The Winter Garden
When the Torah scroll is returned to the ark at the synagogue, many congregations declare Lamentations 5:21. “Bring us back to You, O Compassionate One, and we shall return; renew our days as of old!” The congregation joins in expressing a fervent yearning to return to the Garden of Eden. Even in the dead of winter like many are experiencing today.
“Days of old” is the Hebrew word kedem. The word kedem first appears in Genesis 2:8, and means “the east.” Adonai Elohim planted a garden in the east (kedem). It was in kedem that He placed the man which He had formed. Kedem identifies a geographical location which is associated with the Garden of Eden.
Lamentations 5:21 literally says, “Bring us back to You, O Compassionate One, and we shall return; renew our days like kedem.” In other words, renew our days as in the era when we lived in the east, in the Garden of Eden.
The Prophet Isaiah promises that we experience the Garden in the future age of redemption. “For Adonai will comfort Zion. He will comfort all her waste places. He will make her wilderness like Eden, her desert like the garden of Adonai. Joy and gladness will be found in her, thanksgiving and a sound of melody” (Isaiah 51:3).
Ezekiel also prophesies restoration and a return to the Garden. “This very land, which had been desolate, has become like the Garden of Eden!” (Ezekiel 36:35).
On the coldest days of the year, let’s recall the words of the prophets. As we return to Adonai, He purifies us, rebuilds the ancient ruins, and causes Israel to flourish like the Garden of Eden… our Garden home to come.
Published January 23, 2018