Did you notice I didn't email you last week like I usually do? It's because my wife Genevieve and I were busy having a baby! I'll diverge from my usual focus on Hebrew related content to tell you the story. And, actually, because our new daughter's first name and both of her middle names are Hebrew, this will include a fairly high degree of Hebrew related content.
The last month and a half have been a discombobulated time for Genevieve and me. We were down in Albuquerque for the winter when her grandfather in California passed away. So she drove out with our daughter Tirzah in early January for the funeral and to spend some time with her family, while I stayed in Albuquerque to get some work done before coming up to Canada to await the arrival of our little one. Originally Genevieve was going to drive back to Albuquerque and then we were going to head up to Canada together, but because travel insurance doesn't cover pregnant women past 32 weeks and she was already past that, we felt it would be best for her to drive straight up and then I would come up later.
I was planning to leave Albuquerque Tuesday morning and get home to Saskatoon, Saskatchewan above Montana on Wednesday evening. But I decided last minute to leave two days early, on Sunday morning. And thank God I did! Because I got home on Monday evening, and the next night Genevieve went into labour three weeks early. We had a home birth, like we did with Tirzah, with my mother who is a doula helping. My mom and I caught the baby together. Considering the baby weighed 8.5 pounds, it's probably a good thing she came three weeks early!
We announced our daughter's name - Nava - at synagogue on Shabbat, as is Jewish tradition.
Nava rhymes with guava. Genevieve was going to tell people it rhymes with lava, until I pointed out that in Canada we say "lava" like it rhymes with "have a" so that only works in the States haha. Anyway. Nava is a Hebrew word for lovely. It's used several times in the Song of Songs, most notably in 6:4 where the lover says "You are as beautiful as Tirzah, as lovely as Jerusalem!" As you can see in the picture, Tirzah and Nava are sitting right next to each other in the text.
I'm a wordsmith and I have a love affair with words so I'll tell you a little more about this word. Generally speaking, loveliness or beauty are abstract concepts. But Hebrew is a concrete language. And, sure enough, in Hebrew there is a concrete meaning for this word. Nava literally means "home". In other places in Scripture it's translated as dwelling, abode, sheepfold, pasture, and pleasant meadow. What's ironic about this is that in English we have the exact opposite nuance. If we say someone is homely, it means the person isn't particularly beautiful. But if we say someone is nava or homely in Hebrew, we're saying they're gorgeous. Because what could be more attractive than home? For instance, in Psalm 69 where it says "she who remains at home will divide the plunder", the phrase for "she who remains at home" is "navat bayit". This is also the word translated pastures in the famous line from Psalm 23, "he makes me to lie down in green pastures." Which was neat because after the birth I poured a glass and read some Psalms with the family, and the first I felt like reading was Psalm 23. Another notable usage of this word is in Psalm 33 where it says "nava tehila la'yisharim", "praise is becoming to the upright." I remember reading that years ago and thinking that would be such a nice girl's name. But more on that later.
The first thing that struck me about Nava after her birth was how calm and peaceful she was. Rabbi Hirsch says the fuller sense of nava is to "dwell quietly and peacefully", so we thought this name fit what we've observed of her so far, also.
There is one more meaning to the word nava. It's translated in Exodus 15:2 as "praise" in the phrase "this is my God, and I will praise him." And get this. Last Shabbat I was in Albuquerque and went to a home gathering in the afternoon and we watched a Ray Vanderlaan video in which he talked about that very word. He said that nava means oasis or pleasant dwelling and that when the people of Israel used that word, they were essentially offering to become God's dwelling on the earth. I was like wow, nice timing. And then just to make things even more fun, on the drive up to Canada I drove past a town called Onava. Apparently nava's the Spanish word for plateau, so you see it around New Mexico, and in Spanish words like Navajo. Which makes it an even better name for our daughter because New Mexico's our second home. I even Googled people with the name Nava and found a female Mexican boxer named Jackie Nava. So that was comforting. Even though I can't name my daughter Jack, at least I can name her Nava and there's a female boxer out there named Jackie Nava. See, this is so deep. Lol.
So I had mentioned that years ago I noticed the phrase "praise is becoming", "nava tehila". I was actually originally more attracted to the name Tehila, and even talked with Genevieve about it, but we thought it sounded too much like tequila and she would never live it down unless we had two other daughters name Brandy and Sherry or something, so we decided to give her that as a middle name instead. Genevieve had also really liked the name Ephrat, which is an old name for Bethlehem and means fruitful, and it sounds very nice to Hebrew ears but we thought it wouldn't sound as nice to English ears, so we gave her the name Ephrat as a second middle name and will just call her that as a family nickname. So Nava's full name is Nava Tehila Ephrat Avraham.
If you want to write a blessing for little Nava here, we'll read, keep, and treasure it. Thank you for sharing our joy with us.
Shirley is following Yeshua in a Hebrew way! Here's her story.
I consider myself fortunate to have been a student of the Bible from a very young age ... memorizing scripture verses and reciting them in front of a small congregation in rural Canada (earning stars for perfect attendance and every verse!). Our community was very small, so going to church was something almost all of us did. My father, however, never went to church with us... that was “for women and children.” My curiosity caused me to wonder why I saw very few men in the pews, most often they were in the pulpit. I must have asked my father a hundred times (or more) why he didn't come with us and his answer was always the same, “I don't have to go to church to be good.”
It was not until I expanded my horizons in high school, that I became aware of other denominations. During a year of university, I found myself more interested in the international students than my North American peers. Needless to say, those relationships exposed me to other faiths, not just denominations. I could see that my father's lifestyle was a good one: he was well respected in the community, he had many good, loyal friends, as a farmer, he provided for our family, he enjoyed games and was a really nice guy, in my opinion. So I decided to do life his way, and stopped attending church; exploring alternatives to traditional “church” and keeping my interest in spiritual growth.
Ten years later, I could see that my life was spiraling downhill which began a search to find something to hold on to. It didn't take long for those memory verses to come back to me, and this time, I had understanding that had eluded me as a child. At the age of 27 I made a decision to put Christ in the center of my life ... a decision that brought meaning and purpose.
During the summer of my 40th birthday, my husband and I experienced the “mission field” when we took a team of teenagers to Honduras to build a clinic for a medical mission. After two unfortunate pregnancies, we were convinced we would not have children of our own to raise, so this international youth ministry, acquiring property in 23 different countries, became a very big part of our lives.
I stumbled upon a Messianic Passover event in Toronto which caused me to think real hard about some of the confusion in my understanding of the Scriptures. Several years later, I saw my co-workers in this international youth ministry building a life size, portable replica of the tabernacle described in Exodus 25 – 40. Because I worked in their finance department, I wondered if our board of directors really knew what they were doing! This was a major undertaking. When I had the opportunity to sit in the audience while they video taped a 15 hour walk through the tabernacle, I wondered why it would take so long. On the second day of teaching, I realized I didn't need to take notes: everything the “priest” was saying was directly from the scriptures and all I really needed was a highlighter and my Bible. Seeing the tabernacle as a teaching tool opened many doors of understanding for me. I wanted to dig deeper into the Hebrew roots of Christianity.
I recall a time when I might have been 10 yrs old, when I read Leviticus 23 where it is written four times, “do this and do it for all generations.” I wondered who had changed the rules. I wondered about the “three days” prior to the sunrise service we always celebrated at Easter ... and I began to wonder about a lot of other things that just never seemed to make sense. Whenever I questioned these things in the church, more often than not, the answer included something like, “it's for the children” .. and not having children of my own, I knew I no longer needed to be involved with some of the major activities of the “church” as we know it.
I began to meet weekly with a small group of friends who were of like mind. This gathering would fluctuate from 6 – 8 people to 75 – 80 people when/if we invited a speaker to visit us. Learning Hebrew was just a small part of it all. For several years, a few of us were welcomed at a local Reformed Jewish congregation to read Torah on Saturday mornings. Learning Hebrew and more about the Jewish culture was wonderful. Israeli folk dance included dance steps that I had learned in other dance classes; combining dance with worship became a meaningful way for me to sense the presence of the Lord in small and large groups.
I learned of Hebrew Language Institute when I lived in SK a few years ago ... I learned of a small group who were having a Feast of Tabernacles celebration in Saskatoon; then, later, I heard of three young men who wanted to awaken SK to the Jewish roots of Christianity. I welcomed them to the community where I was living. I still haven't been able to make much time for the online teachings from Izzy; but I will one of these days. Meanwhile, I have so many unread books on similar subjects; I am surfing the internet frequently for articles and more information.
I swim daily right now and with each length I meditate on 10 Hebrew names for G-d. The book from which I got those names also has associated each name with a colour, a body part, an attribute of YHWH, etc. I continue to swim lengths with each of these concepts in mind, somedays, I swim as many as 50 lengths! I have also learned the Hebrew aleph bet as I swim; and most recently, the names of the children of Israel. I enjoy my morning commune with G-d and consider it a type of mikvah.
My name, on Facebook is Shirley Frame Charron; my email is email@example.com
The picture attached is of my friends and I learning a dance in my backyard in Windsor, ON before I moved to SK ... I am second on the left.
Are you following Yeshua in a Hebrew way? If so, the Holy Language tribe would love to hear your story, and we would love to help you tell it! Here's how.
Modern Hebrew with Elihana Elia this evening, watch here!
Biblical Hebrew with Rabbi Derek Leman this Thursday evening, watch here!
Live Shabbat services this Friday evening and Saturday morning, join us here!