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Tefillat Geshem, a paraliturgical prayer for rain on Shemini Atseret by Rabbi Louis Polisson


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Our Beloved Earth and the Earth of our Ancestors,
The parents drawn to your riverbanks,
overflowing with water.
One was blessed with thirst quenched
like a tree planted by streams of water.
Your downpour relieved another
from the fiery heat with water.
They and you sought each other’s well-being,
as they sowed seeds by your water.

The once-barren woman
who had mercy on those who longed
for just a sip of water.
She lived with integrity
on land nourished by water.
She led countless women
to stand with her in solidarity –
Taking shade under trees
rooted in soil and water.
Thanks to her careful planting and stewardship,
She suckled thousands with the natural milk
that we call water.

The prophetesses and prophets
who invited us to partner with the water;
Who shepherded us and lifted us up,
to free ourselves through falls of water;
Who taught us rituals
to mark the ebbs and flows of seasons and water;
The ones who taught us how to build fires
and watch the clouds that hydrated us with water.

To your sacred nature,
the spirit within your body
of stardust and water.
Renew yourself with days of feasting
and become pure with one day
of abstaining from water.
Prepare by witnessing the cleansing,
life-giving power of water.
Know before whom you stand
and remember that we can repair the world,
if we learn to accept and to change like water.

May we reveal the Divine within and outside, above and below,
That which causes the wind to blow and the rain to fall.

May we return to water
as a blessing and not a curse –

May we return to water
for life and not for death –

May we return to water
as abundant and not as scarce –

Rabbi Louis Polisson’s “Prayer for Rain – An Interpretive Translation and New Stanza of Tefillat Geshem (The Prayer for Rain) Recited on Shemini Atseret,” was inspired by the Alternative Ashkenazic Prayer for Rain with Matriarchs in Siddur Lev Shalem. It was written for Rabbi Katy Allen’s Earth Etudes for Elul 5779.

[If you’d like to support my work, you may donate via PayPal at louis.polisson@gmail.com. Thank you.]




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