Posts Tagged ‘Torah prayers’

 

Return Us to You

Posted on: January 28th, 2019 by Alden No Comments

A prayer in praise and thanksgiving for the ark and it’s holy contents. See also, “Ki Mi’Tzion.”

Return Us to You
Open,
Gateway to holiness!
Open your mysteries and secrets
To a world yearning for truth.
Open your doors to Torah,
To sacred wisdom,
Invite the generations to enter.

עץ חיים היא למחזיקים בה, ותמכיה מאשר  
Eitz chayim hi lamachazikim bah, v’tom’cheha m’ushar.
It is a tree of life for those who cling to it, and those who uphold it are happy.

For Torah is the keeper
Of ancient blessings,
Of timeless wisdom,
The foundation of faith,
The essence of One,
The rhythm of time,
And the glory of our lives.

דרכיה דרכי נעם וכל נתיבותיה שלום
D’racheha darchei noam v’chol n’tivoteha shalom.
It ways are pleasant, and all its paths are peace.

Open,
Gateway to holiness!
The splendor of the beginning.
The radiance of the ending.
The way of our ancestors
And the entrance to our hearts.

השיבנו ה’ אליך ונשובה. חדש ימינו כקדם
Hashivenu Adonai eilecha v’nashuva. Chadesh yameinu k’kedem.
Return us to you, G-d, so that we shall return. Renew our days as of old.

© 2019 Alden Solovy and tobendlight.com.

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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.

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Guest Writer: Eliza Scheffler

Posted on: January 18th, 2018 by Alden No Comments

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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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.

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V’Zot HaBracha: Unseen Lands

Posted on: October 23rd, 2016 by Alden No Comments

img_0715As the Torah closes, Moses goes up from the steppes of Moab to Mount Nebo. G-d shows him the land. He sees from afar. So much remains unseen for Moses. What will the land yield? How will the people fare? What will come next? How does the land look up close? How does it feel to enter the Promised Land? It’s also an unseen land for the people: a new home that was only a vision and a promise, with a new leader and our first prophet to mourn. So, too, we can enter the future – our own an unseen land – with either fear and mourning, or we can embrace the adventure of what comes next.

Unseen Lands
So many unseen lands
Arise from the glorious earth.
So many unknown peaks
Rise from my beating heart.
This is the journey.
The place where we climb
Above the clouds,
The place where we enter
Our own wisdom and grace,
To see the sunrise,
To watch the sea shimmer
With morning light,
And to meet our holiness,
Our love
And our surrender.

G-d of Old,
Guide me through unseen lands,
The territory beneath my feet,
And the horizons that call my soul.
Let my passage be for righteousness.
Let my passage be for healing.
Let my passage be for wisdom and grace.

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

Postscript: Related prayers include: “Come Walk,” “River,” “Leaving” and “Sweet Cake.” This prayer first appeared here on January 5, 2014, where you can read about its origin.

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Ha’azinu: We Are Music

Posted on: October 14th, 2016 by Alden No Comments

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.

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Avraham, Waiting (Spoken Word Version)

Posted on: June 19th, 2016 by Alden No Comments

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.”
No.
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.
Hineni.

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

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.”
Hineni.

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.
Hineni.

© 2016 Alden Solovy and tobendlight.com. 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.

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.

Breisheit: Evidence of Holiness

Posted on: October 6th, 2015 by Alden No Comments

600px-Sextans_B_Hubble_WikiSkyIn a patch of sky seen from the South Pole, researchers say they have glimpsed the beginning of time, a faint microwave glow of the Big Bang. Or maybe, just maybe, the scientists found something they cannot explain. The early stanzas of the prayer include lines adapted from an AP article that appeared in The Times of Israel. The prayer closes with lines from Gensis 1:1-5 as translated in the 1962 JPS volume The Torah: The Five Books of Moses. Quotes from these sources are shown in italics.

Evidence of Holiness

Suppose God
Plays hide and seek
Among the stars

Cosmic microwave radiation —
A faint microwave glow from the Big Bang —
Has been detected from Earth…

Leaving evidence of holiness
So that we might yearn
To glimpse the moment when
The divine desire to create burst forth
Into an explosion of awe and wonder.

These waves are signals of
An extremely rapid
Inflation of the universe…

Consider this, dear sister.
Answer this, dear brother.
What is it that you see
With your heart
When a faint glow
From the beginning of time
Reaches the earth?
What is it to know that
A rhythmic pattern
Of radiance is the
Foundation of everything?

Could it be,
Could it be

With darkness
Over the surface
Of the deep…

That the Painter,
The Composer,
The Sculptor,
The Author of all Being,
Signed this masterwork
Of creation

God said:
“Let there be light…”

Leaving a trace of glory
For us to find,
Using ripples in the
Fabric of the cosmos?

.ויהי-ערב ויהי-בקר, יום אחד
Viyhi erev, viyhi voker, yom echad.
And there was
Evening and there was
Morning.
A first day

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

Postscript: This is a revised version of the prayer first posted here on March 19, 2014. I welcome reactions to the combination of news text, scripture and poetry. I use the technique of posing questions to the reader in a variety of meditations and prayers, including “For Healing the Spirit,” “Regarding Old Wounds” and “For Sharing Divine Gifts.” All three appear in my book, Jewish Prayers of Hope and Healing.

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.

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Korach: For Political Leadership

Posted on: June 17th, 2015 by Alden No Comments

politics-word-cloudIn this week’s Torah portion Moses and Aaron face a rebellion. It fails and the perpetrators are punished. This is a prayer for wise and dedicated political leaders, asking that they have the imagination and strength to address the problems of our time. The prayer includes an option in [brackets] to identify particular issues and problems of interest to the person reciting the prayer.

ADDENDUM, June 11, 2018: This prayer seems more relevant to world leadership now than it did when I wrote it three years ago.

For Political Leadership
G-d of history,
We yearn for [new] leadership,
For men and women of inspiration and insight,
Visionaries to build nations and communities
In Your image,
Stewards dedicated to justice,
Unafraid to face the challenges of our day,
[In particular, the challenge(s) of
_________________________,]
So that our cities and countries resonate with
Compassion and health,
Justice and mercy,
Kindness and peace.

Bless our leaders
With dedication and foresight,
Fortitude and imagination
To solve the complex issues that threaten our future.
May they lead us to a time when neighbors embrace
And the communities thrive,
A time when liberty and equality
Reign supreme.

Source and Shelter,
Grant safety and security to all nations and communities,
So that truth and harmony will resound
From the four corners of the earth.
Let the light of wisdom
Shine brightly in the halls of power,
A beacon of hope
For every land and every people.

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

Postscript: In writing this piece, I avoided the use of the word statesmen,which brought a wave of criticism when I used it in the prayer For Wisdom During Democratic Elections.

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.

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Shelach Lecha 5775: Gathering, A Dream of Reunion

Posted on: June 9th, 2015 by Alden No Comments

tzitzit old shoe womanThis week’s Torah portion includes the commandment to wear tzitzit — fringes — on the corners of our garments (Numbers 15:37-41), which we fulfill with the tallit. The ritual use of the tallit includes gathering the four tzitzit just before saying the Shema, upon reciting this line: Bring us in peace from the four corners of the earth and lead us upright to our land… The act reflects our historic longing for reunification in our homeland. This meditation has dreamlike quality, beginning with the yearning for Israel that’s in each of us. To listen along, click on the triangle in the bar below. The text follows.

 

Gathering: A Dream of Reunion
והביאנו לשלום מארבע כנפות הארץ
ותוליכנו קוממיות לארצנו

Bring us in peace from the four corners of the earth
And lead us upright to our land…

First Tzitzit – Gathering fringes
The first knotted string in hand,
I imagine the journey home,
Home to the land of our mothers and fathers,
Holy and full of promise, labor and love,
To build a life of wonder and awe.
This is me.
This is my pilgrimage to sacred soil.
This is my dream of holiness and redemption.
I am the first tzitzit.
I am returning home.

Second Tzitzit – Gathering hearts
The second fraying string in hand,
I imagine my children, my family, my household
Returning with me to our homeland
To build and to renew our ancestral blood.
This is my family.
This is our journey to hallowed ground.
This is our wholeness and rebirth.
We are the second tzitzit.
We are returning home.

Third Tzitzit – Gathering moments
The third worn string in hand,
I imagine you, my community, my kahal,
Returning together to our Source and Shelter,
To consecrate the ancient land and our holy vow.
This is my village.
This is our journey to mystery and majesty.
This is our bond of ages.
We are the third tzitzit.
We are returning home.

Final Tzitzit – Gathering millennia
The final woolen string in hand,
I imagine all of us, from all corners of the Earth,
Returning with songs of praise and rejoicing,
To claim our place among the nation of Israel.
This is my people.
This is our journey of destiny.
This is our covenant.
We are the final tzitzit, separate no more.
We are returning home.

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

Postscript: This remains my deepest yearning for all of the people Israel. We’ll each arrive when the time is right. Thanks to Rabbi Ruth Abusch-Magder for challenging me to think about how this meditation might be heard by those who are not considering aliyah. Click here for more prayers and meditations about Israel. Gathering: A Dream of Reunion first appeared on this site on December 30, 2011.

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. Please consider making a contribution to support this site and my writing.

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Emor: Your Name: Meditation at Dusk

Posted on: April 29th, 2015 by Alden No Comments

Alden and the KinnertIn Parashat Emor, in one amazing line, we are given twin injunctions: one against profaning G-d’s name (chillul hashem) and the other to sanctity G-d’s name (kiddush hashem). This prayer is about sanctifying G-d’s name according to the blessings we receive. It appears in my book, This Grateful Heart: Psalms and  Prayers For a New Day.

Your Name: Meditation at Dusk
G-d of Old,
Your name is Peace.
Your name is Justice.
Your name is Mercy.

G-d of Life,
Your name is Compassion.
Your name is Love.
Your name is Hope.

G-d of Blessing,
Your name is Truth.
Your name is Wisdom.
Your name is Righteousness.

G-d of our fathers,
G-d of our mothers,
Your name is in my heart
And before my eyes.

Blessed are You Adonai,
Your name shines throughout creation.

“Your Name: Meditation at Dusk” is © 2017 CCAR Press. All rights reserved.

Postscript: This prayer first appeared on this site on July 14, 2011. I also used it for Va’eira 5773. The photo of me praying near the Kinneret was taking during the 2105 Tsad Kadima Hike for Hope by my friend Marc Render. Please check out “Quick Meditation for Today,” “Quick Meditation at Noon” and “Quick Meditation at Night.” Other prayers of praise include: “Dance Hallelujah,” “Sing Hallelujah” and “In Praise.”

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: Marc Render

Shemini: G-d on Tiptoes

Posted on: March 29th, 2015 by Alden No Comments

still-small-voiceEarly in this week’s Torah portion, a very simple line appears: “…the glory of G-d appeared unto all the people.” (Leviticus 9:23) The simplicity stands in contrast to the scene from parashat Yitro in which G-d appears in smoke and fire, the earth quaking. Here, G-d’s glory arrives without fanfare. This meditation for parashat Shemini is the mirror of my Yitro meditation, “G-d’s Voice.” The prayer maintains the structure of the first, borrowing the forth stanza and the closing lines, setting up both connection and contrast. This appears in my book This Grateful Heart: Psalms and Prayers for a New Day from CCAR Press.

G-d on Tiptoes
What if G-d arrived unannounced?
No smoke. No thunder.
A gentle appearance of radiance and love.

What if G-d snuck in on tiptoes?
No earthquake. No blast of the shofar.
A luminous presence of wonder and glory.

What if G-d’s voice whispered in your ear,
So quiet that you had to hold your breath to hear?
A silent surrender of hope and faith.

What if holiness packed the empty space with light
As your lungs filled with the one divine breath
Together with every other living being?

What if G-d’s voice is as near
As your willingness to listen quietly
To the soul of the universe,
As a sense of calm and peace
Pass through you?

What if that moment
Is now?

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

Postscript: After a friend assured me that the Torah’s paucity of language assumes we know, precisely from Yitro, that G-d’s arrival is full of wonder and terror, he then said: “Of course, we do have the image of the still, small voice.” (Kings 19:12) Here’s another link to “G-d’s Voice.”

Please check out my Meet the Author video 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.

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