Posts Tagged ‘Rosh Hashana’

 

Sweet Cake

Posted on: September 27th, 2016 by Alden No Comments

imageFor Rosh Hashanah, my secret recipe for sweet cake is this song of the spiritual traveler, an extended metaphor that shimmers with hope and prayer. It’s more of a yearning than a classic prayer, a love poem about life. And yet, aren’t all yearnings simply silent prayers of the heart? “Sweet Cake” appears in This Grateful Heart: Psalms and Prayers for a New Day.

Sweet Cake
Give me a drop of honey,
And I will give you the harvest moon.
Give me a silent tear,
And I will give you the roaring sea.
Give me a cup of milk,
And I will give you the rising sun.
Give me your secret prayer,
And I will give you my broken heart.

Give me a drop of honey and we will
Make a feast of this life.
Sweet cake,
To feed ourselves with joy and love.
Sweet cake,
To feed the world with awe and wonder.
Sweet cake,
Of milk and honey.
Sweet cake,
Of prayers and tears.

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

Postscript: One of my favorite pieces that’s written in the voice of the spiritual traveler is called “Come Walk.” Other prayers in the voice of the spiritual traveler include: “All is Well,” “River,” “Bird is Bird,” “Leaving,” “Remember” and “About the Rainbow.” This meditation first appeared on this site on December 12, 2013.

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Photo Sources: The Monday Box

Meditation before the Vidui

Posted on: September 15th, 2016 by Alden No Comments

imageThis meditation is to help prepare for a thorough and honest self-assessment before the confession litany, the Vidui, traditionally recited five times on Yom Kippur. It’s recited on Rosh Hashanah and is used in Selichot services. Originally posted as a “Meditation before the Yom Kippur Vidui,” a friend suggested using a title that makes clear this can be used throughout Elul in preparation for the High Holy Days.

Meditation before the Vidui
G-d of Old,
Judge and Sovereign,
Healer and Guide:

Today I recount my deeds,
The sins I’ve committed,
The blessings I’ve bestowed.

Today I recall my year,
The challenges I’ve faced,
The decisions I’ve made.

Today I reach into my heart,
The moments of anger,
The moments of love.

By Your command
G-d of Mercy,
I lay bare the secrets within me,
Light and darkness,
My gentle hand and my clenched fist,
My strength and conceit,
Anger and fear.

By Your command
G-d of Wisdom,
I open myself to see truth,
Beauty and degradation,
The holy and the profane,
The victorious and the guilty.

By Your command
G-d of Salvation,
I reclaim all that I am
And all that I’ve done,
My pride and my shame,
Returning to You
So that I may redeem my days
With awe and righteousness.

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

Postscript: Note that the traditional Siddur includes a Vidui in Tachanun, but only in Israel. This prayer wasn’t conceived with regular use in mind. Thanks to Rabbi Joseph Meszler for the suggestion. This was originally published on Aug. 30, 2011.  Click here for the full list of prayers for the Yamim Noraim. Here’s a focused list of prayers for Elul, another one of prayers for Rosh Hashana, a list of prayers for Yom Kippur and one more for Sukkot. And here’s a link to yizkor and memorial prayers.

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Photo Source: Kedem Auction House

Meditation on the Vidui

Posted on: September 6th, 2016 by Alden No Comments

ashamnuThis prayer was originally posted as a “Meditation after the Yom Kippur Vidui.” A friend pointed out that with a broader name for the prayer it — and my “Meditation Before the Yom Kippur Vidui” — can be used on Selichot, as well as throughout the month of Elul as preparation for the High Holy Days, the Yamim Noraim.

Meditation on the Vidui
For the sins I’ve committed against myself,
And for the sins I’ve committed against others,
I offer a new heart.

For the sins I’ve committed against my family,
And for the sins I’ve committed against my friends,
I offer new understanding.

For the sins I’ve committed against children,
And for the sins I’ve committed against adults,
I offer new restraint.

For the sins I’ve committed against men,
And for the sins I’ve committed against women,
I offer new vision.

For the sins I’ve committed against neighbors,
And for the sins I’ve committed against strangers,
I offer new insight.

For the sins I’ve committed against the powerful,
And for the sins I’ve committed against the weak,
I offer new wisdom.

For the sins I’ve committed against nations,
And for the sins I’ve committed against peoples,
I offer a new voice.

G-d of generations,
Source of forgiveness and grace,
For the sins that I remember,
And for the sins that I’ve forgotten,
I offer myself, in humble service,
To You, Your Word and Your Holy Name.

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

Postscript: Thanks to Rabbi Joseph Meszler for the suggestion. This was originally published on Aug. 31, 2011. Click here for the full list of prayers for the Yamim Noraim. Here’s a focused list of prayers for Elul, another one of prayers for Rosh Hashana, a list of prayers for Yom Kippur and one more for Sukkot. And 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. Connect with To Bend Light on Facebook and on Twitter.

Photo Source: Va-yehi Or

Congregational Prayer at the High Holidays

Posted on: September 13th, 2015 by Alden No Comments

 

SONY DSCA new prayer for 5776. A leader of one of my synagogues in Israel asked me to write a community prayer. The request comes at a time when we face difficult challenges and losses. Here are two versions, short and long, posted for Kehillat Yedidya. Both adaptable for use by any congregation. Use the blank line to add the name of your synagogue. Word choices are separated with a slash (“/”).

Congregational Prayer at the High Holidays (Short Version)
G-d of Old,
Bless our holy congregation,
Kehillat Yedidya [use your synagogue’s name  _______________ ],
During these days of awe and forgiveness.
We are Your servants,
Lovers of Torah,
Beautiful in our imperfection,
Doing Your will when joy surrounds us,
Doing Your will, even yet, when our hearts are broken.

G-d whose name is Mercy,
Our lives are in Your hands.
You number our days.
Grant our [synagogue/shul/kehilla/temple]
Steadfast compassion and enduring devotion.
Let us celebrate together with fullness of heart.
Let us mourn together under a tent of comfort and care.
Let us serve you from generation to generation,
A light of Your Holy Word.

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

Congregational Prayer at the High Holidays (Full Version)
G-d of Old,
Bless our holy congregation,
Kehillat Yedidya [use your synagogue’s name  _______________ ],
During these days of awe,
These days of judgment,
These days of forgiveness.
We are Your servants,
Men, women and children,
Old and young,
Lovers of Torah,
The strong and the infirm,
Teachers and students,
Lovers of Your way,
Beautiful in our imperfection,
Doing Your will when joy surrounds us,
Doing Your will, even yet, when our hearts are broken.

G-d whose name is Mercy,
G-d whose name is Truth,
Our lives are in Your hands.
Our time is fleeting.
You number our days.
Grant our [synagogue/shul/kehilla/temple] steadfast compassion,
Enduring devotion,
Strength, wisdom and kindness.
Let us celebrate together with fullness of heart.
Let us mourn together under a tent of comfort and care.
Let us serve you from generation to generation,
A light of hope,
A light of love,
A light of Your Holy Word.

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

Postscript: Wishing all of my friends around the world — and all of the wonderful synagogues I attend in Israel and the U.S. — a joyous and healthy year. Here’s a link to an annotated list of all of my High Holiday prayers.

Tweetable! Click here to tweet this: “Bless our holy congregation during these days of awe…” A new High Holiday prayer by @ToBendLight https://tobendlight.com/?p=13529

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

The Greatest Sin

Posted on: September 28th, 2014 by Alden No Comments

Rosh Hashana 5775The High Holiday Vidui – the Jewish confessional prayer – contains a broad list of transgressions. This meditation suggests that the greatest sin of all is failure to create the conditions in our hearts and in our lives that lead to love of each other and service to G-d. The idea: if we engage always in these acts, there is no room for sin. In other words, the greatest transgression is to carelessly allow the conditions for sin to take root. See also: “Meditation Before the Yom Kippur Vidui”and “Meditation After the Yom Kippur Vidui.”

The Greatest Sin
The greatest sin
Is not to see
The miracle of each new day
Or to fill our days with hope
And love.

The greatest sin
Is not to see
The miracle of each new breath
Or to fill each breath with joy
And service.

The roots of sin
Are hatred and idle hands.
The roots of holiness
Are love and work.

G-d of wisdom,
Grant me the ability
To see the flow of miracles around me,
In awe and wonder,
So that I become of vessel of Your glory,
And an instrument of Your holy name.

Then, I will rejoice,
Rededicating my life to You,
With prayer
And with deeds of loving-kindness.

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

Postscript: Here are links to prayers for Elulprayers for Rosh Hashanaprayers for Yom Kippur and prayers for 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: Temple Beth Elohim

Meditation on the Eve of a New Year

Posted on: September 24th, 2014 by Alden No Comments

Rosh Hashana 5775 Card ChabadA new meditation — written this morning — as the year 5774 comes to an end. May 5775 bring hope, blessing and peace. Instructions for using this meditation are found in [brackets]. May you have a year of health and happiness, joy and laughter, livelihood, sustenance, prayer and love.

Meditation on the Eve of a New Year
G-d,
Dear G-d,
We stand at the cusp of a New Year,
Looking forward, looking backward,
So much accomplished,
So much neglected,
Gains and losses,
Joys and sorrows,
Victories and defeats.
A life.
My life.

You,
G-d of Old,
You are Steadfast Witness,
Source and Shelter.
I bend my heart to You,
Recalling these gifts:

[Part 1: Think about, say out loud or write down blessings in your life, including: people, places, events and things. Be specific: a son, daughter, niece, nephew, brother or sister, by name; a wedding a birth or other joyous occasion, with names; seeing a sunrise or a rare bird; a favorite shirt, a new bed, a home repair or expansion; a new job. See how beautifully detailed and long you can make the list, seeing the many blessings that flow through your life.]

[Part 2: If you can, name the blessings that arose from sorrows, for example: a merciful death, an end to suffering or beautiful eulogy for someone, by name; rebuilding after a disaster; potential new life after a divorce. Don’t force it; be true to how you actually feel, not how you think you ‘should’ feel. If you can, try to see how, sometimes, even in times of sorrow there can be gifts.]

G-d,
My G-d,
For consolation in my grief,
For sunlight and midnight,
For hope in my celebrations,
For warmth and for shelter,
For current and tide,
For family and for friends,
For the flow of beauty and grace,
I bend my life back to You,
As the New Year descends,
In love and in service,
My offering
To Your Holy Name.

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

Postscript: Here’s a related meditation called “Another Year: An Introspection” and a link to prayers and stories for the Yamim Noraim, the High Holy Days, listed by topic, some of which my book, Jewish Prayers of Hope and Healing.

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. Please take a moment to explore my book, Jewish Prayers of Hope and Healing.

Photo Source: Chabad.org

 

Gates

Posted on: September 20th, 2014 by Alden No Comments

Gate Beth EmetStanding before the gates of heaven in prayer – yearning for them to stay open long enough for true repentance to be heard – is a classic High Holy Day metaphor. The inspiration for this prayer comes from Isaiah, the haftorah read on Shabbat Nitzavim. “Pass through, pass through the gates… Tell fair Zion: Your deliverance is coming!” This prayer envisions each of us briefly entering G-d’s holy realm to be restored. I wrote it at the request of my friend Rabbi Andrea London for the 5775 Beth Emet—The Free Synagogue congregational holiday card. I also took the photo used on the card, shown here. My other prayers using the metaphor of gates include: “At the Gates” and “The Entry to Our Hearts.”

Gates
Keep the gates open,
Holy One,
Keep them open a little longer,
So that my repentance and my yearning
May yet enter Your holy realm.

Keep the gates open,
Compassionate One,
So that our hearts may dwell,
To be refreshed in Your sacred space,
To be restored with justice and mercy,
To be nurtured and renewed with awe and wonder.

Rock of Israel,
Source and Shelter,
Keep the gates open,
So that when we leave this holy place
We remember and know
That wisdom and understanding surround us,
That peace and joy will yet follow,
That holiness and love will yet prevail.

© 2014 Alden Solovy, Beth Emet-The Free Synagogue and tobendlight.com. All rights reserved.

Postscript: This prayer was written in Israel during the 2014 Gaza war known as “Operation Protective Edge.” The last two lines of this prayer were strongly influenced by the war. I’m grateful to Rabbi London for this opportunity and for her suggestions. My other prayers using the metaphor of gates include: “At the Gates” and “The Entry to Our Hearts.” Here are links to prayers for Elulprayers for Rosh Hashanaprayers for Yom Kippur and prayers for 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: Alden Solovy

The Entry to Our Hearts

Posted on: September 14th, 2014 by Alden No Comments

SONY DSCFor the one crushed by sorrow, hope can be a prayer, a prayer of repentance, a prayer for healing. This is a High Holiday prayer for hope and healing – a kind of repentance – for someone deep in loss and despair. At first, it twists the classic metaphor of approaching the gates of repentance, the way grief distorts the way we see the world. Then it softens to a simple question: “What shall we say before You, G-d Old?” Here’s another prayer that uses the same metaphor, called “At the Gates.”

The Entry to Our Hearts
Who mourns at the gates of righteousness
And dances at the gates of desolation?
Who laughs at the gates of judgment,
And cries at the gates of peace?
Who sings at the gates of misfortune,
And howls at the gates of blessing?
Who shouts at the gates of mercy,
Standing mute at the gates of penance?

Ancient One,
Source and Shelter,
We stand at the gates,
At the entry to our hearts,
At the passage to mystery,
At the crossroad of uncertainty.
What shall we say before You,
G-d of Old,
In this sorrow and this despair?
Let these prayers be for healing.
Let these prayers be for life.

Blessed are You,
G-d of Mercy,
You lead us from darkness to light,
From mourning to rejoicing,
From repentance to service,
So we may build our lives, anew.

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

Postscript: Here’s another prayer that uses the same metaphor, called “At the Gates.” This “Meditation before Neilah” does not mention the word ‘gates,’ but it uses the urgency of standing before the gates to create the internal emotion. Here are links to prayers for Elulprayers for Rosh Hashanaprayers for Yom Kippur and prayers for Sukkot. Here’s a link to yizkor and memorial prayers. Please take a look at my book, Jewish Prayers of Hope and Healing.

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

Repentance Inside

Posted on: September 10th, 2013 by tobendlight No Comments

582746main_sunrise_from_iss-4x3_428-321What does it take to internalize a deep sense of repentance, so that real change is possible? What will it take to be the man G-d envisioned when making me? This is from a series about internalizing G-d’s gifts, including “Egypt Inside” and “Forgiveness Inside.” This piece appears in This Grateful Heart: Psalms and Prayers for a New Day from CCAR Press.

Repentance Inside
This I confess:
I have taken my transgressions with me,
Carrying them year-by-year into my hours and days,
My lapses of conscience
And indiscretion with words,
My petty judgments
And my vanity,
Clinging to grief and fear, anger and shame,
Clinging to excuses and to old habits.
I’ve felt the light of heaven,
Signs and wonders in my own life,
And still will not surrender to holiness and light.

G-d of redemption,
With Your loving and guiding hand
Repentance in prayer is easy.
Repentance inside,
Leaving my faults and offenses behind,
Is a struggle.
In Your wisdom You have given me this choice:
To live today as I lived yesterday,
Or to set my life free to love You,
To love Your people,
And to love myself.

G-d of forgiveness, help me to leave my transgressions behind,
To hear Your voice,
To accept Your guidance,
And to see the miracles in each new day.

Blessed are You,
G-d of justice and mercy,
You set Your people on the road to t’shuva.

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

Postscript: Here are focused lists of prayers for the High Holidays: Elul, Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur and Sukkot. Here’s a link to yizkor and memorial prayers.

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: Wikimedia Commons

Yom Kippur 5774

Posted on: September 8th, 2013 by tobendlight No Comments

YK Artscroll MachzorYom Kippur. A day of prayer. Of fasting. Of repentance. It can be deadly dull, hour after hour, year after year. Yet, I’ve experienced moments that have taken my breath away. These experiences went far beyond a deep connection with prayer. They shifted my relationship to G-d and my understanding of myself. They also inform my work as a poet and liturgist. I wrote about them in the Times of Israel, in an essay titled “Cry No More: Three Prayers, Two Visions and a Fire.” I invite you to read it as part of you Yom Kippur preparation.

Here’s a link to an annotated list of all of my Yom Kippur prayers. This year my “go to” prayer is “The Path of Righteousness.”

May you be inscribed for a year of health and happiness, awe and wonder, prosperity and peace.

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Photo Source: Getty Images/Steve Allen

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