During my last week in the states, I put out a call for 40 blessings, one for each week that I would be spending here in Israel. It seems like I confused (er, um, intimidated) some folks, who thought that I meant a religious, deep, personal prayer. I really meant any kind of blessing at all– a well-wish of sorts, a reminder of home, whatever! Something like “Eat lots of falafel!” would suffice. In any case, I have not gotten 40 blessings yet, but the ones I have received are lovely. Every Friday morning, I will post one of the blessings, going in the order in which they were received. I’ll then archive it here, so that by the end of the year I will (hopefully!) have 40 weeks of shabbat blessings from friends from all walks of life.
Week 1: May you find yourself lost in a country of awe and wonder and may you soak up the generosity of those who help you on your path.
Week 2: May you have the knowledge that you are not alone. Even in moments of loneliness. May you have the ability to recognize and appreciate each moment for what it is and what it offers and be able to live in the moment. May you have fulfilling and enriching studies, both in and out of the classroom. And last but not least, may you have smiles and laughter in your life.
Week 3: May your studies and experiences bring blessings to you, all in your circle, and radiate out into our world, inspiring all of us to seek the spark of the Divine in ourselves and each other.
Week 6: I admire your pursuit of truth, understanding, and your commitment to community. We need more people like you, and we are cheering for you.
Week 7: Sending blessings for safe, wonderful, growth-full time!
Week 8: I don’t know you at all, but this makes me think that you’re like Nachshon. This verse is about a person who is very brave and takes risks for the good of the community. I want to bless you with courage as you take leaps and do things before others as a leader. They might be difficult. May your leaps be for the good and may you feel brave and supported.
“As you go, know that your ancestors are watching your steps and smiling. When you reach out your hand in a strange place, may it be nuzzled by a friendly cat. As you go, know that you have made this journey before, and that you will make it again. May there be moments of peace and clarity along the way. As you go, know that you will return. When you have gone, we will be waiting to welcome you back. May our songs come faintly to your ears as you wander. Here, now, we send you on your way: as you journey, so we all journey with you.”—Pelakuwe departure blessing (traditionally chanted with flute and drum accompaniment at the end of the departure feast)
Week 10: A song (lyrics here) for your journey: You might already know this song. I heard it for the first time about two weeks ago, and I can’t stop playing it. I find it incredibly beautiful and calming and thought it might bring you some peace and happiness as you continue your journey in Israel.
Week 11: May this journey give you the chance for spiritual growth, learning, and connection. May you find a sense of peace inside the walls of this holy place. Each step you take on this journey, realize you are never alone.
Week 12: I definitely have a blessing for you dear Ereleh: May you experience many moments of belonging and feel what it feels like to be an insider, and may you have many insights available to you as an outsider.
Week 13: May you find in the everyday the transcendent you are seeking.
Week 14: To a rabbi Cohen this is most appropriate:
Week 15: “Knowing more surely who you are in God’s eyes and ever growing in gratitude, may you continue to trust God’s invitation to give of yourself in ways that bring healing and hope to all of creation.” God bless you Emily.
Week 16: On Time- Kahlil Gibran
You would measure time the measureless and the immeasurable.
You would adjust your conduct and even direct the course of your spirit according to hours and seasons.
Of time you would make a stream upon whose bank you would sit and watch its flowing.
Yet the timeless in you is aware of life’s timelessness,
And knows that yesterday is but today’s memory and tomorrow is today’s dream.
And that that which sings and contemplates in you is still dwelling within the bounds of that first moment which scattered the stars into space.
Who among you does not feel that his power to love is boundless?
And yet who does not feel that very love, though boundless, encompassed within the centre of his being, and moving not from love thought to love thought, nor from love deeds to other love deeds?
And is not time even as love is, undivided and spaceless?
But if in your thought you must measure time into seasons, let each season encircle all the other seasons,
And let today embrace the past with remembrance and the future with longing.
Week 17: This week’s blessing doesn’t require words. It’s right here.
Week 18: It’s fitting that week 18 is now, because this is the only week of my time in Israel spent almost entirely with the two people who gave me life. No, I did not plan it this way, but sometimes beautiful things just happen and timing is serendipitous and that’s how it goes. As was the case last week, this week the blessing feels more or less innate. I spent this week completely surrounded by family.
Week 20: Letter to Obama: “Hope in the face of difficulty. Hope in the face of uncertainty. The audacity of hope.”
Week 21: I don’t have access to my list of blessings this week, but this morning, traipsing about Pompeii, I found myself holding immense gratitude for life and its fragility. In this time when it’s so necessary for us to fight, how lucky we are to be alive right now.
Week 22: The German Colony… almost like home?
Gathering besamim for havdalah
Hiking up hills close by and very far
Study in chevrutah; also alone
Cafe americano and a scone
The child-filled tachanat rishonah
Sing “Min hametzar karati Yah”
Facing whichever way is the dome
I hope that you can find a way to feel
Yourself and safe and held and always free
I know it can be hard sometimes to deal
With all the ways people want you to be
The only thing that matters and that’s real
Is doing this with love/integrity!
Week 23: Go you go you! Blessings on your year in Israel with all the cats!
Week 24: May you cherish this time on the best days and on the most challenging days, too. May you build strong and lasting relationships with those who are also in this Ark. May you continue to have safety and adventure in your experiences.
Week 25: …In my uttermost bones I know something, as do you. It is that there can be no despair when you remember why you came to Earth, who you serve, and who sent you here. The good words we say and the good deeds we do are not ours. They are the words and deeds of the One who brought us here. In that spirit, I hope you will write this on your wall: When a great ship is in harbor and moored, it is safe, there can be no doubt. But that is not what great ships are built for.
Week 26: … May your hands always be busy
May your feet always be swift
May you have a strong foundation
When the winds of changes shift
May your heart always be joyful
And may your song always be sung
May you stay forever young
Week 27: So Emily, I send you blessings for the moment of balking. I wish for you that in a moment of “what is this where am I omg how am I going to do this”, you find strength in remembering who you are, what you’ve accomplished, and even what you’ve been through. I wish you serenity in feeling ill-prepared, and knowing that you still have a great deal under your belt. I wish you moments of stillness and quiet in anxious situations—I believe that God speaks to our instincts as we pause and just circulate air. Respiration works. True, the Russians may believe that there is no amount of breathing that will make you prepared to pass beyond, but the breath itself is sweet and enough while we’re still here. Let that be its own anchor.