Posts Tagged ‘דברים’

 

V’Zot HaBracha: Unseen Lands

Posted on: October 23rd, 2016 by Alden No Comments

img_0715As the Torah closes, Moses goes up from the steppes of Moab to Mount Nebo. G-d shows him the land. He sees from afar. So much remains unseen for Moses. What will the land yield? How will the people fare? What will come next? How does the land look up close? How does it feel to enter the Promised Land? It’s also an unseen land for the people: a new home that was only a vision and a promise, with a new leader and our first prophet to mourn. So, too, we can enter the future – our own an unseen land – with either fear and mourning, or we can embrace the adventure of what comes next.

Unseen Lands
So many unseen lands
Arise from the glorious earth.
So many unknown peaks
Rise from my beating heart.
This is the journey.
The place where we climb
Above the clouds,
The place where we enter
Our own wisdom and grace,
To see the sunrise,
To watch the sea shimmer
With morning light,
And to meet our holiness,
Our love
And our surrender.

G-d of Old,
Guide me through unseen lands,
The territory beneath my feet,
And the horizons that call my soul.
Let my passage be for righteousness.
Let my passage be for healing.
Let my passage be for wisdom and grace.

© 2014 Alden Solovy and tobendlight.com. All rights reserved.

Postscript: Related prayers include: “Come Walk,” “River,” “Leaving” and “Sweet Cake.” This prayer first appeared here on January 5, 2014, where you can read about its origin.

For usage guidelines and reprint permissions, see “Share the Prayer!” For notices of new prayers, please subscribe. You can also connect on Facebook and Twitter. If you like this prayer, please post a link to Facebook, your blog or mention it in a tweet.

Photo Source: WikiMedia Commons

Ki Tavo: Be the Blessing

Posted on: September 2nd, 2015 by Alden No Comments

blessingsThis week’s parasha, Ki Tavo, lists blessings and curses. “All these blessings will come upon you and overtake you, if you harken to the voice of Adonai your God.” (Deut. 28:2) Blessings come from accepting God’s law; curses come from rejecting it. “…if you do not harken to the voice of Adonai your God… then all these curses will come upon you and overtake you.” (Deut. 28:15)  This prayer centers on the idea that we are the tools of both.

Be the Blessing
To be a blessing, to be a curse.
To speak with kindness, to speak in anger.
To act with compassion, to act with cruelty.
With a loving heart or with threatening hands.
To build. To destroy.
To lift up. To tear apart.
Mindful or thoughtless.
Careful or careless.
Openhanded. Closefisted.
Honest. Corrupt.
To strive for holiness, or to abandon God’s word.

To be a blessing, to be a curse.
You gave us this choice, God of generations.
To bless ourselves, to curse ourselves.
To bless each other, to curse each other.

Let blessings pour forth from my life.
Let blessings rain down from heaven.
God’s blessings will fill our days.
God’s blessings will surround us all.

Be the blessing.
Be the blessing.
Be the blessing.

© 2015 Alden Solovy and tobendlight.com. All rights reserved.

Postscript: See also “An Amazing Life,” “A Moment of Blessing,” “Receiving Blessings,” “Umbrella of Blessings” and “Garden of Blessings.”

Please consider making a contribution to support this site and my writing. For usage guidelines and reprint permissions, see “Share the Prayer!” For notices of new prayers, please subscribe. You can also connect on Facebook and Twitter.

Photo Source: Russham: Faith, Inspiration and Challenging Thoughts

Ki Teitzei 5775: Amalek Within

Posted on: August 27th, 2015 by Alden No Comments

Remember AmalekAmalek is the arch-villain of Torah. This week’s portion, Ki Teitzei, refers to an incident in Exodus just after the people crossed the Red Sea. The army of Amalek attacked Israel from behind, where the old and weak straggled. Here in Deuteronomy (25:17-19) we’re told: i) to remember the evil Amalek perpetrated, ii) to wipe out his descendants and iii) to blot out his name. The three paragraphs of this prayer correspond to these three commandments.

Amalek Within
We remember
The day you set upon us from behind.
The day you attacked
The weak, the faint, the exhausted and defenseless.
We remember your savagery and your glee,
Your malice and ruthless intent.
We remember the fear, the horror,
The shrieks and the cries.

Villain, coward,
Where do you hide?
Scattered among the nations?
Or have you quietly, secretly,
Infiltrated our lives,
Hardening our hearts to one another?
Children of Israel,
Each man, each woman,
Banish Amalek from within,
And he will be destroyed forever.

When we remember,
To love and to cherish,
To build and preserve,
To walk in the way of G-d,
Then this name,
This Amalek,
Will be blotted forever
From the face of the earth.
When we remember
The pain and suffering of others,
When we exile wickedness from our hearts,
Evil will disappear forever.
We will not forget.

© 2015 Alden Solovy and tobendlight.com. All rights reserved.

Postscript: According to Targum, descendants of Amalek survived – among them Haman from the Book of Esther – and the remnant is dispersed among the nations, unrecognizable. The second paragraph of this prayer interprets the command to wipe about Amalek according to our sages who teach that part of Amalek can be found in each of us as the evil inclination.

Tweetable! Click here to tweet this: “When we walk in the way of G-d, Amalek will be blotted forever…” Ki Teitzei prayer from @ToBendLight: http://ctt.ec/rXzNO+

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Photo Source: Sojourning with Jews

Shofetim: To the Streets

Posted on: August 18th, 2015 by Alden No Comments

social_justiceOne of Torah’s famous instructions appears in this week’s parsha: “Justice, justice shalt thou pursue…” (Deut. 16:20) The context is establishing a legal system, but our ethos interprets it broadly as a call for justice in all areas of daily life. This prayer is a call to leave the safety and cloister of our institutions, to go into the streets to learn from the anguish of all people. The last two stanzas include in [brackets] alternative language to Hebrew terms.

To the Streets, Revised
Have you been to the streets of our cities?
Have you seen, for yourself, the toothless madness
Of the poor, the homeless, the wretched and infirm?
Of children abused in their homes.
Of teens who starve their bodies and cut their limbs.
Have you heard the broken voices
Of loneliness and loss, addiction and despair?
Have you witnessed the violence and oppression
That divides us?
Of youths arrested for their color.
Of gangs and police waging war.
Of drugs and weapons in homes and schools.

Have you been to the battlefields and bomb shelters?
Have you witnessed the terror
Of the innocent and the gunman?
Have you heard the cries of fear and dread,
Of shock, alarm and panic?
Of soldiers blinded by war.
Of refugees abandoned to hate.
Of civilians shelled in the night.
Of prisoners tortured in the darkness.

Have you been to our factories and fields?
Have you seen the crushing labor
Of the illegals, the abused, the forgotten and the misused?
Have you heard the silent resignation
Of the indentured and the enslaved?
Of children forced to toil in sweat.
Of youth maimed by machines.
Of women raped in the mills.
Of men dead in the mines.

Come down,
You the wise and the righteous,
The learned and the wealthy.
Come down
From the temples of your wisdom,
From the sanctuaries of your prayer,
From the shelter of holiness and grace.

Our people have
Tasted the ashes of grief,
The dust of loss,
The parching thirst of loneliness.
Our mothers and fathers
Have felt the whip, have been
Forced into labor, have been
Abused and condemned
To violation and violence.

Show me the words that will rescue the captive,
That will free the slave and heal the broken.
Show me the passages that will cure the sick
Feed the hungry and build them homes.
G-d calls us to service in the name of healing.
G-d calls us to action in the name of justice.
G-d calls us to repair the world in the name of holiness.
Only your hands and your strength can bless the world.
Bring your energy and dedication,
Your perseverance and action.

Come down!
Come down!
Bring your Midrash [parables] to the darkest allies,
And your Aggadah [lessons] to the neglected countryside.
Bring your Musar [ethics] to the clinics and the infirmaries,
And your Shulchan Aruch [religious rulings] to the shelters and encampments.
Bring your love and devotion to building a better world.

G-d of Old,
Let Your Torah [scripture] and Mitzvot [commandments]
Guide us in loving service
To lives of action,
Heeding Your holy call to tikun olam [repair the world].

© 2014 Alden Solovy and tobendlight.com. All rights reserved.

Postscript: Written as a Passover appeal for social justice, this would also serve as an alternative Yom Kippur reading, perhaps in conjunction with the Unataneh Tokef. Here’s a link to other prayers for social justice. Here’s a link to other prayers and readings for Passover. This is an update to the original prayer, first posted April 3, 2014.

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: Progressive Charlestown

Re’eh: Cutting, A Prayer to End Self-Mutilation

Posted on: August 13th, 2015 by Alden No Comments

self harm princess cuttingSelf-mutilation is as old as the Bible. That grief came to mind reading this week’s Torah portion, Re’eh. “Ye are the children of Adonai your G-d; you shall not cut yourselves…” (Deut. 14:1) In ancient days, the practice was to gash oneself as a sign of mourning. Today, some people cut to manifest grief on their bodies, others say it creates a sense of calm in the face of depression, typically hiding the injuries in shame. This is a prayer on behalf of those who self-mutilate, including an option in [brackets] to name a specific person. It’s built on a prayer titled “My Child’s Self-Inflicted Wounds,” a prayer for parents of children who self-harm with drugs, alcohol, sex or violence against themselves.

Cutting: A Prayer to End Self-Mutilation
Child of G-d,
Please do not cut yourself.
You are holy, a gift,
Unique in this world.

What grief has taken root in your heart?
What sorrow has consumed your joy?
How deep is your pain that you take a blade
To your own flesh?

G-d of Old,
We call out to You
From the depths of confusion and fear.
What balm will ease this distress?
What consolation will end this torment?
What blessing will guide them back to wholeness,
Back to self-respect,
Back to love?

G-d of renewal,
Bless those who harm themselves with a blade.
Grant them comfort and well-being,
Healing of mind,
Healing of body
And healing of spirit.
Teach them to see the world through Your eyes,
As a place of joy and adventure.
[And look with care on __________________________ (name),
Who also suffers at her/his own hand.]
Grant them all the ability to be gentle and forgiving on themselves.
Lead them to new ways of expression on the path to happiness and peace.

For those of you who cannot find relief,
We pray that that time will soon come.
You are a gift of G-d in the eyes of heaven,
In our eyes, too,
And in our hearts,
Which bleed with your skin,
And our love will not end.

Child of G-d,
Please do not cut yourself.
You are holy, a gift,
Unique in this world.

© 2015 Alden Solovy and tobendlight.com. All rights reserved.

Postscript: The majority of the illustrations I found online for this prayer are remarkably disturbing. See also: “My Child’s Self-Inflicted Wounds” and other prayers for mental health, including “My Depression” and “Mental Illness.” They appear in my book, Jewish Prayers of Hope and Healing.

Please consider making a contribution to support this site and my writing. For usage guidelines and reprint permissions, see “Share the Prayer!” For notices of new prayers, please subscribe. You can also connect on Facebook and Twitter.

Photo Source: Self Harm Daily

Va’etchanan: Affirmation of Faith

Posted on: July 29th, 2015 by Alden No Comments

Shema Shirt

This week’s Torah portion, Va’etchanan, includes both the 10 Commandments and the bold declaration of our belief in G-d, the sine qua non of Jewish affirmations, the Shema. [Deuteronomy 6:4] This prayer weaves two paragraphs about the love of God – and dedication to mitzvot – into the words of the Shema. This piece appears in This Grateful Heart: Psalms and Prayers for a New Day from CCAR Press.

Affirmation of Faith

Hear O Israel,

The covenant we made
Together on Sinai
Is a pledge for all time,
A vow for the ages,
To do and to listen
To teach and to learn
With the fullness of our hearts
From the depths of our souls
And the strength of our being
Binding ourselves to

Adonai Our G-d

With Torah and Mitzvot,
Binding our lives to each other
With righteousness and charity,
So that blessings will rain down from heaven
To feed our hearts and fill our land
With G-d’s abundant gifts,
The brilliance and wonder
That flow from service to G-d’s Holy Word,
In remembrance of creation
And our liberation from slavery,
Declaring throughout the generations:

G-d is One,

G-d is One,
G-d is One.

שְׁמַע יִשְׂרָאֵל יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵינוּ יְהוָה אֶחָֽד׃‎

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

Postscript: This prayer was originally written for a conversion reaffirmation ceremony, which is discussed in the original post of December 10, 2013. Here’s a link to a meditation called “Doubt,” representing a radically different approach to finding faith.

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 Credit: Hebrew TShirts

Devarim 5775: Teachers of Israel

Posted on: July 22nd, 2015 by Alden No Comments

480px-Rembrandt_-_Moses_with_the_Ten_Commandments_-_Google_Art_ProjectWe begin the final book of Torah this week with Parashat Devarim, detailing the last weeks in the life of Moses, in which he shifts from great leader to the first teacher of Torah. He becomes, in earnest, Moshe Rabeinu, Moses our teacher. This is a prayer for pure and humble hearts for today’s teachers of Torah.

Teachers of Israel
Teachers of Israel,
Keep your Torah humble
And your hearts pure.
Keep joy before your eyes
And gratitude before your heart.
Know this day that your wisdom
Is a gift from heaven.
Your knowledge is a tribute
To your Maker.
Then, your teaching will become
An offering of service
To the G-d of our people.

Teachers of Israel,
Keep your Torah pure
And your hearts humble.
Keep righteousness before your eyes
And understanding before your heart.
Teach in the fullness of joy.

To Praise, not to be praised.
To Bless, not to be blessed.
To Glorify, not to be glorified.
To Extol, not to be extolled.
To Sanctify, not to be sanctified.

So that your wisdom blesses the world,
Blesses the nations,
And blesses the people Israel.

© 2015 Alden Solovy and tobendlight.com. All rights reserved.

Postscript: Here are more prayers for Torah teachers and scholars: “Sages,” “To the Streets,” “For the Gift of Torah Scholarship” and “For the Joy of Learning.”

Tweetable! Here’a suggested tweet. If you like this prayer, please tweet this (including the link):
“Teachers of Israel, keep your Torah humble and your hearts pure…” A prayer for our teachers: https://tobendlight.com/?p=13215

Please consider making a contribution to support this site and my writing. For usage guidelines and reprint permissions, see “Share the Prayer!” For notices of new prayers, please subscribe. You can also connect on Facebook and Twitter.

Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons/Google Art Project

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