I turn toward You

ב׳׳ה

I turn toward You

Each breath
Each moment
I turn toward You
And pray that I’ll find
You’ve turned toward me too.

Abundant in Compassion,
Astonishing Grace,
Bless me, Eternal One,
with the Light of your Face.
Make Sacred the mundane.
Let Your Love carry me through.
Blind me with the Beauty
of a world filled with You.

carry us Home

ב׳׳ה

carry us Home

There is a Love,
warm like the sun,
that melts all troubles away,
that fills up a room
so that we might float,
that turns night into
the brightest of days.

Please, Eternal Gd,
grace us with Your Love,
wrap us all in Your Joy,
that we might dance
to the rhythm of the Universe
and Your Love might carry us Home.

“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

Please bring me this day

ב׳׳ה

Please bring me this day

I want to live a moment
when I truly know You,
when all of me swims
in the depths of You,
when I’m no longer reaching
for I’m already held,
Your Love washing over me
’til I’m unable to make sound.

I want to breathe in Your breath
and push when You pull,
to walk in sync with
Your sacred steps,
to know there’s no moment
when We are not One,
when I cannot look and find You.

Please bring me this day, Gd,
as I’m praising Your name
and sanctifying this mortal life,
for in Your Wisdom You placed me
right here inside You
that I might let go of my self,
and thereby become
more able to love others,
who thru You are a part of my Self.

al-Rawdah mosque

ב׳׳ה

al-Rawdah mosque (internet screenshot)

It’s been more than a week and I can’t stop thinking about al-Rawdah mosque in northern Sinai . . .

. . . about the hundreds of Sufi who died when they went to pray.

. . . about the unimaginable grief being experienced by that entire community (where undoubtedly everyone knew someone who died).

. . . about the fact that they were killed because religious extremists labeled them “heretics.”

A heretic is a person who maintains an opinion or doctrine at variance with the orthodox or accepted religious doctrine.

By that definition, I’m a heretic.

I’m a Jewish mystic . . . a Kabbalist, a neo-Hasid . . . who has many opinions at variance with orthodox doctrine . . . but who nonetheless is very attached to Gd and Torah.

And maybe that’s why the deaths of those praying Sufi have stuck with me — because I see myself in them and them in me. They held views different from the fundamentalists who killed them, but they were very attached to Gd and Quran.

A few days ago, after I prayed and thought about those who had died, I wrote this poem about Rabi’a al-Adawiyya, a Sufi Saint who lived more than a thousand years ago and whose writings never fail to open my heart to the Infinite Ocean of Love that is the Gd we share:

Rabi’a and me
Rabi’a al-Adawiyya, they’d allege, was a heretic like me. She a Sufi, me a Kabbalist, a distinction irrelevant to Thee. She’d “burn down Heaven and put out the fires of Hell” for there’s only this moment, so we better live it well. Look past the dogma to see the real Truth. Surrender to the Infinite and therein find proof. Swim in the Love that sets souls free, and share it with others, Rabi’a al-Adawiyya and me.

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May we each, in our own ways, find moments of connection with those who may appear different from us, so that speedily and soon our world might know greater peace between all peoples, jen

The Road to Damascus

ב׳׳ה

The Road to Damascus

The Road to Damascus passed my way. The Light was blinding, and I fell down to pray. But the vision I had was different from Saul, as for me there was no voice at all. Instead I could see that we are all Inside, connected by a web from which we can’t hide, and inside this web with me and you, are Jesus, Mohammed, and Buddha too. For Gd’s plan is bigger than one religion or people, so when your call comes –be it from minaret or steeple– kneel yourself down and take a few moments to pray, thank Gd for multiple paths to help us find our way, because part of the message to Saul was in the message to me — Don’t persecute others for how they find Thee!

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For those who don’t know the story of Saul, a devout Jew who persecuted early Christians, the text is available here.

May this be a week of peace between religions and peoples, jen