Posts Tagged ‘Reading for the Passover Seder’

 

Shofetim: To the Streets

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

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

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.

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 No Comments

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

Marvelous Gifts

Posted on: April 13th, 2014 by Alden No Comments

Second_Nuremberg_Haggadah_MatzaFor Passover, here’s a new meditation on using freedom in service to G-d and our fellow human beings while seeing the beauty and wonder around us. G-d gives us freedom, then we ask G-d to teach us how to use it wisely. More Passover prayers and meditations appear in my new book, Haggadah Companion: Meditations and Readings.

Marvelous Gifts
G-d of Old,
We give thanks
For moments of wonder and awe,
Of righteousness and charity,
For the freedom to do Your will.
Let Your mysteries unfold around us.
Guide us,
Shield us,
Lift us from narrow places
Of fear and despair
Into lives of service,
Into lives of celebration.
Teach me to use my hours with care,
And my words as tools of praise.

The world is beautiful,
Marvelous in opportunity,
Joyous in energy,
Pulsing with excitement,
Vibrant in youth,
Wise in years,
Amazing with vitality,
Fantastic in all life,
A place of love and hope.
Teach me to use my hands to build,
And my heart as a beacon of joy.

G-d of All Being,
Let me use the gift of redemption
From slavery to freedom,
From despair to hope,
As an instrument of holiness,
Celebrating the glory and beauty of creation,
A remembrance of our exodus of Egypt.

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

Postscript: Please check out my new books, Jewish Prayers of Hope and Healing and Haggadah Companion: Meditations and Readings.

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: WikiMedia Commons

Redeeming My Life

Posted on: March 23rd, 2014 by Alden No Comments

This is meditation on personal freedom, recognizing that we must first forgive ourselves for our own mistakes and misdeeds before we can fully express love and care for ourselves and for others. It appears in This Joyous Soul: A New Voice for Ancient Yearnings from CCAR Press.

Redeeming My Life
A part of me
Refuses to forgive
Myself
For my errors, my mistakes,
My oversights and misdeeds.
How can I redeem my life from within
This place of judgment,
Of harsh words and
Somber requirement?

G-d of Old,
G-d of Justice and Truth,
Teach me to restore my life
Through acts of love and kindness,
Thoughtfulness and care,
In support of my
Family and community.
Teach me to surrender my days
To the joy of service to others,
The joy of concern for this world
And generations to come.

Heavenly Guide,
Revive me with Your light,
Restore me with Your truth,
Refresh me with deeds
Of righteousness and charity.

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

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: Wikipedia

Elijah, Revised

Posted on: February 9th, 2014 by Alden No Comments

Elijah Beth FlusserThere’s a special kind of a hope, a kind of hope that opens the heart to our deepest yearning for a world of wholeness and love ushered in by G-d’s hand. For me, it’s captured singularly a song that we sing every year at the Pesach Seder and each week after Havdalah, a song about Elijah the Prophet. Elijah, our legend teaches, will announce the coming of the messianic age.

This is an expansion and revision of a prayer by the same name for use in my new book, Haggadah Companion: Meditations and Readings. The original was a short and simple six-line acrostic spelling Elijah with the first letter of each line. This version deepens the image of a messianic age and, in the third stanza, makes reference to I Kings 18:37 and I Kings 19:11-13.

Elijah
Eternal One,
Hear our cause!
Love and gladness,
Hope and salvation,
Israel restored,
The world redeemed,
Righteousness and mercy in an age of peace.

We are ready for healing.
Nations dream of justice,
While communities yearn for wisdom.
Leaders search for guidance,
While people seek hope and comfort,
Solace and rest.

Answer us, O God, answer us.
For You are not in the wind,
Nor in the shattering rocks.
You are not in the earthquake,
Nor the raging fire.
You are the still, small voice.

Ancient One,
God of our fathers and mothers,
Let us hear Your voice
Resound from Your holy mountain
As in the days of old.
Send us Your messenger,
Elijah, prophet among prophets,
To announce the time of blessing and wisdom,
To herald the return of holiness,
To proclaim Your world to come.

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

Postscript: Here’s a link to another Passover meditation, “The Season of Freedom.” Click for a full annotated list of meditations and readings for Pesach.

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 Credit: Beth Flusser on Haggadot.com

Elijah

Posted on: March 24th, 2013 by tobendlight No Comments

Elijah Beth FlusserThere’s a special kind of a hope, a kind of hope that opens the heart to our deepest yearning for a world of wholeness and love ushered in by G-d’s hand. For me, it’s captured singularly a song that we sing at the Pesach Seder and after Havdalah, a song for “Elijah the Prophet, Elijah the Tishbite. Let him come quickly in our day with the messiah, the son of David.”

Elijah
Eternal One, hear our cause!
Love and gladness, hope and salvation,
Israel restored, the world redeemed,
Justice and mercy in an age of peace.
Announce the time of blessing and wisdom.
Herald the return of holiness, Your world to come.

© 2013 Alden Solovy and tobendlight.com. All rights reserved.

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Postscript: This is my first acrostic. I subsequently wrote an expanded version of this prayer that is not an acrostic.  I’ve been working on two alphabetical acrostics for far too long and have been stumped by certain unforgiving letters near the end of the alphabet. Here’s a link to another Passover meditation, “The Season of Freedom.” Click for a full annotated list of meditations and readings for Pesach.

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: Beth Flusser on Haggadot.com

Release Me

Posted on: March 23rd, 2013 by tobendlight No Comments

celebratefreedomcard-673x1024Here’s a new prayer for Passover, which echoes the theme of two of my other Pesach offerings, “Egypt Inside” and “Breaking Bonds.” It’s about yearning for freedom from the emotions and experiences that hold me back, as well as the hope to see myself through G-d’s eyes.

Release Me
Holy One,
Release me from judgment.
Release me from doubt.
Release me from hunger.
Release me from want.
Release me from loneliness.
Release me from despair.
Release me from disappointment.
Release me from anger and shame.
Release me with Your gentle hand
And a song of hope.
Release me with the light of Your Word
And the echo of Your voice.

G-d of Old,
Guide me to wisdom and strength.
Teach me to break free of the chains
That I have wrapped around my own heart.
Teach me to live a life of service to others,
A life in celebration of Your gifts.
Teach me to see myself through Your loving eyes,
So that I may return, rejoicing,
To You
And Your people.

© 2013 Alden Solovy and www.tobendlight.com. All rights reserved.

Postscript: Here’s a link to another Passover meditation, “The Season of Freedom.” Click here for a full annotated list of meditations and readings for Pesach.

If you use this prayer, please click “like” on this page and subscribe. Please take a moment to post a link to your Facebook page, your blog or mention it in a tweet. Thanks. For usage guidelines and reprint permissions, see “Share the Prayer!

Photo Credit: Ben David Cards

To the Streets

Posted on: April 3rd, 2012 by tobendlight No Comments

This is a Passover appeal for each of us to work for social justice. It’s written in the voice of the admonishing prophet, exhorting us to leave the shelter of prayer and study to go to the streets in service of healing the world. To listen along, click on the triangle in the bar below. The text follows.

 

To the Streets
Have you been to the streets of our cities?
Have you seen the toothless madness
Of the poor, the homeless, the wretched and infirm?
Have you heard the broken voices
Of loneliness and loss, addiction and despair?
Of children abused in their homes.
Of youths who starve their bodies.
Of teens who cut their limbs.
Of adults who degrade each other.

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 to the darkest allies,
And your Aggadah to the neglected countryside.
Bring your Musar to the clinics and the infirmaries,
And your Shulchan Aruch to the shelters and encampments.
Bring your love and devotion to building a better world.

G-d of Old,
Let Your Torah and Mitzvot
Guide us in loving service
To lives of action,
Heeding Your holy call to tikun olam.

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

Postscript: Here’s a link to other prayers and readings for Passover.

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.

Against Poverty

Posted on: April 27th, 2011 by tobendlight No Comments

Teach-Girls-End-World-PovertyThis prayer is good for your Passover Seder and daily worship. It’s from my series “Against…” including: “Against Human Trafficking” and “Against Tyranny.” The idea for this series began as I looked over a list of the titles of my prayers. There were 49, roughly a third of my work at the time, beginning with the word “For…” So I wondered, can we pray ‘against’? To listen along, click on the triangle in the bar below. The text follows.

 

Against Poverty
G-d of the hungry,
G-d of the sick and the homeless,
The voice of the forgotten echoes across the land,
Dismayed and abandoned in a world of abundance.
Our children,
Our brothers
And our sisters
Are left to beg in the streets,
To find shelter in abandoned structures,
To suffer illness without physician or medication.

Source of hope and mercy,
Rock of strength and fortitude,
You call upon us to stand in the name of healing and honor,
To witness against human life ignored,
To fight society neglecting human beings,
To muster our power and energy against this plague.

Bless those who dedicate their lives to the poor, the sick and the homeless.
Bless those who take to the streets to offer food, clothing and shelter.
Give them courage and determination.
Bless those who plead on behalf of the poor before the seats of power,
Governments and corporations.
Give them wisdom and skill.
May the work of their hands never falter
Nor despair deter them from this holy calling.

Bless those in poverty with resources.
Release them from want.
Hasten the day of their self-sufficiency and bounty.

Blessed are You, G-d of All Being,
Who summons us to oppose the tyranny of poverty.

© 2011 Alden Solovy and tobendlight.com. All rights reserved.

Postscript: Does the idea of praying “against” resonate with you? What else should we pray against? Please drop me a note, if you’re so moved.

If you use this prayer, please click “like” on this page and subscribe. Please take a moment to post a link to your Facebook page, your blog or mention it in a tweet. Thanks. For usage guidelines and reprint permissions, see “Share the Prayer!

Photo Credit: Teach Girls, End World Poverty on ProductiveFlourishing.com

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