Hillel would say: Do not separate yourself from the community.
-Pirke Avot 2:4
Those who, when alone, do not, or cannot, pray, find an impulse to prayer when they worship with others; and some will pray together who cannot pray alone, as many will sing in chorus who would not sing solos. As two walking together in some dark wood feel the stronger and braver each for the other's near presence, so many who are spiritually weak in themselves will find spiritual strength in a common spiritual effort.
Public worship expresses the sanctity we feel in the social bond. A congregation at worship is a society declaring its devotion to God. They who worship God together bring God into their mutual relations. If in public worship I realize that my prayers are also the prayers of the one by my side, it will make us more effectively aware of our common humanity and implant a spirit which will be potent for social good.
(Rabbi Israel I. Mattuck, Gates of Prayer, CCAR, 1975, page 7)
When our Burdens Seems too Heavy
When our burdens seem too heavy, we come to You, O God, for Your gracious help. You dwell within our hearts, You feel our distress, You know our pain, and how burdened we are. Give us strength to bear our burdens with courage, wisdom, and grace. Help us to be true to our better selves, to discern our real work in life, and to do it with all our might.
When we struggle within our own hearts, stay by our side. Then shall we be able to say with the Prophet Isaiah "Those who hold fast to the Eternal shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint."
May the ties that bind us to family and friends make life rich in meaning for us, and may we live each day supported by You. Amen.
(Adapted from: On the Doorposts of Your House, CCAR)
Nine Eleven, Prayer 2 On Parashat Nitzavim
We are standing today All of us The big shots The chum The children Wives and sweethearts And the stranger That is within All of us Before Hashem The Name Our God From the hewers of wood To the carriers of water All of us Every lousy one of us Today. To cut a deal With You So that You will Remember the deal You cut with our ancestors, Good people Eager covenant cutters. But not for us alone Do You keep this agreement Naw Not for us who are here Today But for those of us Who are not here Today. I am praying for everybody.
For this deal that I set before you this day You know which one I mean It is not too far from you That you should say Who shall go for us. Nor is it too hard for you That you should say Who will do this for us. It is not in heaven And it is not hidden And it is not distant But right here Under your schnozzola It is in your mouth And in your heart It is sitting next to you on the bench Waiting with you for the bus It is standing on the corner In front of Starbuck's Waiting for the light to change. Close That you should do it. Look, No See, Look See
I have placed before you The life and the good And the death and the evil. So love Hashem God Walk like God Do the right things The simple things and the complex things Figure out what you can for yourself And be wise together Then you will multiply And God will grow you And bless you. But if you don't listen And fly away, I tell you I surely tell you I know that you will be lost And your days will not be lengthened On the land. So I call heaven and earth together To witness for you and against you I have placed life and death before you Blessing and curse. Choose life Choose blessing Love God Listen Glue yourself to God For God is your life And the length of your days. God promised your ancestors. God promised them.