Vaeyra - Finding God's Name

"And G*d spoke to Moses, and said to him: "I am Adonai (YHVH), and I appeared to Abraham to Isaac, and to Jacob,
as El Shadai, G*d Almighty, but by My name Adonai I made Me not known to them." Exodus, Shemot 6:2.
Have you ever wondered what the Torah means when it says, And G*d spoke..?" As in the quote above, the second Torah portion in the book of Exodus, Va-ayra, begins this way.

Receiving a sacred message

In 1987, I received a name for G*d that I had not been raised with, and found shortly thereafter, that others were beginning to use this name, as well. G*d spoke, I think, but not in the usual way.

This is my story. I was sitting in the Sukkah in my backyard, the hut Jews build each year during the holiday of Sukkot. It is an old tradition to invite historic guests to come to one’s Sukkah, and a different ancestor is suggested for each day. Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Aaron and David are the usual list. That year a yearning rose up in me to welcome one of our foremothers, and I decided to meditate on inviting one to come visit.

Sitting comfortably, I closed my eyes and breathed quietly, until I felt myself in a receiving mode. Then I focused on my desire to meet one of my Biblical ancestresses.

After a few moments, I visualized a beautiful young woman, dressed in a white robe, her long, dark hair flowing over her shoulders. She walked slowly towards me.

"Who are you?" I asked.

"I am Miriam," came the reply. "Lie down. I have come to bring you a gift."

In my mind’s eye, I lay on the ground, and I saw her move her hands, as if to slice open my womb. Her presence was loving, and I was not afraid. She then took an etrog (a lemon-like fruit) and placed it inside my uterus. On sealing the opening, she said, "Wait until the time is ripe."

With these words, she disappeared from my sight.

I came out of my meditative state, astonished by the vision and the message. Although I had experienced many inspiring visualizations, this one felt more like a real-world experience than like an altered state of consciousness. What could it mean? It clearly was a conception message of some kind. The etrog had been implanted within me, as an embryo is implanted within a uterus. Some new spiritual idea was gestating in the womb of my mind, and would in time bear fruit.

For the next few weeks, I eagerly awaited my spiritual baby. When it did not appear, I settled in for a long wait, confident that I was gestating something of personal significance.

It was nine months later, in July, when the etrog image birthed itself in the mental image of mayim chayim, living waters. These were waters of healing, the waters of the well that followed Miriam in her wanderings through the desert. They were the waters that nourished and healed our people’s spirits during their arduous and arid journey to the Promised Land.

The waters then flowed forth out of me in a song called "Mayim Chayim," and in the idea of forming a havurah (informal prayer group) that would be a loving and nurturing group open to exploring meditation and healing, and other forms of inner exploration and growth. It was easy to find a group of seekers to start this adventure, and we began what was to be an important vessel of spirituality for us.

The havurah dissolved after a few years, but I noticed that the idea of mayim chayim, living waters, had sprouted up in different parts of the Jewish world. Other songwriters were writing about it; other groups took the name; and still others were using the image in new liturgy or in creative ritual. A close variation on the name was ma’ayan or ma’ayanot, welllsprings, or makor, fountain or source.

The sacred names that I knew from the prayer book were Adonai, Lord, or Eloheynu, our G*d. These were names that were very masculine, and quite anthropomorphic. It seemed now as if a different image for G*d had been given, not just to one person, but to many. This name had deeply feminine and nurturing connotations, connected to birth and renewal. Mayim chayim is a name for all who want to feel the living presence of the One, who appears in the image of pure, natural flowing water, illuminated by sparking sunshine.

When I researched the Hebrew Scriptures, I found that Torah has many references to mayim chayim as actual fresh, living water. However, the prophet Jeremiah, who lived around 2600 years ago, understood that mayim chayim was part of G*d’s name.

In Jeremiah 2:13, we read: "My people...have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters, Makor mayim chayim."

In Jeremaih 17:13, the prophet says: "They that depart from Thee shall be written in the earth, because they have forsaken the Lord, the fountain of living waters, Makor mayim chayim."

Mayim chayim is not a new name, but an old name for the Divine revived because it speaks to our time. May we all be open to hearing sacred messages, as they will nourish and sustain our lives.