On this beautiful summer day
Under this large and welcoming tree,
Our green tallit,
We gather together to give thanks
To the animals who make all life possible:
Big and small
Beautiful and hideous
Helpful and hurtful
They are the food of our food.
Most of the time we can't even see them
And for that I am deeply and profoundly grateful.
Frightened by a giant spider movie in my childhood,
When I was little I wanted nothing more than to see all bugs dead.
But I was wrong.
I have come to see
That we are not the only creatures who are B'tzelem Elohim,
We are all in God's image.
So today, on Rosh Chodesh Elul,
On the New Year of the Domesticated Beasts,
Let's give thanks to the bugs
Like the four questioning children
Wise and snarky and simple and oblivious,
Like the four worlds of the kabbala
The Earth, the sky, the heart and the spirit
We give thanks and acknowledge:
The bugs we have domesticated
The bugs who serve us in their wild state
The bugs that hurt us or gross us out
And the bugs who live only for themselves, without any reference to us.
First, in the world of Assiyah,
(Touch the earth)
Let us touch this earth.
the world of Doing, of the dirt,
the world of the body, of physical pleasure and need
And know that in every square inch of this dirt there are bugs.
Segmented, slithering, multiple legs,
Whether we walk or sit or lie down on this earth,
there are the bugs.
We give thanks for the domesticated bugs, such as the earthworms,
Who make our compost
And who make agriculture possible;
And lets us give thanks for the bugs of the earth that we have not domesticated
Who feed the birds and each other;
And let us acknowledge the creepy crawlies of the earth living under rocks and the spiders that make children scream;
And pray with the bugs of the earth who exist only for themselves.
Second, in the world of Briah,
(reach into the air)
Let us reach into the air
The world of Thinking,
the world of the mind, the intellect
And give thanks for the domesticated bugs of the air, the bees
Who pollinate our flowers
And make the sweet sweet honey;
And let us give thanks for the undomesticated bugs of the air who give us pleasure with their beauty, the butterflies and the dragonflies and the ladybugs;
And let us acknowledge the bugs of the air who annoy us, the mosquitoes and the moths;
And pray with the bugs of the air who fly all around without any reference to us whatsover.
Third, in the world ofYetzirah,
(Touch the heart and the gut)
The world of Feeling, heart, the emotions.
Touch your own body, touch your heart and your gut
And give thanks for the domesticated bugs that we eat, the bacteria that give us yogurt and yeast,
That we may live and feel and react;
And give thanks for the bugs and the bacteria that live in or on our bodies
In symbiosis, helping our digestion and our immunity,
That we may love and be loved;
Let us acknowledge the bugs, the ticks and the bedbugs and the bacteria,
That make us sick and sometimes kill us, so that we are sometimes angry or sad;
And the bugs in and on our bodies that, thank God, most of us don’t even know about because, yuck, right?
And last, in the world Atzilut, of Being/Soul SPIRIT,
I invite you to turn you face to the sun and close your eyes.
This is the world of the spirit, of spirituality, of God, however you approach God and even if you don't.
And let’s imagine another kind of bug--
What are the creepy crawly things, the ear worms and the brain bugs
The spiritual insights and the annoying doubts and fears that we cannot let go, both good and bad?
And let us give thanks for the ideas that make us so creative in our holy conversations;
And thanks for the doubts and fears and sensitivities that come to us whether we want them or not, that make us empathetic and compassionate;
And let us acknowledge the obsessions with no basis in reality and the nagging regrets about things long past that keep us up at night and away from our true selves;
And pray for ourselves, amidst all the buzzing distractions of technology and entertainment that go on without any reference to ourselves whatsoever.
Bless all these bugs and all the creatures:
The ones we have domesticated,
The ones who serve us in their wild state,
The ones that hurt us or gross us out,
And the animals who live only for themselves, without any reference to us,
*With thanks to Aharon Varady and OpenSiddur.org for background info: