Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi
Two Prayers for the Days of Awe, p.2


The year is nearly gone.
What was it all about?
My God what did it mean?
we wrestled You and I.
did it have a purpose what we did ?

At this hour of prayer
time for looking in
I seek You to show me
once again the vision You
showed me in those days.

And yet in this abandonment
In which I seek You and only
me I find in the seeking
And I know that underneath
the seeker's knowing there are You!

So show Your face and hide it not
I beg You. And You in me beg me to
show You the move, the very next
which I would have You guide me to
the one surprise You crave

that I, not in aforethought schemes,
though goody-good please You, taking
instead loving risk, to leap in faith,
in hope, despite the deep despair,
the learning of my bruised life.

Still juggling I am forced to dance
my frantic dance to balance tasks
You laid on me in kids and kisses
and often something falls, I miss
to catch an obligation I took on -

then I fail and hear You laughing at me
I rage at this, so full of failure,
once again I slipped. I did not manage
to do it right - If only then I could give ear
to the sigh You sigh in me
and see that the laugh is kind
not gloating at my failure
a forgiving chuckle in which You
thank me for the pratfall that
showed I tried my best

and all too short my reach was then
I missed -- You laughed, a Purim shpiel
Purim Kippurim -- what's the difference?
Mordechai, Haman - start again
and juggle on, you Zalman laugh also,

You urge me to see the joke, it was on me
my turn to enter-tain not main-tain
Not taint you dummy! Stop the guilt
The milk that spilled was not in vain
G-d's gain that laugh, and in the laugh It's done I'm one. I doubly cloned
am now at-oned. When sinner, sin
and sinning one, there is no victim.
Gone is the shame you felt.
The universe is my playroom and yours.

Will you come and be with me in me,
in the Sukkah of wholeness? Let us again
fall in love and dance and visit with
the fathers three, the mothers four, and dance
the dance breishit - kol yisrael once more.

[1]       2

These poems are excerpted from a new anthology of work by Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, a founder of Jewish Renewal and author of several volumes on Jewish spirituality and philosophy, entitled All breathing life adores Your Name: At the Interface between Poetry and Prayer (forthcoming).

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From previous issues:

How I Finally Learned to Accept Christ in my Heart
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