Archive for the ‘Death’ Category

 

Removing Life Support

Posted on: June 27th, 2023 by Alden No Comments

A difficult prayer for a difficult moment. In classic Jewish tradition, this prayer includes a request for forgiveness from the one who is near death by those who made the decision to remove life support. It is brief, by design, so as not to prolong the moment for anyone.

Removing Life Support
G-d of compassion,
With sorrow,
With love,
With hope defeated,
I/We say a last goodbye
To my/our _______________ (relationship)
Whom we cherished in life,
And whom we will mourn in death.

Grant him/her/them a perfect rest
Under Your canopy of peace
As medical professionals
Will soon remove life support.

O grievous moment,
O grievous hour,
Beloved _____________ (name or relationship)
Forgive me/us any wrongs
I/we may have done to you in this life,
And forgive me/us this last act of compassion,
Allowing your life and your suffering to end.

G-d of mercy,
May You grant hope in our days
And peace in our years.
As we mourn,
Accept this soul
To You
With love.

© 2023 Alden Solovy and ToBendLight

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Postscript: Thanks to my friend Rabbi Paul Kipnes for suggesting this piece.

Please check out These Words: Poetic Midrash on the Language of Torah and my other CCAR Press volumes: This Grateful Heart, This Joyous Soul, and This Precious Life, which can also be purchased as the Grateful/Joyous/Precious trilogy. For reprint permissions and usage guidelines, 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. For a taste of my teaching, see my ELItalk video, “Falling in Love with Prayer.”

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I Want to Die on the Trail

Posted on: June 22nd, 2022 by Alden No Comments

This is a prayer fantasy envisioning my death. G-d willing, it will be some time from now. I’m not ill, but of the age to begin preparing for the journey. I hadn’t envisioned this as a song, until I heard Michael Miller singing during a Jewish Songwriting Cooperative Retreat led by Sue Radner Horowitz, my collaborator on “Hallel in a Minor Key.” As soon as I heard him, this poem-now-a-song seemed written for his voice and composing skills. Listen to his album “Shelter” on Spotify. Here are the lyrics and an unfinished cut of Michael singing and playing piano for his music to “I Want to Die on the Trail.”

I Want to Die on the Trail

(Lyrics by Alden Solovy, Music by Michael Miller)

I want to die on the trail,
Surrounded by everyone I’ve ever loved,
Everyone who has ever loved me.
My body old and frail,
Barely containing what remains,
My soul unbound from the limits of time and space.

We will walk together into the canyon,
Descending to the river,
Strong in love.
The air warm, the breeze cool,
The sky more deeply blue than ever.

The sound of water falling on water
Getting closer as we move toward the stream bed.
Our host of companions multiplying.
Confession and forgiveness irrelevant
In the flow of love and affection.

I want to die on the trail,
Diving off the cliff’s edge into the unknown,
Singing, dancing, celebrating, embracing,
Loving the life that was once mine,
Blessing you for allowing my path,
However briefly,
To be one with yours.

Lyrics © 2022 Alden Solovy, Music © 2022 Michael Miller

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Please check out my CCAR Press Grateful/Joyous/Precious trilogy. The individual books are: This Joyous Soul, This Grateful Heart, and This Precious Life. Here’s a link to my ELItalk, “Falling in Love with Prayer..” 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.

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Photo by Alden Solovy

Hero of Ukraine

Posted on: February 25th, 2022 by Alden No Comments

This prayer-poem for the people of Ukraine incorporates a quote from Ukrainian poet and artist Taras Shevchenko, writing from St. Petersburg Citadel Prison in May, 1847, who spent years imprisoned for his pro-Ukrainian independence activities in tsarist Russia. There’s a statue in his honor on the National Mall. The title, “Hero of the Ukraine,” is from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky who called the soldiers killed today defending Snake Island “heroes of the Ukraine.”

Hero of Ukraine
Defenders of Ukraine,
You each will be called Hero,
Posthumous honor
For those who have died
In a war that has never ended,
Spanning centuries
Of Russian invasions and occupations.

How much blood and war
Has the Dnieper seen,
As the majestic river flows
From Kyiv to the Black Sea?
“Evil folk and wicked men
Attack our Ukraine, once so free.”

G-d of All,
Protector and Redeemer,
Watch over the people of the Ukraine
As their land is invaded,
Once again,
And war returns to the land.
Grant them safety and security,
Independence, freedom, and peace.
Watch over the soldiers
Forced into combat
To defend the nation,
And to protect their land and their homes.

G-d of Peace,
Bring a speedy end to this conflict,
And full restoration of the sovereignty to Ukraine.
Bring an end to all war, conflict, and strife,
So that Your promise of peace is fulfilled.

© 2022 Alden Solovy and tobendlight.com.

New here? Subscribe here to get my newest prayers by email.

Please check out my CCAR Press Grateful/Joyous/Precious trilogy. The individual books are: This Joyous Soul, This Grateful Heart, and This Precious Life. Here’s a link to my ELItalk, “Falling in Love with Prayer..” 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.

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Photo Source: NYT

Ministers of Earthly Blessings

Posted on: June 16th, 2020 by Alden No Comments

Angels are first mentioned in the Talmud in Masechet Brachot 4b. Quoting a Tosefta, we learn the number of flights an angel needs to get from one place to the next. Michael needs only one flight. Gabriel two. Elijah the Prophet, who was assumed into heaven and at times travels the earth, needs four flights. The Angel of Death needs eight flights. Except during a plague.

.וּמַלְאַךְ הַמָּוֶת — בִּשְׁמֹנֶה. וּבִשְׁעַת הַמַּגֵּפָה, בְּאֶחָת

And the Angel of Death, in eight. During a time of plague, in one.

During a plague – when death feels ubiquitous – the Angel of Death needs only one flight. In a pandemic, the Angel of Death is as powerful in flight as the Archangel Michael. Right now, it certainly seems like the Angel of Death has stronger wings then ever, empowered by the twin plagues of Covid-19 and virulent racism, the twin plagues of virus and hate that are claiming lives.

Ministers of Earthly Blessings
The angel of death
Has new wings
And leaps in powerful bounds
To claim souls
For heaven.

And why do we lend ourselves to this cause,
When plagues still stalk the earth?
The plague of disease that strangles from within.
The plague of violence that strangles from without.

We are the ministers of healing,
The angels of righteousness,
Touched by the Holy One,
The emissaries of earthly blessings.
We are the wings of life,
And the agents of change,
In the streets,
In the courts,
In the hospitals and clinics,
In our homes and in our communities.

Give love your power.
Give justice your voice.
Give truth the work of your hands.

Let us fly more swiftly than the plague itself,
Spreading hope and healing
Throughout the land.
We are the wings of wholeness.
We are the wings of peace.

© 2020 Alden Solovy and tobendlight.com.

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Postscript:

Please check out my ELItalk video, “Falling in Love with Prayer,” and my two CCAR Press books: This Joyous Soul: A New Voice for Ancient Yearnings 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.

One-by-One: A Prayer as the COVID Death Toll Mounts

Posted on: May 27th, 2020 by Alden No Comments

The U.S. death toll from COVID-19 is approaching 100,000, as the world-wide death toll surpasses 350,000. This prayer was written at the request of the Central Conference of American Rabbis in an effort to remember and mourn those lost hearts and souls as the U.S. marks this sad milestone.

ADDENDUM: As of February 17, 2021, the U.S. death toll surpassed 500,000 and total deaths world-wide are nearing 2.5 million people.

One-by-One: A Prayer as the COVID Death Toll Mounts
God of consolation,
Surely you count in heaven,
Just as we count here on earth,
In shock and in sorrow,
The souls sent back to You,
One-by-one,
The dead from the COVID pandemic,
As the ones become tens,
The tens become hundreds,
The hundreds become thousands,
The thousands become ten-thousands
And then hundred-thousands,
Each soul, a heartbreak,
Each soul, a life denied.

God of wisdom,
Surely in the halls of divine justice
You are assembling the courts,
Calling witnesses to testify,
To proclaim
The compassion of some
And the callousness of others
As we’ve struggled to cope.
The souls taken too soon,
Whose funerals were lonely,
Who didn’t need to die,
Who died alone,
Will tell their stories
When You judge
Our triumphs
And our failures
In these hours of need.

God of healing,
Put an end to this pandemic,
And all illness and disease.
Bless those who stand in service to humanity.
Bless those who grieve.
Bless the dead,
So that their souls are bound up in the bond of life eternal.
And grant those still afflicted
With disease or trauma
A completed and lasting healing,
One-by-one,
Until suffering ceases,
And we can stop counting the dead,
In heaven
And on earth.

© 2020 Alden Solovy and tobendlight.com

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Postscript: My other coronavirus prayers are: “Sheltering in Place,” “On the Front Lines of the Pandemic,” “Healing from Coronavirus“, “Coronavirus: A Prayer for Medical Scientists” and “Traveler’s Prayer in a Time of Pandemic.”

Please check out my ELItalk video, “Falling in Love with Prayer,” and my two CCAR Press books: This Joyous Soul: A New Voice for Ancient Yearnings 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: The New York Times, May 24, 2020

Mourner’s Lament

Posted on: August 25th, 2019 by Alden No Comments

A short meditation about the daily shifts that mourners may experience on the journey to healing, based on my own experiences of mourning. I wrote it a few days ago as a comfort for several friends currently experiencing fresh losses.

Mourner’s Lament
In the morning whisper, heal me.
In the afternoon shout, help me.
In the evening wonder, how long?

In the morning whisper, O love.
In the afternoon shout, O death.
In the evening wonder, how long?

In the morning whisper, this again.
In the afternoon shout, no more.
In the evening wonder, how long?

In the morning whisper, O love.
In the afternoon shout, O life.
In the evening wonder, how long?

© 2019 Alden Solovy and tobendlight.com.

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Postscript: See also: “Tears, Too Close: A Prayer of Consolation.”

Please check out my ELItalk video, “Falling in Love with Prayer,” and my two CCAR Press books: This Joyous Soul: A New Voice for Ancient Yearnings 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: My Jewish Learning

For Rabbi Peter Knobel, z”l

Posted on: August 21st, 2019 by Alden No Comments

Rabbi Peter Knobel z”l has died after suffering a massive heart attack almost two weeks ago. A gadol b’dor, a giant of this generation, a tzaddik, his Hebrew name was Tzaddik. He brought the love of Jewish learning — the place where Torah and intellect meet — to thousands. He chaired the Central Conference of American Rabbis and was our first family rabbi at Beth Emet The Free Synagogue. He led the drive to create a new Reform Siddur, Mishkan T’fillah, and was the first rabbi to encourage me to explore my voice as a Jewish writer. This prayer, dedicated here to Peter, was first published as “Private Meditation on the Death of a Beloved Public Figure.” Even as public eulogies begin, many of us will need private meditations for grieving.

For Rabbi Peter Knobel, z”l
Source of blessings,
Deal kindly with the soul of Rabbi Peter Knobel,
Who left a legacy of Torah and righteousness in this world,
A legacy of love, care and inspiration,
A legacy for the generations.

Rock of comfort,
So many were touched by him,
As was I,
And grief casts a shadow over my heart.
Even as his legacy is celebrated publicly,
With honors and praises due,
Hear my personal prayer,
My private grief and loss.
Let his memory become a light
For the days and years ahead.
And let those memories, private and public,
Grow stronger with the passing time,
Becoming a well of consolation.

G-d of all being,
Grant a perfect rest under Your canopy of peace to Rabbi Knobel,
My rabbi,
Our rabbi.
May his soul be bound up in the bond of life,
A living blessing in our midst.

© 2018 Alden Solovy and tobendlight.com. All rights reserved.

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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: Spertus Institute for Jewish Learning and Leadership

Taharot in Pittsburgh

Posted on: October 28th, 2018 by Alden No Comments

As the Jewish world mourns the murders at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, a group of private individuals are preparing themselves to perform taharot. Taharah (taharot, pl) is the ritual preparation of a body for burial. It’s a sacred task that takes a special individual. These will be particularly difficult taharot, given the brutality of the deaths. It’s my hope that in praying for those who are conducting this holy act, we find a bit of solace for ourselves.

Taharot in Pittsburgh
Rock of Comfort,
Redeemer of Israel,
Grant Your protection and care
To those who are preparing the dead for burial,
Gently washing wounded bodies
With love and water,
Praying for the souls of the innocent
To find peace on the journey
To heavenly spheres.

So much loss.
So much blood.
So many wounds.

These unnamed servants of our people
Come in quiet devotion,
With gentle prayers,
Serving the dead with the work of their hands,
So that the living can grieve
And that souls can find rest.
Grant them an extra share of steadfast strength
As they bless the lost with the gift given in reverence
For generations.

White is the clothing of the dead.
Sorrow is the clothing of the living.
Let the taharot in Pittsburgh become a beacon of love,
A radiance of healing,
And a source of comfort for all.

© 2018 Alden Solovy and tobendlight.com.

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Postscript: See also “A Liturgy after Terror Attacks,” “After a Deadly Anti-Semitic Attack” and “Racist Violence against Houses of Worship.”

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: Tree of Life * Or L’Simcha Congregation website

Yizkor after a Suicide

Posted on: June 10th, 2018 by Alden No Comments

My family doesn’t know the full circumstances of my wife Ami’s z”l death, but it was probably suicide. This is another prayer about suicide, following the recent celebrity suicides of Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade. Optional language appears in [brackets]. May all who struggle with thoughts of suicide find relief, speedily, and comfort in their hours of need. If you are thinking about suicide, please get help.

Yizkor after a Suicide
Oh grief,
How deep was the pain,
That my __________ (relationship, such as: mother, child, friend)
Could take his/her/their own life?
G-d of old,
Grant a perfect rest under your tabernacle of peace
To ______________________ (name),
Whose life was cut off by sorrow,
By hopelessness, depression and despair,
In a moment of inconceivable horror.
Even in this darkness,
Even in this grief and void that seems beyond repair,
Help us to remember his/her/their wisdom, talents and skills,
Our times together,
Our joy, laughter and tears.
[Give me respite from this profound sense of guilt.]
In this hour of desolation,
Bring our family comfort and consolation
As we pray for him/her/them to find a new peace
In the world to come,
[A peace he/she/they did not enjoy in this world].
May his/her/their soul be bound up in the bond of life,
A living blessing in our midst.

© 2018 Alden Solovy and tobendlight.com. All rights reserved.

Postscript: Here are some related prayers: “My Depression,” “Mental Illness,” “These Troubled Children,” “Suicide Attempt by My Spouse/Partner,” “My Child’s Suicide Attempt” and “Yizkor after my Child’s Suicide.”

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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: Suicide Prevention Lifeline

Tender End of Life Vidui

Posted on: May 21st, 2018 by Alden No Comments

A confessional prayer at the end of life, from This Grateful Heart: Psalms and Prayers for a New Day. Here are more memorial and yizkor prayers, including meditations near the end of life.

Tender End of Life Vidui
I did the best I could,
At least some of the time,
And more often as I got wiser.
My best got better,
And my shortfalls became more obvious.
This I ask of You, my G-d,
And of you, my friends and family,
And of any creatures or persons whom I’ve harmed:
Forgive me.
Release me from guilt.
Release me from my transgression.
Release my from my mistakes.
In forgiving me,
You help me forgive myself,
So I may pass from this world
With a greater measure of comfort and reassurance.
It is too late for me to do more,
And I ask with a heart of sincerity.

G-d of our mothers and fathers,
G-d of generations,
M’kor chayim
Source of life,
May it be Your will that my passing be in peace.

!שְׁמַע יִשְׂרָאֵל יי אֱלֹהֵינוּ יי אֶחָד
Sh’ma Yisrael, Adonai Eloheinu, Adonai Echad!
Hear, O Israel! Adonai is our God! Adonai is One!

© 2017 CCAR Press from This Grateful Heart: Psalms and Prayers for a New Day

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Postscript: Vidui means ‘confession.’

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: WikiMedia Commons

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