Posts Tagged ‘Spoke Word Torah’


Guest Writer: Eliza Scheffler

Posted on: January 18th, 2018 by Alden

Eliza Scheffler is a first-year rabbinical student at HUC-JIR in Jerusalem. She took my class, “Introduction to Creative Liturgy.” This is what she wrote when I opened up an empty aron kodesh — the ark/closet that typically holds Torah scrolls — and presented it as a writing prompt. This post is the first of new addition to this space: occasionally featuring guest writers.

Prayer of an empty ark
Where did my Torahs go?
Did you usher them out into the world for justice?
Did they wipe away brutality?
Did they vanquish suffering?
Or were they stolen, burned, destroyed?
Left unguarded and faded slowly?

What will come of you now —
All of you —
Do you need my Torahs still?
Who will retrace their letters?
Who will read them?
What will we learn?

“Prayer of an empty ark” is © 2018 Eliza Scheffler. All rights reserved.

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Avraham, Waiting (Spoken Word Version)

Posted on: June 19th, 2016 by Alden

tmotlw-03This is half prayer prayer, half Torah drash written as spoken word poetry. In Tanach, ‘hineni’ — ‘here I am’ — is a response to a direct call from G-d. The drash is the more obvious: ‘hineni’ is the spiritual practice of being ready to hear G-d’s voice and being prepared to answer. The prayer is the undercurrent: a desired to hear G-d’s call. I’ve also written a more traditional version of this piece. To listen, click on the triangle in the bar below. The text follows.


Avraham, Waiting (Spoken Word Version)
The first ‘Hineni’
Was silent.
It was not a declaration.
Not an announcement.
Not a summons to G-d.
No “Yo G-d, look at me.”
No “Hey G-d, see me.”
No “Check me out, G-d,
Here I Am.”
The first hineni was silent.
It happened before the word was spoken.

Heineni is opening heart.
Heineni is clearing mind.
Heineni is simple readiness.
Wait. Breathe. Surrender.

Heineni is the act of preparing
For G-d to call your name.
Wait. Breathe. Surrender.

And when you hear the call, declare:
“Amen to my prayer.”
“Hallelujah. G-d has called my name.”
Sheheciayanu v’kiyimanu vihigiyanu lazman hazeh,”
For this moment is unlike any other in the history of the world,
G-d has summoned me.”

Yes, G-d, here I am.
I’ve been waiting.
I’ve been hoping.
I’ve been dreaming.

When Avraham Aveienu said
‘Heineini’ with his lips,
He’d already said it with his heart,
He’d already said it with his soul,
He’d already said it with his might.

Hinei. Ani.
Hinei. Ani.

© 2016 Alden Solovy and All rights reserved.

Postscript: I read this piece recently at a spoken word Tikkun Leil Shavuot in Jerusalem: “Shavuot Meets Sermon Slam,” a slammin’ tikkun for the sake of Torah. The audio is from one of my rehearsals. My more traditional pieces for Shavuot can be found by clicking here.

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