Shekhinah: Birchot Hashachar (Morning Blessings)

(return to Shekhinah: the Presence)

Click on the image to your right >>
to purchase Shekhinah: the Presence. >>

Shekhinah: the Presence
Shekhinah: the Presence

Section 2 of “Shekhinah: The Presence” by Joseph Zitt
This is an unedited scan of the text, courtesy of Josh Ronsen
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

There in the dreamworld
the distant spheres
the world whose name
  is formed before our eyes
  by the letters that float there
  when we shade them
  when we shut them
  when we turn our souls
    toward the outside within
  in creation
  in meditation
  in prayer

we crouch
close to the ground
absorbing magic from the earth

as we slide along the water
across, along, above each other,
our simply being near each other
blending spirits,
like a remote caress

as we slide along the water
from the darkness into the light
  as we emerge
  and we brush against the rushes
  as we roll, roll along the banks
  seeing each other,
    the water,
    each other,
    the sky
  the black of the riverbed,
  the black of the night,
  the white of the foam,
  the white of the clouds,
  the blue of the water,
  the blue of the day,
  the black then blue then white
    of expanding circles
    in each other’s eyes,
  as if our world were woven from
  the strands of the prayer shawl
  of an unseen mystic

Here in the prayer hall
we speak our words
  just loudly enough
  to be sure that
  we have spoken them correctly,
now pausing for breath
stand and rock slightly
  to the unmetered rhythms
  of our long-prescribed speech,

speak words of praise to the one
who designed our bodies
  and sculpted our souls
who created the animals,
  earth, and the air.

for giving us the duty of prayer,
for giving us what freedom we have,
for giving us the sight
  and clothes
  and guidance
  and strength

for giving us the knowledge
  of good from evil
  of love from hate
  of the world of dreams
    from the world of law
    as we slide along the water
      a basket, a raft,
      a small padded platform

    on which rests a girlchild
    asleep, silent,
    newly formed
    from the dreams of the creator

    a token on his presence
    her hair trailing in the water
    like the light from the tail of a comet

    on her face the gentle smile
    of one who has only known heaven
    her limbs unmoving
    yet speaking in their stillness
    of the potential energy of joy
    waiting for her wakening

    as we slide along the water
    summoned toward the doorway
      in the pillar of smoke
      to which the water flows
    summoned by the voices
      of those who praise
      our common creator
      in ancient words of
hidden power
    summoned toward the doorway
      to which
      at the end of days,
      all doors will lead

and we read the prescribed sections
  of the books of the Bible
  of the books of law
  of the books of the secrets
    of our creation

  of how Abraham was called
    to throw away his only son
    (as if Ishmael,
    not yet lost in the wilderness,
    somehow didn’t count)
  of how Sarah stopped laughing
    when she feared the death of her child,
  of how the creator called it off
    when he saw that Abraham would obey,
  of how Abraham,
    seeing his child allowed to live
    knew he had found a god
    that he could follow

      listening to the voices
        proclaiming the creator
        we slide forward to the door

  of how Moses was commanded
    how one must prepare
    to approach the altar of sacrifice
  of how Aaron was told
    what he must kill,
    and where and when,
  of how they prepare the fragrances
    to rise into the air

      we approach the pillar
      and in the margins
        between shadow and smoke
      we slide our child onward

  of how our teachers fondly described
    in minute detail the Temple laws
  of how they prayed
    when the Temple was gone
    and there was no home for sacrifices
  of how they replaced
    fire with learning
    slaughter with prayer
    the Temple with the hall of worship

      and bidding farewell
        to the water
        for the moment
      we drift into the doorway
        to the voices
        to the world that awaits outside
        far from the heaven
        far from dreams

  of how we now determine
    the workings of the law
  and yet we pray we may return
    to the Temple
    to the sacrifices
    to the vivid rituals
    that would speak more clearly
and yet we praise the one
  who placed us where we are today:

Glorified, sanctified is the great name!

      Glorified, sanctified is the great name!

      The voices, in the holiest of prayers,
      pull us onward through
      the doorway that divides
        the temporary
          from the infinite
        the light of love
          from the light of day
        the distances
            between hand and hand
          from the nearness
            of soul to soul

      Glorified, sanctified is the great name!

      into the solid
      onto the dry land
      into what those who dare not dream
        call the real world

      as we pass through the door
      our transitions unseen
      by those who clothe their souls in earth

      we take on temporary flesh
      and moving
        to their voices
        by the creator’s will

      we emerge.

(return to Shekhinah: the Presence)