“Ani Shelach”


“Amemar, Mar Zutra and Rab Ashi would say this. Ribono shel Olam, Holy One of Being, Ani shelcha v’halomoti shelcha, I am yours and my dreams are yours. Halom halamti, I have dreamed a dream. V’ay-nehni yodea mah hu and I do not know what it means. . . . ”

Kushner, Lawrence. 1993. The River of Light. p. 23 (quoting Berachot 55b (Talmud)).

When I found that quote recently, I was thrilled to finally know the origin of the other half of the lyrics from my favorite Neshama Carlebach recording, a song called “Ani Shelach,” which means “I am yours.”

Aside from these words from the quote above — Ribono shel Olam, Ani shelcha v’halomoti shelcha — the only other lyrics in the song are The Priestly Blessing, from Numbers 6: 24-26.  In transliterated Hebrew, as sung by Carlebach,** the Priestly Blessing states:

Y’varechechah Hashem v’yishmirechah.
May Gd bless you and watch over you.

Ya’er Hashem panav eilecha v’yichuneka.
May Gd shine Light on you and be gracious to you.

Yisah Hashem panav eilecha v’yasem l’cha shalom.
May Gd lift goodness over you and give you peace.

Here is a recording of “Ani Shelach” that I found on the Internet, for those who wish to hear:



Shavua tov, jen


**Carlebach sings the text of the Blessing using the Hebrew word “Hashem” as the name of Gd. “Hashem” literally means “the name” and it is used by some Jews to indicate a place in the Hebrew text were the name of Gd is the four-letter “unspeakable” name of Gd, also known as the Tetragrammaton. Other Jews would say that Blessing by replacing the Tetragrammaton with the word “Adonai.” Regardless the name, it’s all One Gd!

“desecration of the covenant”


The Biblical account of the original sin is the story of man of faith who realizes suddenly that faith can be utilized for the acquisition of majesty and glory and who, instead of fostering a covenantal community, prefers to organize a political utilitarian community exploiting the sincerity and unqualified commitment of the crowd for non-covenantal, worldly purposes.

Excerpt From: Joseph B. Soloveitchik. “The Lonely Man of Faith.” THREE LEAVES PRESS DOUBLEDAY.

Rabbi Soloveitchik notes the history of organized religion is filled with examples of such “desecration of the covenant.”

So how, one might ask, do we distinguish between a person of faith who is building a covenantal community and a person of faith who is building a community for worldly purposes?

We can distinguish those people by the way they treat others . . .

To a person building a covenantal community, every individual has infinite value, while to the person striving for worldly majesty, a person’s value depends on that person’s wealth or influence over others.

When building a covenantal community, every person’s voice is worthy of being heard, and decisions are based on open dialogue and respectful discussion of disagreements.   But when building a worldly community, voices are to be heard or respected only if they support “the party line,” which was determined by those who have (and want to keep!) the power and control.

When building a covenantal community, a person of faith understands that Gd is present at all moments** and that knowledge of Gd’s presence always determines the way to behave toward others. But, for someone building a worldly community, Gd and holiness are things to be reached for at “religious events,” while, at all other times, the community is “just a business.”

People who run religious movements and institutions continue to ponder why so many Americans are unaffiliated with organized religion, or why many of those who are affiliated have no interest in investing the time and energy to connect meaningfully to a religious institution . . .

I know that not every religious institution is controlled by people who desecrate the covenant by failing to value, respect, and honor the holiness in every other person who enters the institution, but when examples exist in so many religious organizations . . . across religions, across cultures, and across centuries . . . it’s hard not to lose faith . . . in organizations run by people . . .

shalom aleichem, jen


**Knowledge of Gd’s constant presence could arise from (1) a person’s faith in such a Gd, or (2) a rational decision to look for the image of Gd in every other person. Either path can, I believe, lead to a frame of mind that requires us to treat others with more respect and dignity.


“What do you see?”


Yesterday, my five-year-old son asked if I would play with him. When I said yes, he put his forehead against mine, we looked into one another’s nearly-singular cyclops eye, and then, holding my head in his hands, he backed his face away and said, “What do you see?”

I had no idea where this game was going, so I said, “my monkey?,” which is what I call him when he climbs all over me.

“Nope!,” he said, putting his forehead against mine. We laughed together and then, just as before, he pulled away asking, “What do you see?”

I guessed “a chicken!” because sometimes I call him “chicken pants” . . . for some reason I no longer remember.

He said, “Nope!,” and the game continued just the same as I guessed a number of animals, fruits, and vegetables, all of which were, to his amusement, wrong.

Finally, I said, “Can you help me out a little?” He said, “Sure! You ask me this time!” So we looked at each other’s cyclops eye, and as he pulled his head away I asked, “What do you see?”

And he said, “Myself!”

We hugged, and I said, “Yes, son, you see yourself in me, and I see myself in you too.”

What a blessed moment of connection it is when we see ourselves in another — whether parents and children who share physical features, or any two people who see their personality, philosophy, or life experiences reflected in another — because those moments of connection can, if we choose to let them, be entrances to moments of wonder about the Infinite One . . . who connects us all to one another.

shavua tov, jen