בסיעתא דשמיא

אֶשָׂא עֵנַי | An adaptation of Esa Eynai (Psalms 121:1-2), by Ed Towbin-Issur haLevi

At B’nai Havurah, the Denver Jewish Reconstructionist Congregation, located in the shadow of the Rocky Mountains, we consider this psalm a local favorite. Psalm 121, described as a Song for the Ascents, traditionally looks to the heights, where godly powers were believed to reside, such as Mt. Sinai, or the Acropolis, to find divine help, in the person of God or The Unseen One. My proposal is a variation that adjusts our focus to this world, away from the supernatural, to acknowledge our responsibility for the well-being of ourselves and the environment. Whatever deeds and actions that may need to be taken for repair and preservation of our world, we are responsible for. To look for others to do the work for us, or to postpone acting until divine help comes, may turn out to be the height of recklessness for our own, as well as our children’s future. First we acknowledge what is here and real, then we commit to do what we can to solve problems and make things better. This variation is designed to allow it to be sung, with some adjustments, in community with others who are singing the traditional version in Hebrew and English. . . .

כוונה להדליק נרות | Between the Fires: A Kavvanah for Lighting Candles of Commitment, by Rabbi Arthur Waskow (the Shalom Center)

“Between the Fires: A Prayer for lighting Candles of Commitment” was composed by Rabbi Arthur Waskow, drawing on traditional midrash about the danger of a Flood of Fire, and the passage from Malachi. . . .

Kavvanah between Lag BaOmer and Yom Keshet (the 42nd day of the Omer), by Rabbi David Seidenberg (neohasid.org)

This is a prayer to be read between the 18th and the 27th of Iyyar (בין י״ח ו-כ״ז באייר), between the 33rd (ל״ג) and 42nd (מ״ב) days of the Omer. . . .

תפילה בין השריפות | Prayer between the Fires (between the 32nd and 42nd days of the Omer, neohasid.org)

This is a prayer to be read between the 17th and the 27th of Iyyar (בין י״ז ו-כ״ז באייר), between the 32nd (ל״ב) and 42nd (מ״ב) days of the Omer. . . .

Pray as if the Earth Matters: A Tu BiShvat Seder, by Sarah Barasch-Hagans, et al (The Shalom Center)

Created by students of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College and Rabbi Arthur Waskow. Written by Sarah Barasch-Hagans, Sarah Brammer-Shlay, Miriam Geronimus, Lonnie Kleinman, Chayva Lerman, Michael Perice, Rabbi Arthur Waskow, May Ye. Formatted and Edited by Sarah Barasch-Hagans.

Hebrew English

As We Begin…

…We Pause and Ground Ourselves.

✴✴✴✴✴

. . .

הגדה לסדר פסח | MLK +50 Labor-Justice Interfaith Freedom Seder, by R’ Arthur Waskow and The Shalom Center

The MLK+50 Interfaith Freedom Seder woven by the Shalom Center to reawaken and renew the prophetic wisdom of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. during holy week and Passover in the 50th year since his death. . . .

תפילה לעצי היער על ט״וּ בִּשְׁבָט | Prayer for the Trees of the Forest on Tu biShvat, by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer

Hebrew English אֱלֹהֵינוּ וֵאלֹהֵי אֲבוֹתֵינוּ (וְאִמוֹתֵינוּ), חַדֵּשׁ אֶת הַיְּעָרוֹת בְּאֶרֶץ יִשְׂרָאֵל וּבְכָל הָעוֹלָם. וּשְׁמֹר אֶת הַעֵצִים בַּהֶם, מְחַדְּשֵׁי הָאֲוִיר, וְשׁוֹמְרֵי הַחַיִּים. וְהָאֵר אֶת לֵב הָאִישׁ אֲשֶׁר חוֹתֵךְ אוֹתָם בָּאָרֶץ הַזֹּאת וּבְכָל אָרְצוֹת בָּעוֹלָם, כַּכָּתּוּב: ”לֹא־תַשְׁחִ֤ית אֶת־עֵצָהּ֙ לִנְדֹּ֤חַ עָלָיו֙ גַּרְזֶ֔ן“ (דברים כ:יט), וְגַם בְּדִּבְרֵי שְׁלֹמֹה הַמֶּלֶךְ כָּתּוּב: ”עֵץ־חַיִּ֣ים הִ֭יא לַמַּֽחֲזִיקִ֣ים בָּ֑הּ וְֽתֹמְכֶ֥יהָ מְאֻשָּֽׁר“ (משלי ג:יח). . . .

תפילה לעולם החי | Prayer for the Living Earth by Rabbi Katy Z. Allen

I offer here a prayer for the Earth, which you may wish to use in your personal prayer practice or as part of a community to which you belong. It could be included as one of the prayers after reading the Torah. . . .

ברכות ותפילות לרגל עדות העטרה של החמה | Blessings and a Prayer for Witnessing a Solar Eclipse by Rabbi David Seidenberg (neohasid.org)

Blessings and prayers for the eclipse, at: neohasid.org/eclipse including texts and links to other Internet resources. May we all find blessing in the wonder. . . .

סדור לבנת הספיר לקבלת שבת | Siddur Livnat HaSapir l’Kabbalat Shabbat, a Friday Night Siddur by Aharon Varady

Siddur Livnat HaSapir l’Kabbalat Shabbat is a complete prayerbook (siddur) for welcoming the Shabbat on nearly all Friday evenings. This is the personal prayerbook of Aharon Varady, containing his idiosyncratic preferences in liturgical custom and aesthetic presentation. . . .

ברכת המזון | Ḥaveri Nevarekh: Blessing the Spirit of All-which-Lives after Eating and Feeling Satiated, a Birkon by Aharon Varady (v.1.01)

Unlike most plant and bacterial life, we human beings cannot process our own food from the sun, soil, water, and air. And so, as with the other kingdoms of life on Earth, we are dependent on vegetation to live, either directly by consuming plants, or indirectly by predating on other creatures that consume vegetation. Being nourished and seeking nourishment is so basic to us, that our practical desperation for survival undergirds most of our ethics relating to non-human life. But Judaism demands that our human propensity towards predation be circumscribed. Indeed, it is my understanding that the ultimate goal of Torah is to circumscribe and temper our our predatory appetites, and to limit and discipline our predatory behavior. In this way, our predatory instinct may be redeemed as a force for goodness in the world, and we might become a living example to others in how to live in peace and with kindness towards the other lifeforms we share this planet with. In 2010, while working with Nili Simhai and the other Jewish environmental educators at the Teva Learning Center, I began working on a Birkon containing a translation of the birkat hamazon that emphasized the deep ecological wisdom contained within the Rabbinic Jewish tradition. I continued working on it over the next several years adding two additional sections of source texts to illuminate the concept of ḥesronan (lit. absence or lacking) and the mitzvah of lo tashḥit (bal tashḥit). I invite you to include these works into your birkon along with other work that I’ve helped to share through the Open Siddur — especially Perek Shirah and other prayers that express delight in the created world and our role in it, l’ovdah u’lshomrah — to cultivate and preserve this living and magnificent Earth. . . .

ברכות | Bringing blessing to all life on Earth, a d’var tefilah on making blessings over foods by Rabbi David Seidenberg (neohasid.org)

The Talmud (Brakhot 35a-b) teaches that eating food without saying a brakhah (a blessing) beforehand is like stealing. A lot of people know that teaching, and it’s pretty deep. But here’s an even deeper part: the Talmud doesn’t call it “stealing”, but מעילה ׁ(“me’ilah“), which means taking from sacred property that belongs to the Temple. So that means that everything in the world is sacred and this Creation is like a HOLY TEMPLE. . . .

הושׁענות | Hoshanot by Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, translation by Gabbai Seth Fishman

A supplemental Hoshanot liturgy for Sukkot confessing a selection of humanity’s crimes against creation. . . .

A Prayer for Our Earth, an ecumenical prayer by Pope Francis (trans. Rabbi David Seidenberg, neohasid.org)

An ecumenical prayer by Pope Francis from his encyclical, Laudato Si (praise be to you) from May 24th, 2015. Here’s my draft of a Hebrew translation of Pope Francis’ prayer for our earth. It turns out no one had translated it yet. The translation includes sparks from the High Holiday liturgy. I thought we should have it available for Rosh Hashanah, even though I’m sure the translation could use more work and more feedback. . . .

הגדה לסדר פסח | Haggadah of the Inner Seder, by Rabbi David Seidenberg (neohasid.org)

The Haggadah of the Inner Seder focuses on revealing the inner structure of the seder. This haggadah gives signposts and cues as to where the important shifts in meaning are happening. It also makes clear the seder’s structure and adds in some commentaries that will make sense of not just what things mean but how they work. It also includes some of the customs I am fond of. It does not include a lot of material meant to update the seder or to bring in contemporary issues (though it does have a few commentaries related to peace between Israelis and Palestinians). The Haggadah is 18 pages long. . . .

תפילה לראש חודש טבת ותקופת החורף על חנוכּה | Prayer for the new moon of Tevet on Ḥanukkah occurring on the winter solstice, by Rabbi David Seidenberg (neohasid.org)

Here’s a first draft of a brief liturgy for last night, for solstice plus Ḥanukkah. Note that this is a kind of eco-liturgy, but it also stands on its own without imposing an ecological overlay. Since it’s still solstice all day, you may want to use this prayer now, or at dusk tonight. . . .

The Rainbow Haftarah by Rabbi Arthur Waskow, translated by Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi (1993)

I call you to make from fire not an all-consuming blaze But the light in which all beings see each other fully. All different, All bearing One Spark. I call you to light a flame to see more clearly That the earth and all who live as part of it Are not for burning: A flame to see The rainbow in the many-colored faces of all life. . . .

הרחמן | Haraḥaman, Prayer to the merciful One for the Shmita Year, R”H seder additions, and other liturgical tweaks by Rabbi David Seidenberg (neohasid.org)

This Haraḥaman (prayer to the merciful or compassionate One) for the Shmitah or sabbatical year can be added to Birkat Hamazon (blessing after meals) during the whole Shmitah year, in order to remember and open our hearts to the sanctity of the land. Say it right before the Harachaman for Shabbat, since Shmitah is the grand shabbat, and right after the paragraph beginning with Bamarom (a/k/a, Mimarom). . . .

הגדה לסדר אל”ף באלול, ראש השנה לבעלי־החיים (זנגביל, התשע”ג)‏ | Haggadah for the Alef B’Elul Seder, the New Year for Domesticated Animals (Ginger House, the Jewish Vegetarian Society in Jerusalem, 2013)

ראש השנה לבעלי־החיים – על מה ולמה?‏ מקורו של ראש השנה לבעלי־חיים הוא באותה משנה שבה המקור לט”ו בשבט: “ארבעה ראשי שנים הם: באחד בניסן ראש השנה למלכים ולרגלים. באחד באלול ראש השנה למעשר בהמה; רבי אלעזר ורבי שמעון אומרין, באחד בתשרי. באחד בתשרי ראש השנה לשנים לשמיטים וליובלות, ולנטיעה ולירקות. באחד בשבט ראש השנה לאילן, כדברי בית שמאי; בית הלל אומרין בחמישה עשר בו”. (משנה ראש השנה א, א).‏ . . .

תשעה באב | Eikha for the Earth: Sorrow, Hope, and Action from the Shalom Center

Tisha b’Av, the ninth day of the month of Av, has historically been a day to mourn the Destruction of the First and Second Temples, centers of Israelite practice before the rise of Rabbinic Judaism (First Temple 975 BCE – 586 BCE; Second Temple 515 BCE – 70 CE) and the exiles that followed those destructions. Over the course of Jewish history this day of mourning and fasting has also come to commemorate many other tragedies that have befallen the Jewish people throughout history. This year we are beginning a new tradition. We are suggesting that in addition to, or instead of (depending on the norms of your community and personal practice) the traditional observance of Tisha b’Av, the time has come to use this powerful day to mourn the ongoing destruction of the “temple” that is our Earth, a tragedy for all peoples, creatures and living things, but one that is not complete and thus, with sufficient will and action, is in part, reversible. . . .

סדר קידוש לבנה ☽ Kiddush Levanah: Sanctification of the Moon (Rabbi David Seidenberg, neohasid.org)

In Kabbalistic tradition, the new moon is sanctified seven days after its appearance, under a clear sky, standing facing east. It may be said as early as three days after the new moon, and as late as a day before the full moon (the moon should still be visibly waxing). It is the custom in the month of Av to wait to sanctify the moon until after Tisha b’Av, and in Tishrei to wait until after Yom Kippur. In a minyan, the Aleinu prayer and kaddish are traditionally added at the end. . . .

הגדה לסדר פסח | The Freedom Seder Passover Haggadah for the Earth by The Shalom Center and Rabbi Arthur Waskow

Forty years after the first Freedom Seder, new Pharaohs have arisen. The institutional Pharaohs of our day are pressing down not just one people, one community, or another, but all the peoples on our planet and the web of life itself. In this Freedom Seder, we address Dr. Martin Luther King’s warning about “the giant triplets of racism, extreme materialism, and militarism,” which have threatened the very earth that sustains us all. For the Passover story reminds us: not only do new Pharaohs arise in every generation; so also do new grass-roots movement to free ourselves from these new pharaohs. Forty years after the first Freedom Seder, America today stands also on the brink of hope, “mixing memory with desire, stirring dull roots with spring rain.” . . .

סדר ט״וּ בִּשְׁבָט | A Tu BiShvat Seder to Heal the Wounded Earth, by Rabbi Arthur Waskow (The Shalom Center)

This Tu BiShvat haggadah focuses on healing the wounded Earth today, with passages on major policy questions facing the human race in the midst of a great climate crisis and massive extinctions of species. In each of the Four Worlds in this Haggadah (Earth, Water, Air, Fire) there are traditional, mystical, and poetical passages, and in each there are also contemporary passages on aspects of public policy (Earth: food and forest; Water: fracking; Air: climate; Fire: alternative and renewable energy sources.) These policy-oriented passages help make this a distinctive Haggadah. After these passages, this Haggadah encourages Seder participants to take time for discussion. They may also decide to omit some passages and/or add others. The desire for such a Haggadah grew from discussions of the Green Hevra, a network of Jewish environmental organizations. Thanks to Judith Belasco, Rabbi Mordechai Liebling, Sybil Sanchez, Rabbi David Seidenberg, Richard Schwartz, Rabbi David Shneyer, and Yoni Stadlin for comments on an earlier draft of this Haggadah. . . .

תפילה ליום הודו על חנוכּה | Prayer on Thanksgivukah by Rabbi David Seidenberg (neohasid.org)

May the next Thanksgivukkah be a time of health and abundance for all of you who will receive the world from our hands. May we together find away to make sure that there is health and wealth and beauty not just for our family, not just for the Jewish people and humanity, but for all living creatures who share this planet with us. May the One bless us with the power and wisdom to birth a society that shows love to the world around us, that lives with love towards all beings. . . .

אלף באלול | The Council of All Beings on the New Year’s Day festival for Animals, Rosh Hashanah LaBehemot (ראש השנה לבהימות)

Domesticated animals (beheimot) are halakhically distinguished from ḥayot, wild animals in having been bred to rely upon human beings for their welfare. As the livelihood and continued existence of wild animals increasingly depends on the energy, food, and land use decisions of human beings, the responsibility for their care is coming into the purview of our religious responsibilities as Jews under the mitzvah of tsa’ar baalei ḥayyim — mindfullness of the suffering of all living creatures in our decisions and behavior. Rosh Hashanah LeBeheimot is the festival where we are reminded of this important mitzvah at the onset of the month in which we imagine ourselves to be the flock of a god upon whose welfare we rely. The Council of All Beings is an activity that can help us understand and reflect upon the needs of the flock of creatures that already rely upon us for their welfare. . . .

על הניסים בימי הודיה לאומיים | Al Hanissim supplement for the Birkat Hamazon and Amidah on all Secular/National Days of Gratitude, by Aharon Varady

Opportunities to express gratitude on secular, nationalist days of thanksgiving demand acknowledgement of an almost unfathomably deep history of trauma — not only the suffering and striving of my immigrant ancestors, but the sacrifice of all those who endured suffering dealt by their struggle to survive, and often failure to survive, the oppressions dealt by colonization, conquest, hegemony, natural disaster. Only the Earth (from which we, earthlings were born, Bnei Adam from Adamah) has witnessed the constancy of the violent deprivations we inflict upon each other. The privilege I’ve inherited from these sacrifices has come at a cost, and it must be honestly acknowledged, especially on secular/national days of thanksgiving, independence, and freedom. I insert this prayer after Al Hanissim in the Amidah and in the Birkat Hamazon on national days of independence and thanksgiving. . . .

סדר ספירת העומר | the Order of Counting the Omer in the Spring

Each day between the beginning of Passover and Shavuot gets counted, 49 days in all, 7 weeks of seven days. That makes the omer period a miniature version of the Shmitta and Yovel (Jubilee) cycle of 7 cycles of seven years. Just as that cycle is one of resetting society’s clock to align ourselves with freedom and with the needs of the land, this cycle too is a chance to align ourselves with the rhythms of spring and the spiritual freedom represented by the Torah. . . .

ביעור חמץ | Kavanah for Returning Our Ḥametz to the Earth by Rabbi David Seidenberg (neohasid.org)

May it be Your will Hashem that we remember that just as we do not own this ḥametz, we do not own this earth. May we once again recall that Adam, the human, is made of afar, soil, dirt, and that God’s promise Abraham that his progeny will become “like the dirt of the earth,” in Aramaic, afra d’ar’a, means that we must live to nourish all Life. . . .

כעבור סופה | After the Storm: A Prayer to Choose Life by Rabbi David Seidenberg (neohasid.org)

The prayers for hurricane victims that are circulating through the Open Siddur Project and elsewhere are poignant and heartfelt, but they don’t speak an important piece of the truth that we need to hear. What about our collective responsibility for climate disruption that undoubtedly increases the harm caused by this and every major storm? And what about the Deuteronomic promise that God brings us recompense for our actions davka through the weather? Here’s an attempt at a prayer that incorporates a deeper understanding of our responsibility. For the final version of this prayer, I started with an anonymous Hebrew translation of my original English prayer, then I tweaked it and wove in scriptural references, and retranslated it back into English. . . .

והיה אם שמע | v’haya im shemo’a: a Prayer in a Time of Planetary Danger by Rabbi Arthur Waskow

A midrashic translation/ interpretation of the second paragraph of the Sh’ma. . . .

Prayer for the Earth, Air, Water, Fire of our Planet in Memory of Barry Commoner by Rabbi Arthur Waskow

May the words we are with Your help sharing today, Speak deeply –- with Your help — to our nation and the world. Help us all to know that the sharing of our breath with all of life Is the very proof, the very truth, that we are One. . . .

יום קשת מ״ב בעומר | The 42nd Day of the Omer is Rainbow Day

The time we are in now is a time to ask: are we so determined to undo God’s rainbow covenant? Will we truly burn the sea, chemically and literally, with the oil we unleash from inside the Earth? Will we flood the sea with death as the land was flooded according to the Noah story of so long ago? As the cleanup continues and the effects will continue for decades, what new floods will we unleash in the coming years? . . .

סדר ט״וּ בִּשְׁבָט | On Sweet Fruit and Deep Mysteries: Kabbalistic and Midrashic Texts to Sweeten your Tu Bishvat Seder, by Rabbi David Seidenberg (neohasid.org)

From [the Holy One’s] form/to’ar the constellations are shimmering, and God’s form projects the exalted ones. And Her crown blazes [with] the mighty, and His garment flows with the precious. And all the trees will rejoice in the word, and the plants will exult in His rejoicing, and His words shall drop as perfumes, flowing forth flames of fire, giving joy to those who search them, and quiet to those who fulfill them. . . .

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. . . .

Peas on Earth (from the Teva educators Fall 2010)

“Peas on Earth (everybody now) / Peas on Earth — you’ve got to / Grab a fork and lettuce work / For Peas on Earth.” Lyrics and video of several of the 2010 Teva educators singing “Peas on Earth” in costume. . . .

ברצלב | Prayer for the Ability to Pray Alone by Reb Natan of Nemirov from the teachings of Rebbe Naḥman (from Likutei Tefillot volume 2, tefillah 11 (224))

Master of the Universe, grant me the ability to be alone; may it be my custom to go outdoors each day among the trees and grass — among all growing things and there may I be alone, and enter into התבודדות(hitbodedut) prayer, to talk with the One to whom I belong. . . .


בסיעתא דארעא