birkot hashachar

ברקת השחר collage; photo by salem pearce (via instagram)

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ אֱלֹהֵֽנוּ מֶֽלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם

. . . אֲשֶׁר נָתַן לַשֶּׂכְוִי בִינָה לְהַבְחִין בֵּין יוֹם וּבֵין לָיְֽלָה.

. . . שֶׁעָשַֽׂנִי בְּצַלְמוֹ.

. . . שֶׁעָשַֽׂנִי יִשְׂרָאֵל.

. . . שֶׁעָשַֽׂנִי בַּתּ חוֹרִין.

. . . פּוֹקֵֽחַ עִוְרִים.

. . . מַלְבִּישׁ עֲרֻמִּים.

. . . מַתִּיר אֲסוּרִים.

. . . זוֹקֵף כְּפוּפִים.

. . . רוֹקַע הָאָֽרֶץ עַל הַמָּֽיִם.

. . . שֶׁעָֽשָׂה לִּי כָּל צָרְכִּי.

. . . הַמֵּכִין מִצְעֲדֵי גָֽבֶר.

. . . אוֹזֵר יִשְׂרָאֵל בִּגְבוּרָה.

. . . עוֹטֵר יִשְׂרָאֵל בְּתִפְאָרָה.

. . . הַנּוֹתֵן לַיָּעֵף כֹּֽחַ.

Blessed are you, Lord our G-d, sovereign of the universe: who gave to the rooster ability to distinguish between night and day; who made me in G-d’s image; who made me a Jew; who made me a child of freedom. G-d gives sight to the blind, clothes the naked, releases the bound, raises the downtrodden, treads the earth upon the water. G-d provided me my every need has made me everything I need, has made ready a person’s steps. G-d girds Israel with might, crowns Israel with glory. G-d is the one who gives to the weary strength.

This week my tefila group focused on Birkot HaShachar (“blessings of the dawn”), a series recited at the beginning of the morning service. The blessings focus on praising G-d for the renewal of the day and mirror the order of activities upon rising. Like elohai neshama, the liturgy speaks directly to G-d, but here as “our G-d” instead of “my G-d.” Some of the reflections are personal; others, more communal.

As part of our commitment to considering the transitions between prayers, we began our session with elohai neshama, singing it a few times through to an arrangement by a classmate. We then went outside for stretching and birkot, and then came back inside for korbanot (next up in the liturgy), a series of blessings that reference temple sacrifice.

As with last week, the form and content of our principal prayer meshed perfectly. It was a great choice to go outside for birkot hashachar; by doing so we were able to see the more literal side of some of the blessings. It was a beautiful, crisp morning, and I looked up at the sun beginning to shine through the trees, and I felt like I could fly as my tallit billowed around me.

We sang birkot hashachar to an arrangement of yet another classmate (so much musical talent in the Hebrew College community!), set to the song “One Voice” by The Wailin’ Jennys. My classmate leading the prayer shared a kavanah from yet another classmate: Over its duration, “One Voice” progresses from “[t]his is the sound of one voice,” to “[t]his is the sound of voices two,” to “[t]his is the sound of voices three” and ends with “[t]his is the sound of all of us.” In a similar way to birkot hashachar, it mirrors what happens as we move through our day. At first it’s just us, and then voice after voice adds to our experience.

I often feel this way about my morning. I get up alone, and when I get to school I begin greeting people, and we begin davenning. Usually at some point in the service, we have one voice in prayer — and it’s an amazing experience. I sometimes stop singing myself and just listen to all the voices.

Before Tuesday I actually hadn’t heard “One Voice.” I did have the sense while we were singing that I wish we could have gotten progressively louder. But there are only six of us in the group. So when I access my memory of our singing birkot hashachar, I imagine us as we were, standing outside, looking at G-d’s creation, singing in “One Voice.” And I imagine that we resound.

one voice – the wailin’ jennys

* Thanks to a classmate, whose translation of the phrase שֶׁעָֽשָׂה לִּי כָּל צָרְכִּי I prefer to my original.
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This post is part of a series about my year-long tefila (“prayer”) group. Read other posts about the group here. View my artwork inspired by the group here.

Trackbacks

  1. […] say birkot hashachar together as we ascend the steps of the Temple. Fifteen steps is fourteen fixed prayers and one […]

  2. […] far as the order of the liturgy, thinking about this prayer in relationship to birkot hashachar — prayers of thanksgiving — I wonder if we are now in the liturgy being called to […]

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