Hatred of Haters and Turbulent Branching of Thoughts

Put an end to the hatred of haters
those who have made me their foe

Search me out with shovel and torchlight, God
know my heart by means of compassion.

Understand the turbulent branching of my thoughts.

See the road that brings me sadness,
and lead me instead on the path of eternal life.
— Ps. 139:22-24
translation is by Pamela Greenberg,
The Complete Psalms: The Book of Prayer Songs in a New Translation. NY: Bloomsbury, 2010

Psalm 139 is one that Jews use at times of trouble to ask for guidance. Eight years ago, just about this time, Pamela Greenberg gave permission for a DC-based group to use her translation for a program in solidarity with Women of the Wall. Many of the sentiments expressed at that time of trouble are just as applicable to this Elul. And her translation of the psalms has provided much solace and challenge in the intervening eight years. Several verses are illustrated here with a particular prayer intention for my hometown of 30 years at this time of unrest and a prayer for all who are experiencing “turbulent branching of thoughts” and seeking an “end to the hatred of haters.”

The new month begins on August 11-12.

new moon shofar

Description of graphic: a sliver of a bright new moon in a dark sky in the background, with the central image a shofar with a single twist near its mouthpiece at the bottom left and its horn upward near the top right. Below the shofar are the words in English, “Put an end to the hatred of haters,” and the Hebrew from Ps. 139:22 — תַּכְלִית שִׂנְאָה שְׂנֵאתִים

Scrolling across the shofar are the words, also from Greenberg’s translation of Psalm 139: Understand the turbulent branching of my thoughts [lettering here includes “branches” that reach up to entwine]. See the road that brings me sadness and lead me instead on the path of eternal life.

Under the shofar is a simple new month prayer for Elul: Help us Renew our lives at the new moon and for the new year to come.

New Year: (Re-)New Relationships

Prepare for the new Jewish year by joining with others working to “Stop the Hate” in the last weeks of 5778. The #AllOutDC rally celebrates a united, diverse community and promotes further work to dismantle white supremacy.

The rally is “creating a space for our movements to establish relationships with one another, learn from each other’s experiences, acknowledge and dismantle oppression within our spaces, and build a more loving, more powerful community in DC.” Participating in and/or financially supporting this fully-permitted gathering in Freedom Plaza on August 12 is a useful way to mark Rosh Hodesh Elul and begin the work needed for a better new year.

StopGraphic.jpg

Our very existence is resistance and we are coming together to celebrate ourselves, our ancestors, and our generations to come, through our voices, art, music, community members, and accomplices. We will not destroy white supremacy on August 12th, but we are part of the local and global ongoing resistance to those who wish us harm.

The #AllOutDC rally announcement continues:

“We will join together to chip away at these hateful forces, and build a world of justice and love. We will be there in peace and solidarity, but we will not back down.

“We need you to come out and join us to show that we will love and defend each other. We’ll rally in solidarity to protect our communities and reject racism, sexism, transphobia, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, ableism, and all forms of hate and oppression.

“We will show a united community in the face of alt-right hate.”

In addition to Freedom Plaza rally, other approaches include a three-day mobilization organized by Black Lives Matter DC and direct action from #DefendDC. Actions are also planned in other locations affected by “unite the right” calls and/or standing in solidarity with “Stop the Hate” work.

“You set the patterns of the moon”

El Adon and Another Pinchas Addendum


(5) Glory and honor they give to You
glowing praises to Your rule
You call to the sun and it gives forth light
You set the patterns of the moon

(6) You are honored throughout the heavens with songs of glory and praise
[the Seraphim, Ophanim and holy beings ascribe glory and greatness]

Shevach notnim lo kol tz’va marom
[tiferet ugdulah serafim ve’ofanim vechayot hakodesh]

— from “El Adon,” a hymn of Creation
in the Shabbat and Festival morning services
translation from Mishkan T’filah,
[MT inexplicably omits the final (“tiferet“) line]

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Is There a Cloak Big Enough?

An evolving midrash on Fabrangen‘s Omer Blog is exploring the idea of eating the fruit — honoring the essential Torah of an individual or community — while discarding the rind: In the case of the talmudic era Elisha ben Abuyah, the “rind” is understood as outright apostasy, but his student/friend Meir continues to defend and enjoy the fruit.

Even beyond the “fruit/rind” strategy, Rabbi Meir insists on redeeming his friend/teacher by spreading his cloak over Acher as Boaz did to redeem Ruth, welcoming the other.

Can this same strategy be employed between Jewish communities with apparently intractable differences of practice and belief? A truly welcoming cloak would have to leave room for the other to be other: is there a cloak that big?
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The Whole World Is Watching

I was young during the 1968 Democratic National Convention, when my hometown police violently arrested protestors in Grant Park. I grew up thinking that a chant of “The whole world is watching” and a little press coverage were important tools in social change. And I listened to the Chicago Transit Authority album so often that the words of the “Someday (August 29, 1968)” still come to mind unbidden whenever I witness or learn about police/state violence.

Someday you will see how long we’ve waited for the time
to show you how we’ve got to get together with you all

Songs of Hallel.  Photo: D. Tepfer

Songs of Hallel outside Israeli Embassy, 3/11/13, Rosh Hodesh Nisan, in solidarity with Women of the Wall. Photo: D. Tepfer

This morning (3/12/13), for the first time in months, Women of the Wall in Jerusalem was able to pray without arrest. Most likely the presence of the several Knesset members, secular women who joined in solidarity, prevented arrest. But there were also the prayers and notoriety generated here in Wash, DC and in other U.S. cities.

Although there were no arrests, WOW had to pray through the shouting and taunts of hundreds of men and some women who believe WOW is “desecrating a holy site” with their worship. Lack of arrest does not mean the healing, on either side of the situation, is done.

But Women of the Wall in Israel is international and cross-denominational. Washington Friends of Women of the Wall includes men and women, and yesterday’s solidarity gathering included Conservative, havurah, Orthodox, Reconstructionist, Reform, Renewal, transdenominational and unaffiliated Jews participating. This, we hope and pray, will be part of getting us all to “Someday.”

Prayers for the New Month of Nisan

Merciful God, the outside world is full of bustle and turmoil.
You are close to us everywhere, but the burdens and obstacles of daily life can rise as a barrier between our hearts and You.
In rituals of wrapping those barriers disappear.
Wrapping reminds us of Your precious constant love,
helps us feel the safety and security of your protecting hand.

These words, in spirit of Fanny Neuda‘s “On Entering the Synagogue,” introduce Washington friends of Women of the Wall‘s “Tallit Solidarity Ceremony.” This will be offered as part of the gathering in solidarity with Women of the Wall on March 11 at the Israeli Embassy. Please join us in person or in spirit.

"Save us from Women of the Wall!" [photo from WoW's Facebook page]

“Save us from Women of the Wall!” [photo: WoW’s Facebook page]

Meanwhile, WoW reports on their Facebook page that these posters [Pashkevillim] appear in Jerusalem in advance of their monthly service:

“Help! The Western Wall is being trampled and desecrated by a group of women called “Women of the Wall” who are requesting to desecrate the Western Wall on Tuesday Rosh Hodesh Nisan 5773 at 7 am. Male and female worshippers, please attend Rosh Hodesh prayers at the Western Wall on that day and protest against this desecration of holiness. All those who consider important the place from which the Shechina will never move should come to raise your voice and protest.” [translation by Pam Frydman]

Today, Women of the Wall
and so many of our brothers and sisters around the world,
struggle to find the peace in worship we so often take for granted.
Today, we unfurl the garments that, for many of us, contribute
to our individual and collective sense of sanctuary.
We are grateful for the rights we enjoy, even while aware
of the many who do not yet enjoy them.

For those who choose: Unfurl your prayer shawl at this point. Hold it aloft… but do not wrap yourself in its shelter.

For with You is the fountain of life.
In Your light we see light. (Psalms 36:10)

Hashem, our God, Fountain of Life and Light, help us see one another more clearly through Your light. Bring more light to our leaders in the U.S., in Israel, and around the world. Today, our shoulders go unprotected by our sheltering garments as we stand in solidarity with Women of the Wall and all who struggle for the freedom of religious practice. We remember the words of Proverbs: “Listen, my child, to your father’s instruction, and do not forsake your mother’s teaching.” We pray: May Your Sheltering Presence fill the world, soon and in our time. And let us say: Amen.

For those who choose: Lower prayer shawls at this point.

May the month of Nisan,
with its particular promise of freedom of religious practice,
renew us all in our own religious practices, in our tolerance
for other practices, and in our efforts to promote understanding
and justice in our own communities and beyond them.
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