Thursday, March 29, 2018

Washing Hands A Second Time


The first time we washed our hands before this meal
It was all about water,
It was to get clean.
And we are clean, so why a second time?
Perhaps this time
It's all about our hands.

As we prepare to wash our hands a second time,
I call up every blessing and good vibe
For the hands that help,
The hands that build,
The hands that comfort,
And the hands that create.

As we prepare to wash our hands a second time,
I call up every curse and shred of bad karma
Against the hands that hurt,
The hands that tear down,
The hands that slap,
And the hands that destroy.

As we prepare to wash our hands a second time
I call up every memory of the hands of our Pesach story,
The hands of the midwives,  saving the boy babies,
The hands of the princess, pulling the basket out of the water,
The hands of the slaves, making the bricks out of straw,
And the the hands holding the hands of the children crossing the sea.

So now,
Baruch Atah Adonai
Brucha At Shechina
As we prepare to wash our hands a second time
Let's pour soothing water for all those hands
To recognize the good work
And wash away the bad
And to
Honor the hands that made this wonderful meal,
And the hands that we will use to put this holy food into our mouths,
And the hands we will wave in the air
As we tell our stories.

And let us say, Amen.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018


Something is said to you and
Your first reaction is anger,
So stop.
Look for the truth.
Your anger might be fear,
Your anger might be hurt.
The truth is, it probably isn't about you.
And even if it is
Look for opportunities for compassion:
Compassion for the source of your anger,
Compassion for yourself,
And if you look, you will find it.
Two seconds have passed.
The anger is gone.
And perhaps you will see their hurt and pain,
And perhaps you will wonder,
How can I help?

Sunday, March 18, 2018

A Blessing for Putting Up A Mezuzah

Blessed Mystery, Brucha At Shechina,
Breathing in our history
Breathing out our stories,
Bless this mezuzah.

We earned this mezuzah,
This is a hard fought mezuzah.
This mezuzah has been in the trenches,
This is one tough cookie of a mezuzah.

There are way too many tears in this mezuzah,
But just as many laughs.
And oh wow,
There's a lot,
A lot,
Of love
And so many memories.

Breathing in our history,
Breathing out our stories,
Every time we come to this door,
The door to our new home,
We can touch our fingertips to this glorious mezuzah
And have a holy conversation
With everything
And everyone
That brought us to this place.

Blessed Mystery, Brucha At Shechina,
We give thanks for our new doorway
And its new mezuzah.
May we live here happily, 
As long as we want to,   

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

I Don't Know: Thoughts On Reading Parsha Mishpatim

I don't know.
I am an American,
And I was brought to believe in democracy with a small d
And I believe in it way more than I've seen it.

I grew up with crazy and arbitrary parents,
In a school system run by martinets
And a religion run by men who wouldn't answer my questions or let me participate
Because I was a girl,
During a war that was stupid and destructive
In a country run by incompetents on a good day. 
And generally, when you set rules before me,
I am going to argue with you. 
As that great sage, Bruce Springsteen, wrote,
“when they said sit down I stood up”.
Or at least that's how I like to think of myself. 

The truth is,
I'm actually a law-abiding coward. 
When they say sit down,
I sit down,
Though I make a few wise-ass comments
Out of the side of my mouth
As I park my butt in a comfy seat.

Well yes.  
But I also sit down
There IS a right and wrong. 
I don't go the wrong way down a one-way street,  
Partly because that's how I was taught
And partly because, well,  
If you go the wrong way down a one-way street
You might get killed
Or you might kill someone else.
We all know this. 
We know what is sensible. 
We are, perhaps, born knowing this.

Don't you all,
Past a certain age,
And assuming you're not a sociopath,
Know the difference between right and wrong?
Do we need religion to be ethical?
Do we need the threat that a supernatural being is going to punish us
In order not to do bad?
Do you need to be a good Jew to be good?
Jewish tradition and teaching
Comes down as firmly as it is possible to come down
On the side of Yes. 
I don’t know.

How beloved we were by Moses and our rabbis,
That that they took such care
To make sure we lead safe and righteous lives. 
And yet, how poorly Moses and the rabbis must have thought of us
To need to control us so completely with so many rules?

I don't know.
We may not need God to run things. 
We know what we need.
And maybe we don't need some self-appointed spokesperson telling us what to do,
Most of us know what is right and what is wrong.
We have internalized this God-sense
And what we need is acknowledge it
And listen to
This embodiment of our best selves,
This impulse towards community and peace
And our laws, if done correctly,
Are our blessed parameters,
And this is
As mortal humans
Our vision is limited,
Our compassion sometimes lacks,
Our self-control does not always work
And the rule of law protects us from tyrants and chaos. 

This I know:
We must always remember that
Ethical living is practical and necessary,
That when we are decent to each other,
And when we make decent laws,
We are kadosh, holy,
That we may live together
In Holy Wholeness.

This I know.