Posts Tagged ‘תורה’

 

Teach Me

Posted on: October 17th, 2021 by Alden No Comments

A short meditation on learning Torah from everyone.

Teach Me
Teach me
The Torah
That G-d taught
Only to you,
And I will
Teach you
The Torah
That G-d taught
Only to me.
For, certainly,
G-d taught you secrets
In order for you
To teach me,
And G-d taught me secrets
In order for me
To teach you,
So that our hearts
Would cleave to each other’s
Through G-d’s holy word.

© 2021 Alden Solovy and tobendlight.com.

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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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Stones of Remembrance

Posted on: February 17th, 2021 by Alden No Comments

800px-Beach_stones_and_sandThis meditation is based on four lines in Tetazveh (Exodus 28:9-12) instructing the creation of stone shoulder fasteners for the high priest’s Ephod (see postscript). Called avnei zikaron, remembrance stones, they were engraved with the names of the 12 tribes, the heritage of the Israelite people. This meditation asks: whose names will you carry as your heritage? It appears in This Precious Life: Encountering the Divine with Poetry and Prayer from CCAR Press.

Stones of Remembrance
Whose names
Will you engrave upon your shoulders
When you stand before G-d in prayer?

Whose names
Will you carry in your heart
As you sing songs of blessing and praise?

G-d,
Remember us in the name of our ancestors:
Abraham and Sarah;
Rebecca and Isaac;
Leah, Jacob, and Rachel;
Moses, Miriam, and Aaron; and
________________________.
[add names from biblical times who are meaningful to you]

G-d,
Remember us in the name of our sages:
Rabbi Meir, Rabbi Akiva, and Rabbi Nachman;
B’ruriah, Yalta, and Ima Shalom;
The Rambam and the Tur;
Rabbis Regina Jonas and Abraham Joshua Heschel; and
________________________.
[add names of sages of the past who are meaningful to you]

G-d,
Remember us in the name of our teachers:
________________________.
[add names of current scholars and teachers who have influenced you]

These are the stones of remembrance,
The righteous and the driven,
The certain and the seeker,
The silent and the outspoken,
The steadfast and the heartbroken,
Who have led us,
Taught Your Torah,
And rallied congregations and assemblies
To Your service.

Let my name,
One day,
Be worthy.
Let my life
Become a tribute to Your wondrous works,
A remembrance of Your gifts throughout the generations.

© 2021 CCAR Press from This Precious Life: Encountering the Divine with Poetry and Prayer

Postscript: The Ephod was an apron covering the High Priest’s tunic and robe, serving as the place where the Choshen, the breastplate, was fastened. The Soncino/Hertz commentary says the engravings were to remind the people of their unity; the Stone Chumash says they reminded G-d of the righteousness of the people. The Women’s Torah Commentary notes that “inscriptions asking G-d to ‘remember’ supplicants for good attest to the implicit hope that G-d will always be mindful of the people and presumably bring them blessings.”

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Return Us to You

Posted on: January 28th, 2019 by Alden No Comments

A prayer in praise and thanksgiving for the ark and it’s holy contents. See also, “Ki Mi’Tzion.”

Return Us to You
Open,
Gateway to holiness!
Open your mysteries and secrets
To a world yearning for truth.
Open your doors to Torah,
To sacred wisdom,
Invite the generations to enter.

עץ חיים היא למחזיקים בה, ותמכיה מאשר  
Eitz chayim hi lamachazikim bah, v’tom’cheha m’ushar.
It is a tree of life for those who cling to it, and those who uphold it are happy.

For Torah is the keeper
Of ancient blessings,
Of timeless wisdom,
The foundation of faith,
The essence of One,
The rhythm of time,
And the glory of our lives.

דרכיה דרכי נעם וכל נתיבותיה שלום
D’racheha darchei noam v’chol n’tivoteha shalom.
It ways are pleasant, and all its paths are peace.

Open,
Gateway to holiness!
The splendor of the beginning.
The radiance of the ending.
The way of our ancestors
And the entrance to our hearts.

השיבנו ה’ אליך ונשובה. חדש ימינו כקדם
Hashivenu Adonai eilecha v’nashuva. Chadesh yameinu k’kedem.
Return us to you, G-d, so that we shall return. Renew our days as of old.

© 2019 Alden Solovy and tobendlight.com.

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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.

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Guest Writer: Eliza Scheffler

Posted on: January 18th, 2018 by Alden No Comments

Eliza Scheffler is a first-year rabbinical student at HUC-JIR in Jerusalem. She took my class, “Introduction to Creative Liturgy.” This is what she wrote when I opened up an empty aron kodesh — the ark/closet that typically holds Torah scrolls — and presented it as a writing prompt. This post is the first of new addition to this space: occasionally featuring guest writers.

Prayer of an empty ark
Where did my Torahs go?
Did you usher them out into the world for justice?
Did they wipe away brutality?
Did they vanquish suffering?
Or were they stolen, burned, destroyed?
Left unguarded and faded slowly?

What will come of you now —
All of you —
Do you need my Torahs still?
Who will retrace their letters?
Who will read them?
What will we learn?

“Prayer of an empty ark” is © 2018 Eliza Scheffler. 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.

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Two Prayers for Matot-Masei 5777

Posted on: July 19th, 2017 by Alden No Comments

Negev Sunset near Yeruham

Here are two prayers for this week’s double Torah reading: Matot-Masei. Matot stresses the sacredness of vows to God. They’re serious, solemn and binding. “Vows” portrays love as a scared oath. In Masei we read: “…for blood, it polluteth the land…” (Numbers 35:33). Blood may not be spilled on holy ground. “Blood on Holy Ground,” a prayer for peace, expands the definitions of “innocent blood” to all of humanity and “ground” to the entire earth.

Vows
What vow can I make before You
God of the ages?
What vow can I make before You
My people?
Empty words sting the heart.
Empty promises rend the soul.

This is my pledge:
To love with all of my being,
To the best of my ability,
Even when love seems to have departed.
Yes, some days I will love
More deeply, more fully,
You, my God,
And you, good people.
Some days I will struggle
Even to love myself.
Yet here is my vow,
Simple and pure,
To remember that love surrounds us.
Not to give up
On love,
On loving,
On the love that flows from You,
On the love that surrounds us all.

“Vows” is © 2017 Alden Solovy and tobendlight.com. All rights reserved.

Blood on Holy Ground
We have all shed blood on holy ground.
Christians. Muslims. Jews.
We have all used anger, violence and hatred
To prosecute our cause.
Woe unto the land
That has soaked in so much blood.
Woe unto the generations
That has soaked in so much death.

We have all shed tears on holy ground.
Christians. Muslims. Jews.
We have all buried the lost
And dressed the wounds
Of those who prosecuted our cause.
Woe unto the generations
Who have tasted so many tears.
Let no one proclaim innocence.
Let no one proclaim justice.
Let no one proclaim God’s blessing.

We have all prayed for peace on holy ground.
Christians. Muslims. Jews.
Woe unto the land
That has waited for our words to become deeds.
Let these hopes become the work of our hands.
Let these blessings become the work of our hearts.
Let no blood be shed on holy ground.
Let all ground be holy.
And let peace spread to the four corners of the earth.

“Blood on Holy Ground” is © 2015 Alden Solovy and tobendlight.com. All rights reserved.

Postscript: My other prayers for peace include: “For Peace in the Middle East,” “To Win the Peace,” “Children of Gaza, Children of Israel” and “When Peace Comes: A Meditation.” “Blood on Holy Ground” first appeared on this site on July 14, 2015.

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.

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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.

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Ha’azinu: We Are Music

Posted on: October 14th, 2016 by Alden No Comments

music-notesIn this week’s parasha Ha’azinu (Deut. 22), Moses sings a majestic farewell song, beginning by calling on the heavens to hear. The Haftarah (II Sam. 22:1-51) is David’s Song of Thanksgiving. This prayer/poem is about embodying the music of life, hearing the music created when we move in and out of moments together. This piece appears my forthcoming book, This Joyous Soul: A New Voice for Ancient Yearnings, from CCAR Press.

We Are Music
Quiet now.
Listen.
Breathe.
And listen.

You are music.
Your breath and hands,
Your smile and tears,
Your eyes and pulse,
Are notes that dance
In the space between us.

We are music.
A symphony conducted
By the rhythm of life,
By G-d’s hand,
By our choices, day-by-day.

Our notes play on,
Separately, together,
The sacred sound of living.
Our music waltzes,
Making melodies fresh and new,
Never heard again,
Bass lines that pulse from our hearts
To the Soul of the Universe.

Joy bends sorrow.
Sorrow bends hope.
Hope bends grief.
Grief bends love.
Love bends joy.

Quiet now.
Listen.
Breathe.
And listen.

The silence is your longing.
The silence is your yearning for a different song.
The music of your own will
Blocks your heart to the harmonies
Already dancing around you,
To the chorus already singing around you.

Oh, you hidden delight of heaven.
Oh, you secret gift of G-d.
We are music.
We are music.
The music plays
Through us.

© 2019 CCAR Press from This Joyous Soul: A New Voice for Ancient Yearnings

Postscript: While Moses calls on the heavens to give ear, this meditation calls on us to listen to our own — and to each other’s — hearts. This is my second meditation incorporating instructions to the reader into the prayer. The first is called “Invitations.” Both include this exclamation: “Oh, you hidden delight of heaven. Oh, you secret gift of G-d. Please see also: “Life as a Symphony,” “For the Gift of Song” and “For the Gift of Music.” This prayer first appeared on this site on Feb. 6, 2013.

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.

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Avraham, Waiting (Spoken Word Version)

Posted on: June 19th, 2016 by Alden No Comments

tmotlw-03This is half prayer prayer, half Torah drash written as spoken word poetry. In Tanach, ‘hineni’ — ‘here I am’ — is a response to a direct call from G-d. The drash is the more obvious: ‘hineni’ is the spiritual practice of being ready to hear G-d’s voice and being prepared to answer. The prayer is the undercurrent: a desired to hear G-d’s call. I’ve also written a more traditional version of this piece. To listen, click on the triangle in the bar below. The text follows.

 

Avraham, Waiting (Spoken Word Version)
The first ‘Hineni’
Was silent.
It was not a declaration.
Not an announcement.
Not a summons to G-d.
No “Yo G-d, look at me.”
No “Hey G-d, see me.”
No “Check me out, G-d,
Here I Am.”
No.
The first hineni was silent.
It happened before the word was spoken.

Heineni is opening heart.
Heineni is clearing mind.
Heineni is simple readiness.
Wait. Breathe. Surrender.
Hineni.

Heineni is the act of preparing
For G-d to call your name.
Wait. Breathe. Surrender.
Hineni.

And when you hear the call, declare:
“Amen to my prayer.”
“Hallelujah. G-d has called my name.”
Sheheciayanu v’kiyimanu vihigiyanu lazman hazeh,”
For this moment is unlike any other in the history of the world,
G-d has summoned me.”
Hineni.

Yes, G-d, here I am.
I’ve been waiting.
I’ve been hoping.
I’ve been dreaming.

When Avraham Aveienu said
‘Heineini’ with his lips,
He’d already said it with his heart,
He’d already said it with his soul,
He’d already said it with his might.

Hinei. Ani.
Hinei. Ani.
Hineni.

© 2016 Alden Solovy and tobendlight.com. All rights reserved.

Postscript: I read this piece recently at a spoken word Tikkun Leil Shavuot in Jerusalem: “Shavuot Meets Sermon Slam,” a slammin’ tikkun for the sake of Torah. The audio is from one of my rehearsals. My more traditional pieces for Shavuot can be found by clicking here.

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.

Breisheit: Evidence of Holiness

Posted on: October 6th, 2015 by Alden No Comments

600px-Sextans_B_Hubble_WikiSkyIn a patch of sky seen from the South Pole, researchers say they have glimpsed the beginning of time, a faint microwave glow of the Big Bang. Or maybe, just maybe, the scientists found something they cannot explain. The early stanzas of the prayer include lines adapted from an AP article that appeared in The Times of Israel. The prayer closes with lines from Gensis 1:1-5 as translated in the 1962 JPS volume The Torah: The Five Books of Moses. Quotes from these sources are shown in italics.

Evidence of Holiness

Suppose God
Plays hide and seek
Among the stars

Cosmic microwave radiation —
A faint microwave glow from the Big Bang —
Has been detected from Earth…

Leaving evidence of holiness
So that we might yearn
To glimpse the moment when
The divine desire to create burst forth
Into an explosion of awe and wonder.

These waves are signals of
An extremely rapid
Inflation of the universe…

Consider this, dear sister.
Answer this, dear brother.
What is it that you see
With your heart
When a faint glow
From the beginning of time
Reaches the earth?
What is it to know that
A rhythmic pattern
Of radiance is the
Foundation of everything?

Could it be,
Could it be

With darkness
Over the surface
Of the deep…

That the Painter,
The Composer,
The Sculptor,
The Author of all Being,
Signed this masterwork
Of creation

God said:
“Let there be light…”

Leaving a trace of glory
For us to find,
Using ripples in the
Fabric of the cosmos?

.ויהי-ערב ויהי-בקר, יום אחד
Viyhi erev, viyhi voker, yom echad.
And there was
Evening and there was
Morning.
A first day

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

Postscript: This is a revised version of the prayer first posted here on March 19, 2014. I welcome reactions to the combination of news text, scripture and poetry. I use the technique of posing questions to the reader in a variety of meditations and prayers, including “For Healing the Spirit,” “Regarding Old Wounds” and “For Sharing Divine Gifts.” All three appear in my book, Jewish Prayers of Hope and Healing.

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.

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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.

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