Comment

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?

Comment

Comment

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? 

Comment

Comment

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)?

Comment

Comment

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? 

Comment

Comment

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?

Comment

Comment

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.

Comment

Comment

Daily Prayer 21

"Help us keep far from an evil (negative) person and an evil (negative) friend." (Continuation of prayer)

The reason I am reading this prayer in pieces is because it is so rich in Spirit and meaning. This part of this prayer has always intrigued me. I understand this sentence as a reminder to myself. There is a tremendous pull towards negativity. I suffer from it, almost everyone does.

I know a negative person for me is different than a negative person for you. This is not a one-size fits all (while there are 'just evil' people in the world, I am speaking of everyday life). For some of us, if someone is agreeing with us, adoring us, etc. it is hard to resist. Yet, we have to watch their actions to determine if they are a 'negative person' to/for us. I have been a negative person for others when I keep trying to move them to who/what I see they can be and not allow them to be who they are. I am changing this as I write. I have seen people who do the same to me and others. An evil/negative friend is even more subtle. I have been the one who gets convinced to do wrong things and I have been the convincer with friends, good people. Yet, when we get together and have the same hurt feelings, we are capable of convincing each other to 'get even' and do wrong.

 

Yet, in the earliest part of our Prayer Service, we are saying that we are not bound by negativity. We can master it, as God tells Cain in Chapter 4 of Genesis. We are affirming that we need help to be able to discern who is a negative person and who isn't. We are calling on ourselves and God/other people to help us define what is an evil/negative friend as well. We are making ourselves aware of the danger and the solution.

1)    When does the 'pull of negativity' strike me?

2)    How have I been a negative/evil person/friend to others?

3)    What is my plan to overcome the pull of negative friends/people and the pull to be a negative friend/person.

"Help us keep far from an evil (negative) person and an evil (negative) friend." (Continuation of prayer)

The reason I am reading this prayer in pieces is because it is so rich in Spirit and meaning. This part of this prayer has always intrigued me. I understand this sentence as a reminder to myself. There is a tremendous pull towards negativity. I suffer from it, almost everyone does.

I know a negative person for me is different than a negative person for you. This is not a one-size fits all (while there are 'just evil' people in the world, I am speaking of everyday life). For some of us, if someone is agreeing with us, adoring us, etc. it is hard to resist. Yet, we have to watch their actions to determine if they are a 'negative person' to/for us. I have been a negative person for others when I keep trying to move them to who/what I see they can be and not allow them to be who they are. I am changing this as I write. I have seen people who do the same to me and others. An evil/negative friend is even more subtle. I have been the one who gets convinced to do wrong things and I have been the convincer with friends, good people. Yet, when we get together and have the same hurt feelings, we are capable of convincing each other to 'get even' and do wrong.

 

Yet, in the earliest part of our Prayer Service, we are saying that we are not bound by negativity. We can master it, as God tells Cain in Chapter 4 of Genesis. We are affirming that we need help to be able to discern who is a negative person and who isn't. We are calling on ourselves and God/other people to help us define what is an evil/negative friend as well. We are making ourselves aware of the danger and the solution.

1)    When does the 'pull of negativity' strike me?

2)    How have I been a negative/evil person/friend to others?

3)    What is my plan to overcome the pull of negative friends/people and the pull to be a negative friend/person.

 

Comment

Comment

Daily Prayer 20

"You don't make me controlled by my Yetzer HaRa (evil inclination/earthly inclination)." (Continuation of prayer)

Here again, the prayer reminds us of our choice and dispels a big lie! God doesn't control us by remote control through our Yetzer HaRa. In fact, God doesn't control us at all. So, we are responsible. This prayer brings home Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel's teaching: "In a free society, some are guilty and all are responsible." Since leaving Egypt (and before) God's plan was for the world to be a free society. We cannot blame God and/or others for our choices and/or errors. We have to be responsible. "The devil made me do it" is a lie that is exposed in this sentence from this prayer.

 

This is an important teaching. It tells me that I am controlled by my choices which are influenced by my spirit, my intellect and my emotions. I am constantly reminded that even when others 'do it to me', I have the choice to respond or react. My response/reaction is dependenton my Spiritual, Emotional and Intellectual temperature at the moment! This part of this prayer reminds and calls upon me to grow the spiritual, emotional and intellectual parts of me each day.

1)    How do I let go of the Big Lie that my Yetzer HaRa is controlling me?

2)    What are the ways I am practicing being responsible and free?

3)    How am I growing my Spiritual, emotional and intellectual parts of me each day?

Comment

Comment

Daily Prayer 19

"You don't bring us into the hands of sin (of any kind)." (Continuation of 1st prayer after Morning Blessings).

I love this prayer because, when I immerse myself in it, I can set my entire day on the correct path. This part of the prayer teaches me that I always have choice as to my actions. It also reminds me that, even though I will make mistakes, I don't have to fall into the power of these mistakes. I do not have to be my mistakes. Food is a great example of this. I struggle with weight issues and have all my life. When I have a bad meal, this prayer teaches that I don't have to have a bad eating day! Also, this teaches me that God never wants me to fall into the power of error/sin/etc.

 

Some people ask me if my journey was God's Will, meaning that my actions were, somehow, part of God's plan. I believe this prayer is saying NO! This is an important issue for many people. We like to blame God when things go "wrong" for us. I understand this part of the prayer to be reminding us it is our choice to go further down the path of negativity, not God's plan! God is not 'controlling' us as if we are puppets, rather, God gives us the Mitzvot and The Torah(as said earlier in the prayer) as the roadmap and antidote to our straying from a life of decency and wholeness.

1)    What makes me 'give up' once I have made a mistake and ruin my entire day, week?

2)    When do I fall into the power of the negativity around me.

3)    How can I use prayer, Mitzvot, Torah (a program of recovery) to "do the next right action" even while in the midst of negativity?

Comment

Comment

Daily Prayer 18

"May it be Your Will, Adonai, our God, to make us accustom to Your Torah and have union with Your Mitzvot..." (Continuation of prayer following Morning Blessings)

I love this prayer. I have a different translation, It is my will, before You, Adonai our God to cause us to stand in Your Torah and have union with Your Mitzvot.  It doesn't make sense that we are calling upon God to use God's Will to have us be standing in Torah all the time, of course God wants us to live Torah, hence we will receive it, again, on Shavuot.

For me, the depth of this prayer is that I have got to make sure that my eyes are open and I am committing to a life rooted in Torah. Even when I err, I am still rooted in Torah because I do T'Shuvah and the only reason I know that I err is because I follow the Code of Torah.

 

This prayer, for me, is a daily reminder of the Revelation that happened at Mt. Sinai and my (our) response to it. Each day, I get to remember the moment of my accepting Torah as my way of living and stay loyal to this response. It means that I have to connect each day with my Soul and ensure that I am connecting with God and community. I have to remember that Living Torah and Revelation is a personal experience that can only happen in community! I get the opportunity to manifest the Love that God, significant other, family, friends and strangers have so freely given to me and use this Love to help move the world forward, one grain of sand at a time. I do this by living the Principles of justice, love, truth, kindness, righteousness and compassion for and with myself and everyone else.

1)    How am I standing in and guided by Torah in my daily affairs

2)    What are the ways I am deepening my connection to the Mitzvot/principles of Torah, i.e. Justice, love, truth, etc.?

3)    How do I stay loyal to the experience of Revelation from God? 

Comment

Comment

Daily Prayer 17

Blessed are You, Adonai, who removes sleep from eyes and slumber from my eyelids." (Prayer immediately following the morning Blessings)

This prayer makes no sense coming at this point in the Siddur (prayer book)! We have already been up for a while, we have wrapped ourselves in Talis and Tefillin, said a lot of prayers already, so it makes no logical sense to say this!! Yet, as I realized a long time ago, this prayer is so important. It makes me realize that there is a higher logic and higher truth. While my eyes are open, sometimes I sleep walk through the day. Sometimes my eyelids are so heavy with what I want that I fail to see what is. This is a "wake up" call to my Soul, to remind me that I have to stay alert to the Call of God and the call of my spirit. I acknowledge that without God's help, I will fall asleep during the day and become "Indifferent to the Sublime Wonder of living" as Rabbi Heschel teaches.

1)    What are the ways I go to sleep' during the day?

2)    How am I letting my eyelids get too heavy with my own desires/inauthentic needs?

3)    Where do I go to 'wake up' my soul/spirit? 

Comment

Comment

Daily Prayer 16

"Blessed are You, Adonai, who gives strength to the weary." (Morning Blessings)

This last of the morning Blessings is wonderful. It reminds/teaches me that living a full life, one of passion, purpose, strength and beauty is also, at times, very hard and I will feel depleted! I have to know that this is true and not feel lacking because I am feeling weary. For me, this is very hard. When I feel weary, my default is to find something wrong with myself or you😉! This prayer tells me that God knows the work is hard, long, impossible to finish and to not fall into despair when I am weary. Rather, I have to know that I must be doing all I can when I feel weary. Also, there is a place/entity I can go to for replenishment. That place is my soul/spirit/inner place of rest and the Entity is God. The challenge is to remember this teaching of our tradition when weariness hits.

1)    How do I not fall into despair when I feel weary?

2)    What do I do when weariness sets in?

3)    Where do I go to replenish my Soul? 

Comment

Comment

Daily Prayer 15

"Blessed are You, Adonai, who crowns Israel with beauty." (Morning Blessings)

Some translations speak of Israel's glory, I prefer to translate it as beauty. Why? Because I know that I can get caught up in false pride of "glory" and beauty is something that I admire and have to enhance/add to. Each morning, I am reminded that beauty is within me and within you. I am obligated to let more of my beauty shine in the world, rather than keep a hard shell that seems impenetrable. I also state my plan/resolve to add to my own inner beauty, your inner beauty and the beauty of the world by taking proper actions during the day and continuing to repair actions that were not proper. Again, being Israel means living in a state that has strength and beauty to fulfill my unique purpose and help you fulfill your unique purpose in our own individual and unique ways.

1)    How am I caught up in False Pride

2)    What am I doing to add to my inner beauty and yours?

3)    When am I living as Israel as a unique individual and adding to the world according to my unique purpose and passion? 

Comment

Comment

Daily Prayer 14

"Blessed are You, Adonai, who girds Israel with strength." (Morning Blessings)

While this prayer could be seen very narrowly, I realize that Israel is not just a descriptive word for Jewish, it is a state of being. Wrestling with ourselves, others and God is a state of being that signifies courage, growth, love and connection. We pray for strength because it takes great moral, emotional, intellectual and Spiritual strength to continue to wrestle rather than settle/know it all. I constantly need an extra ounce (maybe pounds) of strength to not give in to the baser instincts that I have. I need extra strength to not fold under the pressure of my inauthentic needs/desires. I need extra strength to hold fast to principles in the face of adversity. The strength I pray for is inner strength to not be so explosive that I alienate others. I pray for the inner strength to hear the Call of God, Ayecha, and be able to respond, Hineni, here I am.

1)    What strength do I need today?

2)    How am I seeing everyone as part of Israel, one who wrestles with self, another and God?

3)    How am I using my inner strength well today?

Comment

Comment

Daily Prayer 13

"Blessed are You, Adonai, who firms each person's footsteps." (Morning Blessings)

Building upon yesterday's Blessing, this one reminds me/teaches me that I don't have to lose my way/path. Each step I take, when I take it with deliberation and Kavanah (appreciating that I am living in a Covenant with God), gets firmer and firmer because God is with me. Realizing this truth and being grateful to and for God, allows me/obligates me to stay more rooted in the path of decency and service that God guides and assists me on. I also love that your steps are made firmer in your way and as you need. So, I never have to compare or compete with you- you are becoming more rooted in your paths and me in mine. What this does for all of us and the world is, as Rabbi Heschel teaches, give us room to sing the Niggun of our Soul. It causes us to be more aware of and engaged in "lending form to a Divine Theme" (from Rabbi Heschel) to all of our actions.

1)    How firmly am I rooted in my current life patterns?

2)    What do I need to do to allow God to firm my footsteps and path?

3)    When do I "lend form to a Divine Theme? 

Comment

Comment

Daily Prayer 12

"Blessed are You, Adonai, who provides for all my needs" (Morning Blessings)

 

This is one of the hardest prayers for me to live! While I know that all my needs are provided for, I mix up my wants with my needs. This causes me great fear and I become reactive and controlling. As I immerse myself in this Blessing, I am reminded of Rabbi Heschel's teaching about authentic needs and inauthentic needs. It also reminds me to be grateful for what I have and stay out of the fear of loss. This Blessing reminds me/teaches me that my needs are taken care of, as long as I don't give them away. I give them away through fear and greed. Today, I will remember that my needs are provided for and my obligation is to honor them, use them and be grateful for this love from God.

1)    How am I confusing needs with wants?

2)    When do my fears overcome my gratitudes?

3)    What do I need to do to honor this love from God and others?

Comment

Comment

Daily Prayer 11

"Blessed are you, Adonai, who releases the bound (captive)." (Morning Prayers)

 

As I experience this prayer, I remember how bound up I am by my thoughts, my habits, my emotions, my circumstances, etc. This prayer is making me stop and realize how many ways, even though I said I was not a slave, I still am! The inner experience of this prayer is to allow myself to be confronted by a Higher Truth, my soul's knowledge from God. When I don't allow myself to be confronted by Higher Truth, I become more bound up, more imprisoned, more stuck. Tonight is Shabbat, I am going to allow God to release me from my self-imposed captivity and work hard to stay out!

1)    What are the top three things that keep me a captive?

2)    How will I allow myself to be confronted by a Higher Truth/God?

3)    What actions do I need to take to stay out of captivity?

Comment

Comment

Daily Prayer 10

"Blessed are You, Adonai, for giving sight to the blind." (Morning Blessings)

 

This blessing seems strange on the surface for those of us who have sight. It is easy to just pass it by and not think about the deeper inner meaning of this Prayer. Yet, this prayer has so much meaning and power to me. As I read it this morning, I am struck by my apprehending of God's Grace. I am asking and reminding myself and those around me to stop being oblivious. I am calling to myself to stop seeing only what I want to see. I am calling to God to help me see beneath the surface of my living and allow life's wonders to imbue my spirit. Rabbi Heschel's words: "Indifference to the sublime wonder of living is the root of sin" haunt me when I read this prayer. By giving me sight to all of the things I have been blind to, God is bestowing Grace upon me to live better today and see the Truth (whole story) of my life, your life and the life of the world.

1)    How am Iapprehending and appreciating the Sublime Wonder of living?

2)    What parts of life am I still not seeing?

3)    When am I aware of life's wonders imbuing my spirit and how do I respond to this experience? 

Comment

Comment

Daily Prayer 9

"Blessed are You, Adonai, for not making me a slave" (Morning Blessings Continued)

 

Seeing ourselves as not Slaves was a huge challenge for our ancestors in the Wilderness. This was their constant struggle: having left the physical bonds of slavery, how do they leave the mental, emotional and spiritual bonds of slavery. Herein lies the struggle for all of us.

 

Throughout human history, the call to be enslaved has been strong, both because of the enslaver and because of each of us. There has been, is now and always will be people who want to exert power by enslaving others; be it a dictator, a racist, an anti-semite, a boss, etc. They are not what this prayer is about, as I understand it.

 

The call of this prayer is to each of us to stop being slaves to our false egos, our "need to be right", status, etc. We can become slaves to Religious Behaviorism as Rabbi Heschel teaches. We can become slaves to other people's opinions, actions, attentions, etc. There are so many ways we can become slaves and this prayer, coming right after we acknowledge our pure souls, reminds us that God doesn't make us slaves! It also teaches us that we have to choose to be slaves and reminds us that we have the choice and the power and the blessing to not be a slave, rather to be free

1)    Who am I enslaving and how do I set them free?

2)    How do I not blame others for my enslavements?

3)    What are the ways I live free and how can I grow them? 

Comment

Comment

Daily Prayer 8

"Blessed are You, Adonai, our God, sovereign of the universe, who gives the rooster the understanding to distinguish between day and night." (1st of the Morning Blessings)

 

This prayer continues the theme of gratitude begun with the first prayer when we arise. It changes from the singular, me/I, to the plural, we. This prayer moves me to be grateful for what I have and to know that we are all linked together. This is an important move that many people miss. In the "I/ME" way of living, there is no "we". In the Jewish Tradition, there is both "I" and "We".

In this prayer, we are grateful for the Rooster's ability to distinguish between day and night so that it crows and wakes us up at the right time. For me, this is a prayer that calls to me to be more distinguishing, more discerning. There are so many times where I mix things up, take something that I think/believe is good and, upon further investigation/immersion, realize that I didn't discern day from night, right from wrong, good from evil, etc. well enough! I continue to grow in being able to distinguish the next right action from the next wrong action. It is a daily progression and as long as I continue to be grateful for the understanding and ability to discern/distinguish, I am able to do T'Shuvah and repair where I have "missed the mark" and enhance where I have "hit the bullseye".

 

1)    How do I distinguish when it is "me" and when it is "we"?

2)    What are the ways/areas of life Imix things up the most?

3)    How am I growing in my ability to discern/distinguish day/night, right/wrong, good/evil? 

Comment