his problem

his problem

my problem with praying he began to explain
but they silenced him
with cross impatient scoffing

no they said
tell us first why you don’t eat pork
or prawns or lobsters
or german blood sausage and do you really think
god hates people who eat oysters and frogs’ legs
and creamy beef stroganoff

my problem with praying he tried once again
no they said
tell us first about the origin of evil
about who made hitler and pol pot
and were there quarks in the garden
of eden

my problem with praying he began once again
but still they scoffed,
my problem with praying
he finally shouted
is that there is too much noise
everywhere

 

Jonathan Omer-Man ©2009, 2013

Older Musings

August 26: Prayer before going to sleep

בְּיָדוֹ אַפְקִיד רוּחִי, בְּעֵת אִישַׁן וְאָעִֽירָה.
וְעִם רוּחִי גְּוִיָּתִי, יְיָ לִי וְלֹא אִירָא.

The Sh’ma al ha-Mittah (the Jewish bed-time prayer service) demands of us that we not slip mindlessly into slumber, but rather make conscious the transition from the active, daytime world, of business, of relationship, in which we have relative control over our lives, to the realm of sleep, in which we have none, are powerless.

It opens with a dramatic statement, of intention to forgive anyone who may have harmed us, whether intentionally or not, in any way, physically, spiritually, or economically. Of course it is impossible to do this completely and irrevocably, and we are cognizant that many of those old angers and resentments will return, at least in part, on the morrow. Nevertheless, this is an essential accounting, a preparation for the journey into the unknown, into night, as we put behind us the dying day’s unfinished business.

The entire service is marked by a developing sense of humility, of progressively relinquishing autonomy, of faith in divine benevolence, and it concludes with the words from the Adon Olam, printed above, “and into Your hand I commit my soul, when I sleep or awaken, and with my soul, my body too. H’ is with me, I shall not fear.”

The next prayer we utter, on awakening in the morning, is an expression of gratitude for the restoration of soul, of consciousness, of aliveness, Modah (Modeh) Ani.

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The Blemshed Priest

The Evolution of the Blemished Priest

This article has an interesting history. It was originally commissioned as a paper for a conference on disability. It was much too theological for the Marxist organizers. With the insight of 20 years, I think that I should probably rewrite it; I don’t agree with its conclusions. First appeared in New Traditions, Premier Issue, Spring, 1984; reprinted in several other places.