Posts Tagged ‘יום הבכורים’


Who, Still Broken

Posted on: October 9th, 2016 by Alden

img_0711One of the ways my wife Ami z”l attempted her own life was with gasoline. She poured gas onto a grassy midway, ignited it and stepped into the fire. Thankfully, when her clothing caught fire, she dropped and rolled. In the decade since, I’ve struggled with the High Holiday prayer Un’taneh Tokef; in particular, the famous couplet: “Who by fire. Who by water.” Today, after an angry sea pulled back from Haiti, more than 800 are dead. Today, a boy lays in an induced coma after he was set on fire. Today, I wrote this meditation. It includes direct and indirect references to the Un’taneh Tokef, as well as allusions to the Kedusha and to the tradition of prostration during a special Alienu added for the High Holidays. This piece appears in This Grateful Heart: Psalms and Prayers for a New Day from CCAR Press.

Who, Still Broken
Who by fire,
Screaming with seared flesh?
Who by water,
Gasping for one more breath?

Rock of Life,
Tell me that these are not
Your tools of justice.
Tell me that these are not
Your verdicts or Your punishments.
How do You bear the cries
Of Your children?
The starving,
The battered,
Buried in rubble
Or washed to sea?

No, this is not my God.
Neither Judge nor Witness,
Prosecutor nor Executioner,
Issuing severe decrees
In a kangaroo court
Of intimidations
And forced confessions.

.כִּי כְּשִׁמְךָ כֵּן תְּהִלָתֶֽךָ
Ki k’Shimcha cain t’hilatecha.
For according to Your name,
So is Your praise.
Your name is Righteousness. Forgiveness. Love.
Your names are Mother, Father and Teacher.
Your names are Source and Shelter.

.קָשֶׁה לִכְעֹס וְנֽוֹחַ לִרְצוֹת
Kasheh lichos v’noach lirtzot.
You are slow to anger
And ready to forgive.
But I,
I am slow to change,
Slow to amend my ways.
I can be consumed by the fire
Of my own anger.
I can drown in the sea
Of my own sorrow.
I need Your guidance,
Your gentle hand.

.וְאַתָּה הוּא מֶלֶֽךְ, אֵל חַי וְקַיָּם
V’atah hu Melech El Chai v’kayam!
For You are forever our Living G-d and Sovereign!

Yes, I will fall to my knees
Before You.
For you are Holy,
Your Majesty fills the universe.
My origin is dust
And I will return to dust.
Until then,
God of Mercy,
תְּשׁוּבָה, תְּפִילָּה, וּצְדָקָה
T’shuva, tefillah u’tzdakah —
Repentance, prayer and righteousness —
Will allow me to rise,
To stand before You
Still broken,
And still whole.

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

Postscript: This meditation reflects a certain anger, redemptive by asserting a gentler conception of G-d, as well as G-d’s justice, mercy and redemption. See also “Cry No More” and “At the Gates.” Please consider donating to support my daughter Dana’s participation in the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s Out of the Darkness Greater Los Angeles Walk to raise funds aimed at reducing the suicide rate 20 percent by 2025.

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: Abq Jew

Is this the Fast? A Social Justice Prayer

Posted on: August 23rd, 2015 by Alden

16x9_Isaiah-58On Yom Kippur morning we read Isaiah’s exhortation on the worthlessness of ritual without righteousness. The prophet admonishes the people for fasting but ignoring G-d’s mandates: “Is this not the fast that I have chosen? To loose the fetters of wickedness… to deal thy bread to the hungry… to bring the poor that are cast out into thy house?” [Isaiah 58:6-7] This prayer for social justice asks the same question – “Is this the…” – for many more of our ritual practices. This prayer is appropriate for the spiritual journey of Elul, as well as for use on Yom Kippur

Is this the Fast? A Social Justice Prayer
Peace, peace,
To those who are upright,
Those who are steady,
Those who bring holiness
And light into the world.

Is this the fast we fast?
To remember the homeless and the needy?
To bring healing into the streets,
And justice into our courtyards?

Is this the sukkah we build?
To summon the hungry and forlorn?
To put food in the mouths of the poor
And bring strangers into our tents?

Is this the seder we host?
To end bondage in farm and factory?
To rally before the seats of power
In the name of the oppressed?

Is this the kashrut we keep?
To end mistreatment of flock and herd?
To live in harmony with the land?
To use our resources wisely?

Is this the Torah we learn?
To hear the word of G-d,
With humility and delight,
To thirst for truth and yearn for wisdom?

Is this the Shabbat we keep?
To shake off the bonds of the mundane?
To remember and keep the Sabbath?
To restore our lives and dream of the world to come?

Is this the prayer we pray?
To cry out to the Holy One in joy and sorrow,
In the name of wholeness and healing,
In the name of peace?

Peace, peace,
In your gardens and in your groves,
In your houses and your villages,
For you will be called a delight,
A lamp of awe,
A beacon of wonder,
A source of healing,
And a well of inspiration,
Among your people Israel.

© 2015 Alden Solovy and All rights reserved.

Postscript: This prayer also alludes to another line from the Yom Kippur morning haftarah: “Peace, peace to him that is far off and him that is near…” (Isaiah 57:19), offering healing to those who walk a path of righteousness. The haftarah portion for Yom Kippur morning is Isaiah 57:14-58:14. Here’s a link to an annotated list of my prayers for the Yamim Noraim.

Tweetable! Click here to tweet this: “Is this the Fast?” A powerful social justice prayer based on Isaiah 58:6-7 from @ToBendLight.

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Photo Source: Northshore Community Church

Shavuot Prayers and Stories

Posted on: June 2nd, 2011 by tobendlight

ShavuotPrayers and stories for Shavuot. To read them, click on the name of the prayer.

Learning and Loving Torah

Holiness and Our Relationship with G-d

Short stories about the love of Torah

And a  prayer about Counting the Omer: “The Season of Counting.”

During the seven weeks from Passover to Shavuot, the period from the exodus to revelation on Sinai, Jews count the days and the weeks. And so we remember the journey from the depths of slavery to the heights of G-d’s Holy Presence. According to mystical practice, each week has a theme (and each day a sub-theme) that leads us to revelation. Here are links to prayers and meditations for each week of Counting the Omer:

  • Week One: Chesed (Lovingkindness, Love, Benevolence)
  • Week Two: Gevurah (Discipline, Justice, Restraint, Awe)
  • Week Three: Tiferet (Beauty, Harmony, Compassion, Truth)
  • Week Four: Netzach (Eternity, Endurance, Fortitude, Ambition)
  • Week Five: Hod (Humility, Splendor)
  • Week Six: Yesod  (Foundation, Bonding)
  • Week Seven: Malchut – Nobility, Sovereignty, Leadership)

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: Congregation Or Chadash

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