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אֱלֹהַי נְשָׁמָה | Elohai Neshamah, a paraliturgical reflection by Rabbi Shoshana Meira Friedman

Source (Hebrew) Paraliturgical Reflection (English)

אֱלֹהַי,
נְשָׁמָה שֶׁנָּתַֽתָּ בִּי
טְהוֹרָה הִיא,
God,
the soul You gave me is pure.
This of all things is hard for me to understand.
If it is pure, why do I sometimes feel like I am not enough?
If it is pure, why do I need to suffer?
If it is pure, why do I need to die?

אַתָּה בְרָאתָהּ,
אַתָּה יְצַרְתָּהּ,
אַתָּה נְפַחְתָּהּ בִּי,
וְאַתָּה מְשַׁמְּרָהּ בְּקִרְבִּי,
וְאַתָּה עָתִיד
לִטְּלָהּ מִמֶּנִּי,
וּלְהַחֲזִירָהּ בִּי
לֶעָתִיד לָבֹא.
The soul in me is from You.
It is part of You, and it will one day leave my body and join You in total Oneness again.
I know I am supposed to be ok with that, but some days I am so scared to die.
I love my soft animal body, and the people and things that are familiar.
Other days, I am so scared to live.

כָּל זְמַן שֶׁהַנְּשָׁמָה בְּקִרְבִּי
מוֹדֶה אֲנִי לְפָנֶיךָ יְיָ אֱלֹהַי וֵאלֹהֵי אֲבוֹתַי,
רִבּוֹן כָּל הַמַּעֲשִׂים, אֲדוֹן כָּל הַנְּשָׁמוֹת.
בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ
הַמַּחֲזִיר נְשָׁמוֹת לִפְגָרִים מֵתִים:
I love perfection, and rest, and total integrity, and these are difficult to come by in Your world.
So all the days when my soul is in this body, help me to make the most of it.
Help me show up with grace to my life, in all its imperfections.
I bless You, Holy One,
who has brought forth generations of souls who lived in bodies.

Rabbi Shoshana Meira’s paraliturgical interpretation of Elohai Neshamah (the blessing over our animating breath of life), is published in her Siddur v’lo Nevosh (2014). Linear correspondence between the Hebrew source and the English by Aharon Varady.

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