Occasional Blessings

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.

Some of these are lovely, some don’t speak to me at all, and some, the ones that are built around god as a ruler and judge who punishes, are offensive to my soul. Mainly, though, they are so unrelated to my life as a woman (there is no blessing for childbirth, for example), a feminist, an activist, a trauma survivor. I needed new ideas, new words, and, pretty much, a new understanding of a divinity who would be part of these new blessings.

The word I’m using as a divine name, Neh’eyha, is invented. You can read about it here: Neh’eyha/a naming of god

I’m working on a particular formula for the blessings, one I hope can be easily reproduced. It’s evolved so far as this:

1. the blessing opens by declaring the holy name/holy mystery is blessed, and by saying so make it so
2. the blessing contains a statement that shows its the legitimacy of its power — here, the power comes from the power of the communal “we” choosing to make blessing and therefore to try to create holiness in the world
3. it continues with a statement of what “we who are blessing” are or will be doing, with a strong verb and strong action, which has a sense of weighty, serious movement, and which is more than a statement of
emotion
4. the blessing ends with a statement of the change or effect we intend for the blessing of the action to have in the world

For more about how this formula evolved, see: Formula

As I create and re-create blessings, I’ll be adding them here. I would love your feedback, as well as your suggestions for alternative blessings for these occasions AND suggestions for other moments that need a good blessing. I’m also working on a series of “morning blessings,” a piece of Jewish liturgy that is used when waking up, getting dressed, and getting ready to go into the world; I’ll post that once it is up and dressed and ready to face the world.

Enjoy, talk back, share!

_________________________________

Blessing before eating food of unknown origin

Blessed is נְאֶעֵהַ bless!
Blessed we who bless, we bless,
we whose lives depend on other living things,
every bite an obligation to taste wisdom, swallow integrity

___________________________________________

Blessing before eating locally grown, environmentally healthy, and/or fairly harvested food

Blessed is נְאֶעֵהַ bless!
Blessed we who bless, we bless,
we who choose to know our place in the world
measuring our footprints and learning to walk lightly
___________________________________________

Blessing for remembering that words matter
(the “pause before hitting send” blessing)

Blessed is נְאֶעֵהַ bless!
Blessed we who bless, we bless,
we who write and speak and sing,
knowing our words sprout wings and lives of their own

source text: Adrienne Rich, “North American Time”
“Everything we write
will be used against us
or against those we love.”

_______________________________________

Blessing for encountering ideas or information that frighten us, but which we suspect to be true

Blessed is נְאֶעֵהַ bless!
Blessed we who bless, we bless
we who dare go through the door,
trusting new truths to make us stronger.

____________________________________

Blessing for when we meet resistance

Blessed is נְאֶעֵהַ bless!
Blessed we who bless, we bless,
we who, with courage, confront the walls
and prepare to go under if we can’t go through.
_____________________________________

Blessing for being stuck

Blessed is נְאֶעֵהַ bless!
Blessed we who bless, we bless,
we who refuse to stop at the edge
and with each step build the bridge we need
_____________________________________

Blessing for needing to pause and breathe deeply

Blessed is נְאֶעֵהַ bless!
Blessed we who bless, we bless,
we who pause amid the torrent
and insist that there is time enough
____________________________________

Blessing for orgasm together

Blessed is נְאֶעֵהַ bless!
Blessed we who bless, we bless
we who claim our right to joy
and make our loving holy

Blessing for orgasm alone

Blessed is נְאֶעֵהַ bless!
Blessed we who bless, we bless
we who say “Beloved body!”
and invoke the source of joyous power

__________________________________

Blessing for dealing with difficult people, including ourselves

Blessed is נְאֶעֵהַ bless!
Blessed we who bless, we bless,
we who honor strength and weakness
so build communities of fierce resilience

_____________________________________

Blessing for meetings

Blessed is נְאֶעֵהַ bless!
Blessed we who bless, we bless,
we who join together
to do the work that’s necessary
to do the work that’s right

________________________________________

Blessing for sudden, unexpected gratitude

Blessed is נְאֶעֵהַ bless!
Blessed we who bless, we bless,
we who burst our armored shells
and bowing say “thank you, thank you,”
gratitude grazing, nearly painful,
over hearts so rarely exposed

_____________________________________

Blessing for letting go

Blessed is נְאֶעֵהַbless!
Blessed we who bless, we bless,
we who clutch beyond all reason
then stiffly learn to live without

______________________________________

Blessing for when we’ve been demeaned, insulted, belittled, or betrayed

Blessed is נְאֶעֵהַ bless!
Blessed we who bless, we bless,
we who, when shock has stolen our words,
gather our breath then start to shout
our hard-earned knowledge that anger,
sometimes, is the only just response.

______________________________________

Blessing for acknowledging trauma or despair

Blessed is נְאֶעֵהַ bless!
Blessed we who bless, we bless,
we who shelter broken hearts,
we who refuse consolation,
knowing that some kinds of pain
are bigger than meaning can repair

________________________________________

Blessing for witnessing acts of violence or violent injustice

Blessed is נְאֶעֵהַ bless!
Blessed we who bless, we bless,
we who curse every god who allows this
and re-create justice with every curse.

source text: Denise Levertov, “Psalm Fragments (Schnittke String Trio)”:
“God who permits
the endless outrage we call
History.”

_______________________________________

Blessing before engaging in acts of tikkun olam

Blessed is נְאֶעֵהַ bless!
Blessed we who bless, we bless,
we who dare to begin to mend
knowing the tear is vast, yet proceeding undaunted

source text: Marcia Falk, “Aleynu L’shabey’ah: It Is Ours to Praise”
“For nothing is whole that is not first rent
and out of the torn we make whole again.
May we live with promise in creation’s lap,
redemption budding in our hands”

____________________________________

Blessing over what is essential to us

Blessed is נְאֶעֵהַ bless!
Blessed we who bless, we bless,
we who risk wild love and raging loss
because our souls must breathe beauty
because our hearts beat with longing for the world.
[because our hearts beat with longing
for every part of this fucking beautiful world.]

source texts:
Susan Griffin “It Is My Love”
“don’t guess at my
passion
a wholly wild and raging
love for this world.”

Gerald Stern, quotation
“Those crazy [fundamentalists] who want the world to end. I don’t know what’s wrong with them. I love this fucking world.”

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