Parashat B’har-B’hukotai

Friday, May 15, 2020 /21 Iyar, 5780
Parashat B’har-B’hukotai Leviticus 25:1-27:34

Dear Friends,

Yesterday, I had the privilege of participating in a clergy workshop with the Central Conference of American Rabbis. My friend, the liturgical poet, Alden Solovy, led us in a prayer-writing exercise. Over the past few months, I know many of us have turned to writing as an outlet for our feelings. Many of us have turned to the prayers others have so beautifully written, which encapsulate the struggles and the blessings we have found in recent weeks. I have directed many community members to prayers posted on the Reform Movement’s website, which can be found here. As I’ve learned from Alden, though, very often the prayers we yearn for are the ones that we need to write.

How do we go about writing liturgical prayers? Alden began by asking us to free-write about our experiences over the past couple of months. What are we mourning for, and what have been moments filled with blessing? How are we taking care of ourselves, and how are we taking care of others? He asked about the significant moments in our lives and in the lives of community members. What did we do, and how did that feel? What has been our biggest source of surprise, and what are our sources of strength.

He then instructed us to write a liturgical poem based on our writings. As we enter into the day of rest, on Shabbat, I invite us all to take part in the practice. What is the prayer you long to offer?

I humbly share with you mine:

Av HaRachamim, Source of compassion,
Hold us in this hour of uncertainty.
When technology feels inadequate,
When we crave the embrace of loving hugs,
And the warmth of one another’s presence,
may we find comfort in knowing that you are there.
As the Shabbat candles flicker in our dining rooms,
and the aroma of Friday night dinner fills our homes,
may we feel linked to the larger Jewish community,
who take part in these customs from homes around the world.
May our Jewish traditions guide us and inspire us
creating moments of spiritual connection
that transcend our physical distance,
and refresh our souls.
This Shabbat may we be blessed to have
a Shabbat Shalom – A Shabbat of peace.

Shabbat Shalom,
Rabbi Cassi Kail