DAY 8: WHAT IT MEANS TO PRAY
The judge sees through you like an X-ray.
Let your heart give up its secrets.
This is what it means to pray:
to discern the subtle workings of
—let's call it soul, although the word
is imprecise, and may evoke
incense and crystals. I gravitate
toward this old-fashioned leather strap
twined ten times around my arm
but use the tools
that help you pry your ribs apart
and offer up what beats inside.
Listen: everyone's reciting
through time and space
Your glory shines, Majestic One.
Today is the eighth day of the Omer, making one week and one day of the Omer. This is the 8th day of our 49-day journey between Pesach and Shavuot, liberation and revelation.
In working on today's poem, I found myself paying particular attention to rhythm. This is a good one to read aloud.
This second week of the Omer, in the kabbalistic paradigm, is the week of gevurah -- boundaried strength or discipline. That drew me to the image of God as Judge, which in turn reminded me that the Hebrew word which means to pray, להתפלל / l'hitpallel, literally means to judge oneself or to discern oneself.
The final two lines are Reb Zalman z"l's rendering of the Hebrew words which follow the shema, baruch shem k'vod malchuto l'olam va'ed, which we recite aloud only on Yom Kippur. Though we do sing them aloud in the prayer Ana B'Koach, which some have the tradition of reciting after counting the Omer each day.
Re: "I gravitate / toward this old-fashioned leather strap..." -- that's a reference to tefillin, about which I have blogged many times before.