The River and the Flame

אֲדֹנָי שְׂפָתַי תִּפְתָּח וּפִי יַגִּיד תְּהִלָּתֶֽךָ

Formal prayer is not always easy. The words may not flow naturally, or are blocked by distractions, either inner or outer, or by plain reluctance to repeat familiar phrases of antique devotions. We need help in fine-tuning our voices, in eliminating extraneous thoughts and automatic pieties; and so, immediately before reciting the Amidah, the essential core of the liturgy,  we pause to remember a verse from Psalms:

H’, open my lips that my mouth will speak of your Glory.

This is a simple acknowledgement that we cannot do it alone. “Help me, H’, open wide the floodgates of my heart that the songs of gratitude, of petition, and of praise may gush forth freely.”

But there is another interpretation of that same Hebrew verse, according to which the term “your Glory” refers to an actual manifestation of the divine.

H’, open my lips that my mouth will utter “your Glory.”

We do not pray to H’; rather we offer ourselves as  clear channels for “your Glory,” God’s fire if you will, that it may pass through us on its journey from soul to Source.

 שכינה מדברת מגרונו

@2011 Jonathan Omer-Man