torah, oral traditions, the rest of the Tanakh—nevi’im/prophets (נביאים) and ketuvim/writings (כְּתוּבִים). But as an excellent, serious student, he went on to further study, which would have included rabbinic interpretation and scripture memorization/possibly scroll writing, then finally, scholarly study under a noted rabbi. As stated earlier, in Saul’s case, it was the famed Rabbi Gamaliel.


What did that life look like in the tradition of a first-century pharisee sect? Set apart. Meticulously living the law. Focused. Unmistakably robed. Honored by the majority. At philosophical odds with the Sadducee sect, who denied resurrection of the dead, destiny, and the soul’s permanence.


While claiming that everything is affected by destiny, they [pharisees] do not deprive human will of power in these things. For it occurred to G-d to make a combination and to admit to his counsel the will of men—with its virtue and its vice. Their belief is that there is an undying power in souls and that, under the ground, there is an accounting to reward and punish those who were righteous or unrighteous in life. Eternal punishment is offered to the latter, but re-creation in a new life to the former. —Jewish historian Josephus in his Antiquities


Despite all that—or perhaps because of it—Saul had become a dogmatist, fueled by youthful zeal. Not to mention, the heated indoctrinations of some rabbinic teachers, sadducees, and Sanhedrin members who unabashedly made defamatory comments against Jesus.


I say some because followers of Jesus included pharisees, sadducees, members of the Sanhedrin, Torah teachers, the wealthy, the poor, the middle class . . . a multitude of Jews from every walk of first-century life.


Of course, Jesus had a few things from the Father to say about these men of notoriety . . .


In Matthew 23, Jesus  [Yeshua] cautions the people to do what the Torah teachers and Pharisees said since they occupied the “seat of Moses,” but don’t do what they do:


“They tie heavy loads onto people’s shoulders but won’t lift a finger to help carry them. Everything they do is done to be seen by others, for they make their tefillin broad and their tzitziyot long, loving the place of honor at banquets and the best seats in the synagogues, being greeted deferentially in the marketplaces, and being called Rabbi.”



Take a look at the religious-political stew Saul Paulus swam in—the same one that confronted Jesus, and later on, railroaded Saul.


The political/secular Sanhedrin during this period functioned like a supreme court—with 70 (or 71 counting the president) aristocratic members, who met in a chamber of the Temple or elsewhere, held varying functions per the Roman government’s restrictions, was presided over by a president (the Jewish high priest held this position), heard criminal cases, and could impose capital punishment. (1)


There was another Sanhedrin at the time—a religious council called the Great Bet Din (or Bet Din), originated as Kenesset ha-Gedolah/the Great Synagogue during the time of Ezra and Nehemiah—who were regarded as being the highest religious authority. It had two titled officers at the head: a Nasi (“prince,” held by the high priest, but prevented at times from presiding over the meetings) and Av Bet Din (father of the court, the director).


The Great Bet Din had 70 members (some Pharisees and/or Sadducees, depending on who held influence at the time) whose qualifications included scholarship, modesty, popularity among their fellow men, as well as being courageous and strong. They sat daily (not on shabbat or feast days) on the southern side of the Temple’s inner court, between morning and evening services. (1)


The Great Bet Din supervised over  . . .


1. judgment of women charged with adultery (sotah/bitter water drinking)


2. any questions/disputes regarding religious law


3. ritual acts


4. the Temple service


5. burning of the Red Heifer


6. water purification preparations


7. which city would be selected to atone for the body of a murdered person


8. harvest tithes


No wonder these Pharisees, Sadducees, Sanhedrin rushed to Jesus with coy questions—healing on the sabbath, hand washing, fasting, the adulterous woman, paying taxes, eating the grain from the wheat fields, etc. (Matthew 12, John 8, Luke 11:38-54, Matthew 6:16-18, Luke 18:9-14.)


Yet each time, Jesus countered them with the words and actions of the Father . . . and with demonstrations of miraculous power and wisdom beyond their realm.


When Jesus [Yeshua] had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at the way he taught, for he was not instructing them like their Torah teachers, but as one who had authority himself.—Matthew 7:28-29




The famed Rabbi Gamaliel had one idea of how to handle Messianic Jews . . . later on, Saul Paulus would have his own.


But one of the members of the Sanhedrin rose to his feet, a Pharisee named Gamaliel, a teacher of the Torah highly respected by all the people. He ordered the men be put outside for a little while; he then addressed the court:


“Men of Isra’el, take care what you do to these people. Some time ago, there was a rebellion under Todah, who claimed to be somebody special; and a number of men, maybe four hundred, rallied behind him. But upon his being put to death, his whole following was broken up and came to nothing. After this, Y’hudah HaG’lili led another uprising, back at the time of the enrollment for the Roman tax; and he got some people to defect to him. But he was killed, and all his followers were scattered. So in the present case, my advice to you is not to interfere with these people, but to leave them alone. For if this idea or this movement has a human origin, it will collapse. But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop them; you might even find yourselves fighting God!


They heeded his advice. After summoning the disciples and flogging them, they commanded them not to speak in the name of Jesus [Yeshua], and let them go. The disciples left the Sanhedrin overjoyed at having been considered worthy of suffering disgrace on account of him. And not for a single day, either in the Temple court or in private homes, did they stop teaching and proclaiming the Good News that Jesus [Yeshua] is the Messiah.—Acts 5:34-42


That didn’t stop Saul. He oversaw the stoning of Stephen, the first Messianic Jew martyred, and continued to keep his persecuting pedal to the metal.


 I persecuted this Way [Messianic Jews] to the death, binding and putting both men and women into prisons, as also the high priest and all the Council of the elders can testify. From them I also received letters to the brethren, and started off for Damascus in order to bring even those who were there to Jerusalem as prisoners to be punished.—admission by Saul Paulus, Acts 22:4-5


They [Stephen’s executioners] began yelling at the top of their voices, so that they wouldn’t have to hear him [Stephen]; and with one accord, they rushed at him, threw him outside the city and began stoning him. And the witnesses laid down their coats at the feet of a young man named Saul.—Acts 7:58


Saul Paulus was a threat to contend with. But then, G-d stepped in. It was deconstruction-reconstruction-of-the-soul time.


Just as we stand on the shattered tablets of Sinai and hold the second set of whole tablets in our hands, so Saul would be shattered in order to become whole.


But a bird that stalks
down his narrow cage
can seldom see through
his bars of rage
his wings are clipped and
his feet are tied
so he opens his throat to sing.

—I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, Maya Angelou


On his way to Damascus, Saul experiences a physical and a spiritual flash of light. Not a bolt of lightning cracking the sky. It was the glory of the resurrected and risen Messiah, Jesus/Yeshua. A lightning moment that penetrated Saul’s body and soul—his physical and spiritual man—a light that physically blinds him for three days . . . and spiritually awakens him so he can finally, truly see.


The intensity of the heavenly lightning equated to the intensity of the calling on Saul’s life. He spends three days wondering where it all would lead. Three days of going from an honored, intellectual pharisee to a stilled soul before G-d.


Saul regains his physical sight and emerges with a radically different spiritual sight. It took years—including three years of solitary time in the desert with G-d and near abandonment from his fellow messianic believers—to grow through his deconstruction process before his soul was readied for its destiny. A destiny as a chosen vessel to bear the Messiah’s name “before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel,” per Acts 9:15.



Saul had lost everything with his conversion and soul reconstruction process. Position. Jewish community. His pharisaical robes. His honor by the majority. Indeed, he now was at odds not only with the Sadducees, but the Pharisees, unbelieving Jews, and Rome itself.


Saul, the one who once hunted . . . became the hunted.


The one previously seated with the Pharisees and Torah teachers who occupied the “seat of Moses”—per Matthew 23—was unseated from everything he thought and was.


He had a new seat at the feet of the Messiah. There, Saul surrendered everything to be deconstructed in order to be reconstructed for a humble purpose in the service of the living G-d.


The caged bird sings
with fearful trill
of the things unknown
but longed for still
and his tune is heard
on the distant hill for the caged bird
sings of freedom

—I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, Maya Angelou


In fact, he was ecstatic about it. In his letter to the Philippians 3:8-11, Saul writes this:


I consider everything a disadvantage in comparison with
the supreme value of knowing the Messiah Jesus [Yeshua] as my Lord.
It was because of him that I gave up everything and regard it all as garbage,
in order to gain the Messiah
 and be found in union with him,
not having any righteousness of my own based on legalism,
but having that righteousness which comes through the Messiah’s faithfulness,
the righteousness from God based on faith.

Yes, I gave it all up in order to know him, that is,
to know the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of his sufferings
as I am being conformed to his death,

so that somehow I might arrive at being resurrected from the dead.



Jesus was crucified around 33 CE. So if Saul Paulus was studying in Jerusalem around 26 CE . . . did the twain ever meet?


Probably not. Saul—a young man still in training at the time—may have been somewhat shielded from having his own encounters with the messiah.


Why do I suggest that? Several reasons. This deeply intellectual, dedicated-to-detail pharisee never once mentioned hearing or seeing Jesus prior to his Damascus Road experience—and he never mentioned taking part in, hearing, or seeing so much as a smidgen of the 33 CE (estimated) crucifixion proceedings.


And when he finally comes to faith in Jesus as messiah, Saul Paulus labels himself as the “least of the apostles and not fit to be called an apostle” because he “persecuted the church of G-d”—I Corinthians 15:8, 9. If he had heard and debated Jesus’ teachings, joined the pharisaical surges against Jesus, even casted a nod in favor of the crucifixion . . . he certainly would have included such actions in his I Corinthians remorse.


Then in Galatians 1:11-12, Saul Paulus says the gospel preached by him was not according to man, not taught to him by man—it was given to him by revelation from the risen Messiah, Jesus [Yeshua, ha Moshiach].


So either Saul was sent elsewhere, out of Israel, for a period of time to study (or teach, perhaps back in Cilicia?) or he was shielded in some way from the occasions when Jesus was in Jerusalem.


Regardless of how it played out, Saul Paulus—fueled with his well-meaning, but misplaced, zealous fire (or hotheadedness?)—didn’t appear to interact with Jesus until that transformational day when Saul was on the road to Damascus to fulfill his raison d’être, the destruction of Messianic Jews, followers of The Way.

(1) Information on the political/secular and religious Sanhedrin is from various sources presented on the site

Article created October 14, 2015.

Resurrection Jewish Style: Part 1’s What God Revealed

By SoulBreaths Author [ 4 years ago ]

Empty tomb, garden near Golgatha

It’s real . . . with sneak peeks throughout the Bible to prove it.


© All rights reserved.


Emily Dickinson, 1861 poem.


Safe in their Alabaster Chambers—

Untouched by Morning

And untouched by Noon—

Lie the meek members of the Resurrection—

Rafter of Satin—and Roof of Stone!


Death. Is it a body decomposing into nothingness, trapped in a waiting-for-Godot moment as Dickinson depicts in her “Alabaster Chambers” poem . . . or is it a future transition of the body’s soul matrix into something far greater?


Need a SoulBreaths refresher? Click this popup: Soul Matrix recap


Judaic (orthodox), Messianic Judaic, and Christian teachings stand in agreement: 
Death isn’t the end. It’s another beginning. The soul is eternal. There’s a resurrection coming at the end of days—אחרית הימים—orchestrated by the hand of G-d.

Resurrection to everlasting life for the righteous . . . resurrection to judgment for the others, per Daniel 12:2 and John 5:28-29.


God said to Moses, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” At this, Moses hid his face because he was afraid to look at God.Exodus 3:6


What was G-d saying?
I am the G-d of your father—not I was.
I am the G-d of the living . . . not the dead.
Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob have long past from this world, 
and yet, they are alive.
I am their G-d.

The resurrection of the dead is so entrenched in biblical doctrine that it became the thirteenth principle of the Jewish faith, as defined by The Rambam—Moses ben Maimonides, a renowned, 12th-century rabbinic scholar and philosopher.


I believe with complete faith that there will be a resurrection of the dead at the time when it will be the will of the Creator, blessed be His name and exalted be His remembrance forever and ever.—Maimonides, his Mishnah commentary, tractate Sanhedrin 10:1


The resurrection of the dead is understood in Pirkei Avot (Ethics of our Fathers)—a book containing the rabbinical, ethical/moral teachings from the Mishnaic 2nd century CE period when the oral teachings of Torah were transcribed into a six-part document with 63 tractates, covering various areas of Jewish law.


Rabbi Yaakov said:
This world is like a lobby before the World to Come;
prepare yourself in the lobby so that you may enter the banquet hall.
—Pirkei Avot 4:21


Sound far-fetched? Then consider this.


There are many sneak peeks—real accounts of real people who were resurrected—throughout the Bible. Ten stories are given to nudge our faith toward the main event up ahead.


Those ten accounts—the sons of Jewish and gentile widows, a daughter of a synagogue leader, a dead Jewish man entombed for four days, and all the rest—are shared further down in this article.




Of course, not everyone takes resurrection at face value.


Exhibit A. Orthodox Judaism strongly adheres to the resurrection teaching. But other Jewish sects—Reform, Conservative, Reconstruction, Renewal, Humanistic—typically stray from that biblical core truth to one degree or another. Like the biblical understanding of a Messiah, each person is left to believe or not . . . mostly, not. Or greatly questioning it, at best.


Truth be told, even back in the Second Temple period—1st century CE—the two major sects of the day didn’t agree either. The Pharisees believed “every soul is imperishable” and only the righteous souls would have a bodily resurrection, while all others would enter eternal punishment. Their Judaic counterpart—the Sadducees—pooh-poohed the soul’s eternal existence, the resurrection, angels, and spirits, per Acts 23:8.


Exhibit B. It goes without saying that belief in a resurrection—G-d’s ability to resurrect, His word saying as much, and the examples of it in scripture, particularly of the Messiah, Jesus [Yeshua, his Hebrew name]—is the bedrock of Messianic Judaism and mainstream Christianity. Fringe spin-offs of Christianity, those who like to use the Christian label but not its biblically based belief system, think otherwise.


And then there’s Exhibit C. The rest of the masses who fall within the cracks of Exhibits A and B. Everyday people, artists, writers, thinkers, believers, agnostics, seekers, sojourners, and what-nots.


People like Shakespeare—with his presumably resurrected Hermione in A Winter’s Tale, explored in the Resurrection Jewish Style: Part 2’s What’s the Point of a Resurrected Body, Anyway.


Or the previously mentioned Emily Dickinson, the not-so-believing religious poet whose inner turmoil—paradoxical soul matters, resurrection doubts, and burgeoning transcendental views indicative of the 1800s—unleashed a divergence from her staunch, Calvinistic-Protestant upbringing.


Grand go the Years—in the Crescent—above them—
Worlds scoop their Arcs—
—Emily Dickinson, “Alabaster Chambers”


I appreciate Dickinson. Her editorial uniqueness. Her questioning. Her honesty for writing about those spiritual wanderings. And to a point, I agree. The arc of each life is a rise and an inevitable fall. The years, vanquished. Past glories, abdicated.

Yep, we’re all on a dust-to-dust journey.


 And Firmaments—row—

Diadems—drop—and Doges—surrender—

Soundless as dots—on a Disc of Snow
—Emily Dickinson, “Alabaster Chambers”


Her poetic musings are intellectually heady—and on a literary and editorial level, they are unconventionally daring for her time. But soul wise, they’re flat. They lack the rest of the story.


Maybe it’s because that’s what happens when we break faith. Turn our heads for a second and start chasing the waistcoated White Rabbit down, down, down the long, dark hole.


You know, when we make something else the main event. When we allow a single thing, anything, everything to eclipse, compromise, or reinvent what G-d faithfully has revealed to humanity throughout time about Himself and the raison d’être of our soul journey down here for what lies ahead.


When the altar of G-d is abandoned . . . replaced by the amalgamated altar of self-reliance, nature, self-mysticism, academia, intellect, philosophy, science, and just about anything else.


That’s not to say there’s something wrong with using our intellect, forging new science, appreciating nature, philosophizing about life, etc.


Far from it.
And it doesn’t mean we can’t question or doubt. 
Questioning is part of the faith-in-action process.


But when pride rises up and we fall in love with the sound of our voices and the reasonings/imaginations of our minds . . . that’s a horse of a totally different color. That’s when we brazenly deconstruct His truths, diminish His ways, reconstruct our golden calf, and collectively build our Tower of Babel.


Breaking faith—breaking that relationship with Him—robs the soul of its Source.


A broken faith flits about, like a butterfly hovering over the bloom of biblical truth but refusing to drink its robust nectar—G-d’s resurrection-empowering nectar that spiritually (and one day, physically) transforms dry bones.


Thank you, Ezekiel 37.
That’s where the L-rd says He’ll breathe new life into old bones.
And we’ve already seen Him perform that promise gloriously with Israel—in 1948 and 1967.



G-d made resurrection pretty clear. These ten examples aren’t just hints. They are real stories about real people who breathed their last, mourned, entombed or on their way to that tomb—then were resurrected to demonstrate G-d’s power, compassion, and future promise. Their historic accounts are listed below. Of course, these resurrected people went on to live again . . . but eventually, had to die again and await the resurrection.


That is, all except one.


And now, ten real-life resurrection accounts. 



1 Kings 17:10-24. Meager, drought-riddled times. The place was Tzarfat [Zarephath]—a Phoenician city between Sidon and Tyre in Lebanon. Read how G-d intervened for this widow.


2 Kings 4:20-37. Opening scene: The village of Shunem, north of Jezreel in the Tribe of Issachar’s land. Elisha, anointed by G-d, honors this woman, saves her son.


2 Kings 13:20-21. The prophet Elisha fell sick and died, his body placed in a burial cave. Time passed. Then one day, some men came to bury another man. Amazing G-d power happens next.


John 11: 1-44. Lazarus of Bethany and his two sisters—Miriam and Martha—were Jewish followers of Jesus [Yeshua] and close friends of the famed rabbi. One day, Lazarus falls sick. His sisters send a message to Jesus to please come, knowing of his healing miracles. The rest of the story is jaw-dropping.


Mark 5:21-24, 35-43. Jesus [Yeshua] had been ministering to a crowd of people near the Sea of Galilee—casting out demons, healing the sick, etc. A Jewish synagogue official named Ya’ir fell at the feet of Jesus, pleading desperately. “My little daughter is at the point of death. Please! Come and lay your hands on her so she will get well and live!” Despite naysayers, Jesus moves . . .


Luke 7:11-16. Jesus, his twelve disciples, and a large crowd went to a lower-Galilee town called Na’im, just south of Mount Tabor within the boundaries of the Tribe of Issachar. As he approached the town gate, a dead Jewish man was being carried out for burial. Jesus took pity on the man’s widowed mother . . .



John 19, 20, 21. Egged on by Jewish authorities and decreed by Rome’s Pontius Pilate, Jesus was crucified at a place called Gulgotha, outside of Jerusalem, died (proven), then was prepped for burial and entombed. The event of all resurrection events was about to happen.



Matthew 27:50-53. Right after Jesus breathed his last on the crucifixion stake, the earth shook, rocks split, and tombs were opened. What about the bodies in them? Read this.



Acts 9:36-41. The Messianic Jewish community was being built up in Judah, the Galilee, and Samaria. Their numbers, multiplying. A beloved woman named Tabitha—Dorcas in Greek—died. She was esteemed for her tireless charitable work making clothes for the poor, widows, and others. Then G-d stepped in.



Acts 20:7-12. Pharisee Saul Paulus had a Damascene encounter with the ascended Jesus—and thereafter became a believer in Jesus (Yeshua) as Messiah. Saul traveled extensively to spread the truth of the Messiah—often amid great persecution. Then one day as he was teaching . . .



Check out the next three segments of Resurrection Jewish Style—and the scriptures further down to encourage your faith and walk in the L-rd.


what’s the point of a resurrected body, anyway?

why does an orthodox rabbi—a non-messianic at that—believe in Jesus’ resurrection?




The soul is immortal—Judaically and biblically speaking.


The bodily resurrection of the dead is the hope for the righteous in the coming Messianic Age. The Word of G-d says it best. Here are some examples.


Your dead will live, my corpses will rise;
awake and sing, you who dwell in the dust;
for your dew is like the morning dew,
and the earth will bring the ghosts to life.
—Isaiah 26:19


Many of those sleeping in the dust of the earth will awaken, some to everlasting life and some to everlasting shame and abhorrence.
—Daniel 12:2


Yeshua [Jesus] answered them, “And as for whether the dead are resurrected, haven’t you read what God said to you, ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob?’ He is God not of the dead, but of the living!
—Yeshua speaking to the Sadducees, Gospel of Matthew 22: 31-32


Do not be surprised at this because the time is coming when all who are in the grave will hear His voice and come out—those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to a resurrection of judgment.
—Gospel of John 5:28-29


I continue to believe everything that accords within the Torah and everything written in the Prophets. And I continue to have hope in God, which these men cherish themselves, that there will be a resurrection of both the righteous and the unrighteous. Indeed, it is because of this that I make a point of always having a clear conscience in the sight of both God and man.
—Former Pharisee Saul Paulus (later called the Apostle Paul), presenting his defense before Caesarea’s Governor Felix, as well as the cohen hagadol (Jewish high priest) and Jewish elders, Acts 24:15




McFarland, Philip (2004), Hawthorne in Concord, New York: Grove Press, p. 149, ISBN 0-8021-1776-7.


Royot, Daniel (2002), “Poe’s humor”, in Hayes, Kevin J, The Cambridge Companion to Edgar Allan Poe, Cambridge University Press, pp. 61–2, ISBN 0-521-79727-6.


Resurrection series created between March 30, 2016 – July 3, 2016

Resurrection Jewish Style: Part 1’s Real-Life Accounts

By SoulBreaths Author [ 4 years ago ]

Jerusalem's Eastern Gate

Three resurrection accounts set the spiritual ball in motion.

© All rights reserved.


Resurrection starts in the Tanakh (Hebrew Bible)—and is followed by seven more accounts in the B’rit Chadashah (New Covenant/Testament). It’s a bridge-crossing event of epic proportions, regardless of what part of the bridge you’re on . . . Judaic, Messianic Judaic, or Christian.


Each time, G-d peels back a piece of the spiritual dimension so we can evidence His power and catch a glimpse of the resurrection promise to come. Yep, resurrection is real and it’s the main event up ahead.


Click this pop-up for a recap of the Resurrection series.


And now . . . here are the first resurrection accounts from the Hebrew Bible.



1 Kings 17:10-24


Meager, drought-riddled times. The place was Tzarfat [Zarephath]—a Phoenician city between Sidon and Tyre in Lebanon.


The great prophet Elijah [Eliyahu] stood at the city gate, where he saw a gentile widow gathering sticks. Perhaps hesitantly, he asked for a little cup of water, then later, for some bread. But she only had enough flour and oil to make a last meal for her son and herself before they starve to death.


Eliyahu instructed her not to fear, but to bake him the bread—and then bake more for her and her son. The widow’s obedience was honored. The flour and oil never ran out during the drought. Time passed and the widow’s son became ill. Increasingly ill. The boy stopped breathing and died. The prior favor of the L-rd seemed to have vanished from the widow’s house, replaced with a potential future life of bitter judgment.


Eliyahu took the boy from the mother’s lap, carried him upstairs to the prophet’s upper room and laid the boy on the bed. Crying out to the L-rd, questioning why this misery was put upon the widow, the prophet Elijah made a faith move. He stretched himself out on the child three times and pleaded for Adonai to allow the child’s soul to be returned into the body.


G-d’s compassion prevailed. Eliyahu carried the now-revived child back to his mother and said, “See? Your son is alive.”

 * * * 



2 Kings 4:20-37

Opening scene: The village of Shunem, north of Jezreel in the Tribe of Issachar’s land.


Elisha was a disciple and prophet-successor of the great prophet Elijah [Eliyahu]—as well as a frequent guest of a Jewish Shunammite, a woman of means and rank who prepared an upper room for his visits.


Rabbinic teachings speak highly of her hospitality, saying we all should bring a Torah scholar under our roofs, giving them nourishment and allowing them to partake of all that we possess. [Perek Zedakot 1]


To honor the Shunammite woman’s kindness, the L-rd told Elisha that the childless woman would bear a son, even though her husband was old. A year later, she indeed gave birth to a son. But when the child was a bit older, he died. A woman of resolute, bold faith, she laid her child on the prophet’s bed in the upper room, shut the door, and went out. She asked her husband to quickly send her a servant and a donkey so she could leave immediately to see the prophet Elisha.


Elisha wastes no time. He gives his staff to his servant Geichazi, ordering him to dress for action and go ahead to the woman’s house—but warns him not to stop or answer anyone and to lay his staff on the child’s face. The servant obeyed, but the child didn’t stir. No sound, no sign of life. Later Elisha arrives and goes to the room, shuts the door, and prays to Adonai. Then he stretched himself out on the child, putting his mouth on the child’s mouth, his eyes on the child’s eyes, his hands on the child’s hands.


As Elisha performed that prophetic action, the child’s flesh began to grow warm. The prophet went back downstairs, walked around the house for a bit, then went back up and once again stretched himself out on the child. The child sneezed seven times—then opened his eyes.


The prophet called for the Shunammite woman. When she arrived, Elisha said, “Pick up your son.” She fell at his feet, prostrated herself on the floor, then picked up her son and went out.


The soul connection to those seven sneezes? In Genesis 2:7, G-d blew into Adam’s nostrils the soul of life. Some used to posit that sneezing meant the soul was exiting from that same place it entered. Who knows, maybe the seven sneezes were “death” exiting so the new, resurrected breath of G-d could enter and revive the child.


* * *



2 Kings 13:20-21


The prophet Elisha fell sick and died, his body placed in a burial cave. Time passed. Then one day, some men came to bury another man. But when they spotted their enemy—a Moab raiding party—coming near, they were so frightened, they just hurled the dead man’s body into Elisha’s burial cave. The moment the dead man’s body touched the bones of Elisha, it came to life . . . and the newly resurrected man stood on his feet.


So I’m thinking, if those guys were freaked out about the Moabites closing in, they probably totally lost it when that dead man was resurrected. Seriously.



Check out all the segments of Resurrection Jewish Style.

what’s been revealed


real-life accounts


real-life accounts cont’d


what’s the point of a resurrected body, anyway?


why does an orthodox rabbi—a non-messianic at that—believe in Jesus’ resurrection?


Resurrection series created between March 30, 2016 – July 3, 2016

Resurrection Jewish Style: Part 1’s Real-Life Accounts cont’d

By SoulBreaths Author [ 4 years ago ]

Jerusalem's Eastern Gate

Seven more resurrection accounts nudge the spiritual ball further—much, much further.

© All rights reserved.


Just in case we weren’t paying attention to G-d’s sneak-peek resurrections in the Tanakh—three accounts in the Hebrew Bible hinting at the end-of-days promise to come—He gave us seven more that take on even greater momentum for those willing to read the B’rit Chadashah (New Covenant/Testament). 


Six of those seven New Testament accounts are in this post . . . the seventh account deserves its own post.


Click this pop-up for a recap of the Resurrection series.


Drum roll, please . . . six of the seven resurrection accounts found in the New Testament.



John 11: 1-44

[Note: Bridge-Crossing Account Up Ahead]


Lazarus of Bethany and his two sisters—Miriam and Martha—were Jewish followers of Jesus [Yeshua] and close friends of the famed rabbi. One day, Lazarus falls sick. His sisters send a message to Jesus to please come, knowing of his healing miracles. But Jesus opts to stay two more days where he is and prophetically says, “This sickness will not end in death . . . it is for God’s glory.”


The days passed and Jesus tells his disciples that Lazarus is “asleep”—meaning died. “I’m glad I wasn’t there so that you will come to have faith. Let’s go to him.”


By the time they get there, Lazarus had been dead four days. That’s right—four days in the tomb. But Jesus nudges the sisters’ faith.


Jesus says to Martha, “Your brother will rise again.”
In true Jewish fashion, she answers, “I know that he’ll rise again at the Resurrection on the Last Day.”


But Jesus wasn’t referring to the end-of-days resurrection. He meant now. This is the part when it gets really, really good—and why this is one of the most dramatic resurrection accounts in the Bible. Adonai was about to reveal the resurrection-and-life power in Jesus as Messiah.


Jesus, the two Jewish sisters, the many Jewish mourners, and the Jewish disciples walk to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone lying in front of the entrance.


“Take the stone away!” Jesus says.

But Martha warns him, “By now his body must smell—it’s been four day since he died!”

Jesus answers, “Didn’t I tell you that if you keep trusting, you will see the glory of God?” 


So they remove the stone. Jesus looks upward and says, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I know you always hear me, but I say this because of the crowd standing around, so that they may believe you have sent me.


Then Jesus called out. “Lazarus, come out!”
The man who had been dead came out.
His hands and fee wrapped in strips of linen and his face covered with a cloth.
Jesus said, “Unwrap him and let him go!”


Unlike the prophets Elijah and Elisha who had to continue to pray over a body and stretch out over it, etc. before the body was resurrected, Jesus merely commands life with the words and power of God—and it’s done.


Not surprisingly, many of the Judeans who had come to visit the sisters and seen what Jesus had done believed in him as Messiah. But not all. Nope, some ran to the Pharisees and told them about the resurrection. Well, you can imagine how that went over.


The head cohanim (priests) and the Pharisees called a meeting of the Sanhedrin. They weren’t pleased—and began plotting to not only kill Jesus, but to do away with Lazarus as well since it was because of his resurrection that large numbers of Judeans were leaving their leaders and putting their faith in Jesus as Messiah. (John 12: 9-10)

* * *



Mark 5:21-24, 35-43

[Note: Bridge-Crossing Account Up Ahead]


Jesus [Yeshua] had been ministering to a crowd of people near the Sea of Galilee—casting out demons, healing the sick, etc. A Jewish synagogue official named Ya’ir fell at the feet of Jesus, pleading desperately. “My little daughter is at the point of death. Please! Come and lay your hands on her so she will get well and live!”


Jesus agreed to go, the crowd of people pressing in on him on all sides. A woman touched the hem of his garment and was healed of her twelve-year bout of hemorrhaging. Then people from the synagogue official’s house arrived and said, “Your daughter has died. Why bother the rabbi any longer?”


Ignoring what they said, Jesus tells the synagogue official, “Don’t be afraid, just keep trusting.”


Jesus let his disciples Peter, James, and John follow him to the man’s home. At the house, there was great commotion—understandably. Weeping and wailing. “Why all this commotion and weeping? The child isn’t dead, she’s just asleep!” Jesus said. The people jeered at him, so he put them all outside, then took the child’s parents and his three disciples with him to the child.


Jesus took the twelve-year-old child by the hand and said, “Little girl, I say to you, get up!” At once, the girl got up and began walking around.


Everyone was amazed. Jesus told them to give her something to eat—and gave strict orders for them to say nothing about the event to anyone.


Yeah, I’m not so sure they obeyed that last request . . . especially since we’re still reading about it and telling the miraculous event 2,000 years later.

* * *


Luke 7:11-16

[Note: Bridge-Crossing Account Up Ahead]


Jesus, his twelve disciples, and a large crowd went to a lower-Galilee town called Na’im, just south of Mount Tabor within the boundaries of the Tribe of Issachar. As he approached the town gate, a dead Jewish man was being carried out for burial. Surrounded by a sizable crowd, the man’s mother—a widow with no other children—wept and walked with the others. A bleak future lay before her.


When Jesus saw her, he felt compassion for her and said, “Don’t cry.” Then he came close and touched the coffin—the pallbearers stopped.


Jesus said,” Young man, I say to you, Get up!”
The dead man sat up and began to speak. And Jesus gave him to his mother.


They were filled with awe and gave glory to God. The report about Jesus spread throughout all Judah and the surrounding countryside.


These accounts beg the question.

Since resurrection is an obvious Jewish teaching,
then why don’t people believe
the resurrection of yet another Jew?

* * *



Matthew 27:50-53

[Note: Bridge-Crossing Account Up Ahead]

Right after Jesus breathed his last on the crucifixion stake, the earth shook, rocks split, and tombs were opened. After Jesus was resurrected, many bodies of the righteous were raised and appeared in the Holy City to many. When the centurion and his fellow soldiers who had been guarding the tomb of Jesus saw the earthquake and what took place, they were filled with awe and said, “Truly, this was the Son of G-d.”


* * *



Acts 9:36-41

[Note: Bridge-Crossing Account Up Ahead]


This resurrected record happened well after Jesus had been crucified, buried, resurrected, and forty days later, ascended into heaven.


The Messianic community is being built up in Judah, the Galilee, and Samaria. Their numbers, multiplying. A beloved woman named Tabitha—Dorcas in Greek—lived in the Mediterranean port city Joppa, about 30 miles south of Caesarea. A believer in Yeshua (Jesus) as Messiah, she was esteemed for her tireless charitable work making clothes for the poor, widows, and others.


In time, Tabitha grew ill and died. After washing her, they laid her in a room upstairs.


The Messianic believers heard that Peter—a well-known disciple of Jesus—was in nearby Lydda and sent for him to come without delay. When he arrived, all the widows were standing around Tabitha’s body, sobbing and showing Peter all the dresses and coats she had made for people.


Peter put them outside, knelt down and prayed.
As a believer in Yeshua (Jesus) as Messiah, he was indwelt with the power of the Holy Spirit and had learned how to step into that heaven-earth soul connection to hear G-d’s voice and know what He was doing, what He was saying, how He was leading.


In obedience to G-d’s voice, Peter turned to the body, he said, “Tabitha, get up!” She opened her eyes, saw Peter, and sat up.


He offered his hand and helped her to her feet, then called the believers and widows, presenting Tabitha to them alive. Many people put their trust in Jesus as Messiah because of what God had done for Tabitha.


* * *



Acts 20:7-12

[Note: Bridge-Crossing Account Up Ahead]


Pharisee Saul Paulus had a Damascene encounter with the ascended Jesus—and thereafter became a believer in Yeshua (Jesus) as Messiah. He traveled extensively to spread the truth of the Messiah—often amid great persecution.


At one point in his travels, Saul Paulus spent five days in Troas, an ancient Greek city on the Aegean Sea, near Turkey’s northern tip. He taught and ministered to followers of the Messiah. On the first day of the week, he gathered with believers to break bread. Since he was going to leave the following day, he prolonged his message until midnight.


There were many oil lamps burning in the upstairs room where they were meeting. A young man named Eutychus was sitting on the window sill. As Saul Paulus continued teaching, the young man eventually grew sound asleep and fell from the third-story window.


When they picked him up from the ground, he was dead. But Saul went down, threw himself onto him, put his arms around him. His faith went into action. Saul said, “Don’t be upset, he’s alive!”


Then Paul went back upstairs, broke the bread and shared it with everyone. He continued teaching until daylight—with everyone greatly relieved the boy was brought back to life.


* * *



Check out all the segments of Resurrection Jewish Style.

what’s been revealed


real-life accounts


real-life accounts cont’d


what’s the point of a resurrected body, anyway?


why does an orthodox rabbi—a non-messianic at that—believe in Jesus’ resurrection?

Resurrection series created between March 30, 2016 – July 3, 2016

Resurrection Jewish Style: Part 2’s Why A Bodily Resurrection?

By SoulBreaths Author [ 4 years ago ]

picture from

Shakespeare’s Winter’s Tale revived: From the barrenness, brokenness, and blackened leaves of our wintry lives to the real latter rain that G-d promised—bodily resurrectionwhere our soul matrix becomes a wheel within a wheel.

© All rights reserved.
Picture: Tree archway in snow, Edinburgh (Source:


We were as twinned lambs that did frisk i’the sun,

And bleat the one at the other: what we changed

Was innocence for innocence; we knew not

The doctrine of ill-doing, nor dream’d

That any did. Had we pursued that life. . .

—Polixenes, Act 1, Scene 2, Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale


Yes, Polixenes, if only we had.


In Shakespeare’s play, Polixenes—King of Bohemia—describes his childhood relationship with Sicily’s King Leontes as twins, buddy buddies, innocents. That is, until life happened and they were cast out of their Gan Eden-ish (Garden of Eden-ish), grace-like existence and into Leontes’ irrational rampage, where he goes all Othello on his wife, Hermiones, and longtime buddy, Polixenes.


For the sake of the plot—not entirely unlike our own life stories—the characters don’t choose the more innocent path . . . leaving Shakespeare to expose familiar elements of the soul’s journey—its rise, decline, fall, redemptive resurrection.


I am a feather for each wind that blows.
—Leontes, a deranged soul consumed with misjudgments
Act 2, Scene 3, Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale


Shakespeare’s tale bulges with jealousies, accusations, misjudgments, malicious lies, for-the-better-good lies, over-the-top emotional reactions, bitterness, relationship splits, disloyalty, paranoia, tyranny, expulsions, broken hearts, death, presumed resurrection, some reuniting, and renewal.


The Bard of Avon even turns the physical tables of the atmosphere to mirror the inner soul rumblings of his characters‘ interactions—Sicily’s Mediterranean warmth and light are vanished, replaced by a wintry heart of darkness.


It’s the stuff of life.
More to the point, the stuff of a nefesh-driven life—the lower part of the soul matrix.
Self-focused. Earthly tethered.
And largely the reason why we need a bodily resurrection.



journeying between weight and responsibility


Okay, so you’re not exactly like Shakespeare’s Antigonus, the king’s advisor who was chased off stage by a bear. But “bears” and their presumed Shakespearean connotation—the word appearing about 12 times in the play, teetering between bearing the onus for your actions and their related guilt, with the fierce “bearish” beast appearing in the midst of it all—do have their place in your soul experience and its aftermath, your future resurrection.


Bearing your soul.
Bearing the weight of your actions—good and not so good.
Bearing the scrutiny of others and our internal self.
Bearing the hardships and testings along life’s journey.

Bearing the responsibility for what you’ve said, done, thought, written, shared, taught, imposed, desired, touched, took, gave, blessed, cursed, healed, harmed, lifted up, brought down.

Bearing the yoke of heaven.

Bearing the final outcome of it all—with your soul’s work salted by fire, tested by His Holiness/Purity and either reduced to ash and stubble or glorified in Him.


Think of it as your winter’s tale. Birth. Life. Death. Resurrection. The place where the physical and spiritual fuse, divide, then fuse again. It’s how your life begins—and how it unfolds on its way to a spring revival that will last eternally.


Your multi-layered soul—a matrix of sorts, made of your real essence—is stitched into your body (which is part of your soul matrix) while in the womb. Together, they embark on a journey and specific life work . . . a work that ignites your soul-body refinement, laying the foundation for your bodily resurrection.




Three Hebraic expressions are used interchangeably in scripture for “breath”and “soul”—neshama (highest of the three-part soul matrix), ruach (human spirit), nefesh (lowest soul part, includes the body).


Collectively, these elements reflect the soul’s life force, emotions, intellect, and umbilical-like connection to G-d.


Each soul part reveals aspects or dimensions of the soul matrix.
Each one, distinctive, yet interconnected and interdependent.
Each one, a gift from G-d.
Each one, having purpose, value, and needing care.
Each one, playing a part in your now and future bodily resurrection.


Indeed. The entire soul matrix belongs to the L-rd.

הַנְשָמָה לָך וְהַגוּף פְּעֳלָך
The soul is Yours, and the body is Your handiwork.


Need a reminder? Click this popup: Soul Matrix recap



The nefesh makes a way for the higher soul parts—neshama and ruach—to join the body in a human experience in this worldly dimension.


For you and me, that’s often an issue. A big one. An inner battle that impacts not only this side of heaven . . . but what happens at the bodily resurrection.


Neshama focuses on pulling the soul matrix upward into the things of G-d—raising the level, glory to glory for a spiritually fruitful life.


Ruach can get swept upward—but also can be brought downward into the nefesh’s world-centered grasp.


Nefesh focuses on earthly desires, often pulling the soul matrix downward with greed, twists, turns, outer influences, etc.—yet its real mission is supposed to be surrendering to the will of G-d, referred to as the nefesh needing to “accept the yoke of heaven.”


A cause more promising than wild dedication of self to unpathed waters, undreamed shores.
—Camillo, Act 4, Scene 4, Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale


Per Judaic thought—Maimonides, the renowned 12th century Jewish philosopher—whenever character traits get out of sync, they erect a veil that blocks the flow of divine light to the soul.


For those on the other side of the Judaic-Messianic bridge, a New Testament passage in Ephesians 4 explains it even further . . . teaching that when the soul is darkened, the heart is blinded and becomes callous, losing all sensitivity and indulging in every kind of impurity with greediness.


All that can contribute to a crisis of faith, causing the soul to feel removed from G-d—or worse, feel He has turned away.


We need a bodily resurrected state at the end of days
to reorder the soul matrix into a holy alliance.


The earthly tug-of-war shifting in your neshama-ruach-nefesh soul life may not be to the extent of Shakespearean drama or some seamy, edgy movie . . . it can be subtle. Far, far more subtle.


This news is mortal to the queen:
look down and see what death is doing.
—Paulina, Act 3, Scene 2, Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale


How is death working in the soul? With subtle—and often culturally acceptable—movements. Look what death is doing.

murder by an unkind, thoughtless, or arrogant mouth

murder by critical thought

murder by facial expressions

murder by ignoring the widowed/fatherless/poor/needy

murder by apathy

murder by turning from G-d’s ways and thoughts



real meaning of the latter glory being greater than the former


Rabbinically speaking, winter, rain, and resurrection are linked. But it’s how the neshama-ruach-nefesh tango plays out vs. the giver-receiver nature of G-d that creates the substance of your individual bodily resurrection tale.


Think of G-d.
Essence of Love.
Essence of Goodness, Holiness, Truth, Wisdom, Pure Purpose.
Loving Father.
Releaser of His Goodness and Love to His creation.
Receiver of creation’s praise and love.
Circular funnel of Love, Goodness—desiring to flow out from Him to you, soaking through you, pouring over you, and back to Him, so on and on and on it goes.


Now think of the nefesh (with the body).
Compelled by this world.
Will to receive for self—not give.
Not surrendered to the yoke of heaven.
Separated from neshama, enticing the ruach to be pulled downward.
One-way street.


And therein is the reason behind the soul matrix battle—and the need for a resurrection. You weren’t created to stay locked in this war-torn state forever. This present leg of the journey is meant to help your soul matrix become something more. Something greater. You are to emerge and walk in your heavenly reality—how you already exist in His heart, in His mind, in Him.


With a bodily resurrection . . . the war is over.
The receiver-driven nefesh body is dead, corrupted, disintegrated.


The King has conquered death.


The seasoned soul matrix has been tested, tried, hopefully having been submerged and empowered by His Truth, Life, Way, Word.

If so . . .

A glorified body awaits you—clothed in G-d’s righteousness, revealed and released through your neshama and ruach.

Nefesh is no longer tethered to earthly realm.
Neshama floods the newly glorified vessel with G-d’s Goodness, Holiness, Love.
Nefesh works in holy harmony with the neshama and ruach—in alignment with G-d.
Nefesh is transformed into a vessel that gives and receives in a sanctified way, without self-gratification/self-adoration—raised in the image of G-d, mirroring His circular, love-funnel nature, a complete circle of His flow.

With the bodily resurrection,
the neshama-ruach-nefesh matrix
finally can operate in
holy, giving-receiving state,
in sync with G-d . . .
a wheel within a wheel.


Something that can’t be done solely in our
earthly, winter journey.



G-d says you and I are like trees—Psalm 1:3, Psalm 92:13, Psalm 52:10. Read those scriptures here.


A tree is vibrant, flourishes, bears fruit, stretches its roots and branches. But in winter, it’s dormant, still, laid bare.


Rain comes after the barrenness, brokenness, and blackened leaves of winter.


The rain heralds in the spring, hope, vegetation, new beginnings. The Talmud calls the time of the resurrection the “rainy season.” The resurrection will usher in a spring, a hope, a lasting fruitfulness.

Hosea 6:2-3. After two days, he will revive us; on the third day, he will raise us up; and we will live in his presence. And let us know, let us strive to know the LORD: like the dawn whose going forth is sure, and He will come to us like the rain, like the latter rain  which satisfies the earth.


The latter rain is the greatest glory.
The latter rain is bodily resurrection.


So we all need to take heed during this earthly “winter tale” journey to live and walk wisely.


What plays into your soul’s future resurrection? Your relationship with the real G-d—the only one, the one of the Bible, not some version of “god” or what religion may/may not say about Him—and your life choices.


The question for any of us is this: Will it be a bodily resurrection to everlasting life . . . or a resurrection to judgment?
(Daniel 12:2 and John 5:28-29)



Check out all the segments of Resurrection Jewish Style.

what’s been revealed


real-life accounts


real-life accounts cont’d


what’s the point of a resurrected body, anyway?


why does an orthodox rabbi—a non-messianic at that—believe in Jesus’ resurrection?


In the shadow of the ladder, Rabbi Yehudah Lev Ashlag (Maimonides character traits)

R.. Sproul:

Resurrection series created between March 30, 2016 – July 3, 2016

Resurrection Jewish Style: Part 3’s Rabbi-Jewish Scholars Defend Jesus’ Resurrection

By SoulBreaths Author [ 4 years ago ]

Rolled stone from tomb

The resurrection event that changed everything—on both sides of the Judaic-Messianic bridge. What an orthodox rabbi and Jewish scholars have to say about the resurrection of Jesus (Yeshua).

© All rights reserved.


The world’s history has long encompassed extremes—light, darkness, goodness, evil, sagacity, folly, hope, discouragement . . . and the ultimate dichotomy, death and resurrection.


It’s the stuff authors love to write about, carefully mirroring this up-down, soul-matrix existence in their art, which sometimes winds up reflected back into life. Remember the seesaw duality of Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities?


It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,
it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness,
it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity,
it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness,
it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair,
we had everything before us, we had nothing before us,
we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way . . .


Thankfully, G-d doesn’t leave us out to dry in our fractured state of humanity. We will rise from the abyss of death. He not only made a way for us to know Him and have a genuine relationship with Him—He’s also pulled back the veil several times to give evidence of the hope that is on the horizon: the bodily resurrection at the end of days—acharit hayamim [אחרית הימים].


I see a beautiful city and a brilliant people rising from this abyss.
—Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities


And, yeah, as shared in Resurrection Jewish Style-Part 1, it’s good news/bad news. There will be a resurrection to everlasting life for the righteous . . . resurrection to judgment for the others. (Daniel 12:2 and John 5:28-29.)


But G-d gave us ten resurrection accounts—seriously, count them—to encourage us. Three in the Hebrew Bible (Tanakh) and seven in the New Testament (Brit Chadashah). Resurrection is the bedrock of traditional Judaism and Messianic Judaism/Christianity.


And yet, all those resurrection accounts beg the question.

Since resurrection is an obvious Jewish teaching,
then why do some people give
an acknowledging nod
to many of those accounts . . .

but discount 
one resurrection in particular?
Namely, the historical resurrection of 

Well, one modern-day orthodox rabbi didn’t.
Nor did some other Jewish biblical scholars and rabbis.


author, Jewish scholar, theologian specializing in the New Testament


Clearly a non-messianic, Lapide had a real bridge-crossing view. He even wrote a book in 1979 about it: The Resurrection of Jesus: A Jewish PerspectiveIt made quite a stir back then, even garnering attention in Time magazine’s religion section.


Lapide (1922-1997) and his scholarly process were all about rediscovering the Jewish aspects of early Christianity. After all, Jesus (Yeshua) and his followers were Jews.


Now I don’t agree with his inference that Jesus (Yeshua) is only the messiah for the Goyim/Gentiles—although there was a time I danced around that tune, but 300 fulfilled prophecies can’t be ignored. Yet, Lapide’s convincing arguments in favor of Jesus’ resurrection as a historic event are worth noting.


Per Lapide, the “Hebrew Bible knows of the translation of Enoch (Genesis 5:24), a transfiguration (Saul: I Samuel 10:6), an ascension (Elijah: 2 Kings 2:11) and three resurrections [which G-d] carried out through the hands of His prophets.” Namely: I Kings 7: 17-24; 2 Kings 4:18-21, 32-37; 2 Kings 13:20-21.


Not a single case was met with unbelief in Israel, per Lapide.
Nope, not one.


The hope and belief in resurrection were so ingrained in Judaic thinking, it became part of the daily prayer from Moses ben Maimonides’ Thirteen Articles of Faith: “I believe with full conviction that there will be a resurrection of the dead at a time which will please the creator.” (Maimonides—aka The Rambam—was a renowned, 12th-century rabbinic scholar and philosopher.)


Lapide also commented that postbiblical literature gives reports of several miraculous healings, multiplication of bread, diversion of a flood, victory over demons, rainfall after prayer, etc.


So the historic resurrection of Jesus
wasn’t a bizarre, non-Jewish event.
And it wasn’t so-called magic or a scheme.
It was real.
From the hand of Adonai, G-d Himself.
In fact, over the 40-day period following his resurrection,
Jesus appeared to his disciples, others, and over 500 people at once.


In addition to Lapide’s scientific analysis of Jesus’ resurrection—which includes support for the genuineness of Saul Paulus’ Damascene experience—he mentioned two other points as further support: (1) G-d permitted the women to be the first to witness and give testimony of that resurrection—when they held no value in the culture; (2) many  Jewish believers were willing to die defending their belief in Jesus’ resurrection.


He also addresses the hotly debated three-days-in-the-tomb issue. Even Christians battle out the calculations. But Lapide gives a smart Judaic response: It’s not a literal expression in the Hebrew Bible.


Lapide says, for those with ears biblically educated, that three-days-in-the-tomb expression refers to the clear evidence of G-d’s mercy and grace that is revealed after two days of affliction and death by way of redemption.


  • Genesis 22:4. On the third day, Abraham lifted his eyes . . . [before the Akedah, the binding of Isaac]
  • Exodus 19: 16. On the morning of the third day, there was thunder . . . [before G-d’s Sinai appearance]
  • Genesis 42:18. On the third day, Joseph said to them . . . [before releasing his brothers—except one—to return to Canaan]
  • Jonah 1:17. Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days . . . [before he was saved]
  • Esther 5:1. On the third day, Esther put on her royal robes . . . [Israel saved after bitter affliction]
  • Hosea 6:2. After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will raise us up . . . [before He comes like the spring rain to water their souls ]




Per Lapide, the Pentecost testimony of the apostles—claiming the crucified Jesus had risen—proved a big pain you know where for the Sadducees. But for the Pharisees or the majority of Jews, it was a “problem seriously to be investigated.” They knew a resurrection was “entirely in the realm of the possible (Sanhedrin 90b).”


And also per Lapide’s book (pages 137-138, 142), the spiritual heirs of those Pharisees—today’s Jewish rabbis and biblical scholars—have commented on the matter from different angles.


  • Maimonides—renowned rabbinic authority. “All these matters which refer to Jesus of Nazareth . . . only served to make the way free for the King Messiah and to prepare the whole world for the worship of G-d with a united heart, as it is written: Yea, at that time I will change the speech of the peoples to a pure speech, that all of them may call on the name of the Lord and serve him with one accord (Zeph. 3:9). In this way, the messianic hope, the Torah, and the commandments have become a widespread heritage of faith—among the inhabitants of the far islands and among many nations, uncircumcised in heart and flesh.”
  • Rabbi Samuel Hirsch—pioneer of the Jewish Reform movement. “In order that Jesus’ power of hope and greatness of soul should not end with his death, G-d has raised in the group of his disciples the idea that he rose from death and continues living. Indeed, He continues living in all those who want to be true Jews.”
  • Rabbi Leo Baeck—author of The Essence of Judaism. “They [disciples of Jesus] were seeking the Messiah, the son of David, the promised one, and they found and beheld him in Jesus. His disciples in Israel believed in him even beyond his death so that it became to them an existential certainty that he—as the prophet foretold—had risen from the dead on the third day.”
  • Rabbi Samuel Sandmel—prolific author, theologian, an authority on Jewish-Christian relations. “Only a Jew whose unique combination of qualities was extraordinary could have been thought by other Jews to have been accorded a special resurrection.”
  • J. Carmel—Israeli teacher/author, who says he regrets the Gospels aren’t at home in the framework of Jewish literature. “If the prophet Elijah has ridden a fiery chariot into heaven, why should not Jesus rise and go to heaven?”


Without the Sinai experience—no Judaism.
Without the Easter [Passover/Crucifixion/Resurrection] experience—no Christianity.
Both were Jewish faith experiences whose radiating power . . .
were meant for the world of nations.
For inscrutable reasons, the resurrection faith of Golgotha [crucifixion location]
was necessary to carry the message of Sinai into the world.
Rabbi Pinchas Lapide



John 19, 20, 21


[Head’s up: Bridge-Crossing Account]


Egged on by Jewish authorities and decreed by Rome’s Pontius Pilate, Jesus was crucified at a place called Gulgotha, outside of Jerusalem. Pilate had a sign posted on the cross in three languages, Hebrew, Latin, Greek: Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.


Two criminals were crucified that day as well, one on either side of Jesus.


It was Friday, a day of preparation for the Shabbat [Sabbath]—a special one because it was Passover week. The Jewish leaders didn’t want the bodies hanging there the next day, so they asked Pilate to hasten the deaths of the three men by breaking their legs. The soldiers broke the legs of the men on either side of Jesus, but when they came to him, they saw he was already dead.


One soldier took his sword and pierced Jesus’ side. Immediately, blood and water poured out. He died without one of his bones broken, fulfilling Psalm 34.


Joseph of Arimathea—a Jew, a man of means, a respected member of the council, and a follower of Jesus—asked Pilate for the body of Jesus. Pilate granted permission.


Joseph and another Jew, Nicodemus—a Pharisee, member of the Sanhedrin, and follower of Jesus (John 3)—took the body, wrapped it in linen sheets with the myrrh-and-aloes spices, in accordance with Judean burial practice, and placed the body in a new tomb (previously purchased by Joseph of Arimathea for himself), located in a nearby garden. Shabbat was nearing and they had to work fast.


A huge stone locked the entrance—and Pilate had soldiers guard the tomb, worried about the stories of Jesus’ promised resurrection.


Early on the first day of the week—Sunday—when it was still dark, Miriam from Magdala along with Miriam (the mother of James), and Salome went to the tomb in hopes of someone to roll the stone away so they could anoint the body with spices. [Mark 16]


But the stone was already rolled away.


Miriam Magdala ran to tell the disciples Peter and John, who immediately went to the tomb and saw that it was empty. Not understanding, they returned home, perplexed. Miriam stood outside the tomb crying, then bent down to peer in the tomb. Two angels sat where the body of Jesus had been—one at the head and one at the feet. 
[Reminds me of the two angels facing one another on top of the Arc of the Covenant.]

“Why are you crying?” the angels asked Miriam.

“They took my Lord, and I don’t know where they’ve put him,” she cried.

Just then, she turned and saw Jesus standing there.


In the evening of the same day—the first day of the week—the disciples were gathered behind a locked door, fearful of the Judeans.


Jesus appeared, stood in the middle, and said, “Shalom aleikhem!”
He showed them his hands and his pierced side.


Throughout the next forty days, he appeared to many people, per convincing proofs, and spoke of things regarding the Kingdom of G-d. He appeared to  . . .


(1) several women immediately afterward (Miriam Magdala, Miriam, Salome, Joanna)

(2) Simon Peter

(3) his disciples at various times (e.g. in an upper room and at the Sea of Galilee and on a mountain in the Galil)

(4) two disciples on the Emmaus Road

(5) his half-brother, James

(6) over 500 people at the same time (1 Corinthians 15:6)


Unlike the other resurrected people mentioned in the Bible, Jesus didn’t have to die a second time. He’d conquered death. He ascended into heaven, witnessed by his disciples: Simon (Kefa/Peter), Andrew, John, Ya’akov ben Zavdi (James, son of Zebedee), Philip, Bartholomew (Nathanael, Bar-Talmai), T’oma (Thomas), Mattityahu (Matthew), Ya’akov bar-Halfai (James, son of Alphaeus), Simon the Zealot, and Taddai (Thaddeus, also known as Judas—not Iscariot, but the son of James).

While he was blessing the disciples, Jesus ascended into heaven, returning back to the Father. His followers evidenced him being taken up into a cloud (Acts 1). Right afterward . . .


Two men clad in white robes said to his followers:
“Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven?
This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven,
will so come back just as you saw Him go into heaven.”


* * *



Check out all the segments of Resurrection Jewish Style.

what’s been revealed


real-life accounts


real-life accounts cont’d


what’s the point of a resurrected body, anyway?


why does an orthodox rabbi—a non-messianic at that—believe in Jesus’ resurrection?


Resurrection series created between March 30, 2016 – July 3, 2016

Soul Climbing: Four Realms Of Prayer

By SoulBreaths Author [ 4 years ago ]


Your soul ascending the heaven-earth connection.

© All rights reserved.
[Article originally created 2009, then revised January 2015 and July 2016.]
Picture: William Blake’s Jacob’s Ladder (ca. 1800) British Museum, London (Source: Wikipedia).


Jacob’s ladder. Your soul’s vehicle to encounter ha makom (the place)—a place like no other. A place of sanctity and a portal to the highest realm . . . a portal to ha makom, your deepest reality, G-d Himself.


The One who not only is in the holy place, but He is the holy place.


I’ve long been intrigued by Jacob’s ladder—a stargate as one of my old rabbis used to call it. Whenever he’d say that, it would make me feel like I was sitting smack dab inside a Star Trek episode rather than a shabbat Torah study.


Nonetheless, rabbinic thought over the ages has viewed Jacob’s ladder from different perspectives: Steps of the soul, steps of Torah, steps of divine revelation—and even steps of various realms of prayer. And I dare add, steps to moshiach. 


Whatever theological-philosophical bent you wish to take, the bottom line is, each rung moves you. Takes you deeper, higher into your soul and into ha makom, where you experience a divine encounter—inhaling, exhaling the very ruach (spirit) of G-d.


With each rung’s experience, you transform your soul into a dwelling place for Him.




In an essay based on Rabbi Schnuer Zalman’s discourse, Rabbi Yosef Y. Jacobson begins with Jacob’s dream at Mt. Moriah, where our patriarch experiences a prophetic encounter.


“A ladder etched on the earth, while its peak reaching the heaven; and behold, angels of G-d are ascending and descending on it, and G-d is standing over him.” Genesis (B’reishit) 28:12.


Per Jacobson, the Hebrew words “ladder” (sulam, סולם) and “voice” (kol,קוֺל) contain the same numeric value (136) and together reflect “voice of prayer.”


Interestingly—per a post about Parashat Vayetze [1]—the word sulam is only used once in the Tanakh. It also has been translated as “stairway” and could be derived from סלל, meaning to lift or cast up—as in to lift the voice—or also could be derived from solela (סוללה), a defensive mound of earth around city walls.


Sounds like empowering battle strategies to me. A ladder or stairway to G-d . . . where you can lift up your voice to Him and wind up fortifying your soul from earthly and spiritual assaults.


My Soul.
I summon to the winding ancient stair;
Set all your mind upon the steep ascent,
Upon the broken, crumbling battlement,
Upon the breathless starlit air,
“Upon the star that marks the hidden pole;
Fix every wandering thought upon That quarter
where all thought is done:
Who can distinguish darkness from the soul
—A Dialogue Of Self And Soul, W.B. Yeats


Prayer is our Jacob’s ladder, pathway to G-d . . . where we are ever looking up as we transcend glory to glory, never looking down or back. Judaically, four realms exist within that—based on Isaiah 43:7 where G-d called us by His glory, created us , formed us, and made action.



(Asiya, G-d has made. Our soul’s “action garment” or life force/vitality of actions.)

The road is straight—we’re the ones who construct the left turns, right turns, dead ends.


Prayer’s first rung on the ladder is about getting things back on track, re-synced with Him . . . in your heart, soul, mind. Love is the fabric of your “action garment” that nudges you to depart from yourself, for yourself. Spending time with the L-rd—in spite of that lethargic, self-willed nefesh, your life force/animal soul tied to the things of this world that you probably wrestle with daily.


In Song of Solomon 2:10, 13b, G-d beacons us: “Arise, my darling, come away.” Now that’s a holy offer that has hodo l’HaShem written all over it—surrender to G-d.


When the word “arise” appears in the Torah, a physical and a spiritual shift are in play.


Movement is taking place. G-d is asking you to arise from where you were—mentally, spiritually, emotionally, physically—and transition geographically to a secluded place with Him, spiritually and on all other fronts.


That takes arising from your neutral state of daily being and leaving behind what you considered your norm to go away with your beloved—to a quiet place, a different place for your soul and within your soul.



(Yetzira, G-d has formed. Our soul’s “speech garment.”)

Prayer is two-sided. It’s relational. It’s your soul’s communication life line with its Creator. It starts with developing a genuineness before G-d. Raw honesty. No-holds-barred. Respect.


Why give Him anything less? It’s not like you can hide, manipulate, or fool Him . . . right?


Besides, your neshama—highest part of your soul that’s attached to G-d—hungers to get the rest of your soul matrix in alignment with Him.


Dig deeper. Click this popup: Soul Matrix recap


Don’t be afraid. He’s your dad . . . the really, really, really good one. The one you can count on. The one who didn’t and won’t leave you or forsake you. He only wants to do good for you, in you, and through you.


Jacobson says this world of “Yetzira” (formation) is where you “redesign your hard-drive” through a “rigorous process of introspection, humility, honesty and courage.” He calls it a “weeding out” in line with the second, spiritually reflective section of morning prayers (verses of song/praise called “Pesukei Dezimra”), which help us “realign ourselves and our world with their true reality . . . their authentic essence with G-d.”


In other words, linking up the surface of reality
with the depths of your soul’s reality.
Because alienating yourself from G-d,
alienates you from the truth of who you are—a total


Meaning? Your soul has a level of that reality and needs connecting to the depth of that reality so you can forge ahead, ascending the rungs of your Jacob’s Ladder to enter the deepest parts of G-d. Your soul needs redesigning, conforming to His reality—not yours. 


That takes complete and continual weeding . . . no seeds left to resurrect.


Scary stuff sometimes. Reformatting your soul’s hard drive, as Jacobson mentioned, means losing everything—but it also means getting a do over . . . a restarting, recreating, renewing, regenerating . . . on a pristine platform. 


You become reformatted via His dynamics, His emotional structure so you can carry His divine essence, His truth, His reality back down your ladder into your life and the world around you. A clear, manifested shift in your physical environment occurs, which impacts the spiritual . . . and vice versa. 


As in the previous rung, it all begins with hodo l’ haShem, surrendering to G-d. And in all prayer, it means going before Him with kavanah—spiritual focus and awareness . . . not rote.


Getting real and going deeper in Him translates to losing that
long, one-sided laundry list of petitions.


Quietly wait in His presence. Let Him talk for a change. G-d has things to say. Important things. A better perspective. A game plan of what’s best in your life for every situation facing you. And He even has the right words to reveal to you, showing how to intercede for others with real power—His kingdom power.


Let His flashlight of introspection beam through your soul. As He highlights (brings to the forefront of your soul’s mind) areas that need repentance (180-degree mindset change), journey through the process of humility before your King.


What’s done in spirit
with Him, led by Him, in Him
will be manifested here on earth.
And that’s what walking in the heaven-and-earth connection is all about.


Bridge-crossing thought.


Reminder: This site explores both Judaic and messianic thought to bridge understanding.


A vivid example of hodo L’haShem (surrendering to G-d) is found in Yeshua (Hebrew name of Jesus). Those who believe in Yeshua as messiah know from accounts in the New Testament that he often left his disciples (talmidim) and retreated to a quiet place where he could connect with Adonai.


While his soul constantly surrendering to Adonai and lifting its voice to heaven in that heaven-and-earth connection, he saw what the Father was doing—and did it. What he heard the Father praying, he prayed. However the Holy Spirit was leading, he followed.


Adonai’s thoughts became his thoughts.
Adonai’s ways became his ways.
Yeshua emptied himself out to be filled with G-d’s presence
in total obedience . . . to the Law and Adonai.


Adonai had laid the fullness of His presence (Sh’khinah/glory) on Yeshua, per John 1:14, 51.


And through the fullness and power of Adonai’s Ruach ha Kodesh, Yeshua brought down the reality and truth of the Father into our human reality . . . and in that holy and complete surrender, he actually became Jacob’s Ladder, the connection, the link between Adonai’s divine revelation/Cloud of the Presence and us.


The result?
He healed the sick. He rose the dead. He cast out demons.
The blind saw, the lame walked,
the lepers were cleansed, the deaf heard.
Everything was changed.
Heaven had invaded earth with its glorious presence.


Perhaps that is why Yeshua’s talmidim (disciples/students) were moved to ask, “Teach us how to pray.” In other words, “how do we do what you’re doing . . . reach the level of your understanding of—and relationship with—the Father . . . how do we climb to connect to the Father?”


Adonai demonstrated His love for us through His moshiach, making him the pathway to
 G-d’s freedom road—he became the way to that road, is that road, is that heaven-earth ladder, and is, in essence, our reboot.



On rung three of the prayer ladder, submerge into His presence, going deeper still as you surrender more to Him. Let Him ravish your heart, soul, and mind with His love, cleansing, mercies, which are new each day.


Worship is the most powerful spiritual warfare tool you have. Use it. Put on a garment of praise—honest, from-the-soul worship vs. singing rote, liturgical songs or repetitious chants.


Battle through any obstacles by singing His Word, scriptures . . . His promises, psalms, or any other scriptures that declare His goodness.


Sing from your soul, let the Holy Spirit (Ruach haKodesh) impart a new song, new melody, new rhythms, new lyrics so you can give true honor to your King.


Most importantly, listen to what the Spirit is saying and leading you to do.


Press into His heavens and continue to surrender your soul to His presence . . . let the waterfall from His throne flood you with understanding, wisdom, new revelation, and His Heavenly perspective. It will release you to new depths of His being and lead you into His secret place.



(Atzilut, G-d’s Name and Glory. Our soul’s nearness and awareness to Him.)


Your soul is a living tablet, like the tablets given to Moses on Mt. Sinai. In your times of intimacy with Him, G-d etches Himself within you.


His Name, which is His character, permeates your being and becomes the very structure of your soul.


Your soul’s identity is revealed through intimacy with Him.


In times of genuine intimacy with G-d—seeking Him with your whole heart, hungering for Him, where He becomes your soul’s desire—you learn who He really is . . . who you really are . . . and what He’s calling you to be and do.


It’s in intimacy that He strips away the old, dead, decaying stuff that’s clogging up your soul.


A secret place. Special place. Not of this world, yet you are standing in this world and heaven at the same moment.This is where you are to dwell . . . in Him, in that holy, uncommon place where heaven and earth intersect.


Sweet, holy, cherished. Touching the unseen King and receiving prophetic revelation. That connection that shifts the atmosphere around us and brings His Kingdom into our daily lives and the world around us.




At the end of the day, faith must preside. Whatever we think or think we think . . . know or think we know . . . have or think we have . . . must be set down so we can journey up that ladder to the face of G-d.


And, yep. Expect some arm wrestling. Entering that state of hodo L’haShem (surrendering to G-d) at any juncture or with any issue of our life is a process. Maybe even a l-o-n-g process. That’s especially true for those of us who have learned to drill down and increasingly question as a means to learn more deeply.


Avraham had ten rungs on his ladder—ten tests of faith—that led him to being called ” tzadik” (righteous) before the L-rd.  The first was “lech lecha,” a command from G-d initially given to Abraham, but to us now as well to “go for yourself” or “go to yourself” or “go into yourself.” It was a physical journey away from his homeland/people as well as a spiritual/soul journey into himself for himself where he encountered deeper levels of G-d, shed false expectations, allowed his soul to be reconstructed so he could put on a finer garment: an intimate relationship with G-d.


May we all have the faith, trust, and soul desire to do the same.




Both the Judaic and messianic camps share this reality: As personal and private as that one-on-one encounter with G-d is as you transcend Jacob’s ladder, it is not meant to be self-contained. Nor is it meant to be left at the altar. It’s a precious, holy gift—a treasure of His love, presence, and revelation—that must be guarded, cherished, shared.


Your one-on-one G-d encounter needs to be released into your everyday life where it can muffle your yetzer hara (evil inclinations, your flesh) and its self-focused desires/ways.


In fact, both Judaic and messianic thought appear to agree with that. Check out these scriptures below, related to that as well as to this blog post topic.


Isaiah 42:6*. I am the L-rd; I called you with righteousness and I will strengthen your hand; and I formed you, and I made you for a people’s covenant, for a light to nations.


Isaiah 60:3*. And nations shall walk at thy light, and kings at the brightness of thy rising.


Psalm 43:3*. Send out your light and your truth; let them be my guide; let them lead me to your holy mountain, to the places where you live.


Psalm 89:16*. Fortunate is the people that know the blasting of the shofar; O L-rd, may they walk in the light of your countenance.


Matthew 5:14-16.

You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house.Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.


Luke 11:34. The lamp of your body is the eye. When you have a ‘good eye,’ [that is, when you are generous,] your whole body is full of light; but when you have an evil eye, [when you are stingy,] your body is full of darkness.


Luke 5:15-16. But the news about Yeshua kept spreading all the more, so that huge crowds would gather to listen and be healed of their sicknesses. However, he made a practice of withdrawing to remote places in order to pray.


John 1:4. In him was life, and the life was in the light of mankind.


John 1:50-51. Yeshua answered him, “you believe all this just because I told you I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than that!” Then he said to him, “Yes indeed! I tell you that you will see heaven opened and the angels of G-d going up and coming down on the Son of Man!”


John 5:19. Therefore, Yeshua said this to them: “Yes, indeed! I tell you that the Son cannot do anything on his own, but only what he sees the Father doing; whatever the Father does, the Son does too.


Ephesians 5:10. Walk as children of Light (for the fruit of the Light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth),trying to learn what is pleasing to the L-rd.


* Hebrew Bible scripture/numeral reference


Blog article originally created 2009, then revised January 2015 and July 2016.

Soul Stilling: Three Hours Of Silence

By SoulBreaths Author [ 5 years ago ]

Under your tallit, Adonai, I will find refuge.

Come up to the mountain and stay there.” (Exodus 24:12)


© All rights reserved.
[Expanded from a 2009 post about Feasting within the Fast; revised January 2015.]


Soul whispering . . . that’s what I desire. Swimming in G-d’s murmuring deep. Speaking soul to soul. Listening for His stilled, small voice.


That means going higher to go deeper—not pitching my tent in the lower mountain places. A change in the physical moves the spiritual . . . and a shift in the spiritual births breakthrough in the physical. One vehicle for that: fasting.


But that’s fasting as He leads. That way it’s not about struggling, striving, wavering.


It can be done on many levels, many ways. A step away from food or certain foods, from daily living activities, from passions or distractions—replaced by time with Him, acts of mercy, prophetic intercession in the heavens that will set the captive free.


The deeper you press into heaven and His presence, the more the things bound to this natural realm dissipate. Revelation and movement within the heaven-and-earth connection during a fast often eclipses physical hunger. Your “food” is now spiritual . . . satisfying . . . energizing. Not of this world, yet co-existing within your physical world.


Fasting also helps realign your soul matrix. Your nefesh—the lower part of your soul that naturally gravitates to the things of this world—takes a back seat. The neshama, higher component of your soul’s matrix attached to G-d, is widened. It becomes a funnel for His whispers, His illuminations of the Word, and His revelations.


Your soul awakens and is released from nefesh’s gravitational pull . . . then ushered into His dark cloud of Glory. Everything around you may feel surreal. But in actuality, it was never more real. You are “seeing” with spiritual eyes and “hearing” with spiritual ears.


It’s there that you can enter the King’s realm . . . where His royal authority, unmeasurable majesty, untouchable holiness and unseen power are high, lifted up. You fall to your knees, overcome by His glory. Your soul trembles under the weight of His power . . . His love . . . His kingship.


Obedience seems to be no longer an option, but a soul-throbbing, unquenchable desire.
Earthly food and thoughts fade. During a deep-work fast,
you taste the real manna from heaven, the bread of the Almighty.




I cherish the works and teachings G-d is instilling in my soul these days. But I also honor works He did in the past because they form the roots of what is happening within my soul today. Like this story . . .


The L-rd took three of my girlfriends and me on a joint spiritual journey back in 2009—a year filled with “bridging” lessons that, personally speaking, catapulted my walk into new directions on many levels.


It all started by hanging out at His well with these three friends who desired to go deeper. We each came from slightly different spiritual backgrounds and approaches, but honored G-d and His Word. Judaic/messianic thought was respected. 


We agreed to meet regularly via phone for prayer and subsequent G-d-called fasts. The actual parameters of each fast differed and intensified per the individual intercessor—but the leading of the “when” and the “how long” always fell in absolute unison.


The L-rd had impressed on me that the various things He had me fasting from would last more than an appointed number of days . . . it would become my way of life going forward.


Throughout that first year, we ascended from group prayer time to a higher level of intercession and onto prophetic intercession, visions or words given, hearing His voice of what to say or do (or not) as we spiritually swam in His murmuring deep.


The bottom line lesson—obedience is birthed out of love for Him.




G-d kept fine tuning our ears and heart. On May 25, 2009, we entered our regular time for intercession via phone. But there was nothing “regular” about this special G-d encounter.


Simultaneously while on the phone—without any of us discussing it or sharing what we were experiencing—we each entered a stillness. No words. His Spirit fell over us to silence us and command us not to speak. We had learned from prior group experiences to hear and heed. And now we were taking the test. Would we obey . . . even if it made no sense in the natural?


Yep, with His grace, we would.


Three to three-and-a half hours later . . . He lifted the silence.
Amazing. We had sat in absolute silence on the phone in obedience.
None of us knowing what the other intercessory partners were thinking or doing.
All we had was our personal command for silence before Him.




We also had to learn how to come up to the mountain and stay there  so we could walk in His healing and power—and not pitch our tents in the “low” places, walking in the damage of our souls. Love was rising and we had to make a conscious effort to choose love actions—toward our G-d, our King of Glory, our family, friends and those we encounter.


Adonai said to Moses (Moshe), “Come up to me on the mountain, and stay there. I will give you the stone tablets with the Torah and the mitzvot I have written on them, so that you can teach them. Moses (Moshe) got up, also Joshua( Y’hoshua) his assistant; and Moshe went up onto the mountain of God.  To the leaders he said, “Stay here for us, until we come back to you.”—Exodus 24:12-14*




G-d’s take-away love lesson? Be still. Wait. He is King. Yes, we have access to His Holy throne room—but understand the seriousness of His Lordship. He is King and—as in ancient days of earthly kingships—we can speak when He, the King, directs. And in that time  of silently waiting for His “nod” to speak, we must rest attentively to hear His voice within our souls.


Psalm 62:6*. My soul, wait in silence for God alone, because my hope comes from him.


Judges 3:19*. The king commanded silence, and all his attendants withdrew.


Luke 11:28. But Yeshua said, “Far more blessed are those who hear the word of G-d and obey it!”


* Hebrew Bible reference numbers.

NOTE: Expanded from a 2009 post about Feasting within the Fast; revised January 2015.

Soul Rising: Feast Within The Fast

By SoulBreaths Author [ 5 years ago ]

A free flying white dove isolated on a black

Fasting is for the spiritual adventurist, the soulish deep-sea diver . . . not the surface skater.


© All rights reserved.
[Expanded from a 2009 post of same title; revised January 2015.]


Fasting is a matter of turning down the world’s noise and tuning into G-d. It’s not about a bunch of man-made, religious rules and regulations. It’s about love. Love for Him . . . and a desire to go deeper, press further and forsake other “stuff” for the opportunity to encounter Him in a hidden, holy place. A place that is not tethered to this physical world with its distractions, clamoring demands and earthbound desires. A place where your soul’s senses—hearing, sight, feeling, smell, taste, spirituality—are sharpened and fine-tuned to G-d.


And when that occurs, you’ve entered into shift territory. Shifts in you, in others, in situations. It’s the stuff the whole Jacob’s ladder and heaven-and-earth connection is made of. In other words, fasting isn’t focused on what you’re not doing (not eating, not watching TV, not shopping or whatever else you’ve forfeited for a period), but on action.


That action begins with quieting your soul, climbing into the crevices of His Word to excavate new treasures, worshiping Him and journeying into deeper intercession. But it’s more than bunkering up in your “prayer closet” for the duration. In fact, it’s the rest of the story that apparently really attracts G-d’s attention and ignites change.



G-d lays down the parameters of what He considers a holy fast—and what doesn’t. Just look at Isaiah 58 . . .

You fast with contention and strife to strike viciously with your fist.
You cannot fast as you do today, hoping to make your voice heard on high.
Will the fast I choose be like this:
A day for a person to deny himself,
to bow his head like a reed and to spread out a sackcloth and ashes?


 The answer is a flat no. What G-d wants us to do is fast in a way that reflects His heart: break the chains of wickedness, set the oppressed free, tear off yokes, share with others, reach out to the poor and homeless . . . then watch as your soul’s menorah lights up the world around you and pleases your King.




1. justice—release those wrongly bound . . . even those who are bound-up in situations because of your prior actions, words, offenses .  . . or those who are bound up by the enemy and need the salvation message.


2. freedom—lift those from servitude, usury oppression and break every heavy yoke . . . even the yoke of false accusations and slander from your lips.


3. generosity—meet the needs of people in trouble and fulfill your duty to your community .  .  . even by feeding your neighbors or the poor, by clothing those who need it or by volunteering in an outreach to help others.


When you take passionate action during a part of your fast time to actualize the things that are tender to His heart, people are freed, saved, released, blessed, healed, fed, clothed, transformed.


And you? You’re catching the L-rd’s love showers.


Here’s His promise, per Isaiah 58, if you do His chosen fast . . .


1.  spiritual growth—your light will burst forth, your previous gloom/worries will be replaced with His joy, truth, understanding.


2. healing—newness will replace those old wounds (emotional, spiritual, physical) and your strength will be renewed.


3. well-guarded—His glory will follow you, guide you and satisfy your needs even in the desert . . . when you call, He will answer, “Here I am.”


4. spiritually nourished—your soul will be like a watered garden, a spring that never fails.


5. warrior-strong, retaking the land—your soul will be readied to rebuild those ruins in your life, repair broken walls, restore your life’s streets so you can stand on His foundations and journey on His path.




Going deeper with G-d through fasting helps you regain perspective and healing. That’s true in Judaic and messianic thought.


So you’re stepping into a holy fast? Sababa (cool)! Expect to evidence change, be changed, and encounter His Holiness. G-d, in His amazing kindness, lifts you up from the mundane, the tangible, and reveals words of wisdom or knowledge, helping you see within and without.

NOTE: Expanded from a 2009 post of same title; revised January 2015.


What’s Up Ahead

By SoulBreaths Author [ 5 years ago ]

Least Terns, Alameda NAS CA

Soulbreaths is birthed from sailing in G-d’s murmuring deep. Check back regularly for the latest reads or email to learn when there are new posts.


In my murmuring deep . . . for a not-to-distant release:

  • Downton Abbey’s soul lessons
  • Beginning within a beginning within a beginning
  • The wedding
  • Endeavour’s heart battle—England’s prequel to Inspector Morse
  • What is truth
  • Under the shelter of His tallit
  • Soul living & the Divergent factions
  • Reflections on Torah portions
  • Living a still life
  • No risk, no reward
  • Releasing your soul story—how my book developmental editing/direction can guide you in writing your journey to encourage others 


Journey on

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