Posts Tagged ‘freedom’

 

Ha’azinu: We Are Music

Posted on: October 14th, 2016 by Alden

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.

Photo Credit: Picks and Sticks Music

Israel: A Meditation, Revisited

Posted on: October 2nd, 2016 by Alden

SONY DSCA new year approaches. It will be here by nightfall. We’ve just buried the last of Israel’s founding fathers and the local news is hinting about the next war with Gaza. Let the year bring only blessings on this land, leaders with vision and an end to war. This is my anthem to Israel, to the land, to our history and to our people. “Israel, You are my people…” Our collective heartbeat begins in this land. So, this anthem is also a declaration of faith, which is why it’s included in Antia Diamant’s newly-released revised edition of Choosing a Jewish Life, her popular conversion handbook. To listen along as you read, click on the triangle in the bar below. The text follows.

 

Israel: A Meditation
Israel,
You are my people.
You are my heart and you are my hope.
We waited together at the mountain
When G-d revealed the Holy Word.
We wandered together through the desert
On the path to sacred soil.
We watched the sea part.
We heard the heavens roar.
We stood at the doorway to freedom,
At the border of a Promised Land.

Israel,
You are my destiny.
You are my joy and you are my truth.
We were victorious at Jericho,
Unyielding at Masada.
We defied empires
For Torah.
We defied kings
For justice and freedom.
We’ve traveled the earth,
Wandered the millennia,
Refugees of the ages,
Homeless and hopeful,
Waiting to return
To native ground.

Israel,
You are my brother in history,
My sister in fortune,
The mother of my courage,
The father of my heart,
The child of my longing,
And the light of generations.
To you I pledge my right arm
And my voice in song.
To you I pledge my soul.
To you I pledge my spirit.

Israel,
You are my nation.
You are my inheritance.
You are my home.

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

Postscript: Thank you to Anita Diamant for including this meditation in Choosing a Jewish Life: A Handbook for People Converting to Judaism and for Their Family and Friends. This meditation first appeared on this site on July 7, 2010. Click here for more prayers and meditations about Israel.

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

Photo Credit: Alden Solovy

Shofetim: To the Streets

Posted on: August 18th, 2015 by Alden

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

Breathe

Posted on: July 12th, 2015 by Alden

Sky and LakeThis prayer is a simple reminder to breathe and the gifts that coming from simply being. It includes a space to include a name, yours or someone else’s, so that you can use it as reminder to yourself or as a hope for someone else. Six other pieces of mine include the instruction to breathe. Three of my favorites are: “Sing Praises,” “We Are Music” and “Invitations.”

Breathe
Listen, dear __________ (your name or another name),
Remember to breathe,
Remember to fill your chest
With the sweet taste of living,
To fill your heart
With a gentle gift of peace.
The breath of God
Surrounds you.
Let it flow through you.
The pulse of the universe
Beats with you.
Let it enliven you.
Invite your inhale,
The willingness of this moment.
Release your exhale,
And surrender to being.
Fill your lungs.
Feel them.
Feed them.
Heal them.
And you will know,
The majesty of now,
And the mystery
Of forever.

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

Postscript: My three other prayers with the instruction to breathe are: “Choosing to Heal,” “Let Your Heart Stir” and “Rules for Being Me in Jerusalem.”

Tweetable! Here’a suggested tweet. Please tweet it (with link): “…fill your heart with a gentle gift of peace. The breath of God surrounds you…” https://tobendlight.com/?p=13239

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: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service National Digital Library

Exodus, Again and Again

Posted on: April 1st, 2015 by Alden

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.

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

To the Streets, Revised

Posted on: November 25th, 2014 by Alden

social_justiceThis is a call to leaders to leave the safety and cloister of their institutions, to go into the streets to learn from the anguish of all people. Written as a Passover appeal for social justice, I’ve expanded the first stanza to recognize issues reflected and highlighted by the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Miss., and in the aftermath. In the last two stanzas, I’ve also added alternative language to Hebrew terms in [brackets] to make the prayer more accessible.

To the Streets, Revised
Have you been to the streets of our cities?
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 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 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,
Heading Your holy call to Tikun Olam [repair the world].

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

Postscript: Here’s a link to other prayers for social justice. Here’s a link to other prayers and readings for Passover. Here’s a link to the original prayer, posted April 3, 2014.

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: Progressive Charlestown

For the Yazidi People

Posted on: August 10th, 2014 by Alden

protect_iraqi_christiansThe nightmare in Iraq continues to worsen. Thousands of Yazidis have died and face genocide. Here is the impassioned plea of Yazidi Iraqi Member of Parliament Vian Dakhil. One stanza of this prayer is adapted from Bring Back Our Girls,” another prayer against the assault of terror against innocents.

For the Yazidi People
On a mountain,
Isolated
And left to die
While the world watches,
A slaughter of innocents.

Barren,
Desolate,
A landscape of death,
A heartbreak of hunger and thirst,
A graveyard of children.

Oh Yazidi people,
We pray for the hand of G-d’s mercy
To come to your aid,
To relieve your suffering,
To drive away the evil
That has pursued you
To the top of the world.

Oh people of conscience,
Cry out.
Cry out against holocaust.
Cry out against genocide.
Cry out against hatred.
For G-d requires us to stand
In the name of justice and freedom:
To oppose terror,
To muster our power and energy
To save the persecuted and oppressed.

Oh G-d,
We implore You,
Look down upon the suffering
Perpetrated in so many lands
By the hand of wickedness,
By the hand of malevolence,
By the hand of ignorance and sin.
Save the Yaidi.
Rescue all in need.
Bring the light of salvation
And healing
To the four corners of the earth.

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

Postscript: Please also see: “Bring Back Our Girls” and “For the Women of Congo and Sudan.” More prayers for social justice prayers appear in Haggadah Companion: Meditations and Readings.

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: The Deacon’s Bench

The Soldiers on this Mountain

Posted on: July 29th, 2014 by Alden

IMG_7301This is a memorial meditation for soldiers buried at the Israeli national cemetery on Har Herzl. Although it’s written to be used at a funeral, alternative openings [shown in brackets] allow it to be used by those visiting the cemetery generally and by those visiting a particular grave. There are also gender and age-related options shown with a slash “/”. This meditation was inspired by the funeral of Sgt. Max Steinberg, z”l.

The Soldiers on this Mountain
To rest we lay another youth/man/woman,
[Here rests another youth/man/woman,]
[Here rests ____________ (full name),]
A soldier on a mountain,
In a sacred city,
In a sacred land,
Held holy in our blood for millennia.

The soldiers on this mountain
Know you.
They know your heart.
They know your love.
They know your spirit.
Courage and valor are your companions.
Strength and honor are your legacy.
You are home among the defenders of
Our Promised Land.

The soldiers on this mountain
Grieve with you,
Not for themselves,
And not for you.
They grieve for the next
And the next
And the next
Who will rise up
And be struck down
To defend the children of Israel.

The soldiers on this mountain
Know you,
They know your passion,
They know your blood.

Son/Daughter of Israel,
The soldiers on this mountain
Welcome you –
One more among the fallen,
Another brave soul –
Back to the land you love.

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

Postscript: Here are links to more prayers for Israel, a prayer “For the IDF during Operation Protective Edge” and a “Yizkor for a Lone Soldier,” which I wrote before attending Max’s funeral. Thanks to my friends Ros Roucher and Rolene Marks for comments on an earlier draft.

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: Alden Solovy

For the IDF, Operation Protective Edge

Posted on: July 20th, 2014 by Alden

Soldiers at the Kotel2Here’s a new prayer for safety of IDF soldiers during Operation Protective Edge. It’s based on a prayer called “For the IDF: Operation Pillar of Defense” that I wrote nearly two years ago for that conflict. Unlike the earlier version, this prayer specifically identifies Hamas and includes more specific prayers for the families of the dead and wounded. It also includes a prayer for peace. I’ve also moved three lines up to be the opening of the prayer.

For the IDF, Operation Protective Edge
We stand with the defenders of Israel.
We honor the guardians of Zion.
We hold dear the sentries of Am Kadosh.

Rock of Israel,
Our sons and daughters,
Brothers and sisters,
Family and friends,
Have been called to serve
In the name of peace and justice
In Operation Protective Edge
To defend and to protect our land
From violence and assault,
From kidnappers and terrorists,
From the rain of missiles from Gaza.

Rock of Jacob,
Watch over the soldiers of the IDF.
Be their power and their strength,
Be their shield and their rampart.
Be their armor.
Protect our troops
From the weapons and the deadly intentions of Hamas.
Grant our soldiers courage and skill.
Guide their commanders
To think clearly and act decisively.
Grant the injured a complete r’fuah sheliamah.
For those who perish,
Grant them their share in the world to come.
Bless their families with solace.
Ease their minds and console their hearts.

G-d of Old,
We know the price of safety,
We know the cost of security,
We know the dangers ahead.
This is not easy. It is not desired.
And yet, we cannot be held captive
To hatred and violence.
How much longer should we wait?

Source of Shelter,
Grant a swift and successful end to this operation.
May this struggle bring lasting peace.
Keep our soldiers safe,
And let our soldiers keep us safe.
Return them swiftly in life and in health
To the loving arms of our people.

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

Postscript: Here are links two related prayers “To the Terrorist” and “For Peace in the Middle East,” as well as a link to more prayers for Israel.

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: Alden Solovy

Bring Back Our Boys: A Prayer

Posted on: June 14th, 2014 by Alden

Bring Back Our BoysAs the search continues for three missing Israeli teens, fear turns to prayer in Israel and among people of conscience around the world. On Saturday, Israel confirmed that Gil-ad Shaar, Naftali Frenkel and Eyal Yifrach were kidnapped by Palestinian terrorists. The three were taken while trying to hitch a ride home from high school.

Bring Back Our Boys: A Prayer
G-d of the prisoner,
G-d of the captive,
The voice of anguish echoes across the land.
Our sons,
Kidnapped, hijacked,
Torn from their lives and dreams,
Are held captive by violence and hatred
By those who would take our land
And destroy our people.

Guardian of Israel,
Bless those who have dedicated themselves to returning
Our sons to safety and shelter.
Grant them skill and wisdom
In this hour of need.
Give them the tools they need in the days ahead.
Bless their work.
Let success be close at hand.

This dismay is almost too much to bear.
Return Gil-ad Shaar, Naftali Frenkel and Eyal Yifrach
To the cradle of their parents’ arms,
And the refuge of their homes,
Speedily, in life and in health.
Bless their families with endurance and faith
That they will soon be reunited in the fullness of joy.
Bless our boys, in their captivity,
With hope and courage.
Grant them the strength and fortitude
To face, chas v’shalom, any shames or tyrannies forced upon them.

Rock of Israel,
Hasten their release.
Grant them lives of Torah and parnasa,
Rich with health and happiness,
Joy and peace.
Let rescue be near.

.ברוך אתה ה אלוקינו מלך העולם מתיר אסורים
Blessed are you, Adonai our God,
Sovereign of universe,
Who releases the captive.

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

Postscript: Here’s a link to more prayers for Israel. This prayer is an adaptation of “Against Human Trafficking” including some language from “For the Missing.” The later will appear in my forthcoming book, Prayers from the Heart of Darkness. I recently used the same two prayers to create “Bring Back Our Girls: A Prayer.” Follow developments on the Times of Israel and the Bring Back Our Boys Facebook page.

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: Times of Israel, Courtesy

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