I quell many thoughts competing for my attention as I sit in the temple. I have come to worship, not to mull over the mundane of life. The morning sun reflects pink and gold tones upon the white Jerusalem stone, as the rabbis remove the Scroll from the Ark, their prayer tassels sway as they bend and lift with tender care.
Rustling pages soften the stark silence of the large sanctuary as we find our places in the prayer book.
Celebrating the walk of the Torah around the sanctuary, I rise with the worshippers. The rabbi carries God’s Holy Word upon his shoulders and weaves among the rows, outstretched hands rippling as he passes. The Scroll, inscribed in Hebrew and made holy by content, sweeps by me; I press forward to touch it, bringing fingers back to my lips with a kiss of sweet honey. Tears fill my eyes.
A gesture once strange is now precious.
Focusing on the ancient liturgy, I sit and rise with those around me. I cant the Hebrew words that expose human failing and bring life–that call me higher. There is supernatural power in the syllables–bigger than the problems I face, the pain I bear… they pour over me like warm oil. I bask, taking time to taste, to hold God’s Words in my mouth. I yield as they purify my lips and cleanse my palate from the bitterness of the week.
The mystery of this ample space, concealed in a narrow world, enlargens my soul.
The rabbi remembers the fallen in Israel, gunned down a few days ago. We stand and say Kaddish–a Jewish prayer for mourners that never mentions the dead or death. A prayer that extols the power and majesty of God alone.
For thousands of years, Jews have recited this prayer in the lowest times of their lives. I enter their living stream of praise that trickled from creation and surges until today.
May His great Name grow exalted and sanctified
in the world that He created as He willed. May He make His kingship reign
in your lifetimes and in your days, and in the lifetimes of all the Jewish people,
swiftly and soon. Now respond: Amen.
May His great Name be blessed forever and ever.
Blessed, praised, glorified, exalted, extolled,
mighty, upraised, and lauded be the Name of the Holy One, Blessed is He.
beyond any blessing and song,
praise and consolation that are uttered in the world. Now respond: Amen.
May there be great peace from Heaven,
and life upon us and upon all Israel. Now respond: Amen.
He Who makes peace in His Heavens, may He make peace
upon us and upon all Israel. Now respond: Amen.
As I leave the temple, God’s love and power comforts me; it is greater than the chaos and suffering in the earth. God’s Word became flesh, and that flesh piecrced for my sins… the sins of unjust murderers… the sins of humanity.
I have found the quiet center.