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Nitzavim

September 27, 2019
27 Elul 5779

Parashat Nitzavim
Deuteronomy 29:9 - 30:20

 

Kavanah for Rosh Hashanah

THE ART OF BLESSING THE DAY

This is the blessing for rain after drought:
Come down, wash the air so it shimmers,
a perfumed shawl of lavender chiffon.
Let the parched leaves suckle and swell.
Enter my skin, wash me for the little
chrysalis of sleep rocked in your plashing.
In the morning the world is peeled to shining.

This is the blessing for a political victory:
Although I shall not forget that things
work in increments and epicycles and sometime
leaps that half the time fall back down,
let's not relinquish dancing while the music
fits into our hips and bounces our heels.
We must never forget, pleasure is real as pain.

This is the blessing for sun after long rain:
Now everything shakes itself free and rises.
The trees are bright as pushcart ices.
Every last lily opens its satin thighs.
The bees dance and roll in pollen
and the cardinal at the top of the pine
sings at full throttle, fountaining.

The blessing for the return of a favorite cat,
the blessing for love returned, for friends'
return, for money received unexpected,
the blessing for the rising of the bread,
the sun, the oppressed. I am not sentimental
about old men mumbling the Hebrew by rote
with no more feeling than one says gesundheit.

This is the blessing for a ripe peach:
This is luck made round. Frost can nip
the blossom, kill the bee. It can drop,
a hard green useless nut. Brown fungus,
the burrowing worm that coils in rot can
blemish it and wind crush it on the ground.
Yet this peach fills my mouth with juicy sun.

But the discipline of blessings is to taste
each moment, the bitter, the sour, the sweet
and the salty, and be glad for what does not
hurt. The art is in compressing attention
to each little and big blossom of the tree
of life, to let the tongue sing each fruit,
its savor, its aroma and its use.

This is the blessing for the first garden tomato:
Those green boxes of tasteless acid the store
sells in January, those red things with the savor
of wet chalk, they mock your fragrant name.
How fat and sweet you are weighing down my palm,
warm as the flank of a cow in the sun.
You are the savor of summer in a thin red skin.

Attention is love, what we must give
children, mothers, fathers. pets,
our friends, the news, the woes of others.
What we want to change we curse and then
pick up a tool. Bless whatever you can
with eyes and hands and tongue. If you
can't bless it, get ready to make it new.

Marge Piercy
From: What Are Big Girls Made Of?


As we enter the Days of Awe, we start to think about the different themes of the holidays, especially repentance.  The gates of heaven are opening, and we have until the end of Yom Kippur to examine ourselves and our deeds. The Ashamnu is the part of the service in which we name our sins and symbolically beat our chests.  The following Ashamnu focuses on what not to do -- a positive version of the prayer. Rather than speaking to God, this prayer sounds more like we are pledging to ourselves and each other.

A Group Ashamnu
By the children of the Tehillah Hebrew School

We won’t Attack people physical or with our words
We won’t Betray one another
We won’t Call people names
We won’t Disrespect people
We won’t Exclude people
We won’t say no to new Foods, we will try them
We won’t Give out secrets
We will be good Hosts
We won’t Insult people
We won’t Judge people
We will be Kind
We won’t forget to Listen to each other
We won’t make Messes
Never say Never
We will keep an Open mind
We won’t lose Patience with people, especially family
We will stay Quiet when we need to
We won’t Rebel against good things
We won’t forget to say Sorry
We will try new Things
We won’t be Unkind
We will respect each others’ Visions
We won’t Watch television late at night
We won’t eXterminate
Be Yourself
We won’t be Zealous and run to do bad things

Thu, July 9 2020 17 Tammuz 5780