A Prayer For Kavvanah, by Amanda Rush

Hashem, as I open my Siddur, let me pray with proper kavanah. Let me pray with sincerity, paying careful attention to every word I utter. Hashem, let me concentrate with my whole being on the meaning of each and every word, sentence and prayer. Keep my mind from wandering to other subjects, and keep me from neglecting to put my heart and soul in to each and every prayer, praise and blessing. May my prayer come before You, O Hashem, at a time of grace, and may it be accepted favorably by You. Amen. . . .

אשׂא למרחוק | Essa Lameraḥoq by Aharon ben Yosef of Constantinople (13th c.), translated by Gabriel Wasserman

Loading Source (Hebrew) Translation (English) אֶשָּׂא לְמֵרָחוֹק דֵּעִי אֲתַנֶּה | צִדְקוֹת אֵלִי וּמוֹשִׁיעִי בְּשֵׁשֶׁת יָמִים כִּלָּה כֹּל | מַלְכִּי וְרֹעִי   קהל: וַיְבָרֶךְ אֱלֹהִים | אֶת יוֹם הַשְּׁבִיעִי. (בראשית ב:ג) I will speak my mind regarding [matters] long ago, I will declare the righteous deeds of my God and my rescuer: In six days He . . .

Reconstruction of a Greek text of the Shabbat Amidah preserved in the Constitutiones Apostolorum (circa 380 CE), by Dr. David Fiensy

This is a reconstruction of a sabbath liturgy for the Tefillah of the Amidah, at least in some variant of its public recitation, in Greek and preserved in an early Christian work, the Constitutiones Apostolorum (Apostolic Constitutions), a Christian work compiled around 380 CE in Syria. Several prayers derived from Jewish sources appear in the Apostolic Constitutions and they can be found grouped together and labeled “Greek” or “Hellenistic Syanagogal Works” in collections of apocrypha and pseudepigrapha. Because explicitly Christian references appeared to be added onto a pre-existing text with familiar Jewish or “Old Testament” themes and references, scholars in the late 19th century were already suggesting that as many as 16 of the prayers in the Apostolic Constitutions books 7 and 8 were derived from Jewish prayers. A more modern appraisal was made by Dr. Fiensy and published in Prayers Alleged to Be Jewish (Scholars Press 1985). Based on a careful analysis of the prayers, he concludes that the only prayers which can be identified as Jewish with certainty are those found in sections 33-38 of book 7. . . .

שירת הים | The Song of the Sea, sung with a Moroccan Nusaḥ performed by R’ Hillel Ḥayim Yisraeli-Lavery

According to Rabbinic tradition, the 21st of Nissan is the day in the Jewish calendar on which Pharaoh’s army was drowned in the Sea of Reeds, and the redeemed children of Yisrael sang the Song of the Sea, the (Shirat Hayam, Exodus 15:1-19). The song, as included in the the morning prayers, comprises one of the most ancient text in Jewish liturgy. The 21st of Nissan corresponds to the 7th day of Passover, and the recitation of the Shirat HaYam is part of the daily Torah Reading. Rabbi Hillel Ḥayim Yisraeli-Lavery shares a performance of a melody he learned for the Shirat Hayam from צוף דבש Tzuf Devash, a Moroccan synagogue in the Old City of Jerusalem. If there is something about this tune that strikes one as particularly celebratory, it might be because the relationship between G!d and the Jewish people is traditionally described as a marriage consummated with the Covenant at Mt. Sinai. The passage of Bnei Yisrael through the Sea of Reeds towards Mt. Sinai thus begins a bridal march commencing in the theophany at Mt. Sinai, 42 days later. . . .

Adventures in Ancient Jewish Liturgy: The Ten Commandments and the Sh’ma in the Nash Papyrus

Once upon a time, according to the Mishnah, it was the nusaḥ (liturgical tradition) of the Cohanim in the Bet Hamikdash[ref]Priests of the Temple in Jerusalem[/ref] for the Ten Commandments to be read prior to the Sh’ma. . . .

שמע | An illustrated meditation on the unification of imagination and awareness through empathy

When works are printed bearing shemot, any one of the ten divine names sacred to Judaism, they are cared for with love. If a page or bound work bearing shemot falls to the ground it’s a Jewish custom to draw up the page or book and kiss it. Just as loved ones are cared for after they’ve fallen and passed away, when the binding fails and leaves fall from siddurim and other seforim they are collected in boxes and bins and brought for burial, where their holy words can decompose back into the earth from which their constituent elements once grew, and were once harvested to become paper and books, and ink, string, glue. While teaching at the Teva Learning Center last Fall 2010, I collected all our shemot that we had intentionally or unintentionally made on our copy machine, or which we had collected from the itinerant teachers who pass through the Isabella Freedman Retreat Center on so many beautiful weekend shabbatonim. While leafing through the pages, I found one and kept it from the darkness of the genizah. . . .

שמע | Sh’ma: an Interpretation for the 21st Century by Rabbi Arthur Waskow (2003)

Sh’sh’sh’ma Yisra’el — Listen, You Godwrestlers! Pause from your wrestling and hush’sh’sh To hear — YHWH/ Yahh Hear in the stillness the still silent voice, The silent breathing that intertwines life; YHWH/ Yahh elohenu Breath of life is our God, What unites all the varied forces creating all worlds into one-ness, Each breath unique, And all unified; YHWH / Yahh echad! Yahh is One. Listen, You Godwrestlers! No one people alone owns this Unify-force; YHWH / Yahh is One. . . .


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