Artist: Henri-Edmond Cross (Henri-Edmond Delacroix)
Is there anything that evokes a sense of praise more than a star-filled sky? Nothing has the power to make us feel so small, but also to make us feel as though we are a part of something so great. How can we look at a sky like this and not cry out “Mah Gadlu Ma’asecha Adonai! – How great are your works, Adonai!”?
[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Before we begin to praise, we check in with ourselves: Am I awake? Am I prepared?
Before we begin to praise, we check in with God: Can you hear my voice? Can you understand? We arrive at a moment when we feel ready to pray. The unmistakable melody of Bar’chu reminds us that this is no ordinary time. The High Holy Days have arrived.
Mishkan HaNefesh, Rosh Hashanah p. 127
What constitutes a miracle? Do we reserve that word exclusively for events like the parting of the Red Sea? Or, can we see, as Whitman does, miracles in every moment of every day? How might our lives change for the better if we started seeing the miraculous and the divine in every facet of creation?
Why! Who makes much of a miracle? As to me, I know of nothing but miracles. Whether I walk the streets of Manhattan, Or dart my sight over the roofs of houses toward the sky, Or wade with naked feet along the beach, just in the edge of the water, Or stand under trees in the woods, Or talk by day with any one I love – or sleep in the bed at night with any one I love, Or sit at the table at dinner with my mother, Or look at strangers opposite me riding in the car, Or watch honey-bees busy around the hive, of an August forenoon, Or animals feeding in the fields, Or birds – or the wonderfulness of insects in the air, Or the wonderfulness of the sun-down – or of stars shining so quiet and bright, Or the exquisite, delicate, thin curve of the new-moon in May. . . . These, with the rest, one and all, are to me miracles. . . . To me, every hour of the light and dark is a miracle, Every inch of space is a miracle. . . . Every spear of grass – the frames, limbs, organs, of men and women, and all that concerns them, All these to me are unspeakably perfect miracles.
Excerpts from Mishkan HaNefesh: Machzor for the Days of Awe © 2015 are under the copyright protection of the Central Conference of American Rabbis and used by permission of the CCAR. All rights reserved.
Hallelujah! Praise God in God’s sanctuary; praise God in the sky, God’s stronghold!
Praise God for God’s mighty acts; praise God for God’s exceeding greatness!
Praise God with blasts of the horn; praise God with harp and lyre!
Praise God with timbrel and dance; praise God with lute and pipe!
Praise God with resounding cymbals; praise God with loud-clashing cymbals!
Let all that breathes praise God! Hallelujah!
הַלְלוּ יָהּ הַלְלוּ־אֵל בְּקָדְשׁוֹ הַלְלוּהוּ בִּרְקִיעַ עֻזּוֹ׃
הַלְלוּהוּ בִגְבוּרֹתָיו הַלְלוּהוּ כְּרֹב גֻּדְלוֹ׃
הַלְלוּהוּ בְּתֵקַע שׁוֹפָר הַלְלוּהוּ בְּנֵבֶל וְכִנּוֹר׃
הַלְלוּהוּ בְתֹף וּמָחוֹל הַלְלוּהוּ בְּמִנִּים וְעוּגָב׃
הַלְלוּהוּ בְצִלְצְלֵי־שָׁמַע הַלְלוּהוּ בְּצִלְצְלֵי תְרוּעָה׃
כֹּל הַנְּשָׁמָה תְּהַלֵּל יָהּ הַלְלוּ־יָהּ׃
Psalm 150 marks the last text in the Book of Psalms, and it makes for quite the finale. The song implores each and every one of us to offer praise to God. The listing of sacred instruments summons the assembly of a holy symphony with which to create the most passionate (and loudest) prayer possible. Psalm 150 remains a staple of our morning liturgy, and invites the reader to think about the many meaningful ways in which an individual can enthusiastically offer gratitude.