Monday, April 14, 2014

The Second Matzoh

The first Matzoh
And Third Matzoh
Pesach substitutes
For the two loaves of challah on Shabbat
Supposedly a reminder
Of the two portions of manna
We got in the dessert
On Friday before Shabbat.

But Matza Number Two!
That's for the seder
We break it in half
And call it the bread of affliction
Because it's supposedly
Like the unleavened bread
We ate as we fled slavery

Matza Number Two
The Afflicted matza
We break it in half
And separate ourselves from joy
So we don't forget the pain
That has been ours:
The Destruction of the Temple
The Crusades
The Shoah
And this week, the three dead in Kansas City.
We break it in half
And separate ourselves from the joy
So we can remember the pain of others:
Agricultural slavery in Florida,
And sex slavery all over the world.
The pain of genocide,
And poverty
And fear.
All this pain
Lives in this first half of the matzoh
And we will eat this half now
So we do not forget we were slaves
So we do not enslave others.

Matza Number Two
The second half
The Afikomen
WE separate it from pain
So we don't forget the  joy that can follow the sorrow:
The times we changed things for the better
And the times we enjoyed our lives
With our families
Our communities
Our friends
Our parties
Our laughs
Our food
Our holidays
Our rituals.
And after the meal we will search for that happiness
And then eat that second half together
So we don't forget that it is good to be alive

And we are obligated to share that joy.

Blessed One-ness, we are grateful for the obligations to remember pain and share joy.


Sunday, March 16, 2014

TZAV - A Guided Meditation

Close your eyes and listen to your breath.

You are walking on a path in a beautiful meadow.

You see, in the middle of a field, that there is a small windowless building

You slowly walk around this building.  

Feel the wall as you walk around the building.  It pulses with energy.

When you come to the fourth side of the building, you find the door.  Open the door into an empty room.

There is no obvious source of light, but it is a bright room.

Go in.  You see a table

There is something on the table

It is a gift.
A gift of love from God.
What is it?  
You will try to come up with the perfect idea, but what was the first thing you thought of when you heard the words, a gift of love from God.  That's the gift.

Pick up the object, this thing or being, this gift of love.

The object has something written on it.

There is a message for you.

Read the message. 

The object turns into something else.  What does it turn into?  Your first thought.

If you had to explain this object to someone else, what would you say?

Throw the transformed object into the air.  It disappears.

You don’t know what to do next.

Walk around the empty room.   Perhaps it stays empty.

Perhaps there are other objects in the room.  Make note of them but leave them alone.  They are other kinds of gifts.  They are for some other time. 

Find the door, go outside back to the meadow.

Arthur Green writes in his interpretation of the Se-fat Emet's commentary on Tzav,
We long for a perfect act of worship, one in which there is no distraction, no doubt, no holding back, no wandering of the mind, nothing but the pure gift of love.  But we miss the point.  Our worship is all about struggle, an ongoing inner process of transformation

And when you are ready, open your eyes.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

A Shabbat Amidah Kavannah

I speak praise, hope and thanks.
I open my mouth, I open my heart.
I feel the Ancient Prayer:
Bless our inventive ancestors
Who have given us the
Jealous God of the Torah;
And the clever God of the Talmud;
And the Kingly God of our Siddur.
To this God we pray.
Bless our inventive ancestors
Who have given us the
The Unknowable God of the mystics;
And the rational God of the philosophers;
The haimish God of our grandparents.
To this God we pray
Bless our inventive ancestors
Who have given us the
The Daddy God of our childhood faith; 
And the nonexistent God of our young skepticism;
And now the complicated doubt-filled God-ness of our adult searching.
To this God, we pray.
Bless our inventive ancestors
Who have given us
God, the Everything;
God, the Everywhere;

God, the One-ness.
To this God, we pray.
With all our histories and memories, 
And with gratitude to all who came before us, 
Praising God, 
However we approach God
And even if we don’t,  
We pray.

What is God's Power?
Rambam says, 
If you can’t imagine God then you don’t exist.
There is nothing that is not God.
Bless Elohim, the Creator; the Created, Creating.

Sanctify God's Name:
How can a name be holy?
Why exalt a name?  
how do we name the Un-nameable?
And yet we’ve come up with so many, because we’re human and we need names.
It has made us so creative. 

Let us look from side to side, to see all these possibilities,
Perhaps then we will be able to comprehend
That which cannot be comprehended.
Or not.
All division is false, 

All superiority is delusion, 

All separation is temporary. 
Kadosh Kadosh Kadosh
We are blessed with many minds with which to imagine God
And many mouths to describe what we see.
Let us step into holiness.
Kadosh Baruch Hu, Blessed be the ONE-ness,

The Day is Holy
The world is filled with the Divine, we are surrounded!
Hear us, know us.
Love us, enjoy us.
Remember us, rouse us.
Forgive us, inspire us.
It is written:
The Seventh Day is holy
It is the day of the Great Rest.
Bless the Profundity of Shabbat, commanding us to take a nice afternoon nap.

We give service.
God of our strengths and our weaknesses,
God of our current understanding and our lack thereof,
We are in this glorious and troubled place
And we take responsibility for how it turns out.
And we are watchful for our opportunities to serve and build.
We’re listening. 
And who or what listens to us?

Blessed Fierce Mystery,  hear our voices.

We are so thankful. 
We give thanks for whatever love and kindness we have received
And even more for the love and kindness we have given.
We give thanks  for those who have forgiven us
And to those who have asked us for our forgiveness.
We give thanks  for the deep rest of Shabbat
And the exciting hope for the coming week
May we never take this for granted.
Blessed  HaMakom,  this place is so amazing.

We pray for Peace and Wholeness.
Let us make peace.
There is no other option.
Adonai Echad, with compassion for all who are in pain or who cause pain, bless us with the peace of wholeness that we may lead decent and ethical and happy lives and help others to do the same.

Open my heart:
May the words of my mouth and the thoughts of my heart be joyful truth.  
May the good things I pray for happen and, if not, 
May I never forget to hope.