Like a Spider's Gossamer Web
Sept 6, 2014 Study Group
“Like a spider’s gossamer web”
At Marc’s new abode with mezuzah /blessing of home first!
Center of Circle with set with a Mandala of Directions: placed on round copper plate; Center=community candle “Circle of Friends” holding hands; south=bowl of water; west with volcanic rock from Joshua Tree for earth; north with incense for fire; east with owl wing for Air, outer circle west Oryx horn, north with deer antlers, east with ram’s horn, south – no specific Hebrew reference, so rabbit fur for innocence.
Discussion about maintaining the presence of Torah in our study: If we focus on animal totems separate from Torah reading focus or using other references, reminder to return to Torah. Use of torah references from Chaim’s table to go deeper with an animal. Tanach has been a source for our readings over the years including Torah, Writings (Ketubim) and Prophets. We can foray into other realms and refer back to Torah references of the animal, Torah is always present and we ourselves, each individual, are Torah too!
There was a suggestion regarding study of ‘cattle’ or livestock as this is mentioned frequently in Torah. Need for sacrifices. Goats, sheep. The Presence of animals was integral to daily Hebrew life on many levels, and is reflected in Torah/Tenach. Our lives were immersed with animal life providing a range from livelihood, relationship, identity and symbolism. We experience the powers of domestic and wild animals. The Torah references animals in terms of what the animal does or produces and used metaphorically.
There was expressed in the group a need for expressing our own personal connections with animals, as a ‘totem’ or how we are moved by experiences and identity with animals and their qualities. The need to return to our indigenous Hebrew souls is important part of our exploration.
Oryx horn passed around – speed round -We went around the circle as many times as needed for everyone to speak names of animals that are present in our lives, place their energy in the circle.
Focused in on spider: Job 8:8-8:14. …’the hope of the impious whose trust is like a spider’s gossamer web.’ Denotes fragility in life when piety is absent. Also, spider webs are literal traps, denoting being trapped by trust in in something other than the Divine. This is a negative connotation, a weakness reference of delicacy of web, yet others noted that spider webs are also in reality one of the strongest things in the world, with engineers trying to imitate its qualities. (not to mention it’s refined beauty). . Spiders are wondrous in many ways. A web may be destroyed today and be recreated the next day – tenacity and continuous revival/survival.
But also there is a positive/strong quality of Protection by the spider with the Midrash of David in Judea, fleeing from Saul’s desire to kill him due to his Jealousy of David’s charisma and popularity and deep friendship with Jonathan (possible homosexual reference?). While hiding in the cave, Saul’s army passes him by due to spider web created across the cave entrance – creating the illusion of implausibility of David hiding in that cave - (similarity - passed over homes by angel of death during Egyptian loss of first born). The spider has protected him – a Divine intervention. And it was more than protection, it was also doing what was right (morally and per destiny?). We needed David to survive for the fate of our people. Reference also to Charlotte’s Web wherein she protected using her web. So, Spider/Akaveesh (H) the word implies “conquer or manage”, also weave/agile/swift. The spider is both strong and fragile. Weaving a web displays a management of desires.
There’s also a non-animal, yet another cave story in Samuel relating to King Saul, when he, as the first King, fell asleep in a cave during his search to kill David. David discovered him asleep but did not use this opportunity to harm him, instead tearing Saul’s garment, counting a coup over Saul, i.e. ‘ I was at an advantage, could have ended your threat to my existence, but chose instead, to show you mercy and spare your life.’ This is a Kindness with power, and a hidden overcoming of being driven by fear.
Our first king, Saul was desired by the people, to be like other nations, but the prophet Samuel warned against this. It was also mentioned that Saul was moody, implying a mental illness i.e. Mood disorder, or paranoia.
We briefly looked at Kelev/dog who has been with humans since prehistoric times. The word implies heart (k’lev literally means “like heart”). Mentioned in Deuteronomy as part of the phrase “a harlots hire, and exchange for a dog” are not used for an alter offering, as they were an abomination representing ill-gotten gains. Dogs could be trained to be vicious therefore a public menace.
Implications for our sense of animals as reflected through Kashrut. Animals may not be eaten for both being poorly or highly regarded. (bottom feeders, intelligent/beautiful/useful alive) As well as customs such as not eating the wing tips on chicken as it represents the spirit and freedom of the animal. Discussion of Kashrut (wild/domestic), the animals we mentioned in our speed round for future study.