בסיעתא דשמיא

על חטא | For the Sin of Destroying God’s Creation by Rabbi Danny Nevins, adapted by Rabbi David Seidenberg (2007)

Eternal God, You created earth and heavens with mercy, and blew the breath of life into animals and human beings. We were created amidst a world of wholeness, a world called “very good,” pure and beautiful, but now your many works are being erased by us from the book of life. . . .

Ritual for Judging Bad Dreams for Good

If one has a dream which makes him sad he should go and have it interpreted in the presence of three. He should have it interpreted! Has not Rav Ḥisda said: A dream which is not interpreted is like a letter which is not read? — Say rather then, he should have a good turn given to it in the presence of three. . . .

על חטא | For the Sin of Torture: A Communal Confession by Rabbi Ed Feld

For the sin which we have committed before You through diminishing the image of God. . . .

Activist Prayer for a Trauma Center on Chicago’s South Side by R’ Aryeh Bernstein

A disproportionate amount of the alarming gun violence in Chicago takes place on the South Side, yet the South Side lacks even a single level one adult trauma center. Consequently, gunshot victims sometimes minutes from death must be transported miles away to Downtown or North Side hospitals. In 2010, after Damien Turner, an 18-year-old resident of the South Side Woodlawn neighborhood, died waiting for an ambulance to drive him ten miles to a downtown hospital instead of two blocks to the University of Chicago Medical Center (UCMC), a grassroots collaboration of community organizations, faith leaders, and University of Chicago student groups began organizing the Trauma Center Coalition, dedicated to reopening a Level 1 adult trauma center at UCMC, the most well-resourced hospital on the South Side. So far, the university has refused. As part of the coalition’s ongoing campaign, last week [April 23, 2015], dozens of activists gathered on the university’s historic Midway field, for a vigil of prayer and song from different faith traditions. At dusk, participants lit candles to spell out “Trauma Center Now”, right across from the home of U. Chicago President Robert Zimmer, and then camped out for the night. As a representative of coalition partner Jewish Council on Urban Affairs, I was invited to offer a Jewish prayer, which is reproduced here; I read it in both the English and Hebrew. . . .

תחנה שערי דמעות | Tkhine of the Gate of Tears

The “Tkhine of the Gate of Tears” by an unknown author presented here derives from the Vilna, 1848 edition. I have transcribed it without any changes from The Merit of Our Mothers בזכות אמהות A Bilingual Anthology of Jewish Women’s Prayers, compiled by Rabbi Tracy Guren Klirs, Cincinnati: Hebrew Union College Press, 1992. shgiyot mi yavin, ministarot nakeni. If you can scan an image of the page from the edition this was copied from, please share it with us. . . .

ודוי | Vidui meditation by Danny Cohen

Vidui means acknowledgment. It is not about self-flagellation or blame, but about honesty, coming into contact with our lives, our patterns and experiences, and ultimately about teshuva and learning. In contacting the pain and suffering which our modes of being have given rise to, our regret can help us to willfully divest ourselves of them and awaken the yearning for those modes of being which are life-affirming, supportive of wholeness, connection, integrity, and flourishing. With each one we tap on our heart, touching the pain and closed-heartedness we have caused, and simultaneously knocking on the door that it may open again. . . .

מתי לא לבקש סליחה | When not to seek forgiveness by Josh Rosenberg

A thought about the need to seek forgiveness from those you’ve wronged during this week before Yom Kippur: . . .

התיקון הכללי של רבי נחמן | The Tikkun Haklali according to Rebbe Naḥman of Bratslav

Before our hands can fix, we need to care. Before we can care, we need our eyes open. But how can we remind ourselves to see, and sustain our sensitivity and capability for compassion? We can shy from the pain that comes with empathy, and we can shy from the pain that comes with taking responsibility for the suffering we cause. But there are consequences to shying away, to disaffection and callous disassociation. If there is any hope, it is as Rebbe Naḥman explained so succinctly: “If you believe that you can damage, then believe that you can fix.” In 1806, Rebbe Naḥman of Bratslav taught that the recitation of ten psalms could act as a powerful Tikkun (remedy) in a process of t’shuva leading to an awareness of the divine presence that permeates and enlivens this world but is alas, hidden though an accretion of transgressive thoughts and actions. Five years later, Rebbe Naḥman revealed the specific ten psalms of this Tikkun to two of his closest disciples, Rabbi Aharon of Bratslav and Rabbi Naftali of Nemirov. . . .

A Ten-Step, Four-Worlds, One-Earth Tashlikh by Avi Dolgin

Avi Dolgin shares his mindful practice for maintaining “tashlikh consciousness” in the days leading up to Rosh Hashanah. . . .

A D’var Tefillah on Zombies, Elul, and Psalms 27 by Rabbi Jessica Minnen

As the month of Elul wanes, we are preparing. We prepare for the new moon, we prepare for Rosh Hashanah, and we prepare for the zombie invasion. I have it on good authority, as do you, that the onslaught is imminent. The alarm blares every morning — a shofar blast and a warning… . . .

סליחות | Sliḥot Prayers to the Inner Child within us by Miriam Rubin

For all the times that I’ve judged you, and you shut down.
For the times when I’ve cast eyes of displeasure on your creative and luminous works,
For the times when I secretly whisper nasty things about you, that I would never say out loud,
For the times when I’ve asphyxiated you, and you felt cut off from your sacred life force… . . .

התרת נדרים | Hatarat Nedarim: The Release of Vows by Reb Zalman Schachter-Shalomi

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. . . .

The Mapmaker

Cold facts.
Colder realities.
The preacher who lost his way
The librarian who empties the shelves
The cook without a spoon
The child masking as a king
The king masking as a child.
The mapmaker studies them all
Furrowing his brow tightly
Crafting lines delicately.
Everything . . .

בסיעתא דארעא