Posts Tagged ‘Exodus from Egypt’

 

Crossing

Posted on: January 12th, 2022 by Alden No Comments

A prayer for Shabbat Beshalach in which we hear the Song of the Sea, sung after the just-freed Hebrew slaves, being pursued by armies, make it safely across the sea. This piece appears in my book This Precious Life: Encountering the Divine with Poetry and Prayer from CCAR Press.

Crossing
Every journey of liberation
Crosses the sea,
Pursued by a vicious past,
Surrounded by fragile miracles,
On a steady march
To an unknown destination.

Every journey of liberation
Begins at midnight,
In the darkest hour of oppression,
With the blood of a sacrifice,
With secret signs
And anxious anticipation.

Let us sing a song of salvation.
A song of absolution, benevolence, and compassion,
Of deliverance, freedom, and emancipation,
Of power, rescue, and release,
Of pardon, restoration, and reprieve,
Of the might and the mercy of our Maker,
Of God’s generosity and grace.

!מִי כָמֹכָה בָּאֵלִם, יי! מִי כָּמֹכָה נֶאְדָּר בַּקֹּדֶשׁ, נוֹרָא תְהִלֹּת עֹשֵׂה פֶלֶא
Mi chamochah ba-eilim, Adonai!
Mi kamochah, nedar bakodesh,
Nora t’hilot, oseih feleh!
Who is like You, O God, among the gods that are worshiped?
Who is like You, majestic in holiness,
Awesome in splendor, working wonders?

Let every journey of liberation
End on the opposite shore,
Exhausted but jubilant,
On the edge of an undiscovered land,
With shouts of joy and delight,
When our struggle leads to redemption.

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

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Photo Source: Hebrew Academy

Exodus, Again and Again

Posted on: April 1st, 2015 by Alden No Comments

800px-Egypt’s_Desert_MountainsFor Passover, a new prayer for peace and endurance in the face of existential threat, set in the context of history. It’s a reminder of our bond with the land and the survival of our people through millennia of exile and persecution. It begins with an ambiguous line from Torah, also used in the Passover Haggadah – “arami oved avi,” translated as “my father was a wandering Aramean” – the use of which is discussed in the postscript, below.

Exodus, Again and Again
My father was a wandering Aramean,
My mother a wandering Jew,
Sent on a journey home,
On the journey to a promised land.

His children’s children were slaves,
And their children’s children refugees,
History set in the journey from slavery to freedom,
A march repeated throughout the ages.

The Temple fell, our nation dispersed,
And we did not forget.
It fell twice, and we did not forget.
We have risen,
Again and again,
To dream of Jerusalem,
To yearn for Zion,
To pray for redemption in our own land.

My mother was expelled,
My father was pursued,
My children hunted,
Generations lost
To fire and knife.

We are a tide of survival,
Surging and receding,
Returning to our people,
Returning to our G-d,
Returning, once again, to our land.

We are home.
Exiled no more.
In prayer and in repentance,
We are home.
In love and in joyous yearning,
We are home.
We are home to stay.

Rock of Jacob,
Let peace descend on Zion and Israel,
And let gladness fill our hearts,
For the sake of Torah,
For the sake of all of Your children,
For the sake of Your Holy Name.

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

Postscript: “Arami oved avi” (Deut. 26:5) is translated as “my father was a wandering Aramean.” Some Haggadahs assume a classic interpretation of the verse, rendering the Hebrew as “an Aramean destroyed my father.” Rashi accepts this reading, but Ibn Ezra strongly rejects it. Ibn Ezra says the verse refers to Jacob, who, when he was in Aram, was lost. Rashbam argues that the verse more appropriately applies to Abraham, who can correctly be identified as an Aramean. In the context of this prayer, interpreting the line as either Abraham or Jacob makes the most sense; however, the classic interpretation also works to ground a theme of existential threat and exile. Please check out my book of Passover readings, Haggadah Companion: Meditations and Readings.

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Photo Source: WikiMedia Commons

Vaera 5775: I am Pharaoh

Posted on: January 14th, 2015 by Alden No Comments

436px-Thutmosis_IIIIn this week’s Torah reading, and in last week’s, G-d tells Moses that G-d will harden Pharaoh’s heart. What does it mean for G-d to harden Pharaoh’s heart? In his commentary, Rabbi Shai Held explains that: “There comes a point when a person has become so totally entrenched in bad behavior that he simply loses the ability to choose any other path.” Practice bad behavior enough and it becomes a way of life. This new prayer is a reminder that we all have the potential to become like Pharaoh, or to emulate Moses, Miriam and Aaron.

I am Pharaoh
I am Pharaoh
When I willfully
Harden my heart
To beauty and holiness.

I am Pharaoh
When I willfully
Harden my heart
To love and tenderness.

I am Pharaoh
When I willfully
Ignore the call
Of the forgotten and oppressed.

Ancient One,
Open my heart
With joy and compassion.

I am like Moses
When I seek
The word of G-d
In the wilderness and on the mountain.

I am like Miriam
When I lead
Our people, rejoicing,
In celebration and song.

I am like Aaron
When I cleanse my heart,
To fulfill G-d’s command
In awe and righteousness.

G-d who led us out of slavery,
Through the desert
And into a new land:
Teach me to open my heart,
In loving service to You,
In loving service to Your people,
In loving service to Your creation.

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

Postscript: Other Passover prayers include: “Egypt Inside,” “The Season of Freedom” and “Elijah,” which appear in my second book, Haggadah Companion: Meditations and Readings. And here’s a listing of all of my Passover 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: WikiMedia Commons

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