Elizabeth and Devorah rejoice in finishing the High Holy Days. As they prepare for Sukkot, Elizabeth reflects on the strange intersection between the happiness of the season and the bitter and divisive tone in our country. Hope, Hope, Hope and be grateful for the gifts of the season!
The. Vidui-Ashamnu: When We Have to Wait for Teshuva
Elizabeth and Devorah are back this week during the 10 Days of Teshuva between RH and YK bringing you new harmonies for the well-known “alphabet of woes.” Elizabeth debunks the age-old myth that we are in control of our own journeys toward reconciliation. In waiting for the cosmos to align, for people to choose to atone, and thus for true reconciliation to occur, we must be patient and remain steadfast-we must choose hope and find peace in our ourselves.
Ki Anu Amecha v’ata Elohaynu
We are your people and you are our God
Devorah explores the intersection of identity and naming in this central prayer of the Yom Kippur liturgy. Relationship is at the core of who God is for us and who we are to God. Further, how can we understand “king” and “lord” in this beautiful piyyut (liturgical poem)? Taking us back to the history of the intent of these roles, Devorah sets a challenge for herself and offers one to us. In the end, however we name the relationship, we are all in it together.
Shema Koleynu is one of the most powerful prayers on Yom Kippur.
“Hear us o God and do not leave us alone. Respond to us and do not forsake us!”
The High Holy Days are filled with prayers that invoke our need for God in our lives. But what about people who don’t relate to any form or concept of God? What does it mean for a Jew who doesn’t believe to stand up on Yom Kippur and say, “Hear our pleas, O God”?
Elizabeth explores this question through the lens of the High Holy Day “Shema Koleynu.”
In the age of doubt and true skepticism, the answer might be found in the strength of individuals who make up the diverse tapestry of a Jewish community.
The 13 attributes of God, in Hebrew called the middot, can be found in Exodus 34:6. Two biblical chapters after the Israelites commit the grave sin of building a golden calf and worshipping in its midst.
The Talmud explains that God gave Moses a way to appease divine anger by reciting these attributes and since then, Jewish people have had access to a special way appeal to God to forgive our sins. We recite these holy words at auspicious times when we hope to find God ready to accept us with love.
However, we are not always in the right place to be loving. Devorah explores righteous anger that may be holding us back from forgiveness and a clean slate.
The 13 middot demonstrate that is not anger that we should be afraid of, but rather its excesses. As God models turning back from excessive anger, so too can we follow this example. The 13 middot show us the way.
Exodus 34:6 וַיַּעֲבֹ֨ר יְהוָ֥ה ׀ עַל־פָּנָיו֮ וַיִּקְרָא֒ יְהוָ֣ה ׀ יְהוָ֔ה אֵ֥ל רַח֖וּם וְחַנּ֑וּן אֶ֥רֶךְ אַפַּ֖יִם וְרַב־חֶ֥סֶד וֶאֱמֶֽת ׀
The LORD passed before him and proclaimed: “The LORD! the LORD! a God compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in kindness and faithfulness, [Sefaria]
Hashivenu....Return to us, and we will return to you. The Selichot / the Sorries begin Saturday night. There is so much on our plates this year but we need to take the time to hit the “restart” button in our souls. Return again to the land of our Souls.
Elizabeth reflects on a hard day at the intersection of Elul and the preparation for the Holy Days. We can’t control anyone’s actions but our own. Have compassion on us, our God, and help us to be better as we approach the High Holy Days.
Psalm 27:13. Alaskan Residents Stranded in Spokane, Clairvoyance, and a Bridge to High Holy Day Liturgy
לׅׄוּלֵׅׄ֗אׅׄ הֶ֭אֱמַנְתִּי לִרְא֥וֹת בְּֽטוּב־יְהוָ֗ה בְּאֶ֣רֶץ חַיִּֽים׃
Had I not the assurance that I would enjoy the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living… Psalm 27:13 [Sefaria]
Elizabeth ponders what it means to see God’s goodness in the land of the living—The most powerful of holy day prayers—U’netaneh Tokef asks us to face the reality that some of us won’t make it to the next Rosh Hashana. It is a terrifying prayer and also somewhat cathartic. Isn’t better to just have it out there that we might not make it? That we don’t have unlimited time on this earth and that putting things off might leave some seriously unfinished cosmic business.
Hineni.Space posts brief daily offerings (Elul meditations, reflections, poetry, and melodies). There is a tradition to hear the shofar every day of the month of Elul and to recite the verses of Psalm 27.