Rosh Hashanah Prayer

We have just celebrated yet another Rosh Hashanah, and as we have just entered a new year, I thought I would take the opportunity to start blogging again! 🙂 I had some of those high and inspired moments during the prayer in the synagogue on the mornings of Rosh Hashanah, and I remember thinking afterwards that I should share this on my blog, – so here we go!

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Our Rosh Hashanah table this year

Rosh Hashanah is the first of the Jewish fall high holidays, and it comes after a month of spiritual preparation, where we as a people and as individuals draw closer to God. We hear the Shofar-blows as wake-up-calls to remember why we are here, who we belong to, where we came from and where we are headed.

Then we get to Rosh Hashanah, to the feast of Trumpets. This is a two day holiday which is largely spent in prayer at the synagogues. And there is something so special about liturgical prayers, – it links us all together in such an amazing way! The depth of these prayers, these scriptures and songs, fills my heart and gets me to feel so excited about being alive and being a part of THIS!

At our synagogue we had several services going on simultaneously. Such a large part of Am Yisrael, the people of Israel, come out for this, that we need to expand. So as we came in, some people who had started earlier, were praying downstairs, and we heard their shofar-blows and singing. Later, those of us upstairs split up into two groups, and we went downstairs to continue with the second half of the service there, but we could still hear the prayer going on upstairs.

And then to think of the fact that all over Jerusalem, all over Israel, people are praying these same prayers at this holy, set apart time! And in different time zones in different locations, Jews all over the world are praying these exact same prayers, in the same language on this special holiday! Wow! I am thankful to be alive, and to get to spend my life taking part in these types of experiences!

Just listen to some of these prayers:

Remember us for life, O King who desires life, and write us in the book of life – for your sake, o God of life! King, Helper, Savior, Shield: Blessed are You, LORD, Shield of Abraham!

And so may Your name be sanctified, LORD our God, through Israel Your nation and Jerusalem Your city, and Zion, the dwelling place of Your honor…

In the book of life, blessing, peace and prosperity, and good decrees, salvations and consolations may we and all Your people the house of Israel be remembered and written before You for a good life, and for peace. Blessed are You, LORD, who blesses His people Israel with peace.

AND YOU ARE KING -THE LIVING, EVERLASTING GOD!

Oh, how our voices went upwards together as we cried out:

This day, may You strengthen us…

This day, may You bless us…

To join ones voices together with the ones in the same room, hearing the people above, below, the people in the neighboring synagogue, hearing Shofar-blows all over Jerusalem, – it is a quite heavenly experience! When all these houses of prayer are filled to the brim, with hardly any standing room left even! What a privilege to get to take part in it! To actually have a seat in the midst of it!

And then we prayed together:

As is written: I shall bring them to My holy mountain, and I shall have them rejoice in My house of prayer; their offerings and their sacrifices shall be accepted, desired on My altar, for My House will be called a house of prayer for all peoples…

How exciting it is to be alive! And the year we have just entered is 5777. So many sevens! A number symbolizing perfection. And the letter for the number 5 in Hebrew, is Hey, which is often used for HaShem, the God of Israel. He is Perfect, – over and over again! Always! May that be proclaimed wide and far this year!

I find myself having high expectations for this year. May we all faithfully take our parts in the great things that are happening in our time!

 

 

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Shabbat prayer

This Shabbat’s combination of wintery weather and day-of-rage-promises from our enemies close by, did not make it hard to come up with reasons to just stay home. But, really, in difficult times, it is important to stand together, – that is the way that we are strongest, and that is the way to keep on really living!

Jerusalem

So we went as a family to pray in the synagogue this morning, – and it turned out to be one of the most uplifting mornings in a long time! Each one of the prayers just stood out as such a strong and fitting one at a time like this!

Just think of all the times that we call God “Magen Avraham” or “Magen David” – “The shield of Abraham” or “The shield of David”! He really is our shield! It was just so helpful to regain perspective of this, and be reminded of just who God is! Listen to this;

True is the eternal God, our King, Rock of Jacob, Shield of our Salvation.

He exists and His name exists through all generations.

His throne is established, His kingship and faithfulness endure for ever.

True, You are the LORD, our God and God of our ancestors,

our King and King of our ancestors, our Maker,

Rock of our Salvation,

our Deliverer and Rescuer!

Rock of Israel!

Arise to the help of Israel.

Deliver as You promised, Judah and Israel!

And how about this:

Blessed are You, LORD,

who blesses His people Israel with peace.

Amen! May it be so!

Shabbat with uniquely shaped challot

It’s Saturday night. Motze Shabbat. After Shabbat has gone out. The Shabbat-flowers are still beautifully decorating our home. And the atmosphere of Shabbat has not quite left yet. Oh, how I LOVE Shabbat! What is not to love, really?? You get a very real break from the pressures of regular life. You get to sit back and just enjoy what you prepared before Shabbat. You get the gift of TIME.

Shabbat

This morning we went to the Western Wall. How I love to sit there, and just BE. I am reminded of the verse from Psalm 84,10 about that it is better to have one day in His courts than thousands elsewhere. It is good to pray and read the Torah at the Kotel, but I also love to just be there and be quiet and rest in the Presence of the Almighty. He, of course, is present everywhere, but really, when He had to choose One place to make His special dwelling place, – this is the place He chose. What a privilege to live within walking distance to this place!!

Shabbat

Then, in the afternoon it was nice to just sit and read and rest in the couch at home, and to be with family. My parents are here, so are a three generations family right now. Good times.

Shabbat

Last night we had a long table with 12 of us around it. We love having guests, and also believe in hospitality. Always be ready to receive guests, – because you never know, all of a sudden you could entertain angels without even knowing it! We read about this happening to Abraham some weeks ago. This Shabbat we read about Ya’acov and his encounter with angels, and his dream about the ladder with angels going up and down on it.

Challah dough

When the children came home from school yesterday, my challah-dough was more than ready to be shaped into challot and I asked if they wanted to help, which sometimes they want to and sometimes they would rather do something else. This time both really wanted to, and they had specific ideas as to what they wanted to make.

shaping challot

He wanted to make Ya’acov’s ladder, with an angel on the side that could climb up and down it. And she made Ya’acov sleeping with a rock under his head. She also made an angel who would bless Ya’acov. (I can’t believe I didn’t get any pictures of their finished products! Next time…)

shaping challot

I loved how they came up with these ideas by themselves and had such a sweet time shaping their challot. These challot also make sure your conversations around the dinner table include the text from the parasha.

children shaping challotNow we have started a new week, so I want to wish you all Shavua tov, – A good week! See you around! 🙂

Esther’s Fast.

In the book of Esther we read about them fasting and praying for three days. Neither eating nor drinking for three days. (Esther 4,16-17)

Well, I am glad that in our days we are doing this by a one-day fast, and it is considered a minor fast, so it is only from sunrise to sunset. This is normally done on the 13th day of the month of Adar, the day before Purim itself, but this year the 13th is a Shabbat, and we don’t fast on Shabbat (with the exception of Yom Kippur), – so we have our Esther’s fast today, Thursday.

I have never found fasts to come easily. I am more the type of person who eats a meal every three hours and snacks in between. So now, going for a day without eating and drinking, is challenging. But I find the fact that it is a collective fast VERY helpful! We are doing this together, we are in this together. That thought is SO strengthening. If this was something I had just decided to do today, it would be so much easier to just break it, but now I want to stick to it because I feel empowered by the fact that I am not alone.

Also, – what a good thing to be doing, really! Fasting and praying. There is deep meaning in that. You are not wasting your time when you are investing in those things! Here I am working, cleaning and cooking (yes, cooking! Because we are going to want a yummy meal after sunset!), and the whole time there is a song or a prayer underneath my breath. Because I don’t want to be going through this fast without really making use of it. I don’t want to be just not eating, – I want to be strengthening my prayers through fasting.

And I am praying for deliverance for my people, just like they did in Esther’s days. Then Haman was plotting to kill them. Today we have numerous enemies who would like to see the Jewish People wiped off from the face of the earth. We better make good use of this fast-day!!

Of course it is not the fast that is saving us, – it is the God of Israel who is saving us and protecting us and keeping us alive every day! All honor and glory to Him! But then again, – HE told us to fast and pray, so there you go…

The children are aware of the type of day it is today, but they are keeping on with their various dress-up-days at school, and today the theme was HATS. Here they are with their morning-faces and one with a fruit-basket hat and one with a viking-hat:

Purim-hats

Our son is interested in fasting, but I have him doing a partial fast for now, because I think that is all he can handle in his situation (read: I know how irritable he gets when his blood-sugar is low. That may be the case for us grown-ups too, but we should have a higher level of self control…).

Tomorrow we are going to be part of a Purim Parade in the streets of Jerusalem, and I hope to be back and tell you about that before Shabbat! We are going from joy to joy here, – with this fast-day thrown in there in the middle… Well, it is special too, there is no denying it!

Praying for our people. Together with our people. In Jerusalem. Amidst our people. What a privilege!!

A prayer for the road.

Today I made a trip to the coastal town of Ashdod, about an hour’s drive from Jerusalem. It was a work-related trip, and I do quite a bit of those, meeting new immigrants in various parts of Israel. Today I met six different families, and bought three washing machines, two fridges and one cooking stove, – as a help in their process of settling in the Land of their inheritance. I find it very meaningful to be part of this, as I am a strong zionist and really believe in the Jewish people returning to the Land of Israel and making their home here once again.

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As I start out on a trip, I have made it a habit to always say a prayer. And as in just about every other situation, there is a prayer to be found for it in the Jewish prayerbook! (Although, I just have a little card with it in the car.) I pray it in the Hebrew language, where I think it also sounds the most beautiful, but I thought it would be most practical to enclose an English translation here:

TFILAT HADERECH / A TRAVELER’S PRAYER

May it be Your will, Eternal One, our God and the God of our ancestors,
that You lead us toward peace, emplace our footsteps towards peace,
guide us toward peace, and make us reach our desired destination for life, gladness, and peace. May You rescue us from the hand of every foe, ambush, bandits and wild animals along the way, and from all manner of punishments that assemble to come to Earth. May You send blessing in our every handiwork, and grant us peace, kindness, and mercy in your eyes and in the eyes of all who see us. May You hear the sound of our supplication, because You are the God who hears prayer and supplications. Blessed are You, Eternal One, who hears prayer. 

I love the part where we ask Him to send blessing in everything we do, – that is what we set out to do really, bring blessing! A prayer somehow always manages to put everything into perspective! Because let’s face it, – who are we…?? And who is HE??? Then, if we place ourselves and our days and everything into His Hands and seek to walk in His ways, – it really does fill us with a deep sense of peace, no matter what.

coffee moment

Oh, yes, life is good.

The photos in this post are only somewhat related to the post, as they are taken as I came home from the trip, feeling sort of tired and having about a half hour before the kids needed to be picked up from school. I enjoyed my moments at home, and recharged my batteries for a full and lively afternoon. 🙂 (The cute cup and box were Hanukkah-gifts from my sweet husband!)

Another blessed Shabbat.

Here in Israel we are rejoicing over a very good start to our rain-season this year! This is the best beginning of the winter that we have had in over twenty years, as far as rain goes! This past Friday was one of those days when it just felt like the skies were open, and it just POURED big time! Thinking it was going to stay that way, I prepared hot chicken soup and hot apple cider for Shabbat, and we brought out all our puzzles to enjoy during this rainy Shabbat. And yes, Friday night was perfect in a warm home with comfort food and family fun with puzzles.

English: Wailing Wall from the Tankizyya

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

But come Shabbat morning, and the weather had cleared up quite a bit. It was still very cold, but the wind and the rain had moved on. So, as we say in this family, – there is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes, – we put on good, warm clothes and walked to the Western Wall, the Kotel. In the Women’s section, one could notice that a lot of the regulars had decided to stay home on this cold morning, so those of us who did make it out, were blessed to get the best seats, – all the way up close to the Wall!

Papers with prayers and wishes that have been ...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I felt so privileged sitting there praying, looking up at the huge stones above me, and at the cracks next to me stuffed full of prayers written on notes. Those notes were soaked wet from all the rain that God has blessed us so richly with lately. I felt so deeply rich who got to sit right there and pray in anticipation:

ותחזינה עינינו בשובך לציון ברחמים. ברוך אתה ה” המחזיר שכינתי לציון

May our eyes behold Your return to Zion in compassion. Blessed are You, HASHEM, Who restores His Presence to Zion.

Then later, we got to hear the whole Torah Portion read right there, including the very exciting words: I am Josef! Those words carry within them the anticipation of the coming of our Mashiach, and He will say: I am the Mashiach!

Today, Sunday, is the tenth of Tevet, a fast day in the Jewish year, and I just listened to a very inspiring lecture about this day by Shira Smiles. She said that we have to live every day in the anticipation of the coming of the Mashiach, of the awaiting redemption, which she called ציפיית ישועה – TZIPIAT YESHUAH! The expectation of Salvation, of Yeshuah! 

Wow! Isn’t it just so exciting to be alive??! To get to live and work towards such a wonderful hope! To get to be a part of something so much greater than ourselves!

Mine blanda kjendsler…

Saman med størstedelen av Israel, er eg av den oppfatning at Israel ikkje bør gje seg enno. Dersom me gir oss no, vil tapa me har lidd vere meiningslause, og det er berre eit spørsmål om kva tid me skal gjere ferdig det me starta no. Tida er komen for å stoppe Hamas, som ikkje på nokon måte prøver å skjule at hovudmålet deira er å utslette Israel.

Likevel er eg ikkje den einaste som finn dette komplisert. Dersom me vel å ta dette fullt ut, med bakkestyrkar i Gasa (delvis for å unngå for store sivile tap i Gasa), er det så risikabelt at me må rekne med at prisen vert høg. Når denne risikoen i praksis vert tatt av våre soldatar, som er våre menn, søner og fedre, – så er det klart det vert komplisert.

Soldaten min på veg ut for å forsvare landet sitt.

Men me kan berre ikkje fortsetje slik som det har vore fram til no heller. Det er uakseptabelt at snart halvparten av folket vårt skal leve i konstant frykt for rakett-åtak. Det er kun takka vere Guds under og mirakel at me ikkje har lidd større tap i åra som har gått. Me er nødt til å gjere noko med situasjonen, og det kan virke som om at tida no er inne.

Så utruleg nok går eg her og håpar på at det ikkje vert noko av denne våpenkvila det har vore snakk om. (Fordi eg veit at det ikkje vil verte noko ekte og varig våpenkvile uansett. Me har lært av erfaring at Hamas ikkje er av typen som held denne type lovnadar.) Endå meir utruleg er det at dei som bur i Sderot og Beer Sheva og dei andre byane som dagleg får rakettar mot seg, brukar kvar mulighet dei får til å be leiarane våre om for all del å ikkje gå med på noko våpenkvile!

Hovudet mitt seier at det er dette eg håpar på, men eg kan ikkje alltid få hjartet mitt heilt med på det… Som når eg i dag morgons kom ned for å lage frukost, og berre måtte heilt fort sjekke kva dei siste oppdateringane på nettsidene var, og fann at ein av dei høgaste leiarane innan militæret var hjå desse soldatane som har vorte innkalla no for å gje dei nokon siste oppmuntringsord før den aktive tenesta verkeleg byrja… Då kjende eg som om det søkk djupt inne i meg, – så det skjer verkeleg, altså… Dette som me håpar på, men samstundes skulle ynskje me ikkje trengde å gjere… For me ser for oss våre kjære der inne i alt kaoset, i denne svært farefulle situasjonen, – og det er klart me ville foretrekke å finne ein veg utanom!

No er det enno uvisst akkurat kva som vil skje. Ein høyrer dei ulike meiningane folk rundt om i verda har om kva som bør gjerast. Me ber om at leiarane våre må ha visdom, mot og tru for å gjere det rette. Og me ber om Guds vern over soldatane våre og over oss alle.