Posts Tagged ‘Talmud’

 

Ministers of Earthly Blessings

Posted on: June 16th, 2020 by Alden No Comments

Angels are first mentioned in the Talmud in Masechet Brachot 4b. Quoting a Tosefta, we learn the number of flights an angel needs to get from one place to the next. Michael needs only one flight. Gabriel two. Elijah the Prophet, who was assumed into heaven and at times travels the earth, needs four flights. The Angel of Death needs eight flights. Except during a plague.

.וּמַלְאַךְ הַמָּוֶת — בִּשְׁמֹנֶה. וּבִשְׁעַת הַמַּגֵּפָה, בְּאֶחָת

And the Angel of Death, in eight. During a time of plague, in one.

During a plague – when death feels ubiquitous – the Angel of Death needs only one flight. In a pandemic, the Angel of Death is as powerful in flight as the Archangel Michael. Right now, it certainly seems like the Angel of Death has stronger wings then ever, empowered by the twin plagues of Covid-19 and virulent racism, the twin plagues of virus and hate that are claiming lives.

Ministers of Earthly Blessings
The angel of death
Has new wings
And leaps in powerful bounds
To claim souls
For heaven.

And why do we lend ourselves to this cause,
When plagues still stalk the earth?
The plague of disease that strangles from within.
The plague of violence that strangles from without.

We are the ministers of healing,
The angels of righteousness,
Touched by the Holy One,
The emissaries of earthly blessings.
We are the wings of life,
And the agents of change,
In the streets,
In the courts,
In the hospitals and clinics,
In our homes and in our communities.

Give love your power.
Give justice your voice.
Give truth the work of your hands.

Let us fly more swiftly than the plague itself,
Spreading hope and healing
Throughout the land.
We are the wings of wholeness.
We are the wings of peace.

© 2020 Alden Solovy and tobendlight.com.

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Postscript:

Please check out my ELItalk video, “Falling in Love with Prayer,” and my two CCAR Press books: This Joyous Soul: A New Voice for Ancient Yearnings 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.

Two Ravens

Posted on: January 6th, 2019 by Alden No Comments

This is the first of what will certainly be several new pieces inspired by my renewed learning at the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies. The idea that the raven Noah sent from the ark after the flood foreshadowed ravens feeding the prophet Elijah (1 Kings 17:4) came up in Rabbi Meir Schweiger‘s Tanach class. The timing was uncanny. At the time I was enjoying The Key of Rain, co-authored by my teacher Rav Mike Feuer, which uses that prophecy in the story. Meanwhile, my Rambam class, taught by Rabbi Levi Cooper, was learning Hilchot Yesodi HaTorah on prophecy. The final stanza of this piece alludes to Masechet Brachot Mishna 1:1 from my class with Raḥel Berkovits.

Two Ravens
Two ravens
Flying over the hills
Can be seen
As messengers of G-d
If you look
With prophet’s eyes.

A fox
Scavenging in the Temple ruins
Can be seen
As a sign of redemption
If you look
With sage’s eyes.

You children of Israel,
Awake!
You are surrounded by mysteries,
Bathed in holiness,
The light bursting freely from ancient wisdom.
If only you would look with your heart.
If only you would see with your soul.
Then, the secrets of gratitude and wonder
Would dance with you
Like wedding guests
Yearning for communion
With G-d’s Holy Word.

© 2018 Alden Solovy and tobendlight.com.

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Postscript:  This piece comes as a bit of a surprise, inasmuch as it reflects a synthesis of learning from multiple teachers from materials both in and out of class. In the past, my experience of being inspired by Jewish learning has been that one class meeting can (but doesn’t necessarily) lead to one new idea and one new prayer.

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: The Key of Rain, cover illustration used with permission

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