Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Noach - What the Wickedness?

Noach - What’d I Do?

Genesis 6:5-22
And the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. 6 And it repented the LORD that He had made man on the earth, and it grieved Him at His heart. 7 And the LORD said: ‘I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and creeping thing, and fowl of the air; for it repenteth Me that I have made them.’ 8 But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD. 9 These are the generations of Noah. Noah was in his generations a man righteous and wholehearted; Noah walked with God. 10 And Noah begot three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth. 11 And the earth was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence. 12 And God saw the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted their way upon the earth. . 13 And God said unto Noah: ‘The end of all flesh is come before Me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth. 14 Make thee an ark of gopher wood; with rooms shalt thou make the ark, and shalt pitch it within and without with pitch. 15 And this is how thou shalt make it: the length of the ark three hundred cubits, the breadth of it fifty cubits, and the height of it thirty cubits. 16 A light shalt thou make to the ark, and to a cubit shalt thou finish it upward; and the door of the ark shalt thou set in the side thereof; with lower, second, and third stories shalt thou make it. 17 And I, behold, I do bring the flood of waters upon the earth, to destroy all flesh, wherein is the breath of life, from under heaven; every thing that is in the earth shall perish. 18 But I will establish My covenant with thee; and thou shalt come into the ark, thou, and thy sons, and thy wife, and thy sons’ wives with thee. 19 And of every living thing of all flesh, two of every sort shalt thou bring into the ark, to keep them alive with thee; they shall be male and female. 20 Of the fowl after their kind, and of the cattle after their kind, of every creeping thing of the ground after its kind, two of every sort shall come unto thee, to keep them alive. 21 And take thou unto thee of all food that is eaten, and gather it to thee; and it shall be for food for thee, and for them.’ 22 Thus did Noah; according to all that God commanded him, so did he.

So, What are you Building?

Neighbor: . . . Listen, what is this thing for anyway? 

Noah: I can't tell you. Ha, ha, ha! 

Neighbor: Well, I mean, can't you give me a little hint? 

Noah: You wanna a hint?

Neighbor: Yes, please. 

Noah: How long can you tread water? Ha, ha, ha! 

What is Wickedness?

Avraham Ibn Ezra, a 12th century Torah commentator gives two characterizations of the חמס-the lawlessness that filled the world.  First, drawing on the midrash, he claims the lawlessness to be robbery – an earth filled with robbery everywhere.  Another explanation, according to Ibn Ezra, is that the world was in total disorder.  He claims that everything grew, behaved, and lived not in the way it was intended, but rather, plants mixed with other kinds, different species of beasts were intermingled. 

Being Fruitful - Midrash Tanhuma 2

R. Tanhuma, the son of Abba began the discussion of this subject with the verse:  The fruit fo the righteous is a tree of life; and he that is wise winneth souls (Prov. 11:30).  R. Judah the Levite said:  Whenever a man dies childless, he grieves and weeps.  Thereupon the Holy One, blessed be God, consoles him with the words:  “Wherefore do you weep over having left no fruit in this world?  You have left fruit that is more desirable than children.”  “Sovereign of the universe,” the man asks, “what fruit did I produce?”  The Holy One, blessed be God, replies:  “The Torah (you observed), concerning which it is written:  the fruit of the righteous is a tree of life.”  The verse does not say that children are a tree of life but that the fruit of the righteous is a tree of life.  Accordingly, man’s most desirable offspring are his good works.  Hence, it is written:  These are the offspring of Noah.  Noah was in his generation a man righteous and whole hearted. (Gen. 6:9)

Michael Fishbane, from the JPS Haftarah Commentary

Noah was the exact opposite of the generation of the flood.  He had three sons.  He cared for the animals and all of creation.

Not about THE Wickedness and Lawlessness

While these ideas may explain the חמס – the lawlessness, maybe that is not the point of this story.  It wasn’t that God was a little off in creating the world so that everything was out of order.  It was not the lack of the generation of the flood procreating.  Nor was it the crime and the lawlessness of robbery as Ibn Ezra points out based on Rashi’s commentary.  These were the explanations, the definitions of the חמס, but not necessarily the only reasons for the flood itself.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Two Kinds of People - Adopted from Wilshire Boulevard Temples HHD Machzor

Why in our prayers, do we say:  “Our God and the God of our people?”

Martin Buber responded to this question by saying:
    Because there are two kinds of people who believe in God.  One believe because he has taken over the faith of his parents, and his faith is strong.  The other has arrived at faith through thinking and studying.
    The difference between them is this:  The advantage of this first is that, no matter what arguments may be brought against it, the person’s faith cannot be shaken.  It is firm because it was taken over from parents.  But there is one daly in it.  Such faith derives only form the command of a person.  It was acquired without study and personal exploration.  The advantage of the second kinds of faith is that God is discovered through much thinking and is the outcome of one’s own exploration.  But here, too, there is a flaw:  It is easy to shake such faith by refuting it through evidence. 
    But the person who unites both kinds of faith is invincible.  So we say, “our God with reference to our studies and personal struggle with belief, and “God of our people “ with an eye to tradition.
    Isaiah’s words call to mind the reality of our life that may be found lacking.  Isaiah, as is common in the prophets, questions our actions as insincere, inauthentic and disingenuous.  Ultimately, the Haftarah on this Day of Atonement questions our priorities, our beliefs and they way we go about our lives.  It asks us, as Isaiah did in his generation, whether we are focused on what matters.  When we balance our own studies, struggles, beliefs and self with that of our people, our tradition and sense of community - we are focused, we, as Buber said, become people of invincible faith.   
Forgiveness in Different Ways

Exoneration, forbearance and release, these are the ways we forgive, or at least have the potential to forgive.  Dr. Stephen Marmer teaches that in these three ways we have the ability to protect and preserve our relationships and we can allow our health and over-all well-being be enhanced.  Exoneration is our ability to hear a sincere apology, to know that a mistake or accident occurred and understand that someone is truly sorry - they offer apology without excuses, claiming full responsibility and show they will not knowingly allow the offense to occur again.  Forbearance is a bit different.  This occurs when we accept an apology that may not seem quite full.  When someone offers to make amends but wants to share the responsibility with you or someone else, lacks authenticity and may seem insincere.  However, if the relationship matters to you, this is the place and space for forbearance - akin to forgive but don’t forget - be watchful in the continuation of the relationship.  Perhaps, these forbearance will evolve to the place of exoneration when someone demonstrates their own change for the better as well.  The third is important for those who have been cheated, abused or betrayed.  Release is the ability to forgive by letting go of the negativity and allowing ourselves to again grow as a human being. 
Forgiveness comes in many forms.  We have choices about the way we can grant forgiveness and the ways we can ask for it too.  Not one of us is perfect, without flaws or moments lacking in judgment.  We must be ready to grant forgiveness in the appropriate ways and we must know what we are asking for when we seek it too.  Being on both sides of this equation - acting on missteps and engaging in teshuvah - hones our skills and sharpens our forgiveness tool belt.  
A Thought on Unetaneh Tokef

These words, we know, are difficult.  They bring discomfort, fear and anxiety to many, if not all of us.  The Unetaneh Tokef questions what control if any we have over the year that will be.  It even turns our gaze back at the year behind us to consider what, if anything we did, that brought harm, challenge to our lives.  Concluding this peace, those words we are familiar with:  ותשובה ותפילה וצדקה מעבירין את רוע הגזרה - But Repentance, prayer and charity, temper judgment’s severe decree.  Do they change it?  I’m confident that is the not the system of life we experience.  Rather, living lives with sincere efforts to right wrongs and make amends, to yearn through thoughtful words and actions of prayer for a better life, a better world and seek justice that brings charity to all those in need - these pillars of our lives helps us stand strong under the burden of that severe decree. 
The challenges of life, the bumps in the road, the tragedies are faced with a firm footing and a sense of strength when we live lives firm in our work of teshuvah - repentance, tefilah - prayer and tzedakah - justice and charity.
Looking Ahead & Looking Back

The Baal Shem Tov taught his students that when wood burns, it is the smoke alone that rises upward, leaving the grosser elements below.  And so it is with prayer.  The sincere intention of our hearts ascends to God, and the test of our prayers is in fulfillment of them. 

    When we are taught to cross the street, we are told to always look both ways.  When we are taught to drive, we are reminded of this lesson and we add to it.  I recall being taught to look left, right and then left again.  As we learn to drive, the traffic approaches from the left sooner, so we double check that lane, first and last.  At this time of year, too, we are given clear guidance about which way to look.  We begin with Rosh Hashanah - looking ahead as we welcome the new year.  Then, ten days later, today, we look back.  We always need to know where we are going but we must know from where we are coming.  As we prepare the sincere intention of our hearts and consider how it will reflect our character, leaving behind the less desirable of our last year, we look ahead - who do we aim to be, then we look back - how can we use the lessons, the experiences and the moments of the last year.  Looking ahead and looking back is the purpose of this day - make sure to look both ways.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Kol Nidre - God is What We Need

Once, there were these two brothers.  They were the kind of brothers that, when it suited them, they got along pretty well.  They were two peas in a pod, but usually in troublesome ways.  They weren’t evil, by any stretch, they were like Dennis the Menace, but in stereo.  Jesse and Brian were their names, Jesse the older brother would of course pick on Brian, and they fought too.  But most often, they were scheming and creating trouble for school teachers, Shabbat school teachers, their neighbors, coaches and especially their mother.  Jesse and Brian were known throughout their whole circle, their whole community as the mischievous and trouble-making boys.  It had evolved way past the point of embarrassment for their mother, Barbara, often throwing up her hands, and now to the realization that something needed to change.  Barbara, a school administrator, knew something needed to change because her boys were not understanding consequences, they needed to learn that while pranks and their shenanigans were fun, bringing laughter to many, they often embarrassed or even insulted others. 

Barbara had tried the local school counselor, she had worked with the boys’ coaches and even her local rabbi.  One day, when Jesse and Brian were about eleven and nine, her Rabbi suggested his colleague in the next suburb down the highway.  He said, you know Rabbi Ana down the road is really fabulous with youth.  She has a real knack for speaking to their reality, getting through to them both when fun and when serious.  Barbara thanked her Rabbi for the suggestion, made the call to Rabbi Ana and had an appointment for the boys the following week.  The truth was, this next suburb was only about a mile from their home and Rabbi Ana’s synagogue even closer.  Jesse and Brian’s mother told them they were going to meet with a famous rabbi, one who would help their family, the whole community, show the boys what matters most.  Barbara told them she had finally had enough and it was time for a change…that something must be done.  She put them in the car, drove them to the synagogue, to Rabbi Ana’s office.  Rabbi Ana chatted with Barbara for a few minutes and they agreed that Brian, the younger boy would meet with her first.  She invited Brian into her office and asked him to sit in a chair, in the middle of the room.  The Rabbi pulled up a chair and sat right in front of Brian.  It was silent for a moment, but it seemed like an eternity to Brian, who remember is only nine years old.  Finally, Rabbi Ana asked Brian in a quiet voice, “Where’s God?”  Brian stared back in silence.  Rabbi Ana asked again a bit more stern and without the contraction, “Where IS God?”  Still, Brian sat in silence and Rabbi Ana, growing impatient, straightened up in her chair and asked in a stern and authoritative voice, “Where IS GOD?” 

Brian sat for a split second, then jumped up and bolted for the door.  He glanced at his brother in the Rabbi’s waiting area as he ran out of the office area, out of the synagogue and down the street, one right turn onto Middlebelt Road and he kept running until he reached his own neighborhood.  Finally, his running slowed to a quick walk as he was panting and ran up to his room and into the closet, shutting the folding doors on himself.  When Jesse, his brother, arrived home a short time later, he began looking for Brian and knew just where to look.  He went right to his brother’s closet, slid the door open and crawled inside.  “What happened!  What did that Rabbi say?  What did she do?”  “Brian, Brian, what happened!”  He responded in quick bursts of words as he was still panting.  “Jesse…we’re in…B-I-G…trouble.” 

“God’s missing…and they think we took him!”

Pretty clear that Rabbi Ana was just beginning the conversation, attempting to lay the groundwork for a sense of conscience, for a sense of accountability.  Yet, for Brian, it was all about God missing.  For many of us, there are times, times during the year when we feel that God is missing too in our lives and in our world. 

This anecdote and a few others I am about to share explore many different views.  I hope that you find yourself somewhere in these words, in these stories resonating if not with something you hold on to, something you believe, then something that is opposite, or perhaps sheds light on a feeling, an experience or a perspective you know.

Rabbi Ed Feinstein tells a story about a woman, Leah, who came into his office, having made an appointment weeks earlier, and her opening volley is, “Rabbi, you know I don’t believe in God.”  And then she continues the litany of everything wrong and challenging in her world.  She shares, “You know that not only have I been divorced, but my second husband died only a year after we were married.  My son won’t talk to me, he feels I tried to replace his father.  My step-children won’t speak to me thinking I’m a black widow.  That is just my family, the job isn’t much better.  I’m a glorified project manager whose expected to manage other project managers.  No one gives me any respect there either.  And now, although its not terminal, I have chronic migraine problems…its quite debilitating when they come.”  She paused to catch her breath as the Rabbi listened and then with a deep sigh saying, “Rabbi…why is God doing this to me?” 

A few years ago, I was standing on the deck at Edgewood, having just celebrated Havdalah with a Bar Mitzvah family.  A non-Jewish grandmother comes up to me as we are both appreciating the view of the West Shore and she says, “I don’t understand how anyone can NOT believe in God when we look at something like this.”  As the light continued to fade over the Crystal Range I responded, “You know, I am not sure if it is that they don’t believe in God, it is simply they don't believe in the God they think you mean, when you say God.”

We all have different concepts.  The one that Brian and Jesse stole, the one that Leah doesn’t believe in and then again the one that she does.  The Creator of the Universe or the Source of Life.  The Maker of Heaven and Earth or the Divine Judge, Counsel and Arbiter carrying out divine punishment.  For some of us, God is Nature - the vast model of creation around us all the time and for others something that is solely human created, just an idea.  However, at this time of year, whether its divine forgiveness or human that we are seeking, whether it is the sense of community or a sense of quietude we yearn for, whether traditional believer or atheist, God is what we need God to be. 

On Yom Kippur, during the Yamim Noraim - these Days of Awe - we are confronted with a very clear illustration of God.  It has been shared before, that timeless image of the Book of Life and God inscribing names.  Paint for yourself that picture, a God acting in our world by sitting in a cabin far off into the wilderness, snow flakes falling outside, and God opening this giant book of life, handling a human sized quill, dipping it in a sink sized inkwell and recording our deeds.

The Israeli writer, Etgar Keret recently wrote, “Yom Kippur was always my favorite holiday… Maybe it’s because Yom Kippur is the only holiday I know that, because of its very nature, recognizes human weakness.  …on Yom Kippur we’re not a heroic dynasty or a people, but a collection of individuals who look in the mirror, are ashamed of what demands shame, and ask forgiveness for what can be forgiven.” 
When we confront this, on this day, the day that brought us here, we are staring in the mirror, yes at our ourselves, but also at our concept of this judging and punishing divinity.  The images conjured up by the liturgy alone present this image of that God in the cabin, with the giant book and quill.  Look just at that central, and problematic for many, piece of our liturgy:  Unetaneh Tokef.  B’Rosh Hashanah Yikateivun, Uv’Yom Tzom Kippur Yichateimun - On Rosh Hashanah it is written and on Yom Kippur it is sealed, how many shall pass on and how many shall come to be, who shall live and who shall die.  You know the language, enough to create nightmares for young ears, to bring tears to those with recent losses and to stir those to whom life has been, well, kind.  It is this depiction of God that serves as the umbrella image, the image of the God that Jesse and Brian took and the one that, while Leah doesn’t believe in God, the God that is causing so much distress in her life.  The title of this piece of liturgy, Unetaneh Tokef, gives us an important perspective on not only this piece, but the theology it is espouses.  Those opening lines, Let us cede power.  And to what are we ceding that power?  Well, as difficult as this God view is, and as troubling as the God as, author of the Book of Life may be, the middle part of this prayer expresses truth.   “Imagine the text…without the first and last lines.  The entire passage is a list of questions.  And the questions are not rhetorical.  No believer and no atheist, no scientist and no magician knows the answers.  Any of those things might happen.  In fact, they will happen,” wrote Helen Plotkin.  But we do have the first and last lines.  So is this the God we need?  Is this the God that is missing?  Is this to whom, or to what we direct our repentance, prayer and charity in order to temper the severity of the decree? 

If this is really the Divine, the one that Jesse and Brian took, or the one that Leah doesn’t believe in yet is causing so much distress in her life, what does that mean for us?  It means we must question our role in the plot of our own lives.  And no, this is not about free will versus determinism, but rather how we handle the arbitrary nature of some things in our lives, and what its mean for how we understand God.  To what must we cede power and what remains for us to control are the questions we must answer at this season.  While many are yearning for the clear-cut answer about a divinity that judges, punishes and rewards, it turns out that the lofty liturgy of the Unetaneh Tokef, and all of the Yamim Noraim, aren’t so clear-cut.  To understand God and our relationship with divinity, at this season, and throughout the year, we must dig into the treasure trove of Judaism.

In the Talmud lives a troubling, yet enlightening, story.  It reminds us of the great mitzvah, commandment, that children ought to always remember - Honor your father and mother, thus you will live long and endure.  You see, it is one of the rare cases when a command comes, written with, its reward - long life.  A father and his son, the story goes, are walking along.  As they stroll, the father notices a nest, with a bird and eggs, in a nearby tree.  The father, recognizing a great teachable moment, says to his boy,  you see that nest, go up that ladder and retrieve those eggs.  Remember, he reminds his son, it says in Torah that you must shoo away the mother bird first, thus you will live long and endure.  Another mitzvah with the reward written in Torah.  So the boy, seizing the opportunity to fulfill both of these commandments, grabs the ladder, climbs up, shoos away the mother bird, collects the eggs and starts making his way down the ladder.  As he is halfway down, the ladder breaks and the boy falls and dies.  The rabbis, after telling the story, debate how this could have happened.  They wonder how could he not receive the reward of both commandments.  One rabbi says he was thinking idolatrous thoughts, and another responds, that wouldn’t have supplanted the reward of the commandments.  Another pipes in and says, well he was thinking about sinful deeds, and to that the same response.  As the debate continues, finally, Rabbi Eliezer says, סולם רעוע הוא - the ladder was rickety.  Rabbi Eliezer teaches us that God does not work in these ways, at least not directly.  We must take responsibility for our lives and not rely on miracles, or anything to change, unless we do it ourselves.  In other words, so what if you are about to do a great deed, a life-changing mitzvah, if you don’t look out for yourself, you could be in danger.  This God, or this belief about God that our rabbis describe urges us to take responsibility.  It charges us to be the master of our lives and our world.  It might be that God cares for our souls and nurtures the spirituality within, but ultimately we must care for our bodies and our world.

In one of the great moments in Torah, the Burning Bush, God and Moses are chatting.  Well, it probably wasn’t so informal.  And, as we know, Moses was quite taken a back when he saw that sight and heard the voice.  Moses, needing some understanding of why this bush is speaking and what this voice is, asks, “When I come to the Israelites and say to them, “The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is His name?’ what shall I say to them?”  God responds, “אהיה אשר אהיה - I will be what I will be.” 

So, think this through with me for a moment.  I come to your town and say:  Pack your things and we’ll get out of here, to have a better life.  You, rightfully, respond:  Well, who are you?  Who sent you?  I respond:  I will be what I will be, sent me????

Yet, when we think about that depiction of God from our liturgy of this season, and throughout the year this works; when we think about the God not acting in our world, leaving our well-being, at least physically, mostly in our control, and when we consider the ebb and flow of our evolving views - this is the perfect name for God.  God is what we need God to be.  If we are non-believers, in a space of atheism, God is non-existent, something others relate to.  When we need a sense of comfort, a blanket over our shoulders for warmth and a sense of protection, God is the source of compassion in others.  At times of injustice, when we feel the need to respond to suffering, God is our conscience, the inspiration to rise up and make a change.  When we look out at our beautiful surroundings, especially here in Tahoe, and recognize the vastness, the majesty of nature - all those things not created by us humans - and discover awe, God is nature.  God will be what God will be. 

CONCLUSION:  Understanding that God, whichever description, is what we need makes us human.  In other words, our humanity is that we grab hold of the part of the Divine that we need…now.  Our great story of Creation, as my mother taught me, isn’t so much about how the world was created, rather why, for what set of purposes.  In that story we learn, as God is setting out to create us, “And in God’s image, God created them, in the image of God did God create them.”  We grab hold of the judging, arbitrating, punishing and rewarding part of ourselves, of God, when we need to understand the world in such a way.  We ensure the ladders we use are stable, safe and free from defect when we yearn for a bit more control, when we realize that God may not actually intervene in our world, rather it is up to us to make a difference, to act out all that is possible, after all, in that divine image, we are created…each and every one of us.  So, ultimately, it is the enigmatic phrase, the self-descriptor God uses when he introduces himself to Moses, אהיה אשר אהיה - I will be what I will be.  God is that ever evolving presence of a shepherd caring for us, God’s flock, when we need that comfort, God is the distant, transcendent source of nature, or nature itself, when we are steeped in moments of needing proof, the hard science, and God is that ability within each of us to question, to wrestle, to not believe and to change, evolving ourselves, always.  Just as our lives, who we are as people are dynamic, ever changing, so is God.  Aaron Zeitlin wrote a poem called, “If you look at the stars.” 

Praise me, says God, and I will know that you love me.
Curse me, says God, and I will know that you love me.
Praise me or curse me
And I will know that you love me.

Sing out my graces, says God,
Raise your fist against me and revile, says God.
Sing out graces or revile
Reviling is also a kind of praise,
says God.

But if you sit fenced off in your apathy,
says God,
If you sit entrenched in:  “I don’t give a hang,” says God,
If you look at the stars and yawn,
If you see suffering and don't’ cry out,
If you don’t praise and you don’t revile,
Then I created you in vain, says God. 

As we embark on this day long journey of wrestling with what it all means to and for us, as we embrace the reality of our existence - one that does not have total control, may we all discover the God we need.  The God we need waiting for us with open arms when we yearn for a hug and comfort, with more questions when we yearn to learn and a discerning heart when life stirs us to compassion.

May we discover the God we need as we search ourselves at this season, and throughout the year. 

G’mar Chatimah Tovah - May our Future Bring Goodness
The Holiness of this Day - Yom Kippur

Song of Songs Rabbah teaches:  Just as if a nut falls into some dirt you can take it up and wipe it and rinse it and wash it and it is restored to its former condition and is fit for eating, so however much Israel may be defiled with iniquities all the rest of the year, when the Day of Atonement comes it makes atonement for them, as it is written, For on this day shall atonement be made for you, to cleanse you. (Lev. 16:30)

The holiness of this day is not just that it falls on the calendar, not just that it brings us here and not just because Jews around the world are engaged in this ritual, but rather all of them.  The holiness of this day is that for millenia, we, Am Yisrael, has gathered on this day to engage in this ritual and it continues…so long as we do, the kedusha, the sacredness and holiness of this day will be.
Finding our Space, adopted from Rabbi David Wolpe's, "Floating Takes Faith."

The Rabbis teach that the Torah is from God.  Yet the most studied rabbinic text, Pirkei Avot, begins, “Moses received the Torah from Sinai.”  What is the difference? 
    The usual interpretation is that Sinai is a kind of spiritual synecdoche:  It means “from God,” and the mountain is a metaphor.  Bu the great medieval commentator Abravanel proposes another answer:  Had Moses not spent forty days and nights alone on Sinai, he would not have been able to receive the Torah.  The time spent along, in prayer and meditation, prepared him for the experience of encountering God. 
      The story is told of one Hasidic master whose child used to spend time along in the forest.  Concerned and curious, one day the rabbi pulled his boy aside and asked him what he was doing.  “I go do the forest to find God,” replied his son.  “Oh, that’s wonderful,” said the father, “but don’t you know that God is the same everywhere?” “Yes,” answered the boy, “I know that God is, but I’m not.”
    There are certain places and times in our lives when we can find God.  Moses had to have Sinai; the boy needed the forest.  The challenge is to find our own place-and cherish it. 

The Hashkiveinu prayer invites us to ask for such a place, a space.  As we invite God, the divine mystery of creation to spread over us a shelter of peace, we ask for the opportunity to find that place, to discover the sacredness of that space and to cherish it. 
A Thought for Kol Nidre by Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook

Take away my shame,
Lift my anxiety,
Absolve me of my sin
And enable me to pray before Thee
With gladness of heart,
To pursue Thy commandments and Thy Torah
In the joy of holiness.
Grant me
To bring happiness to all Thy children,
To exalt and ennoble Thy faithful,
To spread goodness and mercy
And blessing in the world.
Humble the arrogant
Who have tried to pervert me with falsehood
While I sought my happiness in serving Thee.
Save me from weakness
And fro faltering
And from every evil trail,
Illumine my eyes
With the light of Thy deliverance.
Help Thy people,
Imbue the heart of Thy people with reverence
And with awe before Thy majesty.
Strengthen them with Thy love,
Guide them to walk in the path of Thy rightesouness,
Kindle in their hearts
The light of the holiness of this Day of Holiness
And bring them to possess the inheritance Thou has set for them,
Speedily, speedily, in our time, soon.