Psalm 97, recited at Kabbalat Shabbat, ends with this: “Light is sown for the righteous, and gladness for the upright in heart. Rejoice in Adonai, you who are righteous; acclaim the holiness of G-d’s name.” (Psalm 97:11-12) What if, in the tradition of the rabbis, we changed one word to explore the meaning? Instead of “…for the righteous…” use “…by the righteous…” This prayer reimagines the closing couplet after changing that one word. This piece appears in my book This Grateful Heart: Psalms and Prayers for a New Day from CCAR Press.
Light is sown by the righteous,
Tucked into cracks in the sidewalks,
Dropped in the grass,
Breathed into the air,
Left waiting for others to find.
You who are upright in heart,
Let your deeds declare your love,
Let your hands be a source of healing,
Let your joy be a fountain of blessing.
Rejoice in righteousness,
And spread holiness throughout your days.
Light is sown for you
To magnify in service to G-d’s holy name.
© 2017 CCAR Press from This Grateful Heart: Psalms and Prayers for a New Day
Postscript: Midrash Psalms 97:2 interprets the line to mean that a great spiritual light, created at the beginning of all things, was set aside by G-d for the righteous as their reward at the end of days. As a result, Siddur Sim Shalom breaks with the classic translation – the translation found in both Mishkan T’fillah and the Koren Sacks Siddur – by rendering the line as “Light is stored for the righteous…”
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Photo Source: Selma in the City