Posts Tagged ‘תורה’

 

Kedoshim: Holy

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

HolyKedoshim opens with a spectacular line: “Ye shall be holy, for I, Adonai your G-d, am Holy.” (Lev 19:2) We’re commanded to be holy. How can we be commanded to be holy? Some say that holiness results from our efforts to fulfill the other commandments. Were that true, why would we need a separate commandment to be holy?

What if the commandment to be holy means to make ourselves witnesses to holiness? What if it means that we are to become vessels in which to collect sparks of holiness? It would be both simple to understand and the work of a lifetime: become ready to experience holiness when, suddenly, unexpectedly, miraculously, we’re in its presence.

This is a new two-part ritual to prepare us to sight holiness. I imagine doing it in a group, with drums, the group split in two. One group repeats Part 1, mantra-style. The second group reads Part 2 in rhythm with Part 1. At intervals, the groups switch parts. To help you experience it, I’ve included a two-minute recording of Part 1, which you can play while you read Part 2.

 

Holy
Part 1
Heartbeat.
Drum beat.
Pulse beat.
Holy.

Part 2
Holiness surrounds me,
Fills the empty space.
Wondrous luminosity.
Radiance and grace.
Pulsing. Pulsing.
Heavenly embrace.
Pulsing. Pulsing.
To this human place.

The Artist and the canvas,
The Sculptor and the stone,
The Composer and the notepad,
The Potter’s clay is thrown.
Creating the foundation.
Creating sky and earth.
Vast and small and present,
Yearning to be known.

Holiness is waiting.
Here and now and strong.
Waiting for a witness.
Hallelujah song.

Painted by Your light,
Sculpted, drafted, formed.
Story, dance and music.
Miracles performed.

My heart will be Your vessel,
A vessel for this light.
Collecting sparks and glimmers.
Marvelous delight.

Holiness is waiting.
Here and now and strong.
Waiting for a witness.
Hallelujah song.

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

Postscript: Rhyming is not my “go to” poetic tool, although there are a few powerful exceptions, such as “Come Walk.” Thank you to Rabbi Zoë Klein for her suggestion to use rhyme to solidify the pulse of Part 2, daring to play with — and to send me — a few of the verses rewritten to get the idea across. Check out her debut novel, Drawing in the Dust. As my first effort creating this kind of ritual, I’d also appreciate your comments.

This is posted for the double portion Acharey-Kedoshim 5775. Note that the Torah readings in Israel are currently out of sync with the rest of the world until May 23, 2015, Parahsat Bamidbar. I’m posting prayers related to the Torah portion on the earlier Israeli cycle.

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: Elev8

Shemini: G-d on Tiptoes

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

still-small-voiceEarly in this week’s Torah portion, a very simple line appears: “…the glory of G-d appeared unto all the people.” (Leviticus 9:23) The simplicity stands in contrast to the scene from parashat Yitro in which G-d appears in smoke and fire, the earth quaking. Here, G-d’s glory arrives without fanfare. This meditation for parashat Shemini is the mirror of my Yitro meditation, “G-d’s Voice.” The prayer maintains the structure of the first, borrowing the forth stanza and the closing lines, setting up both connection and contrast. This appears in my book This Grateful Heart: Psalms and Prayers for a New Day from CCAR Press.

G-d on Tiptoes
What if G-d arrived unannounced?
No smoke. No thunder.
A gentle appearance of radiance and love.

What if G-d snuck in on tiptoes?
No earthquake. No blast of the shofar.
A luminous presence of wonder and glory.

What if G-d’s voice whispered in your ear,
So quiet that you had to hold your breath to hear?
A silent surrender of hope and faith.

What if holiness packed the empty space with light
As your lungs filled with the one divine breath
Together with every other living being?

What if G-d’s voice is as near
As your willingness to listen quietly
To the soul of the universe,
As a sense of calm and peace
Pass through you?

What if that moment
Is now?

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

Postscript: After a friend assured me that the Torah’s paucity of language assumes we know, precisely from Yitro, that G-d’s arrival is full of wonder and terror, he then said: “Of course, we do have the image of the still, small voice.” (Kings 19:12) Here’s another link to “G-d’s Voice.”

Please check out my Meet the Author video 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: wordserve water cooler

Ki Tisa 5775: Dust and Water

Posted on: March 3rd, 2015 by Alden No Comments

the-adoration-of-the-golden-calf-1966After seeing the Israelites worshiping a golden calf and smashing the tablets of the covenant, Moses melts the idol, grinds it to powder, casts it into water “…and made the children of Israel drink of it.” (Exodus 32:20)

Dust and Water
I have tasted
The dust of my sins,
The grit of my misdeeds,
The sludge of bad thoughts
And wrong action.

I have tasted
The pure water of goodness,
The font of my charity,
The clarity of good intentions
And generous acts.

G-d,
I am but flesh and blood,
Prone to error,
Inclined to holiness.
Guide me.
Support me.
Lead me to a life of celebration.
Let the rivers of righteousness
Overflow their banks,
Washing clean the dust of sorrow,
Washing clean the dust of fear and misdeed.
My hands will do Your work,
My feet with follow Your path,
And my life will be a well
Of awe and wonder.

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

Postscript: Consider using this prayer during the month of Elul and on Yom Kippur. Here are lists of prayers for the High Holidays: Elul, Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur and Sukkot. Here’s a link to yizkor and memorial prayers.

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: WikiArt: Marc Chagall, “Adoration of the Golden Calf”

Tetzaveh 5775: Stones of Remembrance

Posted on: February 24th, 2015 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 two stone shoulder fasteners for the high priest’s Ephod (see postscript). Called avnei zikaron, remembrance stones, the fasteners were engraved with the names of the 12 tribes. Here are three alternative uses: use it as a Jewish prayer (shown here); others may focus on their own religion; or it can be used as a universal prayer, including all teachers of faith and peace, from rabbis to Sufis, from Budda to Mother Teresa.

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:  ________________________.
[Add meaningful names from Biblical times to the Second Temple, for example: Abraham, Miriam, Nachshon, Zilpah, etc.]

G-d,
Remember us in the name of
Our sages:  ________________________.
[Add names from the Second Temple to contemporary times, for example: Yochanan ben Zaki, Regina Jonas, etc.]

G-d,
Remember us in the name of
Our teachers:  ________________________.
[Add names from the contemporary period, for example: a scholar, teacher, author or friend.]

These are the stones of remembrance,
The righteous and the driven,
The certain and the seeker,
The women and the men
Who have led Your people,
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.

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

Postscript: See also: “Sages,” “Tabernacle” and “The Statutes of Heaven.” The Ephod was an apron covering the tunic and robe and served 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 in the service of G-d; the Stone (Scherman) commentary says that they reminded G-d of the righteousness of the people. The two concepts are inseparable. By remembering those who came before us in prayer, we remind both G-d of the righteous among us and ourselves of our unity before G-d.

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

Terumah 5775: Tabernacle

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

TabernacleComplexDrawingIn Terumah, this week’s Torah portion, we get the instructions for creating the Sanctuary, the portable structure that accompanied the Israelites as they wandered, including the inner chamber where G-d’s presence would dwell. This meditation begins with a common metaphor, each of us building a tabernacle is his or her heart. It then takes that idea a step further, claiming that we, in fact, are the raw materials for the dwelling place of G-d’s glory.

Tabernacle
Let me build Your tabernacle
With my own hands
So that Your glory
Will dwell with us
Once again.

I will build a sanctuary
In the space between my heart and my soul,
Clearing the residue of sorrow and misdeeds,
Making a place for Your covenant,
Your wisdom and Your truth,
To rest in me.

Come, my people,
Shake off your slumber.
Shake off your despair.
G-d’s majesty waits only for an invitation.

Let your days be the woven fabric of love.
Let your life be the golden lamp of peace.
Together, we will become
The staves and the planks,
The walls, the curtain and the table,
Each one of us a pillar,
A sacred congregation,
A faithful assembly,
In service to G-d’s Holy Name.

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

Postscript: My other prayers seeking G-d and about the heart as a sanctuary to G-d include: “Let Us Meet,” “Seeking G-d” and “Let Holiness.”

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: Jewish Gems – Anita Silvert

Mishpatim 5775: The Statutes of Heaven

Posted on: February 11th, 2015 by Alden No Comments

rulesThere are 53 mitzvot in this week’s Torah reading, Mishpatim. This new meditation recognizes the breadth of these commandments while making several direct references to the parasha. One is the word ‘ordinance,’ referring to the parasha’s name and opening line. Another comes at close of the first stanza, a reference to Exodus 24:7: “We will do and obey.” The third stanza alludes to Exodus 22:28: “Thou shall not delay to offer the fullness of thy harvest…”

The Statutes of Heaven
This will be a law,
An ordinance of heaven,
A statute for all time
That I will obey.
Love.
Love so that my hands
Yearn to heal.
Love so that my eyes
Yearn for holiness and beauty.
Love so that sacred words of Torah
Are forever on my lips.
I will do and I will listen.

And if I forget
To love this life I’ve been given,
If I forget to love the G-d of my people,
The homeless and the stranger,
The widow and the orphan,
The statutes of heaven will remind me
Against a callous heart,
Against neglect and deceit,
Against contempt and vain pursuit.

These are the first fruits of my heart.
Kindness and charity.
Thanksgiving and mourning.
Joy and sorrow.
Repentance and prayer.
Honor, wisdom and grace.
I will not withhold them
From my G-d,
Neither the fullness of my being,
Nor the richness my celebration.

The statutes of heaven are my guide.
They resound from Sinai into my life.
This will be a law,
An ordinance of heaven,
A statute for all time:
Love through service,
Love through Torah and mitzvot,
Love through a life of holiness.

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

Postscript: The unifying idea of love in this meditation comes from other parts of Torah, including parashat Vayikra, Leviticus 19:18, “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” Here are two more prayers about serving G-d with an open heart: “Let Your Heart Stir” and “Let Us Meet.”

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: Jewish Gems, Mishpatim: Crossing a Line

 

Yitro: G-d’s Voice

Posted on: February 3rd, 2015 by Alden No Comments

voice1Together, standing at the foot of Mount Sinai, the Jewish people witness the moment when G-d descends to the mountaintop to enter into a covenant with Israel. This Shavuot meditation, based on Parashat Yitro (Ex. 19:16-19) asks us to imagine that moment, the very moment when G-d’s glory touches the earth. It appears in This Grateful Heart: Psalms and Prayers for a New Day from CCAR Press.

G-d’s Voice
What if G-d’s voice was so near
That your bones rattled
As thunder echoed inside your chest?

What if G-d’s voice was so near
You could feel the wind hit your face
As your feet seemed to slip on shaking ground?

What if awe and wonder surrounded you,
So close that your knees buckled,
As a pillar of fire from heaven descends to earth?

What if holiness packed all empty space with light
As your lungs filled with the one divine breath
Together with every other living being?

What if G-d’s voice is as near
As your willingness to remember
The moment we stood together on Sinai,
Amid the smoke and the lightning,
Hearing the great blast of the shofar?

What if that moment
Is now?

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

Hello! New here? Want more? Subscribe here to receive my newest prayers by email. 

Postscript:  If you like this prayer, you might also enjoy: “To Hear Your Voice,” “I Saw G-d” and “In Plain Sight.”

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: Celebration Church

Mikeitz 5775: For Our Brothers

Posted on: December 18th, 2014 by Alden No Comments

keep-calm-and-respect-your-brother-2This is a prayer for our brothers. In this week’s Torah reading Mikeitz, Joseph begins the process of testing his brothers to see if they have changed. They appear to have learned some lessons about honor, trustworthiness and family. This prayer is from a series of prayers about rejoicing in family relationships. It appears in my book, Jewish Prayers of Hope and HealingTo listen along as you read, click on the triangle in the bar below. The text follows. For Mikeitz 5773, I posted a social justice prayer called “Against Hunger.”

 

For Our Brothers
For our brothers,
A chant of honor.

Brother, to have you is a blessing,
A gift of endurance and strength.
Your courage is my shield,
Your humor, my cloak,
Your humility, my guide,
Your vigor, my hope.
Your victories witness your confidence,
Your devotion
And your zeal.

You are my brother by birth
My brother by choice,
My brother through pain
And my brother in thanksgiving.

G-d of brotherly dignity and grace,
Bless our family with gratitude
And our brothers with enthusiasm, vitality and wonder.
May their devotion inspire us to justice and mercy.
Bless our lives with energy and prosperity
So that we become a source of healing in our lives
And in the world.

Blessed are You, G-d of brothers,
Who delights in brotherly love.

© 2010 Alden Solovy and tobendlight.com. All rights reserved.

Postscript: See also: “For Our Sisters,” “For the Patriarch,” “For the Matriarch” and “For the Family Historian.” Note that this prayer is written to be used by both men and women to honor their brothers. “For Our Brothers” first appeared on this site on Oct. 2, 2010.

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: KeepCalm-O-Matic

Vayishlach 5775: Family Healing

Posted on: November 30th, 2014 by Alden No Comments

Family Tree HealingIn this week’s Torah portion, Jacob attempts to reconcile with his brother. This is a prayer for healing family wounds. Much as Jacob prepared to encounter Esau, this is a prayer for the spiritual willingness to heal. Choices to tailor the prayer to particular family situations are in [brackets]; use these choices or your own language. This prayer appears in my book, Jewish Prayers of Hope and Healing.

Family Healing
G-d of Old,
Our family has been fractured,
Torn apart by _________________ [anger, violence, death, alcoholism, suicide, disease, mental illness, neglect, abuse, abandonment, finances],
Old wounds that have steeped into our bones and our blood,
Our thoughts and our words.
Release me from my anger and my guilt,
So I may see my kin with new eyes –
Their losses and fears,
Their pain and shame –
And therefore find a source of
Forgiveness and renewed love.

Well of Blessings,
Lead us to new vision and new wisdom,
The place where love rests safely in our hearts
And peace waits quietly in our hands.

G-d of Generations,
Grant healing to my family, speedily,
So that we may rejoice together in Your gifts,
With joy and thanksgiving.

© 2012 Alden Solovy and tobendlight.com. All rights reserved.

Postscript: Here’s the prayer I posted for Vayishlach 5773, “The Descent,” a prayer about wrestling with angels. My prayer “For Family” includes a similar message to this prayer, but more softly stated. Here are prayers of family praise: “For the Patriarch,” “For the Matriarch,” “For Our Sisters,” “For Our Brothers” and “For the Family Historian.” This prayer first appeared on this site on November 8, 2012.

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. Please consider making a contribution to support this site and my writing.

Photo Source: Pinterest, Family Constellations

Vayetze 5775: Messengers among Us

Posted on: November 27th, 2014 by Alden No Comments

WOW Kislev Carla at KotelIs it possible to recognize an angel, a messenger of G-d? How would I know? Angels appear at the beginning and the end of this week’s Torah portion, Vayetze, first in Jacob’s dream of a stairway from heaven to earth, then as Jacob and Laban part ways. This meditation asks if we are capable of seeing angels and greeting them with curiosity and wonder whether or not they conform to any expected vision. It includes a not-so-subtle question to those who assail the dedication and joy of women who take on the mitzvah of t’fillin: what if they are also messengers of G-d?

Messengers among Us
What if angels appeared at your door?
Would you recognize them?
Invite them in?
Feed them or wash their feet?
Would you listen to their wisdom
Or laugh at their words?

What if G-d’s messengers
Shaved their beards,
Took off their kippot,
Or wore the clothing of beggars?
Could you see them?
Can you see holiness in the unexpected?
What if angels appeared at your door?

What if G-d’s messengers
Were women in talitot and t’fillin
Singing freely, full voiced, Shema Yisroel,
Chanting the Torah of our people?
Could you hear them?
Can you hear holiness in joyous song?
What if angels appeared at your door?

G-d of ancient vision,
G-d of modern voice,
Open the eyes of our people
To see holiness and love in one another,
To receive the messengers among us
With joy and gratitude.

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

Postscript: This prayer reflects my support for women’s prayer at the Kotel. It’s a thank you for the inspiration to begin to explore my own commitment to the mitzvah of t’fillin, which I wrote about in the Times of Israel. The photo is from the Women of the Wall Facebook page. Here’s a link to my Vayetze 5773 selection, “A Moment of Love.” Here’s a related prayer called “Messengers,” which I posted for Vayeira 5773.

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. If you like this prayer, please post a link to Facebook, your blog or mention it in a tweet.

Photo Source: Women of the Wall Facebook Page/Rosh Chodesh Kislev 5775

“Alden has become one of Reform Judaism’s master poet-liturgists…" - Religion News Service, Dec. 23, 2020

“Mesmerizing, spiritual, provocative, and thoughtful, Alden was everything you would want in a guest scholar and teacher.” – Rabbi Denise L. Eger, Congregation Kol Ami, Los Angeles, and Past President, CCAR

"Alden Solovy has become one of the most revered liturgists of the last decade…" - Jewish Post & Opinion, March 29, 2023

“Alden left everyone feeling inspired.” – Cantor Jeri Robins, Shabbat Chair, NewCAJE6