The Temple

Today is the 17th of Tammuz, a minor fast day commemorating the breach in the outer walls of Jerusalem prior to the destruction of the Second Temple on Tisha b’Av. Today, the breach is not in the physical walls of the city, but in the spiritual hearts of our people. The Kotel isn’t a place where Jews can pray freely, according to our own diverse customs and practices. The Kotel is a hostage to ultra-Orthodox control. This prayer turns the tables: the Temple mourns our inability to hear God’s voice, the priests mourn a divided House of Israel and the sacrifices mourn those who’ve forgotten G-d’s sacred call.

The Temple
Do not mourn
For the Temple Mount.
The stones mourn for you.
They mourn for you who have forgotten
That God’s Voice
Can still be heard in the hills.
The stones mourn for you
Who have forgotten
That God’s Voice can still be heard in the valleys,
In the forests and deserts,
In the waters and skies.

Do not mourn
For the lost priests.
The tribes mourn for you.
They mourn for you who have forgotten
That God’s people are one.
Ephraim and Judah,
The Levites and the daughters of Zelophehad,
Ask why we still divide the House of Israel,
Why we still cast judgment,
Why we spurn each other with anger.
The tribes mourn for you who have
Forsaken your brothers
And rejected your sisters,
Closing your minds and hardening your hearts.

Do not mourn
For the lost sacrifices.
The yearling without blemish,
The ephah of fine flour and the hin of oil,
Mourn for you.
They mourn for you who have forgotten
That God requires your love and your power,
Your hope and your deeds.
The yearling, the flour and the oil mourn for you
Who have forgotten
That God wants the blood that flows through you,
The strength of your days,
Your song and your laughter,
Your wisdom and healing.

Tear your clothes
And sit in ashes
If you must.
Then, rise up!
Rise up and listen to God’s call:

Love My People Israel,
Love all of My People Israel.
Then, you will know the depth of My righteousness
And will drink from the well of My compassion.
Give them your heart.
Give them your days in service,
With joy and thanksgiving,
So that My Glory will dwell among you,
And that your days are long on this earth.

© 2012 Alden Solovy and All rights reserved.

Postscript: Instead of the phrase “Do not mourn for…,” I considered using “When you mourn for…” I ultimately decided to leave the introductory lines to each stanza as originally written, choosing to challenge our relationship to the Temple and to each other head on, without pulling the punch. Here’s a link to another prayer/metaphor that uses preparing to say the Shema as a dream/vision of the in-gathering of Jews to our land.

Please check out my ELItalk video, “Falling in Love with Prayer,” and This Grateful Heart: Psalms and Prayers for a New Day. For reprint permissions and usage guidelines and reprint permissions, see “Share the Prayer!” To receive my latest prayers via email, please subscribe (on the home page). You can also connect on Facebook and Twitter.

Photo Source: Alden Solovy

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