As both a poet deeply interested in liturgy and a co-leader of a Feminist havurah (intentional spiritual community that prays together), I have been considering the questions of “blessings” for some time now. Traditionally, both the Jewish prayer service and Jewish daily life are built in part on blessings — a particular kind of magical formula that names and blesses the divinity, and then comments on the world or asks for assistance. (For a summary of the tradition, see: A few notes for the halachically hardcore) Both the wording and the underlying theology of the traditional formula doesn’t work for me as a Feminist, a Reconstructionist Jew, and a non-believer in a transcendent god.
So I’ve begun wrestling with words and theology to create a new formula and then new blessings based on this. I’ve also been working on a new tetragrammaton to mark the name of a divinity (again, follow the link below), but this particular name isn’t necessary to the blessings themselves. They can be used any name you or your community use (a word with 3 syllables works best metrically!), or silence, or a breath in or out. Eventually, I’ll have two sets of blessings posted, one that is liturgical, intended to be used in the place for morning blessings in the Jewish morning service, and one set that is occasional. Jewish life is full of blessings for specific occasions, such as words to say before eating bread, before drinking wine, before eating or drinking anything else, on seeing some natural beauty, on getting dressed, on seeing someone for the first time in many years, on hearing someone has died.
My own life has many different occasions that could use some blessing, especially places where life gets very difficult (see: “blessing for working with difficult people”), or for experiences, especially my experiences as a woman, that have been left out of the “traditional” view of the world (see “blessing for orgasm alone). I invite you to read through what is here, and then write back with your own ideas, thoughts, needs. If you have other blessings to add, please do! If there are occasions for which you need words and don’t have them, post what you’re seeking in the comments and perhaps another community member will help find the right words for you.
If you want to know more about traditional blessings, begin on the that page. If you’re curious about my ideas about a new print symbol for an inherently present, constantly created sense of divinity, click Neh’eyha. To learn more about how and why I created this particular form for these new blessings, click Why This Formula? .
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