I walked to the beach this morning to watch the sun rise, fully intending to chant multiple parts of the morning prayer service.
As I crossed the footbridge, I noticed the moon in the western sky and breathed: “Baruch Atah, Adonai, yotzer ham’orot.” (Blessed are You, Adonai, Creator of the lights.)
As the sun slipped over the horizon, I said: “Mah rabu ma’asecha, Adonai, kulam b’chochmah asita.” (How numerous are Your works, Adonai, in wisdom, You made them all.)
And then, as I stood in awe at the waves crashing over my feet and the changing color of the sky, I found myself feeling a bit like a character in an old Chasidic story. In the story, a boy arrived at shul on Rosh Hashanah and didn’t know any of the prayers, so he recited the Aleph-bet over and over. When the elders of the congregation heard him, they began to chastise him and lead him out of the shul, but the Ba’al Shem Tov stopped the elders and told them that the young boy’s sincerity had raised his prayers to Heaven and surely Gd could make the words from the boy’s letters…
… and I had intended to pray multiple prayers but standing there in the surf, the only words I could find were: “kulam b’chochmah asita” (in wisdom You created them all)… and so, like that little boy, I just kept repeating the phrase, hoping my sincerity would render my prayers sufficient.
When I finally looked down at the sand, I saw a ladybug walking toward me. And ladybugs are, for me, a symbol that my Granny and her unconditional love remain with me, even though she passed away more than seven years ago.
And in that moment I knew, my sincerity and three Hebrew words had been enough…
shavua tov, may it be a good week, for everyone, jen