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Daily Prayer


T'Shuvah: Repentance, Return, and Response

T'Shuvah, according to our mystical tradition was put into the world before the world was created. I understand this teaching as God knew we were imperfect and wanted us to have a way back when we erred. TShuvah is translated as Repentance, Return, and Response. This is the "work" of the month of Elul. It is our statement of our own imperfection and our desire of wanting to repair damaged relationships and return to a state of connection. TShuvah is also a concept that says CHANGE IS MANDATORY! There is a saying that goes "a leopard doesn't change it's spots". TShuvah says that humans do and must change. The world thinks that once you say something, if you change your mind because of new data, you are 'flip-flopping.' In the real world, if you don't change your mind when new data is presented, you are stuck and stale. The month of Elul is our opportunity to get unstuck and freshen up our lives.


Another aspect of T'Shuvah is HOPE. Because we are able to repair old damages and see the good we have done/created in the past year(s), we can live Hope. Hope is a state of being, not a feeling. It is a state of being because we KNOW that things will change, we are the agents of change and "be the change we want to see". Each day we wake up to a new day and new possibilities. T'Shuvah helps us live Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel's teaching: "No two moments are alike." Living in the state of being of Hope allows us to appreciate each moment and, like Rabbi Heschel, be surprised all the time.  Tomorrow I will start different ways to be in the process of Tshuvah.



Daily Prayer 40

"God guards all God's loves and the Negative God destroys." (Ashrei Prayer)

The verses of this prayer, as I am 'davening' them in these writings, are so powerful and teach me how brilliant the Psalmist is! I have to remember that I/we are all protected by God by loving God, God's creations and ourselves. I am thinking of Rabbi Hillel's words, "If I am not for myself who will be for me? If I am only for myself, what am I? If not now, when?" I have to be for me and for you and for we and for all. There can be no distinction based on race, color, creed, religion, etc. I/we have to guard ourselves and another in order to fulfill this verse.


Also, we have to discern the negativity in ourselves,others and the world. Not to destroy people or the earth, only to root out and destroy the negativity that doesn't serve God. The Yetzer HaRa can serve God as we saw in an earlier prayer (Y'Hi Ratzon) and it can destroy the positive and good in the world and in us. We/I have to work with another(s) to root out and transform the negative impulses such as greed, false ego, entitlement, etc. in order to guard love and joy.

1)    How am I helping myself and another to guard what is loving and good in us/the world?

2)    How am I riding myself of the "eye disease" of prejudice?

3)    What are the ways I help myself and another to transform the negativity in us to serve God and the world? 



Daily Prayer 39

"God approaches all who call God, all who call God in Truth." (Ashrei Prayer)

Here it is, the formula for a good life and I keep forgetting it. I have called to God at many and all times in my life. I am not sure that prior to Recovery, I called to God in Truth. Even now, when I call out to God to help me out of a jam, I am not sure that this is what King David had in mind. I believe that King David was/ is talking about the call to God from my soul, my deepest depths of being. This is different than calling from my fears/neediness of mind and emotions. I am really overwhelmed by how I can call out to God from a "lower truth" place. This is the place of true to my feelings and/or thoughts yet not true to my Soul/Spirit.


I have to approach God. Even though God is searching for me and calling to me, I still have to turn and approach. I have to do this from my Soul and allow my mind and emotions mature enough to be in sync with my Spirit. It is my obligation and the gift God has given to me/us.

1)    How am I going to approach God in/with Truth of my Soul?

2)    How do I discern between my mind and emotions (lower truth) and soul (higher truth)?

3)    What keeps me oblivious to God's call? 



Daily Prayer 38

"You open Your hand and fulfill all needs of the living." (Ashrei Prayer)

This verse kind of says it all and we keep forgetting this Truth. I forget that God's "hand" is always open and I lack nothing. What is especially poignant to me is that I can't "depend" on a Supernal force to do for me what I can do for myself nor can I let someone else's authentic needs not be fulfilled by me when and where I can. Since we are Partners with God in making the earth a little better each day, we/I are/am obligated to open my hands to all who cross my path and, I would add, to look for those outside of my area that I can assist.


This is not asking for and giving a "hand out"! It is me fulfilling my obligation to help others. It is my obligation to ask for help from others. It is also my obligation to forgoe my inauthentic needs in order to meet and fulfill my authentic needs and yours. This verse is a reminder to me that I am not a "victim", yes stuff has happened to me and I don't have to be defined by that stuff. Rather, I can and must define myself by the good that has happened.

1)    How do I forget the Truth that I lack nothing?

2)    What are the ways that I am being a Divine Partner and fulfilling the authentic needs of others?

3)    What inauthentic needs am I letting go of this day/week/year? 



Daily Prayer 37

" God protects the fallen and straightens the bent." (Ashrei Prayer)

These words are making me cry right this moment. With the turmoil that is going on inside of me and in the world, I/we forget that God/Divine Energy is here for us and we don't' realize it because of fear/despair. What am I afraid of? I won't have enough, which is ridiculous based on my history, the history of my family, my people, and the world. I have fallen so often and God has protected me- even when I wasn't aware of God's protection and only saw/see it in hindsight. Here, King David is giving us Prophecy and we say the words and don't immerse ourselves in them enough for them to be part of our consciousness.


The challenge for all of us is, of course, to learn from our mistakes, know that we will continue to fall and get up, know that we will get bent/crooked and can be straightened. How do all these things happen? Not by magic, not by might, not by punishment, rather by experiencing consequences through love and connection. We also have to be God's helpers and help the fallen and the bent by remembering our own falls and when we were/are bent.

1)    How do I remember that I am/have enough?

2)    What do I learn from each of my "falls"?

3)    How can I learn that consequences are not punishments, actually they are loving? 



Daily Prayer 36

"Adonai is Gracious and Compassionate, slow to anger and great in kindness." (Ashrei Prayer)

This Psalm is all about the different attributes of God. I read with my eyes, declare with my lips and hear these with my ears, thereby engaging three of my senses so I truly take these attributes and words into my beingness. This is the great challenge. Prayer is an action! We are having a conversation with The Ineffable One and with the Ineffable part of ourselves. This verse is calling me to understand and imbue the attributes that it takes to dwell in God's House so we, too, can be happy. God's Grace is all around us and we ignore it so often. God's Compassion envelops us and we complain about almost everything.


These attributes are ones that we need to practice daily and really make them part of way of living. It is so hard at times, which is why, I believe, King David wrote these words. He knew how difficult it is to live these attributes and, when he didn't, he would call out for God to help him live them. These words/attributes are put into the world for us to experience them and live them with others. As we repeat them each day, may we all live them one grain of sand more each day also.

1)    How am I imbuing my being with God's attributes?

2)    What are the ways I practice compassion and grace?

3)    When am I living with great kindness and when am I too sensitive/quick to anger?



Daily Prayer 35

"Great are the vast praises of/to God and the greatness of God is beyond searching." (Ashrei Prayer)

In this verse, we are again committing to praise God- aware that we can only scratch the surface. This, again, is where I experience Rabbi Heschel's words that "Prayer may make us worthy of being saved". I experiencethe greatness of God in my life daily. I am alive and well. I get to live my life's script in an amazing family, community, world. I no longer almost and feel abandoned. I am connected to the Universe, to individuals, to love, to Truth, to justice, to compassion, to empathy, etc. There is just no amount of words that I have to express all of this. So, my words and actions have to intimate and suggest to others how I praise God.


Many people ask "where is/was God in all of the tragedies that have/will happen". I believe King David, who experienced many tragedies, is telling us that when we ask this question, we are asking the wrong question. I believe that this question is the impetus for the "Footprints" poem. King David's response to tragedy and joy is to not search for God, rather be Godlike. This is an entirely different question. I don't have to wonder what would God want me to do in ______ situation, the right question (in my opinion) is how do I live Godlike in the face of _____.

1)    What is my need to put words to indescribable experiences?

2)    How do I experience the greatness of God each day?

3)    When am I going to give up old ways of avoiding being responsible for my life and the lives of others?



Daily Prayer 34

"The strength of Your Awe we will speak of andwe will tell stories of Your greatness." (Ashrei Prayer)

I struggled for a long time with this verse. I wrongly interpreted this verse. I got afraid of the way it is translated, 'awesome power' - and I had an aversion to the word power, especially coupled with awesome. I now realize that from being in a state of Awe strengthens my connection to God and that in turn strengthens my soul/spirit. This State of Awe then both shows me ways to exalt and bless God and to exalt and bless other humans. I bless and exalt other humans when I see their Divinity. I bless and exalt other humans when I honor their dignity. When I speak about the strength that Awe of God gives me and you, when I live in the State of Awe and speak from this state of being, others will hear and join, I believe the Psalmist is teaching us.


Telling stories is the best way to communicate ideas that are beyond reason. I believe that is why we have fables, homilies, drashes, etc. In this verse, I am committing to communicate that which is beyond the mystery of living, beyond our ability to comprehend and give others the opportunity to apprehend. In the State of Awe, there are no words that can describe what we are experiencing. Stories can intuit and intimate to others the experience and we have to know that this is good enough!

1)    When are you living in a State of Awe?

2)    How does God's Awesomeness strengthen you?

3)    What are the ways you intuit to others the experience of Awe?



Daily Prayer 33

"I will exalt you, my Sovereign, and I will bless Your name forever." (Ashrei Prayer)

After proclaiming our joy and blissful state from being in God's House(this world), we declare another way to stay in the awareness of where we live. We exalt God through our works. We exalt God through our prayers and words. We exalt God through the ways we embrace all of God's Creations. It is so hard to be in this state 24/7. We are, after all, fallible humans. The verbs used in this Psalm are in the future tense. As I have said many times, future tense in Biblical Hebrew denotes something that we have started and haven't yet completed. Whew, I realize that my life with God and others is a work in progress


Exalting and Blessing are ways of being in the world that honors our soul, the soul of another, and the Will of The Infinite One. King David, who the Psalms are attributed to, was an imperfect person who continually made progress in his own humanity and how he treated others- one grain of sand at a time. This Psalm reflects his and our yearning and commitment to God and to honoring, exalting and Blessing God, Creation, humanity and ourselves. To do this, we have to "surrender" our false self to God. We have to allow ourselves to be confronted and defeated by a Higher and Truer Being (Higher Truth), to paraphrase Rav Soleivetchik. This, I believe is the path to Blessing God's Name forever, our continued growth and continued "surrender".

1)    What are the actions I take that exalt God?

2)    How am I acknowledging my yearning and commitment to God and God's Will?

3)    When am I aware of my surrender to God and when I am still fighting God? 



Daily Prayer 32

"Happy is the person who dwells in Your House, we praise You always." (Ashrei Prayer)

This opening verse of the Ashrei Prayer says it all to me. Ashrei can also be translated as 'testify', 'praise' 'bliss', 'acknowledge', etc. I realize that we all dwell in God's House because all the earth is the Lord's ( a title of one of Rabbi Heschel's books). I would like to retranslated this prayer to "Blissful is the person who dwells in Your House, we acknowledge You always." We have the opportunity to be in a state of Bliss because we live in God's world. This means that instead of serving ourselves, we need to be more aware of how we serve God. When the interests of others become our concerns, we serve God. When we live our unique passion and purpose, we serve God. When we stop comparing and competing, we serve God. When we live from our Divine Image/Soul we serve God.

The key for me is to acknowledge this Truth. I find myself forgetting to acknowledge the Blissful state I am in when I remember who's world this is. Acknowledging begets awareness on a deep level in my being. When I acknowledge I am dwelling in God's House, I am immersed in my life, your life and God's life.

1)    What are the ways I acknowledge that I live in God's House?

2)    How do serve God in my everyday living?

3)    What does it take for me to acknowledge the Blissfulness of my life? 



Daily Prayer 31

''God's Glory is forever, God rejoices in God's creations...many are the thoughts of humans and God's guidance prevails...God doesn't/will not cast off God's people nor forsake God's inheritors. God of Mercy forgives errors...God answers us on the day we call" (Morning Songs)

This prayer/song is one of the many 'songs of our souls'. It is not a petition to God, as sometimes thought, I believe it is a declaration of what we all know to be true.  It is so amazing that God rejoices in and with us. Living this truth happens when we realize and make a decision to live in "radical amazement" (Rabbi Heschel's philosophy). Living in the experience of Radical Amazement gives us the vision to see Truth in all of our affairs. Knowing that God rejoices in us, and all of creation, also obligates us to care for ourselves and all of God's creations, including other human beings.

Living this 'song of our soul' imbues us with the courage to use God's guidance in all of our affairs. Living this 'song of our soul' gives us the courage to change our ways and recover our authentic self through T'Shuvah, Tzedakah, and T'Fillah knowing we are not cast off and obligates us to not cast off others when they err. We are the heirs of God and we have to forgive, call to God and answer the calls of others.

1)    What are the times and ways I rejoice with God?

2)    How am I living in Radical Amazement and following the guidance of God?

3)    How am I being true to the obligations of being an heir of God?



Daily Prayer 30

"A song of thanksgiving... Serve God with joy...Adonai is good, Adonai's kindness endures forever and God's faithfulness is for all time." (Psalm 100)

This Psalm is such a comfort to immerse ourselves in. It is so important to not just say this prayer, we have to be this prayer (and every prayer). The Truths contained in this prayer epitomize Rabbi Heschel's teaching that prayer can make us worthy of being saved to me. We are taught to experience serving God with joy. How do we serve God? By serving others, by living our authentic life script/calling. We can serve with joy whether we are appreciated or scorned. This is definitely a work in progress for me!

The ending of this Psalm teaches us, reminds us that God's Kindness endures forever. This is a Truth that I/we tend to forget easily. Nothing in this prayer says life is going to be smooth or easy, rather these words remind me how I experience life Is my choice. As I write this, I am overwhelmed by Rabbi Heschel's optimism in the face of pessimism. He truly lived this concept and appreciated God's Kindness even when humans weren't kind! The call of this Psalm to/for me is to be faithful from one experience to the next, no matter what the experience is, "good or bad".

1)    What are the ways I serve God/humans/entire world with Joy?

2)    How am I staying faithful to God/my authentic self?



Daily Prayer 29

"Cause your people to be saved, Bless us, your inheritors and tend to us, lift us up forever." (Morning Prayers)

As I read this prayer, I am in Radical Amazement as I experience all that God gives us! This prayer teaches me that when I listen and follow the call of my soul/God's Ayecha, I am saved from my own inauthentic needs. I am able to realize how Blessed I am, even when feeling it not. I/we have all been saved because of God's Wisdom that is placed within us and it happens whenever and wherever we 'let God in' as the Kotzker Rebbe teaches us.


The second half of this sentence reminds me that I am one of God's people and I am never alone. As the 23rd Psalm says, "God is my Shepherd and I lack no thing". Immersing myself in this prayer and these words brings me to a state of being grateful, a state of no unhealthy fears, and a state of awareness of Grace that God grants me today and every day. I am lifted up from my sadness/despair forever, unless I choose to stay there! This prayer tells me I am never alone unless I choose to isolate and hide from God.

1)    What are the inauthentic needs you are being saved from?

2)    How are you hiding from God and your soul?

3)    When and how do you experience God's Blessings and God's Grace?



Daily Prayer 28

"You have compassion and atonement for error and You do not destroy... You, God, never withdraw mercy from us..."( from Morning Song prayers)

I love these ideas. We have a tendency to blame God or ask God 'where were you when ___ (something bad) happened to us?' Yet, this prayer, we say it each morning, tells us that God has compassion and grants us atonement for our error and doesn't destroy us! How do we reconcile this? Many people say "it is God's Will" and I disagree with this statement. God's Will, as this prayer teaches us is: Compassion, Atonement, and Mercy as well as other things. This is not to say bad things don't happen (I have much experience in bad things happening), it is saying that a lot of bad things that happen to us happen because of other humans, not God! In fact, sometimes, if we do a root cause analysis, we find that we are the cause of bad things happening.


I am not saying that we are responsible for all tragedies- I am saying that many of the evils perpetrated upon us are caused by other humans, not God- as I understand this prayer. I also am saying: just as God shows us compassion and atonement, so too do we have to do the same to ourselves and others. This is not "airy-fairy" whitewashing of errors/wrongdoing- rather I believe it is still seeing the humanity of the perpetrator of evil/bad. To me, this means that I have to have compassion for those who harm me, while still protecting myself from further harm. I have to ask for Atonement from and give compassion to the people I have harmed. This is how I act as a Divine Need and Reminder. It is how I live up to the best of my Divine Image. It is not easy and each of us is capable of doing this.

1)    How am I shirking my responsibility and the responsibility of others by saying "It is God's Will"?

2)    When am I the root cause of error in my life and the lives of others?

3)    What are the ways I live Compassion, Atonement and Mercy in my daily living? 



Daily Prayer 27

"Give thanks to God, declare God's Name, sing to God, make music to God,.... Be joyful of heart, all who seek God." (Morning songs)

This prayer reminds us to be grateful and do something. 'Give' is an action verb. It is not enough to just say words of gratitude, according to this prayer, we have to do something. As with many of our Prayers and in our Holy Torah, the actions are outlined for us. Here, we are told to declare/call out God's name. I understand this action to be one of surrender. I have to call out/declare God's name so that I remember who is in charge, and it is not me.


Then we are called upon to sing, make music to God, and be joyful of heart. This action is for us to sing the song of our souls, our unique melody. As I was told by Rabbi Harold Schulweis, Rabbi Heschel used to ask his students:"What is the Niggun (melody) of your soul?". We are praying and looking inside of ourselves to find our music, sing our song and then be joyful that we have a song to sing and we are making music for God and other people around us. What an important message/reminder for us as we begin a new day of living.

1)    What are my actions of gratitude today and each day?

2)    How am I surrendering each day?

3)    What is the melody of my soul that I sing each day and how do I live with a joyful heart?



Daily Prayer 26

"Blessed is the One who spoke and the world was created" (1st prayer of Morning Songs)

This prayer begins the second part of the Morning Service- comprised of songs and Psalms. The prayer reminds us of our powerlessness in creating the world. It also praises God for all the wondrous things that make up this world.


This prayer reminds us of the power of speech! God speaks and creation happens. God speaks and we can/are redeemed. Since we are Divine Needs, Divine Reminders and created in the Divine Image, the same is true for us. Our words have power. We can create beauty, joy, wonder, awe, mystery, greatness, and we can create chaos, destruction, sadness, smallness and break spirits with our speech. This prayer reminds me to act like God and create redemption rather than enslavement, wonder rather than despair, and awe rather than cynicism.

1)    What am I creating with my words?

2)    How can I use speech to create redemption in my life and the life of others?

3)    When are my words praising and when are they cursing? 



Daily Prayer 25

" May it be my will, Adonai my God...that you help us save ourselves from brazenness, etc. and the Evil Destroyer..."

This prayer takes many of the concepts of the earlier prayer and makes them much more personal. We are saying, as individuals, that we know our propensity to be brazen, negative, harsh as well as the fact that we run into these types of individuals and situations each day. We are also committing, as individuals, to seek God's help and strength to overcome these ways of being ourselves and how to respond to others when we are the recipients of these actions.


I am overwhelmed with Awe when I seek God's help to stop these actions in myself and to not react to these actions when others aim them at me. I don't always use God's help and, today, this prayer reminds me of how much I NEED God's help in these situations. I love this prayer because it is personal and an inventory of my actions and a realistic view of how I am being treated and what "neighborhoods" I go into. This prayer also reminds me that I am turning myself towards God not just for my sake, rather for the sake of God and others.

1)    How am I discerning between being bold and being brazen?

2)    What is/are the Evil in my life, inside and outside, that is seeking to destroy me?

3)    When do I see reality rather than what I want to see (good or not good)?



Daily Prayer 24

"You give us, today and everyday, Grace, Kindness, Compassion in Your eyes and in the eyes of all who see us." (Last part of prayer)

This phrase, near the end of the prayer, encapsulate my/our relationship with God. It is a relationship based on God's love, compassion, kindness and grace. This phrase is for us to remember this at the beginning of our day and throughout the day so that we don't lose our way and never feel abandoned. This phrase, for me, is a reminder to Revere God, to be in Awe of God, to not lose my connection to God and know that God is always connected to, calling to me.


It is such a beautiful way of reminding us that God loves and never leaves us. God is giving us Grace, Kindness and Compassion everyday. This gift then allows us to see and give the same to everyone we meet. It also allows us to take in this gift when others give it to us. This removes the suspicion and the 'less than' feeling when someone is kind, compassionate and loving to us in times of need. As I end my week of looking into this prayer, I am struck by how much I live it and when I don't!

1)    What will keep you aware of God's Grace, Kindness, and Compassion, today and everyday?

2)    How do your Revere and be in Awe of God each day?

3)    When do you return the gift of Grace, Kindness and Compassion to others? 



Daily Prayer 23

"We will compel our Inclinations to serve you" (Same prayer)

The first time I read these words, I understood them as saying that God would compel my inclinations to serve God. I was young and knew that this wasn't true because I was doing bad already! In my Recovery and through studying Rabbi Heschel, I have come to understand this prayer differently. I have to participate in compelling my inclinations to serve God. In the Jewish Tradition, as I understand it, God is not 'the guy in the sky'. God is an abstract entity, NOT HUMAN! Since God is not human, we can never truly have a definition and/or knowing of God. We can, however, know God's Will through Torah and Prayer and Action.


This part of the prayer is calling on us to take the actions necessary to compel our inclinations (good and evil) to serve God!! What a concept- even our Yetzer HaRa (evil inclination) can serve God. Yet, not in a negative way, I believe. Our Yetzer HaRa gets us to build buildings, find cures, marry, have children, many other great things. Our Yetzer Tov directs the Yetzer HaRa in these things so that they don't get out of proper measure.Our Yetzer HaRa directs the Yetzer Tov into action and making the world a little better.  We are committing to not allow either Yetzer to get out of control and to ensure that they serve others, God and, ultimately ourselves.

1)    How am I still trying to define God so I can control God?

2)    What actions do I need to compel my Inclinations to serve God?

3)    How am I acting on God's Will today?



Daily Prayer 22

"And we will have Union with our Good Inclination and making much good" (Continuation of Prayer)

These words speak to, in my opinion, the essence of what Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel means when he says, "Prayer may not save us. Prayer may make us worthy of being saved". Many translations of Jewish Prayer make it petitionary. As I understand Rabbi Heschel's words,  we are making the commitment, in this sentence of this prayer, to have Devekut (union as in marriage) with our Good Inclinations and doing much good.


This is so exciting to me! Here we are, Divine Needs and Reminders, making the commitment, early in the morning to reCovenant ourselves to our basic goodness and living this goodness in all of our daily affairs! Actualizing this part of this prayer (actually the entire prayer) will make us worthy of being saved and cause us to help save others. This is part of the essence of Recovery for me: Allowing others to help me save myself, Using the Wisdom, Creative Energy, Love, etc. of God to help me save myself, and then doing the same for others.

1)    How am I using this prayer and every prayer to help me be worthy of being saved?

2)    What are the actions I take to reCovenant with my basic goodness and living this goodness?

3)    List the ways I help others to save themselves and be of service to self, God and others daily.