On the eve of this year's first meeting with Randall, the student hazzan who will co-lead our high holiday services with me, I found myself humming the weekday evening liturgy...in the nusach, the melodic mode, of the Days of Awe. This is one of the ways in which my years in the ALEPH rabbinic ordination program rewired my brain! As soon as the high holidays are even a glimmer of future on the far horizon, their melodic waves lift me up.
I've been continuing to revise Days of Awe, the machzor which I released last year in pilot form. (More about that in another post.) One of my changes has been swapping out the poems which had previously appeared at the beginning of each section of the shofar service. I wrote those poems years ago, and one of my congregants suggested to me that we could use something new in that place.
I am indebted to my friend and teacher Rabbi Daniel Siegel for his writings on the three themes of the shofar service: sovereignty, remembrance, and the shofar itself. I commend to you his posts Malchuyot, Zichronot & Shofarot and especially Malchuyot, Zichronot, & Shofarot Take Two. Rereading those posts and marinating in those teachings (and also marinating in Reb Zalman z"l's teachings about the shofar and its spiritual meanings, as collected and cited in a variety of places, including the Jewish Renewal Hasidus blog) informed these poems greatly.
These poems will appear in the second edition of Days of Awe, though if they speak to you, you're welcome to use them even if you're not using the rest of the machzor.
What does it mean
to proclaim Your sovereignty
when we don't understand kings?
Before the Big Bang, there was You.
In the old year
we allowed habits to rule us.
Help us throw off that yoke
so our best selves may serve You.
Help us surrender. The cosmos
is not under our control.
Help us fall to our knees
and find home in Your embrace.
Let Your power increase in the world.
Help us be unashamed of yearning.
Strengthen our awe and our love
so our prayers will soar.