“Elohai, n’tzor”

ב׳׳ה

The first half of January was very busy for me (hence my blog silence until recently), but I finally had a little break last week. I flew to sunny South Florida on Wednesday to celebrate a friend’s simcha on Shabbat.

After selecting my rental car, I headed to my friend’s synagogue to say hello and have lunch with her. Then, while she worked into the evening, I grabbed a few books and headed to a picnic table to sit in the sun and study . . . whatever I found that intrigued me!

As I paged through a prayerbook — sort of absent-mindedly reviewing for the Hebrew Prayer Class that I’m teaching on Sunday mornings over the next few months — I found a prayer called “Elohai, n’tzor” that I do not remember ever chanting at a prayer service. The prayerbook I was holding did not have an English translation, so I decided to spend my afternoon with a Hebrew-English dictionary to see if I could translate it.

As I sat in the sun translating, I was amused by a strange little insect that I’d never before seen. Although I kept moving “him” to another part of the table, he repeatedly made his way back to my white sheet of paper to sun himself with me. Thankfully, he didn’t bite or sting, so my only concern was not smashing him accidentally!

When my friend found me mid-afternoon, she pointed out that she had many prayerbooks that contained the English translation of “Elohai, n’tzor.” I reminded her that I’d like to be fluent in Hebrew and need to practice translating. She smiled appreciatively at my geekiness and left me to my studies.

At one point, a monarch butterfly flew past me and landed in the grass. Butterflies are absent from the Midwest right now, so I took a break from translating to watch it flutter in the sun.

A few hours later, when I got sufficiently frustrated with the remaining Hebrew verbs that I couldn’t force to make logical sentences, I found a prayerbook with an English translation of “Elohai, n’tzor.” Given how long it had been since I last translated prayerbook Hebrew, I was pleasantly surprised that I had properly translated more than 50% of the prayer! Perhaps there is still hope for my being a fluent translator of Hebrew!!

For those others who might not know, here’s what “Elohai, n’tzor” says in English:

I hope that January has been gentle on everyone and that each of you has also found a few moments to connect to Gd’s glorious creation and learn something new, jen

falling like snow

ב׳׳ה

falling like snow
I’m walking in
the falling snow
with Your Love wrapped around me.
The blanket it muffles
the sound as I shuffle,
at times unaware I have feet,
for I’m floating on air
light as a feather
caught in an upward breeze.
Then as snow falls around me,
Your beauty astounds me,
and, like snow, I float down to my knees.

look deep

ב׳׳ה

look deep

I might look like I’m nothing.

But I was created for something.

Won’t you please look deep inside me?

Perhaps there you’ll find

a reason to believe

I’m more than the nothing I seem.

****************************

Friends — Our brains are wired to look at Creation and make judgments about the things we see — Are they dangerous or safe? Are they edible? Are they useful for a task we must complete? — and, evolutionarily speaking, it was good to be able to make such decisions quickly and decisively!

But today, in our modern world, we must be mindful of our brain’s impulse to assign value to creatures based on how they look or where we find them. We ought not “judge every book by its cover” but instead offer ourselves the blessing of learning more about those we encounter.

And, perhaps, if we can all learn to see others as more than the simplistic categories into which our brains instinctively assign them, we can find a way past the anger and divisiveness that plagues our country . . .

Perhaps, then, we can teach all those who would use guns, bombs, and cars as weapons of death that the lives of others are too precious to ever justify such actions . . .

Praying Shabbat brings abundant shalom to all Earth’s inhabitants, jen

this great eternal day

ב׳׳ה

this great eternal day

I live for those moments when I truly know You, when my spirit dances to Your Song, the Song being sung by heavenly hosts, as even the tiniest of crickets chirps along. Hearing the Song, I can see the Unity, the Force ebbs and flows but it never goes away, connecting all life, one to another, here inside You, this great eternal day…

******************************

enjoy the day!! jen

sacred communion

ב׳׳ה

sacred communion
When I open my soul
and allow my eyes to truly see,
nothing in this world is not You.
The sunrise, the mosquito,
the joy, and the heartache,
all of it leads back to You.
I can embrace without judgment,
I can love without doubting,
in eternal moments of sacred communion,
when You look at You
through eyes that are mine,
and feel my rapture at Your brief reunion.

Happy New Year!!!!

ב׳׳ה

 

I’ve started putting my seventeen years as a professional writer and editor to use as an editor of High Holiday sermons for a Rabbi that I know.  She pays me in my favorite “currency” . . . BOOKS!!!  🤗  She’s collecting a stack for me at her house, and these four arrived from Amazon in the last two days.   

I feel spoiled!!!!   Not only am I learning more about the topics of her sermons, I’m also getting to study the source texts with her and learn more about the sermon-drafting process.  I’m accustomed to writing for readers, so it’s interesting to see how writing for a listening audience is different.  

It’s been a great learning experience AND I’m getting some reference books that I’ve been wanting for a while . . . definitely a Happy New Year!!

I led a 45-minute Rosh Hashanah service for children and their families at my synagogue yesterday morning.  Approximately twenty adults and fifteen kids between ages one and nine attended.  I feel really blessed to have been able to lead the service!   I’ll paste my “sermon” below, for those who care to see what lesson I taught the kids in about 10 of the 45 minutes.  

 Shabbat shalom to all!!!  May you be sealed in the Book of Life for a healthy and happy year,  jen

*****************************

*****************************

Rosh Hashanah 5778 (2017)

Come on up, kids! Let’s have a story and discission!!

 I’m so happy and excited that our calendar has brought us back to the first day of another new Year! And I thought it might be fun to talk a few minutes about some truly awesome things that we should look for in the New Year… does that sound like a good idea?

All right, well, let’s start at the beginning… the VERY beginning… five-thousand seven-hundred seventy-eight Jewish years ago. Can anyone tell me what happened on the VERY FIRST Rosh Hashanah?
On the day we consider the first day EVER?

Yes! Gd began creating the world!! Gd separated the Light from the dark and the water from the sky. Gd removed the water from dry land, put plants and creeping things on the land, put the sun and moon and stars in space, put fish in the water and birds in the sky, and finally created all the animals that live on dry land, including humans. On Rosh Hashanah 5778 Jewish years ago, Gd started the process that led to the creation of me and you and you and you and everyone who is here today. Isn’t that amazing?!?!?

And this ongoing process of creation contains some really awesome Wonders that I thought we could read about today.

[READ WONDERS OF NATURE]


What other things have you seen in Nature that made you say “Wow! Look at that???”

Those are great examples!!!

If we are looking, we can find things in Nature every day that make us say “Wow!”, and each time we see one of these Wonders… our Jewish tradition tells us we should say a blessing.

Who remembers the special phrase that is at the beginning of all our blessings? We’ve already said it a few times here today, and we say it before we have juice or challah…

Right!! Our Blessings begin with “Baruch Atah Adonai” … and this book tells us the blessing for seeing Wonders in Creation is: “Baruch Atah Adonai Eloheinu Mekech Haolam, oseh ma’aseh b’resheet” which means “Thank you, Gd, for making this process of creation!!”

So this year, when you see a pretty flower, I want you to say “Thank you, Gd, for making Creation.” And when you see a colorful sky, I want you to say “Thank you, Gd, for making Creation.” And when you see a rainbow or the Ocean, what will you say?

Good! What if you see a really ugly creepy bug that kinda scares you?

And when you see yourself in the mirror???

What about when you see someone in your family?

Do you think you can do that this year?

Great! Because the more blessings you say, the more blessings you’ll begin to see… and you’ll have a happier year…

Now, to help you remember to say thank yous every day, I have a little surprise for you. Who can tell me what this is?

Yes, its a Yarmukle or Kippah. And each of you can take one from the bowl. I want you to keep that kippah in a place where you’ll see it every day — like your bedside table, or your chair at the dinner table, or in your backpack — so it can remind you to say Thank You for all the awesome Wonders you find in Creation.  Okay? 

Now. One last note about your kippot… please bring them back on Yom Kippur, because we are going to learn together why they are so white in the middle! Can you do that for me? Great!  Thank you!   You can go back to your parents now.  

as galaxies unfurl

ב׳׳ה

as galaxies unfurl
**********************

As day turns into night
and night back into day,
The Mystery is there
if we choose to be aware.
If we open our hearts
to the possibility of The Unity,
we can stand at the edge of infinity
as we watch galaxies unfurl.

*******************************
1:23 pm CST (thru eclipse glasses)


——————————————-

1:36 pm CST (thru eclipse glasses)


———————————————

1:58 pm CST (thru eclipse glasses)


———————————————

2:21 pm CST (thru eclipse glasses)


———————————————

2:27 pm CST (thru eclipse glasses)


———————————————

2:28 pm CST (unfiltered total eclipse)


———————————————

2:28 pm CST (unfiltered sun returns)


———————————————

2:30 pm CST (thru eclipse glasses)


———————————————

Friends–  These photos that I took yesterday with my cell phone in Bowling Green, Kentucky, are not meant to inspire you with their accuracy, clarity, or quality.  They are simply my attempt to share with you the experience of waiting and watching the unfolding of a natural phenomenon that was truly awe inspiring!!  

That Science has explained to us the “how” and “why” of eclipses does not, in my mind, make them any less a “religious” experience. Not very often, in this country flooded with light-pollution, am I able to show my sons the Milky Way or a star-filled sky.  But yesterday, we could stand together with a large crowd of mostly strangers and be reminded how very small we are, how dependent we are on the sun, how miraculous it is that moon is the right size and distance from the Earth to completely block the light from the sun, how lucky we are to be alive and able to witness such amazing moments . . . and that we are truly blessed and most surely ought to be grateful!! 

If you ever have a chance to witness a total solar eclipse, I highly recommend it!!  

And may we all find more moments that inspire awe and remind us to express gratitude to The Miraculous Mystery that is always there, hiding within and behind the rational answers provided by science, jen