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בִּרְכָּת אַהֲבַה | Ahava Rabbah, a paraliturgical reflection by Rabbi Shoshana Meira Friedman

Source (Hebrew) Paraliturgical Reflection (English)

אַהֲבָה רַבָּה אֲהַבְתָּֽנוּ יְהֹוָה אֱלֹהֵֽינוּ
חֶמְלָה גְדוֹלָה וִיתֵרָה חָמַֽלְתָּ עָלֵֽינוּ׃
You have loved me Holy One, with a great love.
You’ve had great mercy on me, in all my craziness.

אָבִֽינוּ מַלְכֵּֽנוּ בַּעֲבוּר אֲבוֹתֵֽינוּ שֶׁבָּטְ֒חוּ בְךָ
וַתְּ֒לַמְּ֒דֵם חֻקֵּי חַיִּים כֵּן תְּחָנֵּֽנוּ וּתְלַמְּ֒דֵֽנוּ׃
Great Parent, You have been in relationship with all the parents that came before me,
all those who trusted You so much that they survived to create more life,
in an unbroken chain of creatures back to the first spark of life.

אָבִֽינוּ הָאָב הָרַחֲמָן הַמְ֒רַחֵם רַחֵם עָלֵֽינוּ
וְתֵן בְּלִבֵּֽנוּ לְהָבִין וּלְהַשְׂכִּיל לִשְׁמֹֽעַ לִלְמֹד
וּלְ֒לַמֵּד לִשְׁמֹר וְלַעֲשׂוֹת וּלְקַיֵּם
אֶת־כָּל־דִּבְרֵי תַלְמוּד תּוֹרָתֶֽךָ
Teach me, too, the laws of life.
Great Parent, compassionate Friend, One who bestows compassion, help me feel Your compassion.
Teach my heart to understand, discern, listen, teach,
learn, keep, act upon, and sustain the wisdom of life-force itself.
Help me do this with love.

וְהָאֵר עֵינֵֽינוּ בְּתוֹרָתֶֽךָ
וְדַבֵּק לִבֵּֽנוּ בְּמִצְוֹתֶֽיךָ
וְיַחֵד לְבָבֵֽנוּ לְאַהֲבָה וּלְיִרְאָה אֶת־שְׁמֶֽךָ׃
Brighten my eyes with Your wisdom.
Cleave my heart to right action.
Unify my heart through love and awe of your presence.
Through this balance, I will be resilient in the face of shame.

וְלֹא נֵבוֹשׁ לְעוֹלָם וָעֶד
כִּי בְשֵׁם קָדְשְׁ֒ךָ הַגָּדוֹל וְהַנּוֹרָא בָּטָֽחְנוּ
נָגִֽילָה וְנִשְׂמְ֒חָה בִּישׁוּעָתֶֽךָ׃
I trust in Your Presence, which is both great compassion and awesome strength.
I find a place of rest and security in the balance.
Through trust and through joy, may I be assured of my inherent worthiness before You.

וַהֲבִיאֵֽנוּ לְשָׁלוֹם מֵאַרְבַּע כַּנְפוֹת הָאָֽרֶץ
וְתוֹלִיכֵֽנוּ קוֹמְ֒מִיּוּת לְאַרְצֵֽנוּ׃
Gather me in from all the exiled parts of myself.
Bring them in peace to You.
Help me not hide myself before You, but stand upright in all my human imperfections.

כִּי אֵל פּוֹעֵל יְשׁוּעוֹת אָֽתָּה
וּבָֽנוּ בָחַֽרְתָּ מִכָּל־עַם וְלָשׁוֹן.
You are the One who saves me from myself,
and I actively choose You over all whims of culture and vagaries of language.

וְקֵרַבְתָּֽנוּ לְשִׁמְךָ הַגָּדוֹל סֶֽלָה בֶּאֱמֶת
לְהוֹדוֹת לְךָ וּלְיַחֶדְךָ בְּאַהֲבָה׃
Bring me close to Your true name.
Help me play my part in acknowledging You and unifying You through my love.

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְהֹוָה הַבּוֹחֵר בְּעַמּוֹ יִשְׂרָאֵל בְּאַהֲבָה׃
I Bless You, Holy One, who chooses that I wrestle with life in love.

Rabbi Shoshana Meira’s paraliturgical reflection on the Birkat Ahava for Shaḥarit (nusaḥ Ashkenaz), the second blessing before the Shema, 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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