Episode 27: Finding Our Way Home (Amidah Middle Blessings 7&8)
6:30PM Jul 26, 2022
It can ignite, and all you gotta do is bring the light. Cause a new light to shine...
shalom, everyone. Welcome back to the light lab podcast. My name is Eliana Light. And I am here with my dear friends Cantor Ellen Dreskin. Hello, everybody, and Rabbi Josh Warshawsky.
So great to be with both of you and all of our listeners. And my question for us today is, What does home mean to you? And not? That's a very broad question. But we like a good crowd question here sometimes. What does home mean to you? I know it says I'm going to start but I'm not going to start. Josh,
what's it mean to you? What does home mean to me?
There are a whole bunch of things came to mind when when I when you first asked this question just now, one, because I don't know when this is coming out. But as we're recording this, I'm about to head what I always felt was really one of my homes, which is camp Ramah in Wisconsin. So place and memory has a lot of things that home mean to me. And also, most importantly, I think it's the people that that create that environment. So I'm sitting right here recording in my parents' basement, in a home that I did not grow up in, and that I have had I've never lived in for an extended period of time. But that already feels like home because I'm here with family home is I moved to Columbus, Ohio two years ago. And I it's never a place that I don't necessarily still feel settled. But it's home because that's where my, my wife and I are together. So home is a collection of people and memories and experiences that create deep connection.
That's beautiful. Josh, I think while you were talking, I was reflecting on my own relationship to camp, particularly the camp that I grew up at Camp Ramah Darom in Clayton, Georgia, and other places that feel like home to me and what the through line was the connected the mall and thinking of it as home is a place you return to. And that could be on every trip that could be once a year that could be only a couple of times in your life, but that there's some sort of orientation around it. So that when you arrive in it, it feels like you've returned somewhere. I'm thinking about what does it mean to return camp has that feeling Durham has that feeling. Last week I was in Memphis, Tennessee where I grew up. Also not in the house I grew up in but the synagogue that raised me, my mother actually celebrated the 51st anniversary of her Bat Mitzvah last week and it was beautiful. Mazel Tov, Mom, you were listening to this, it was great. And it felt like a return. Whereas, you know, sometimes you can visit a place for the first time and it feels like you've been there before and it feels like you're returning to something. Those kinds of places can also be home, but I think it's how we orient ourselves those places. Ellen, what are you thinking about?
got this image of of the snail carrying the home on their back. And having that feeling I also simultaneously thought of Elana Arian's composition, Ken Yehi Ratzon that the English line is May we find our way back home. And that, that there's there is that sense of return, but not necessarily to the same place. But returning to a place of of a familiarity I have for me, that is the summer camp, that's for me, that's a summer camp that doesn't exist anymore, but will always be home to me because it definitely is a place where I grew up. And also thinking about places like I'd go to Hava Nashira, every spring and have for 25 years. And this this conference, this retreat, each time feels like coming home. But it is a sense to definitely have a place where I am able to be myself is and just to say whatever happens.
This is me.
I love that. And I also love connecting it to the image of the snail with its home on its back. Because so much of the inner work I feel like I've been doing as an adult is figuring out how to make a home and myself. How can I be comfortable feeling like being myself, really wherever I am. It's certainly easier in some places than others, but it is actually possible no matter where we are. And, again, now that I say it out loud, I think the liturgy the Siddur is a kind of home for me. You know, I don't say traditional liturgy every day. If you listen to the podcast, you know that if you're new here, spoiler alert, I don't say the traditional liturgy every day and yet you It permeates my life. And it influences so much of how I think. And it's always there when I need it. When I returned to the Siddur, when I open it back up, or when a piece of liturgy comes to my mind, or to my heart, it feels like coming home, and it feels like it's always there. You know, with the proverbial arms open, waiting to welcome me, it's not going to scold me for having been away for so long. It's just glad to see me again. So I actually hope now I'm thinking on a meta way that this podcast can be a way for more people to feel at home, in the Siddur in the liturgy, so speaking of which, Amen. Oh Amen! That was a little prayer there wasn't it. so nice. Thank you, Josh, for making that a prayer with an amen, that's so sweet. Amen. Ellen, why don't you take us through this journey, we are still and will be for a significant amount of time, but we're okay with that. In the midst of our Amidah journey, where have we been Ellen? And
where are we going?
Oh, my goodness, so many places. And we'll carry carry our home with us. As we go through all of these themes that we've spoken about thus far. Just in the Amidah, we started off with our ancestors, connecting ourselves throughout time, investigating g?d's powers and being created in g?d's image, perhaps, what is holiness? We talked about knowledge, we talked about repentance and teshuva, return. What does that have to do with forgiveness? How is that a redeeming process? Is the redemption, a healing process, and just in our last episode, we took all of this to blessing for for either the land or the years simultaneously, this journey through time and space that we are on. Today's blessings are really interesting. Today, we're going to first take a journey, following our question about what does it mean to be home to what does it feel like to not be home specifically with this blessing that is named for or thematically is about ingathering of exiles, and I want to share some Hebrew and English with us of this particular blessing. And also, note that I had a real interesting time here, because I looked into different siddurim and actually found maybe entirely different we can decide blessings. But they do have a different chatimah for the same blessing. One the traditional blessing quote unquote, and the other from the reform Siddur Mishkan T'fillah And I'll read them both. And then I think that maybe we'll want to ask ourselves the question, Why are these two so very different from each other? And what does our liturgy have to say about world perspective amongst the movements amongst Jews amongst human beings? So that's my question as I go forward with this. So the traditional text as I'm reading it from Kol Haneshamah, the Reconstructionist Siddur says, T'ka B'shofar gadol l'cheiruteinu. V'sam neis l'kabeitz g'luyoteinu v'kabtzeinu yachad m'arba kanfot ha-aretz. baruch attah adonai m'kabeitz nidchei amo
yisrael. Okay in English,
it's translated here as sound the great shofar for our freedom. Raise up the banner for the gathering in of those in exile, and gather us together from the earth four corners. Blessed are You redeeming one who gathers Israel's dispossessed? When we look at Mishkan T'fillah We have this: T'ka B'shofar gadol l'cheiruteinu, v'sam neis gadol l' ashukeinu, v'kol dror yishama b'arbah kanfot ha'aretz. Baruch atah adonai, podeh ashukim
translated as, Sound, the great shofar to reclaim our freedom, raise a great banner for our oppressed, and let the voice of liberty be heard in the four corners of the earth. Blessed are you Adonai Who redeems the
oppressed. So I'd love to hear y'all's,
reactions responses to the fact that the Reform Siddur, first of all has, what's the blessing about? And why would the Reform Siddur make such radical changes perhaps.
There's a lot going on here that I've never experienced before been exposed to before, I think I've only ever heard the traditional tetx before. And I even think that I've prayed from the Mishkan T'fillah before and maybe because these brachot (blessings) would appear in this silent section, maybe I've closed the Siddur and just gone with what's in my head. And I haven't been able to notice something like this before. So I'm really grateful to be opened up to this other blessing that I'd never heard before. I think it's fascinating. And I think it makes sense. It talks a lot about you know, where the, you know, we're going to talk a little later on where the authors of these siddurim (prayerbooks) are coming from. And it makes a lot of sense that the that we pray for the things that that we most desire and the things that we believe in. And you know, this ingathering of exiles is something that I recognize from other places in the Siddur. What comes to mind most, at the top of my head is the Ahavah Rabbah paragraph before the Shema, we're at the end, we say "v'havieinu l'shalom m'arbah kanfot ha'aretz" And, you know, here we're all using that "m'arbah kanfot ha'aretz" language, bringing us together from all these four corners of the earth. What's interesting, I think, in both places, although I guess it's probably inferred, is that it doesn't actually say where we're being gathered to. So I wonder if there's a possibility to reinterpret what it means to be gathering up the exiles what it means to reunite whether it necessarily means let's reunite as a Zionist hope in the land of Israel, or what it means to come together as a unified people. So I'm wondering a little bit about that. I also, I don't know if I've heard the word ashukim in so many places, but I so I'm wondering where that that bracha chatimah came from.
I don't know if anybody else knows. I don't know
where it comes from. Originally, I went to my dictionary to look up the word itself, the root, and it and it is it's oppressed, but we don't hear it often. In our prayers. I'm trying to think of anywhere else that
I have heard this
word. Notein, mishkan l'ashukim
Which Psalm, is it. 146.
Do we want to check on that? Who has a siddur handy, I do? Okay. It's in the morning liturgy.
Oseh Mishpat L'ashukim. Notein Lechem This is this is the part of the podcast where we ruffle through our books. Alright, you got it Ekuaba. Ding ding ding. Well,
Winner winner, vegan chicken dinner.
Thank you, which, okay, Psalm 146. Do you want to read the line and translate that for us Josh?
So here in that this is right after the Ashrei there are these five psalms that complete the book of Psalms that we say every single day, as if we've said the entire book together. And right here at the end of this psalm. It's talking about all these things that g?d does. Oseh mishpat l'ashukim, notein lechem la'reievim. Adonai matir asurim. Adonai Pokeach Ivrim Adonai zokeif Kefufim adonai ohev tzadikim some of those might sound a little bit more familiar. Adonai who does secure justice for the oppressed, provides food for the hungry, releases the bound, give sight to the blind, straightens those who are bent low and love those who
act justly. Hmm.
I think that's really incredible as a new piece of intertext, right, because, like, we see every time we see mention of g?d's powers, g?d's powers are being used for the raising up of the oppressed. And so the blessing in the Mishkan T'fillah kind of really goes in that direction, thinking about the oppressed all over the world. In the book, "My People's Prayer Book" that we use a lot. It shows how the text has changed over the course of many years, because people were uncomfortable with the idea, especially in the United States, that we were in exile and needed saving even in Zionist enclaves in America, there's always this tension between, well, we're here, like we could go there. We're choosing not to, we're still here, and yet we are praying for some sort of ingathering. So this new intertext from the Psalms, makes it more about, it universalizes is it right, the oppressed that are all over the world and the oppressed that are within our people, or as the intertext for the traditional reading of this prayer comes from three different places in Isaiah and And in those three places, it's actually very particular about where we've come from and where we're going in a way that it doesn't have to say so in the brachah, so the first part comes from Isaiah 27:13, v'hayah bayom hahu yitakah b'shofar gadol u'vau ha'ovdim b'eretz ashur, v'hanidachim b'eretz mitzrayim there's a melody for this part. Ha, we did sneak music into this episode! v'hishtachavu ba'donai b'har haKodesh B'yerushalayim right. So where are we headed? B'yerushalayim, right. In that day, a great ram's horn shall be sounded, and the straight who are in the land of Assyria and the expelled who are in the land of Egypt, they'll come and worship the holy one on the holy mount in Jerusalem. So even if it doesn't say it in the prayer, I was thinking that also oh, we're all being united as one people. And when we have done that, that's when we will all be free. That's when we will be out of the proverbial exile. But if you look at the intertext it's pretty specific. Same thing with Isaiah 11:12 V'nasah neis and the same thing with Isaiah 56:8 neum adonai Elohim n'kabetz. n'kabetz nidchei amo Yisrael od ekabetz alav l'nikbetzav. actually like this declares the Lord g?d, it says in this translation who gathers the dispersed of Israel, I will gather still more to those already gathered, an acknowledgement that there are some people gathered in a place and the rest of them are going to the to that place, what do we make of that tension between the universal and the particular between here and there?
I think that it's certainly window opening a door opening to why the Reform Movement siddur would change this so drastically, because it's everybody, not everybody, but many people that you were just speaking about Eliana who, And I'll include myself in that group with connections to the land of Israel, to that part of the world, to my history, to my ancestry to my Jewish story connected there. And yet, being able to feel very strongly that that is not my home in a physical geographical kind of way. And this, so the idea of the oppressed opens it wide up, and also to the idea of going back to our opening question that home to be gathered,
not necessarily only a geographical or physical space, but a spiritual space as well. That "nidchei", the dispossessed I looked that one up too and, and found alternative meanings of of "Banished", which has the feeling of exile and being forced out and wanting to get back but also "seduced". So it makes me wonder even in the traditional sense, the the end gathering of those, the re-collecting of those who have been, dare I say led astray or seduced or influenced by by
things that are ultimately not home, and not going to feel like home or be healthy home. And so you know, how all of it blends together that in a spiritual sense, and I do have a red flag go up. It's just us Jews, and it's to a specific
A concept that I have found really meaningful actually comes from the Bundists in 1897. I found out but has resurfaced over the past many years. In certain kind of leftist enclaves is the idea of "doykeit," which is, which is a Yiddish word that means "here-ness", the idea of being here, wherever here happens to be, building a home, and making it a positive place for us to live, for Jews, to live, maybe even for everyone to live, making wherever we are home, which is one of the things I think has kept our people alive and around and vibrant, over the course of 1000s of years is being able to live where we are. And I do feel that tension between a pull to a particular place and a huge appreciation of world Jewry that there are Jews who have lived and survived and even thrived in different parts of the world. And that changes over the course of history. Sometimes places are safe and sometimes they are not and it almost seems like it can change in an instant. But what does it mean to work for the goodness of the place where we are. sometimes I identify myself as a "diasporaist" even, to say that I love and appreciate the fact that there are Jews all over the world and that we get to be part of this community. And in that sense, I would even maybe read this blessing for myself as a a spiritual in-gathering in a sense, you know, I talked on an earlier podcast about the difference between the Shema as a statement of oneness and the Aleinu "bayom hahu" "on that day" is a statement of future oneness and all of these, almost all these Isaiah quotes, or at least the intertext uses that language of "bayom hahu", "on that day" What's it going to take, and I love that we use in this prayer, the image of the shofar, the sounding of the shofar, and the rising of the banner, that these are things that we have to do, we have to, you know, clang the bell, as it were, and say, We need to be as one, so that we can make that "bayom hahu" of oneness happen. It means it takes out of it the idea of the oppressed, and is more about all of us, living in exile from the "echaditty" as you say, Ellen, from the oneness of it all.
I love the idea of
the spiritual in-gathering and what does that mean for us to think about it as coming home, where we to where we are, and making that place feel at home. And also, you know, I think we've been trying a lot to read some of these, both the way that they're written and also metaphorically taking them out of their context that we read in different ways. And, and what you're saying brings up to me a lot of different things about the period where we're in right now we're recording this episode, during pride month, in June. And I'm trying to read this now also as a as a, an individual prayer for a freedom that looks kind of like bringing the far flung aspects of ourselves together as one there are people that feel like they're on the margins of our Jewish community, our American community and, and what would it look like for those margins to be centered for us to be able to bring each one of us and for the people who feel it so many people have we all have various different parts of our identities? And how can we bring all those pieces of our identities together in the communities to make them feel home for us? What does that look like for home to be each one of us feeling like we can bring our whole selves?
I love that Josh. And I'm thinking both in this blessing and the next one, what does it take to actually do that it takes sounding the shofar, it takes being proud and that sense which is why we have pride at all. And it takes being vocal, it takes raising the banner, it takes marching and it takes representation, but then not to get ahead of myself. But in the next blessing we're going to talk about "mishpat," "justice", because it also takes laws and it also takes legislation and it also takes protections. It's one thing to say and to feel in your heart that all people deserve respect, and love and safety. And it's another thing to actually fight for those things within a system that makes it very, very difficult to fight for those things. So to think about where it Where are we what is our responsibility on this side of the covenant to actually make those things reality? And with that, we'll be right back.
Space to just be
Ken Yehi Ratzon, Ken Yehi Ratzon. may you find your way back home. Ken Yehi Ratzon
So as Eliana mentioned we move from this feeling and this connection of in-gathering and calling out the shofar and marching the justice system that we need to use to create these and enact these freedoms. The brachot (blessings) that we have here are an intentional order. So I'm going to read the bracha that we have here now. I'll read it in the in the Hebrew and then I'm again working from the Siddur Lev Shalem. So I'll read the translation. From there. We'll talk a little bit about what we notice what we're seeing or feeling based on
what happens in this bracha. And I think there might be another
text also I don't have the Mishkan T'fillah here but maybe Ellen you can read that one after this. Okay. Hashivah Shofteinu c'varishona, v'yoatzeinu k'vatechilah, v'haseir mimenu yagon v'anacha u'mloch aleinu atah Adoani L'vadcha b'chesed u'vrachamim v'tzadkeinu b'mishpat. Barcuh atah adonai melech ohev tzedakah u'mishpat. restore judges to us as in the early days and wise counselors as of old. Remove from us sorrow and anguish. May you alone adonai with kindness and compassion rule over us. May you find our cause righteous.
Baruch Atah Adonai, sovereign who loves justice and compassion. Beautiful.
I'll share with you what I found in Mishkan T'fillah. Al shoftei Eretz shfoch ruchachah, v'hadricheim v'mishptei tzidkecha u'moloch Aleinu atah l'vadcha b'chesed u'vrachamim, baruch atah adonai ohev tzedakah v'mishpat. It ends the same way begins a little bit differently by saying pour your spirit upon the rulers of all lands, guide them that they may govern justly. Oh may You alone rule over us in steadfast love and compassion. Blessed are you adonai who loves righteousness and judgment. Again, perhaps a generalization? I know, what
do we think about that?
I'm noticing a few things. The first thing I'm noticing is that, you know, I think a lot of the times the liturgy and in the Siddur that I have takes us back chadeish yameinu k'Kedem. Like let's think about the way that things happened of old and I think for the people who are reading this living in exile living under authorities that were very aggressive towards the Jews, they were looking for judges that would judge them in their in their idea as justly which in their time, I think they felt was very just in contrast to the Mishkan T'fillah which wants to pour out this, this spirit but not not take us back to the past, but figure out what Justice looks like now here in the present and into the future, which I like that, that that outlook. The other thing that I noticed is in the chatimah itself, the word "melech" appears in the Siddur Lev Shalem and does not appear in the Mishcan T'fillah I think, you know, in talking about the different g?d names that we use, when we're talking about this justice, wanting to find righteousness, b'chesed u'vrachamim to be judged with mercy. But that judgment coming up from on high. So I think this traditional viewpoint of g?d wants to talk about g?d there, place of kingship. And I think that idea doesn't always drive with the ways that we think about and connect to God.
We did a deep dive on "melech" as a name for g?d in back in episode four in the Modeh/Modah Ani episode. So listener, if you haven't gone there, it would be a good place to check out. But this tension of using something earthly as a metaphoric name for g?d as a poetic name for g?d, does it mean that we're saying g?d is like an earthly king? Or are we saying that our earthly kings should aspire to be like, g?d, g?d, and g?d's kingship in almost all the places that it mentions, is a king of tzedek and mishpat, of justice and righteousness. And my people's prayer book, it pointed out the fact that the judges kind of in the span of Jewish history came after the time of Joshua, and before the time of the kings. So it's Moses, Joshua, and then the judges time, and then the kings. And it's not even that the judges were always perfect, were that great, but that it meant that the people of Israel were different than the other nations that g?d was the ultimate melech, the ultimate King, and that the role of the judges was to distill from what was handed down from the Holy One and put it into action in the world, and that some of that was lost, and that some of the prophets saw having a king at all as a rejection of g?d. But it got me also thinking of what does it mean to have the Holy One or to have g?d or g?dliness, as how we rule ourselves as human beings in the modern age, because certainly we can think of many issues in our day where people are legislating what they think g?d wants them to do. And that doesn't jive often with what I think the Holy One would want us to do or how we want to treat each other. But that gets into kind of these thornier, these thornier issues. I know we
talk a lot about, you know, kings and laws. I'm thinking about the word "judge" and how often we I mean, our culture today and what we're living through, we lived in a very, perhaps a culture of blame, we talk about a lot or trying to look at things non judgmentally and how difficult that is in this day and age. And I think I like this image in Mishkan T'fillah of "shfoch ruchahah", asking the Divine One to just pour spirit on folks who were judging, you know, perhaps garb their, their perspectives in you know, both renditions or or both of these blessings, their interpretations get us from tzedek and mishpat to chesed and rachamim, that there needs to be that sort of balance. And it's not all one or the other. I appreciate that very much. And also thinking that it throughout history that Jews didn't want to be praying under one regime for the overthrow of that regime and that the old days should come back. And that for for for Jews to make it more praying for wherever we might be, as opposed to a return to where we used to be is a a healthy attitude as well.
I wanted to mention that I wonder if Josh this is what you were thinking of too which is "shfoch ruchachah" immediately brings me back to the Haggadah to the Passover Seder. And "shfoch chamatcha" which is not an uncontroversial piece of the Seder liturgy, "pour out Your wrath", where we open the door and kind of implore g?d, all right, smite our enemies are ready, like, come on. We spent this all night talking about our exodus from Egypt. We're still kind of in a pickle. And and we might even be safer because we're not at a synagogue. We're not at a public gathering space. We're in our private homes, and maybe now we feel comfortable saying, "pour out Your wrath upon the people who are out to get us." and how changing it to "shfoch bruchachah" And like maybe I think intentionally playing upon that language. It's saying right, "shfoch chamatcha" entered the Haggadah at a particular time, and a particular place where Jews were outwardly persecuted. You know, it's like the Aleinu, right, the Aleinu has some of that very strong, get rid of our enemies, imagery. And in the next group of middle blessings, we're going to see one of those get rid of our enemies blessings, because it was the middle ages in it was not great to be a Jew in certain places in the Middle Ages. And by using "shfoch bruchachah", it's almost saying we're in a different place. Now. We're in a different seat of power now. And it's so hard, at least for me, I hold this tension with, we do have more power here in North America than we ever have. And we have to a certain degree, money and safety and prestige, and also anti semitic attacks are on the rise. And Jews have the most attacks against them out of any other religious group. And those two things kind of existing side by side, and where that power actually lies where we are right now.
Yeah, I think there's so much in everything you're saying I was also going to pick up the "shoch chamatcha". And also some of the siddur, the haggadot that I've seen lately that change that language to "ahavatcha" right to "pour out your love", and what it looks like to change now that we're feeling like we have a little bit more autonomy and power to not just be pouring out wrath, but to be reaching out with love from a position of power from a position not of just feeling below. And the other thing that the "shfoch ruchachah"made me think of was parshat b'ha'alotcha, which I guess by the time this airs we'll have read a couple of weeks ago, where the people of Israel are complaining and complaining. And Moses feels totally distraught. Because they want so much meat and they're out in the desert. They remember all this stuff that they apparently ate in Egypt. And g?d says you shouldn't have to deal with this people by yourself. I'm going to come down and I need you to bring 70 people 70 elders, and what you're going to what I'm going to do is "v'atzalti min ha'ruach asher alecha", I'm going to take some of the Ruach that's on you. And I'm going to put it on all these other people. And so I think what's happening here is, is we're taking some of this authority that comes from g?D and understanding that we have our own autonomy now and we can we as judges, as people who are in positions of power, can be using some of this spiritual Ruach to enact change, to enact justice to enact mercy and compassion.
I think that's beautiful. And in a way, it also, if we take this kind of universal understanding, even within us as a particular Jewish people from the previous blessing to say that our justice, justice for us is not actually going to come unless it's tied towards justice for everyone, that it's not about us versus other groups, that our fate is bound together because we are of one earth and our freedom, and our spiritual in-gathering depends on everybody being a part of that. And what does it mean to actively fight for a justice system that works for what one might call actual justice? Or this tzedek u'mishpat this justice and righteousness that work together. It may be getting
too far into the weeds here, I'm not sure to talk about, I hear a difference between
"justice" and "judgment."
And, you know, shoftim are our judges who, first and foremost, hopefully, employ listening skills and taking in of all the perspectives and then passing judgment or, or or it may come forth in. Judges don't make laws, they're not legislators, but they are advisors and if the judgment is filled with that ruach, that I think it makes a big difference between between the judges almost acting as perhaps prophets, to the the actual law makers, in our thinking American government now and you know, the Justice Department versus the executive branch, etc, that, that it's in partnership, and hopefully with something bigger than us, pouring upon us, I went to verse that I know for shfoch and pouring out, "shivchi k'mayim Libech", which is actually from Lamentations. I just looked it up, but about pouring out one's heart, like water, and that this honest outpouring in
and hearing of that leads to righteous judgment. That was very poorly said, No, it was beautiful, Ellen, it really was you pour it out your words like water, or something like that? No, really, that got me thinking also about the difference between judgment and justice, or justice often has an aspirational element to it. Right? We would have actual justice in a system that, you know, fill in the blank for whatever you think the system might be, but that justice is a should. And judgment is based on what is and what we have. Now. I also that got me thinking about the difference between tzdakah and tzedek, and mishpat, which I think so often come together in a pair and are translated in different ways. Sometimes tzedek or tzedakah, is translated as Justice. "tzedek tzedek tirdof" is often translated as "Justice Justice you shall pursue." but then when "mishpat" enters the picture, then mishpat is translated as justice or judgment. Either of you knowing way more about Hebrew grammar and roots, then I want to take a crack at the difference between tzedek and mishpat,
I can make a lot of judgments personally, that would not be considered necessarily righteous.
And so I think that that
you know, my individual kingdom here, or what rules over and what is pouring out over my daily moments of judgment. I'm trying to think about the difference between a "tzadik" and a "shofet." That's how I between someone who is considered righteous, and one who is considered a
judge. I like
that. And I think it's also interesting to notice how "chesed" and "rachamim," loving kindness and compassion show up here, this middle line was not found in the Cairo geniza fragments of the Amidah so perhaps it was added later.
making that a part of justice and righteousness and whatever system we have loving kindness and compassion, how it's not separate. It's not two different polls. This always takes me back to Les Mis And Javert representing strict judgment and the justice system and Valjean representing love and compassion, which some might have seen as Old Testament God versus New Testament God. But in fact, what we are learning more and more, thank you, Rabbi Shai Held is that Judaism is a religion of love. And ours is a Holy One of love, that they're actually very intertwined. And they should be. So how can we have our justice with our righteousness with our loving kindness with our compassion all together?
That imagery of Javert and Jean Valjean, I think it it, it echoes in our liturgy also, right when we're when we talk about g?d on the High Holidays, and we try and think about asking for mercy and asking for forgiveness and atonement, the imagery that comes up over and over again, and the thing that we petition g?d to do is get up from g?d's chair of justice, and go sit on g?d's Chair of love and mercy. And I think that that what you're saying about the kind of Judaism the child says, we believe in, it's the Judaism where g?d is sitting on that chair of love and mercy is much more often than in the past in the biblical god who sat in that chair of justice.
Or like, according to the Psalms, g?d's chair is tzedek and mishpat, righteousness and justice all together "tzedek u'mishpat mechon kiso." One of my favorite images in all of the psalms that we get in our Kabbalat Shabbat service as well, dense clouds around g?d's throne, righteousness and justice are the throne itself. That is what g?d is sitting on. And Ellen, I love that you invited us to bring that back into our own selves, we make judgments all the time. And it's an important part of what it means to be human to be able to assess for danger to be able to assess for safety. So often, our assessments of danger come at a cost, or our eyes aren't totally open, or we're using all of the kind of cultural baggage that we've been given to make those judgments and what does it mean to try to make judgments from a place of righteousness, knowing that we still do after make judgments in order to live our lives? But how can we just as we would ask a sham, the Holy One to make judgments from a place of righteousness? How can we do the same as well, I love that.
I like the idea that in the most positive way, I think that all of these are moving targets that jumping on the Les Miz Train, Javert's downfall is that shall there can only accept one, right.
And, and does
not leave any flexibility or, or taking into account one's surroundings or the passage of time, or human nature or mercy and kindness. That including all of this being permeable being open is most important here.
Amen. And with that, we'll be right back.
We're coming back together after a really fascinating conversation about these two brachot right here in the middle of our Amidah. And in-gathering of bring ourselves a bringing people together, an end to exile, and prayer for justice, or mercy and compassion. So as we bring our podcast to a close today, we're going to just take a moment to bring these pieces together and bring them home for ourselves. So if you're sitting in a place that you can put your feet on the ground, and feel connected to whatever you're sitting on, with your palms up or your palms down, receiving or giving, we're just going to take a moment to just feel these words within our bodies, starting from our toes.
Reaching out to the farthest part of ourselves. You feel the ground beneath your feet, and you feel the interconnectedness. You're grounded. And I'm grounded. We're all here touching the same earth. moving all the way up from our ankles, up into our legs, feeling what it might feel like to be held to be balanced, to feel supported underneath our feet. To the joints within our knees that help us move up a smart up a stand tall. And help us sit in comfort all the way up to our hips. Moving up to the rest of our body of your chest and feeling out into our arms and our fingertips. The farthest you can reach the biggest wingspan you can possibly give yourself, make yourself feel really big, feel really whole feel really full. And then pull that energy back within yourself. As we reach all the way up into our heart. We feel the energy gathering from all the pieces, the disparate pieces of ourselves. Gathering back into our heart center. And knowing what it feels like to be loved, to feel love, to accept love.
We make our way up to our head and our neck lifting all the way around feeling yourself move and be held to our lips and our know our eyes and our brains.
We've talked about gathering ourselves from the the farthest corners of who we are. Each piece of our identity, feeling at home Feeling centered, feeling love? What would it feel like to take those feelings of judgment when we judge ourselves? Think about our own faults, our own lacked our own in efficiencies and effectiveness? How could we turn those feelings? Step off of our own seat of judgment of ourselves into a state of love, and compassion? What does it feel like to turn those feelings of judgment into feelings of acceptance, the feelings of embrace the feelings of connection, and comfort, and support. Bring all those disparate pieces of yourself and find a way to build them all up together to fill yourself up with love. To fill yourself up with support. Breathe it in. And once you do, think about how we can resonate that back out into the world. Once you feel accepted in yourself, how can you take that and open yourself up, open your arms, open yourself up, open your heart up to acceptance of others to in gathering of our disparate communities to feeling like we can all be at home, all in one bite in one house together with it up with our full selves present. Take one last moment to breathe it all in together let out those feelings. lift yourself up. When you're ready. Come back and join us
Wow, Josh, that was so beautiful. Thank you so much for taking us inward and shining the love outward. It is once we have accepted and shown love to ourselves that it is much easier to turn it outward and show love and acceptance.
The world. Thank you.
Thank you so much for listening. My friends. This is probably the last episode Jeff will be with us for a couple of months as he is about to head out to visit some very lucky camps and then heading back home. I think back home some paternity leave might be in his future. Your listener. Maybe we'll just say that. So Josh, it's just been so great to have you and we're so excited when we can connect and nerd out over to be law again.
Amen to that. I'll miss being on the chair. It's so special.
I get to spend this time together.
Thanks for the opportunity. Excited to return.
Yes, so a special tri-vruta, tri-chevruta three-vruta. It's such a wonderful thing. And we'll have some other special guests and interviews. Don't worry, we're not going anywhere. We're so grateful for you for listening for sharing for supporting us as we work to make Siddur home for all of us. Thank you so much, Ellen for being with us. As always,
my pleasure My pleasure Or Chadash Al tzion ta'ir....