This prayer is based on the personal prayer said on holidays before Torah reading. The grammar has been adapted as plural rather than singular, so that the couple says the prayer together before their ritual of Kiddushin (betrothal). . . . → Read More: תפילה לפני קידושין | Prayer before Kiddushin for couples by Sarah Groner
According to Rabbinic tradition, the 21st of Nissan is the day in the Jewish calendar on which Pharaoh’s army was drowned in the Sea of Reeds, and the redeemed children of Yisrael sang the Song of the Sea, the (Shirat Hayam, Exodus 15:1-19). The song, as included in the the morning prayers, comprises one of the most ancient text in Jewish liturgy. The 21st of Nissan corresponds to the 7th day of Passover, and the recitation of the Shirat HaYam is part of the daily Torah Reading. Rabbi Hillel Ḥayim Yisraeli-Lavery shares a performance of a melody he learned for the Shirat Hayam from צוף דבש Tzuf Devash, a Moroccan synagogue in the Old City of Jerusalem. If there is something about this tune that strikes one as particularly celebratory, it might be because the relationship between G!d and the Jewish people is traditionally described as a marriage consummated with the Covenant at Mt. Sinai. The passage of Bnei Yisrael through the Sea of Reeds towards Mt. Sinai thus begins a bridal march commencing in the theophany at Mt. Sinai, 42 days later. . . . → Read More: שירת הים | The Song of the Sea, sung with a Moroccan Nusaḥ by R’ Hillel Ḥayim Yisraeli-Lavery
“Sefirot HaOmer” by Aharon Varady, following the color correspondences of Reb Zalman Schachter-Shalomi. Each of the seven weeks and days of the Omer is represented by one of the seven lower Sephirot: Ḥesed, Gevurah, Tiferet, Netzaḥ, Hod, Yesod, and Malkhut, the creative emanations all the worlds were created and continually sustained, as taught in . . . → Read More: סדר ספירת העומר | the Order of Counting the Omer in the Spring
Here’s a kavannah for tonight’s search for ḥametz or for burning ḥametz tomorrow (with added words), from neohasid.org. It would be great if you could share it with your networks. Ḥag sameaḥ! . . . → Read More: Kavanah for Returning Our Ḥametz to the Earth
Shabbat happens, If I let it. . . . → Read More: If I Let It: A Kavanah for Kabbalat Shabbat
A tale is told of Rabbi Eliezer, Rabbi Joshua, Rabbi Elazar son of Azariah, Rabbi Akiva, and Rabbi Tarfon, who held a seder [lit: reclined] in Bnai Brak. They discussed the exodus from Egypt all that night, until their students came and said to them, “Rabbis, the time has come to recite the morning shema.” . . . → Read More: Haggadah for Pesaḥ, an English translation
We are grateful to Gabriel Wasserman for sharing these texts comprising Parts 1 through 3 of his Haggadah for the Pesaḥ Seder. . . . → Read More: The Pesaḥ Seder
This is the month when we tell the story Of the escape from the narrow place. This is the month of Shabbat Shirah, When we sing the song of liberation. We give thanks for freedom. This is the month when we talk of wine and nuts and fruit, The New Year of the Trees. This is the month of Tu Bishvat When we eat the gifts of our planet. We give thanks to the earth. . . . → Read More: Rosh Ḥodesh Shevat
Ḥaza”l suggest that at this season in particular, we honor the spirits of our friends and teachers, the trees. On Rosh HaShanah La’Ilan, the New Year of The Tree, we connect with the spirits of those trees. According to Rabbi Tzvi Elimelekh of Dinov (B’nei Yissakhar):
On this day the saraf, the sap containing the Holy Sparks in those trees, begins its upward flow. That saraf contains a spiritual dimension, a ‘fire’ or ‘burning energy’, the sacred sparks that the fruits of the Holy Land contain in abundance. On this day, HaShem our Creator begins to place the first sacred sparks into the tree, from where the fruits of the coming year will emerge. Those sparks can ignite the reponsive soul with a burning desire to rise even higher and closer to HaShem.
. . . → Read More: Seder Rosh Hashanah La’Ilan: A four worlds seder for Tu Bishvat
The four teachings above are connected with the Four Worlds that the kabbalists saw as the architecture of the universe. When the Kabbalistic community of Tz’fat created the Seder for Tu BiShvat/ Yah BiShvat, they unfolded these Four Worlds in four cups of wine and four sorts of fruit and nuts (one sort so ethereal it was invisible and untouchable). This year, the full moon of Shvat will fall on Shabbat Shira itself, January 24-25. . . . → Read More: Rebirthing the Tree(s) of Life: Four Teachings for the Four Worlds of Tu BiShvat/Yah BiShvat
This is an intention that I composed for the conclusion of a performance piece, Inner Fire, created and performed by my Mistabra Institute for Jewish Textual Activism at Brandeis University in 2002. It is as relevant today as ever. Please use it for inspiration when you light Ḥanuka candles. . . . → Read More: Kavvanah for Ḥanukah Candle-Lighting
Every Jewish holy day, even Shabbat and the highest ones, we call forth all the 22 Hebrew Letters to join us in celebration. For those of us who study Kabbalah from within the realm of the Alef-Bet, Ḥanukah is unique in that we are given a magical tool with which to activate these signs and wonders. . . . → Read More: A Blessing for Dreidel Spinning
לְשֵׁם יִחוּד קֻדְשָׁא בְּרִיךְ הוּא וּשְׁכִינְתֵּהּ, בִּדְחִילוּ וּרְחִימוּ וּרְחִימוּ וּדְחִילוּ, לְיַחֵד שֵׁם י״ה בְּו״ה בְּיִחוּדָא שְׁלִים בְּשֵׁם כָּל יִשְׂרָאֵל. הִנְנִי מְכַוֵּן בְּהַדְלָקַת נֵר חֲנוּכָּה לְקַיֵם מִצְוַת בּוֹרְאִי כַּאֲשֶׁר צִוּוּנִי חֲכָמֵינוּ ז”ל לְתַקֵן אֶת שׁוֹרְשָׁה בְּמָקוֹם עֶלְיוֹן:
וּבְכֵן יְהִי רָצוֹן מִלְפָנֶיךָ יְיָ אֱלֹהֵינוּ וֵאלֹהֵי אֲבוֹתֵינוּ שֶׁתְּהֵא חֲשׁוּבָה וּמְקֻבֶּלֶת וּמְרֻצָּה לְפָנֶיךָ מִצְוַת הַדְלָקַת נֵר . . . → Read More: Kavvanah for the Mitzvah of Kindling the Ḥanukah Lights by Rebbe Tzvi Elimelech Spira of Dinov
May the words we are with Your help sharing today, Speak deeply –- with Your help — to our nation and the world. Help us all to know that the sharing of our breath with all of life Is the very proof, the very truth, that we are One. . . . → Read More: Prayer for the Earth, Air, Water, Fire of our Planet in Memory of Barry Commoner
Herr des Weltalls, reich geschmückt mit deinen Gaben und Segnungen hast du die Natur. Das Thal mit seinem üppigen Grün, der Berg mit seinem Kranz von Wäldern, das Gefilde mit seiner lachenden Frucht ist ein Erzeugnis; deiner Gnade, zum Segen deiner Menschenkinder, zur Nahrung ihres Leibes, zur Stillung ihrer Bedürfnisse, zur Ergötzung ihres Auges, zum Balsam ihrer Wunden; und kein Blättchen ist so klein, kein Grashalm so niedrig in dem weiten Reiche der Natur, daß es nicht wohlthuende heilsame Kräfte für uns enthielte. . . . → Read More: Am Laubhüttenfest beim Kreisgang mit dem Lulaw und Esrosg by Fanny Neuda (1855)
The essential idea of the liturgy of Ushpizin is to invoke the energies of the seven lower Sefirot in the proper order, so that Shefa, blessing and sustenance, can be drawn down into the world. This is the essence of Kabbalistic liturgy, and a liturgy of the imahot would only make sense if it were to follow that pattern. That means we have the playfully serious task of finding a stable order for the imahot where no clear order exists. . . . → Read More: אושפיזין | Ushpizin and Ushpizata: Inviting the Avot and Imahot into your Sukkah
As part of our ongoing project creating a new digital edition of Fanny Neuda’s collection of tkhines in German, Stunden Der Andacht (1855), we are setting her prayers (for the first time ever) side by side with that of her work’s first English translation, Hours of Devotion (1866) by Rabbi Moritz Mayer. Abermals ist ein Fest für uns eingetreten, ein Fest, ganz verschieden von dem, das wir erst jüngst begangen. Jenes feierten wir durch Thränen und Bußübungen, durch Kasteiung und Entbehrung, dieses feiern wir in Freuden mit Jubel und Lobgesängen, wie da geschrieben steht: „Und ihr sollt Euch freuen vor dem Ewigen, eurem Herrn, sieben Tage lang.“ . . . → Read More: An den ersten Tagen des Laubhüttenfestes: A prayer for the first days of Sukkot by Fanny Neuda (1855)
For the sin which we have committed before You through diminishing the image of God. . . . → Read More: For the Sin of Torture: A Communal Confession by Rabbi Ed Feld
Almost everyone who is Jewish knows that Kol Nidre is about releasing vows and has participated in the ceremony. Few know the parallel ritual done in small groups before Rosh Hashanah. Traditionally, right before Rosh Hashanah one performs this simple ritual with three friends, each in turn becoming the petitioner, while the other three act as the beit din, the judges in a court. The ritual is a wonderful way to enter the holidays as well as to prepare oneself for what will happen on Yom Kippur. . . . → Read More: Hatarat Nedarim: The Release of Vows by Reb Zalman Schachter-Shalomi
Ḥazal, — some of our Jewish Sages, May Their Memory Be For A Blessing — suggest that ‘simanah milsah‘ — a symbol has significance. Some of the teachers of Jewish tradition encourage us on Rosh HaShanah to partake of a variety of foods suggestive of prosperity and happiness. This usage is alluded to in the directive of the prophet Nechemiah to the assembly: ‘Go your way, eat the fat and drink the sweet …” (Nechemiah 8:10). Our kavvanoth — sacred intentions — are that these Symbolic Foods Of Life are to help us effect a good coming year. . . . → Read More: Seder Achilat Hasimonim: The “Symbolic Foods of Life” Seder for Rosh Hashanah
Psalm 67 is a priestly blessing for all the peoples of the earth to be sustained by the earth’s harvest (yevulah), and it is a petition that all humanity recognize the divine nature (Elohim) illuminating the world. Composed of seven verses, the psalm is often visually depicted as a seven branched menorah. There are 49 words in the entire psalm, and in the Nusaḥ ha-ARI z”l there is one word for each day of the Sefirat haOmer. Similarly, the fifth verse has 49 letters and each letter can be used as a focal point for meditating on the meaning of the day in its week in the journey to Shavuot, the festival of weeks (the culmination of the barley harvest), and the festival of oaths (shevuot) in celebration of receiving the Torah. Many of the themes of Psalm 67 are repeated in the prayer Ana b’Koaḥ, which also has 49 words, and which are also used to focus on the meaning of each day on the cyclical and labyrinthine journey towards Shavuot. . . . → Read More: Scaling the Walls of the Labyrinth: Psalms 67 and Ana b’Koaḥ
We lift Miriam’s cup, Dancing prophet celebrating the world that is now. And we tell God we are grateful For the water from the earth that was Miriam’s gift, Welcome necessity, On God’s behalf. Miriam announces joy! And teaches us to save ourselves. Miriam, the bringer of mercy, There’s no prayer for her in the haggadah– So make one up! . . . → Read More: Two Cups: Elijah and Miriam
Jacob b. Jehuda of London, the author of that valuable contribution to the literary side of Anglo-Jewish history, the Talmudical compendium Etz Chaim, so providentially rescued and preserved for us, never dreamt, when he noted down, in the year 1287, the Ritual and Agada of the Seder Nights according to English usage, that he was . . . → Read More: The Ritual of the Seder and the Agada of the English Jews Before the Expulsion.
The Tu Bishvat seder is a metaphor. But usually we use metaphor in our daily lives to accomplish, persuade, inspire or explain. There is something we’re bending metaphor to accomplish. This meditation is an exercise in free-thinking. Here, just play with metaphor for the sake of expressing and exploring your emotional state, history, anticipations and apprehensions. Each of the quotations from the Torah or rabbinical writings below represents an emotion. After we say the blessing over the olives, read the quotations, pick one (or more) that resonate, and play with the metaphor to reach a deeper understanding of yourself and others. . . . → Read More: A Tu Bishvat Seder Meditation on the World of Yetzira by Ben Murane
From [the Holy One’s] form/to’ar the constellations are shimmering, and God’s form projects the exalted ones. And Her crown blazes [with] the mighty, and His garment flows with the precious. And all the trees will rejoice in the word, and the plants will exult in His rejoicing, and His words shall drop as perfumes, flowing forth flames of fire, giving joy to those who search them, and quiet to those who fulfill them. . . . → Read More: On Sweet Fruit and Deep Mysteries: Kabbalistic and Midrashic Texts to Sweeten your Tu Bishvat Seder
A woman of valour who can find?
For her price is far above rubies.
The heart of her husband does safely trust in her,
And he has no lack of gain.
She does him good and not evil
All the days of her life.
My beloved is mine, and I am his,
That feeds among the lilies. . . . → Read More: אשת חיל | An adaptation of Eyshet Ḥayil by Alex and Peri Sinclair
Please God Let me light More than flame tonight. More than wax and wick and sliver stick of wood. More than shallow stream of words recited from a pocket book. . . . → Read More: A Prayer for Candle-lighting by Chaya Kaplan-Lester
Nomi Lerman and I were co-teacher’s this past season at Kolot Ḥayeinu’s religious school in Park Slope Brooklyn this past season, and as a Ḥanukah present we made a Ḥanukah Madrikh for our Kittah Gimmel class. I’m certain there are Jewish educators all over the world preparing curricular resources for Ḥanukah right about now and hope that by sharing this they can take it and improve on it, or else we’ll save them some energy so they’ll be able to do even more mitzvot. . . . → Read More: Nomi and Aharon’s Ḥanukah Madrikh!
Aware of the willow [aravah], we awaken our “mouths,” our ability to communicate by voice, hand or type; we acknowledge the precious gift of communications from others, the 99% and the 1%, about their circumstances, their needs, offerings and hopes. Aware of the palm branch [lulav], we awaken our “spines,” our central strength; we acknowledge fellow citizens who take a stand, whether we agree with their stand or not, toward a vision of common good. Aware of the myrtle [hadas], we awaken our “eyes,” our ability to receive through whichever channels are available to us; we acknowledge our responsibility to remain open to others’ thoughts and experiences while also exercising discernment. Aware of the citron [etrog], we awaken our “hearts,” our source of connection; we acknowledge our inter-dependence and the importance of standing, expressing ourselves and learning from others. . . . → Read More: Occupy the Lulav by Virginia Avniel Spatz