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אַשְׁרֵי | Ashrei, a paraliturgical reflection by Rabbi Shoshana Meira Friedman

Source (Hebrew) Paraliturgical Reflection (English)

אַ֭שְׁרֵי יוֹשְׁבֵ֣י בֵיתֶ֑ךָ
ע֝֗וֹד יְֽהַלְל֥וּךָ סֶּֽלָה (תהלים פד:ה)
Satiated with contentment, I dwell in Your house.

אַשְׁרֵ֣י הָ֭עָם שֶׁכָּ֣כָה לּ֑וֹ
אַֽשְׁרֵ֥י הָ֝עָ֗ם שֶׁיֲהוָ֥ה אֱלֹהָֽיו׃ (תהלים קמד:טו)
Your house is the place where I know my worthiness to be part of my people.
Your house is the place where I know my worthiness to receive Your love.

(תהלים קמה)
 
תְּהִלָּ֗ה לְדָ֫וִ֥ד

אֲרוֹמִמְךָ֣ אֱלוֹהַ֣י הַמֶּ֑לֶךְ
וַאֲבָרֲכָ֥ה שִׁ֝מְךָ֗ לְעוֹלָ֥ם וָעֶֽד׃
Always I want to praise you, to be aware of all the blessings of life,

בְּכָל־י֥וֹם אֲבָרֲכֶ֑ךָּ
וַאֲהַלְלָ֥ה שִׁ֝מְךָ֗ לְעוֹלָ֥ם וָעֶֽד׃
But my fears and ego get in the way.

גָּ֘ד֤וֹל יְהוָ֣ה וּמְהֻלָּ֣ל מְאֹ֑ד
וְ֝לִגְדֻלָּת֗וֹ אֵ֣ין חֵֽקֶר׃
Craving security and certainty, they flail and smack at the air.

דּ֣וֹר לְ֭דוֹר יְשַׁבַּ֣ח מַעֲשֶׂ֑יךָ
וּגְב֖וּרֹתֶ֣יךָ יַגִּֽידוּ׃
Don’t be too happy! Don’t be too proud!

הֲ֭דַר כְּב֣וֹד הוֹדֶ֑ךָ
וְדִבְרֵ֖י נִפְלְאוֹתֶ֣יךָ אָשִֽׂיחָה׃
Everything dies, everything will be lost, they say,

וֶעֱז֣וּז נוֹרְאֹתֶ֣יךָ יֹאמֵ֑רוּ
וגדולתיך [וּגְדוּלָּתְךָ֥] אֲסַפְּרֶֽנָּה׃
Forgetting my essential worth.

זֵ֣כֶר רַב־טוּבְךָ֣ יַבִּ֑יעוּ
וְצִדְקָתְךָ֥ יְרַנֵּֽנוּ׃
Generous God,

חַנּ֣וּן וְרַח֣וּם יְהוָ֑ה
אֶ֥רֶךְ אַ֝פַּ֗יִם וּגְדָל־חָֽסֶד׃
Help me find my way home to Your house.

טוֹב־יְהוָ֥ה לַכֹּ֑ל
וְ֝רַחֲמָ֗יו עַל־כָּל־מַעֲשָֽׂיו׃
I am an instrument of Your praise,

יוֹד֣וּךָ יְ֭הוָה כָּל־מַעֲשֶׂ֑יךָ
וַ֝חֲסִידֶ֗יךָ יְבָרֲכֽוּכָה׃
Jammed up with out of tune strings and bent parts.

כְּב֣וֹד מַלְכוּתְךָ֣ יֹאמֵ֑רוּ
וּגְבוּרָתְךָ֥ יְדַבֵּֽרוּ׃
Kudos to the One who tunes me and straightens me!

לְהוֹדִ֤יעַ ׀ לִבְנֵ֣י הָ֭אָדָם גְּבוּרֹתָ֑יו
וּ֝כְב֗וֹד הֲדַ֣ר מַלְכוּתֽוֹ׃
Longing for You, I stretch out my body on your altar.

מַֽלְכוּתְךָ֗ מַלְכ֥וּת כָּל־עֹֽלָמִ֑ים
וּ֝מֶֽמְשֶׁלְתְּךָ֗ בְּכָל־דּ֥וֹר וָדֽוֹר׃
Move me with Your music.

נ 
Now I flicker with notes for You.

סוֹמֵ֣ךְ יְ֭הוָה לְכָל־הַנֹּפְלִ֑ים
וְ֝זוֹקֵ֗ף לְכָל־הַכְּפוּפִֽים׃
Open, Open, Open – I open to You.

עֵֽינֵי־כֹ֭ל אֵלֶ֣יךָ יְשַׂבֵּ֑רוּ
וְאַתָּ֤ה נֽוֹתֵן־לָהֶ֖ם אֶת־אָכְלָ֣ם בְּעִתּֽוֹ׃
Play me! Let my life be your masterpiece, your glorious improv jam.

פּוֹתֵ֥חַ אֶת־יׇדֶ֑ךָ
וּמַשְׂבִּ֖יעַ לְכָל־חַ֣י רָצֽוֹן׃
Quicken my breath with Your love!

צַדִּ֣יק יְ֭הוָה בְּכָל־דְּרָכָ֑יו
וְ֝חָסִ֗יד בְּכָל־מַעֲשָֽׂיו׃
Rattle my fears and ego!

קָר֣וֹב יְ֭הוָה לְכָל־קֹרְאָ֑יו
לְכֹ֤ל אֲשֶׁ֖ר יִקְרָאֻ֣הוּ בֶאֱמֶֽת׃
Shake them to the ground!

רְצוֹן־יְרֵאָ֥יו יַעֲשֶׂ֑ה
וְֽאֶת־שַׁוְעָתָ֥ם יִ֝שְׁמַ֗ע וְיוֹשִׁיעֵֽם׃
Tackle me with compassion,

שׁוֹמֵ֣ר יְ֭הוָה אֶת־כָּל־אֹהֲבָ֑יו
וְאֵ֖ת כָּל־הָרְשָׁעִ֣ים יַשְׁמִֽיד׃
Until I am nothing but love for You,

תְּהִלַּ֥ת יְהוָ֗ה יְֽדַבֶּ֫ר־פִּ֥י
וִיבָרֵ֣ךְ כָּל־בָּ֭שָׂר שֵׁ֥ם קָדְשׁ֗וֹ לְעוֹלָ֥ם וָעֶֽד׃
Vulnerable,
Which is the only way to be.

וַאֲנַ֤חְנוּ ׀ נְבָ֘רֵ֤ךְ יָ֗הּ
מֵֽעַתָּ֥ה וְעַד־עוֹלָ֗ם
הַֽלְלוּ־יָֽהּ׃ (תהלים קטו:קיח)
X-ray my heart and see only longing for You,
Yes, only longing for You,
Zest and gratitude and longing.

Take some time here to praise God for particular things that inspire wonder and amazement in you today.
Perhaps these are things nature, in your community, in humanity, in art, in your body,
or just the miracle of your continued life or the life of your loved ones…
You could speak the words, chant them, or sing them.

Rabbi Shoshana Meira’s paraliturgical reflection on Ashrei, Psalms 145 with its opening and closing verses, was first published in her Siddur v’lo Nevosh (2014). Linear correspondence between the Hebrew source and the English by Aharon Varady.

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