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April 16, 2014 | 16th Nisan 5774

Power of Community

Hillel would say: Do not separate yourself from the community.

-Pirke Avot 2:4

 


 

 

Public Worship

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.

 

(Rabbi James Stone Goodman)

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