Prayer as if the Earth Really Matters: Shacharit (Morning Service)

Our Choice: The Pyramid of Top-Down Power or the Globe of Communal Sharing

Prayer as if the Earth Really Matters: Shacharit  (Morning Service)


Hareni m'kabeyl alai et-mitzvat ha-Borey –


V'ahavta l'rayacha kamocha, l'rayacha kamocha.


Here I stand/ and I take upon myself


The commitment of the Creator:


Love your neighbor as yourself, your neighbor as yourself.


Morning Has Broken


Morning has broken like the first morning;


blackbird has spoken like the first bird.


Praise for the singing! Praise for the morning!


Praise for them springing fresh from the Word.


Sweet the rain's new fall sunlit from heaven,


like the first dew fall on the first grass.


Praise for the sweetness of the wet garden,


sprung in completeness where our feet pass.


Mine is the sunlight! Mine is the morning


born of the one light Eden saw play!


Praise with elation, praise every morning,


God's recreation of the new day!




[Leader explains the relationship between “my breath” from “my God” and the breath of all life, celebrating “our God.” Leader may use two guided visualizations for these two chants. For the first, follow the Breath entering each of our bodies, suffusing the body – perhaps through each body-aspect of the S’firot: Meanwhile the community chants:]


Elohai neshama, sheh-natata bi, tehorah hi.


[My God, the breath You have placed within me is pure.]


[While chanting, follow your in-breath to


two hemispheres of brain (Chochma & Binah),


right arm (Chesed), left arm (Gevurah),


heart (Tiferet/ Rachamim) , right leg (Netzach),


left leg (Hod), genitals (Yesod), skin (Malkhut).


Then follow CO2 back to lungs, breathe out.]


^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^Nishmat kol chai tivarekh et-shimcha,


Yahhh – Yahhh elohenu.


[The breath of all life praises your Name,  Yahhh our God.]


[Second visualization: While chanting, follow the breath as it leaves your mouth and nose, goes into the world, is breathed in by grasses and trees, then is breathed out by them into frogs, honeybees, tigers, peacocks, humans. Togther, chant in English:]


You Whose very Name ---


YyyyHhhhWwwwHhhh  [Just breathe] --


Is the Breath of Life,


The breathing of all life


Gives joy and blessing to Your Name.


As lovers lie within each other's arms,


Whispering each the other's name


Into the other's ear,


So we lie in Your arms,


Breathing with each breath


Your Name, Your Truth, Your Unity.


You alone,  Your Breath of Life alone,


Guides us, Frees us, Transforms us, Heals us,


Nurtures us, Teaches us.


First, Last, Future, Past,


Inward, Outward, Beyond, Between,


You are the breathing that gives life to all the worlds.


And we do the breathing that gives life to all the worlds.


As we breathe in what the trees breathe out,


And the trees breathe in what we breathe out,


So we breathe each other into life,


We and You.






Kol ha'neshama t'hallel Yahhh; Hallelu Yahhhh.


[Every breath praises Your Name; Let us praise Yahh!]




[The assembly sings from Psalm 148, to the melody of “Michael Row the Boat Ashore”:]


Praise God, sun and moon, Hallelu-Yah.


Praise Yah, you stars of light, Hallelu-Yah.


Praise God, you high heavens, Hallelu-Yah.


All that flows in all the world, Hallelu-Yah.


Let them all praise God's Name, Hallelu-Yah.


For God spoke and they appeared, Hallelu-Yah.


With God they take their stand, Hallelu-Yah.


God's rhythm none must break, Hallelu-Yah.



Praise Yah from the Earth, Hallelu-Yah.


You sea-monsters and all deeps, Hallelu-Yah.


Fire, hail, snow, and steam, Hallelu-Yah.


Stormy wind to do God's word, Hallelu-Yah.



Mountains high and tiny hills, Hallelu-Yah.


Trees of fruit and evergreens, Hallelu-Yah.


Wild beasts and quiet flocks, Hallelu-Yah.


Creeping bugs and winged birds, Hallelu-Yah.



Leaders and officials, Hallelu-Yah.


Men and women, young and old, Hallelu-Yah!


Whole societies and peoples, Hallelu-Yah.


Kol ha’neshama t’hallel Yahh, Hallelu=Yah



[Members of the prayer community read, one by one, each paragraph:]


Psalm 149 sings out our ecstasies in the beauty of God’s Presence in the Earth, and the Psalm reminds us that we humans are not separate from this sacred flow: we too are woven into its life.


Yet in our generation, this wonder and this beauty have been desecrated -- not in one land alone but ‘round all the Earth. So in this crisis, even as we celebrate in earth-song, we know all Earth needs also the healing human hand.


So we call ourselves into community. First we turn to each other. As the ancient rabbis said about the Torah teaching that God created human beings in God’s Image: “When Caesar puts his image on a coin, all the coins come out identical. When the Holy One Who is beyond all rulers puts the Divine Image on a coin – each coin comes out unique.”


So let us look around our circle to look deeply at the face of each one of us, and pause at each Face to say: “This is the Face of God. And this. And this…”


And now let us turn to our fellow-creatures, the myriad communities of humans and other life-forms, the myriad ecosystems who make up the community of Earth. We turn to see and welcome into our minyan especially the Trees of Life that give us life. Without them there would be no minyan.]


Leader: Barchu et- Yahhhh ha’m’vorakh.


All respond:  Baruch Yahhhh  ha’m’vorakh l’olam va’ed.


[Leader explains about use of “O!” -–  the vowel of “radical amazement”  --- in this brocha celebrating Creation/]


YOtzer Ohr u'vOrey chOshech, Oseh shalom  u'vOrey et ha-kOl.


FOrming glOw, compOsing shadOw, Opening shalOm and compOsing the whOle.


Ahavah rabbah, ahavtanu [4 times, as melody shifts


[All together chant: ”Sh’ma Yisael Yahhh elohnu Yahhhh echad.” Then, going around the room, each person reads one paragraph :]


Sh’sh’sh’ma Yisra’el –

Hush’sh’sh and Listen, You Godwrestlers –

Pause from your wrestling and hush’sh’sh

To hear -- YyyyHhhhWwwwHhhh/ Yahhhhhh.

Hear in the stillness the still silent voice,

The silent breathing that intertwines life;


 YyyyHhhhWwwwHhhh / Yahhhh elohenu

Breath of life is our God,

What unites all the varied

forces creating

all worlds into one-ness,

Each breath unique,

And all unified;


Listen, You Godwrestlers –

No one people alone

owns this Unify-force;

YyyyHhhhWwwwHhhh / Yahh is One.


So at the gates of your cities,

where your own culture ends,

and another begins,

And you halt there in fear –


“Here we speak the same language

“But out there is bar-bar-bar-barbaric,

“They may kill without speaking—“

Then pause in the gateway to write on its walls

And to chant in its passage:

“Each gate is unique in the world that is One.”


If you hush’sh’sh and then listen,

yes hush’sh’sh and then listen

to the teachings of YyyyHhhhWwwwHhhh/ Yahhh,

the One Breath of Life,

that the world is One,

all its parts  intertwined --

Then the rains will fall

Time by time, time by time;

The rivers will run,

the heavens will smile,

the good earth will fruitfully feed you.


But –  if you chop the world into parts

and choose parts to worship –

gods of race or of nation

gods of wealth and of power,

gods of greed and addiction;


If you Do and you Make,

and Produce without pausing;

If you Do without Being --

Then the rain will not fall  --

or will turn to sharp acid -- 

The rivers won't run  --

or flood homes and cities;

The heavens themselves

will take arms against you:

the ozone will fail you,

the oil that you burn

will scorch your whole planet –

and from the good earth

that the Breath of Life gives you,

you will vanish –- yes, perish.


So on the edges of your Self,

On the corners of your clothing,

take care to weave fringes –

threads of connection.

So you end not with sharpness,

A fence or a wall,

But with sacred mixing

of  cloth and of air –


A fringe that is fuzzy,

part yours and part God’s:

Not good fences make good neighbor

but good fringes make good neighbors.


They bind us together,

Make One from our one-ness.




[Leader says]: We are about to enter the Amidah, where we take our own stance in the Breath of life, murmuring prayer with our own breathing. Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel taught us two profound lessons about prayer: Returning from Selma Alabama where he had marched alongside Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, to demand full voting rights for Black Americans, he said, “I felt as if my legs were praying.” And he wrote:



"The beginning of prayer is praise. The power of worship is song. To worship is to join the cosmos in praising God. . . . Prayer is meaningless unless it is subversive, unless it seeks to overthrow and to ruin the pyramids of callousness, hatred, opportunism, falsehoods. The liturgical movement must become a revolutionary movement, seeking to overthrow the forces that continue to destroy the promise, the hope, the vision."



[Leader says: May our prayers bear song and meaning;  may our prayers be subversive! We will take several minutes to lift up the prayers of our hearts, and we will come together again with the single word ‘Shalom.’ ” [After a few minutes, s/he begins that chant.]


[The community turns now to study the Torah of this week. On Monday , Thursday, Festival, and Shabbat, we call people up for aliyot from the parashah of the week or festival. On other days, choose a passage from the parashah or from midrash on it to read, chant, or sing together in study mode, joining in the blessing over Torah study:]


Community says together aloud:


“You Who are the Breathing-Spirit of the world, breathe into us the full awareness that by breathing together we make the deep connections – the mitzvot – among each other and with all of life; breathe into us the impulse to shape our breath with our tongues and lips into words; breathe into us the desire to shape our words so that they aim toward wisdom – becoming our own words of Torah. Baruch attah [Brucha aht] Yahhhh, elohenu ruach ha’olam, asher kidshanu b’mitzvot – vitzivanu la’asok b’divrei Torah. “



[For example, the leader might say: This week we read a story of “Exodus” or “Wilderness.” As a midrash on this central story of our People, we will sing together a song that tracks the first stages of the Freedom Journey of our people, connecting it with the Freedom Struggle of African-Americans as King and Heschel connected their lives in that struggle  -- together with a new verse to remind us that all humankind and all life on this planet are now in a struggle for freedom, for justice, and for life itself .]


[The assembly sings “Go Down Moses” including the last verse printed here, and then moves into “We Have the Whole World in Our Hands.”


When Israel Was in Egypt’s Land
(African American spiritual)


When Israel was in Egypt’s land, Let My people go;
Oppressed so hard they could not stand, Let My people go;
Go down, Moses, way down in Egypt’s land,
Tell old Pharaoh: Let My people go!


God told Moses what to do, Let My people go;
To lead the children of Israel through, Let My people go.
Go down, Moses, way down in Egypt’s land,
Tell old Pharaoh: Let My people go!


The pillar of cloud shall clear the way, Let My people go;
A fire by night, a shade by day, Let My people go.
Go down, Moses, way down in Egypt’s land,
Tell old Pharaoh: Let My people go!


As Israel stood by the water-side, Let My people go;
At God’s command it did divide, Let My people go.
Go down, Moses, way down in Egypt’s land,
Tell old Pharaoh: Let My people go!


When they had reached the other shore, Let My people go;
They sang the song of freedom o’er, Let My people go.
Go down, Moses, way down in Egypt’s land,
Tell old Pharaoh: Let My people go!


Oh, set all Earth from bondage free, Let all My peoples go;
And let all life be free to Be, Let air and water flow.
Go down, Moses, way down in every land,
Tell ALL Pharaohs: Let all My creation go!






 “WE HAVE THE WHOLE WORLD IN OUR HANDS!”  [An expression of the responsibility we accept in ”Alenu, Upon ourselves  is the joyful task “ L’Takeyn olam b’malkhut shaddai; To Heal the world through the Majesty of Nurture.”]


[If possible, while singing PASS a GLOBE FROM HAND TO HAND]


We have the whole world in our hands,

We have the rain and the forests in our hands,
We  have the wind and the honeybees in our hands,

We have the rivers and the mountains in our hands,
We have the lakes and the oceans in our hands

We have you and me in our hands,
We have the whole world in our hands.


We have trees and tigers in our hands,

We have our sisters and our brothers in our hands,

We have our children and their children in our hands,






Mourners Kaddish in a Time of War and Violence


Yitgadal V’yit’kadash Shmei Rabah 


B’alma di vra chi’rooteh v’yamlich malchuteh  b’chayeichon, u’v’yomeichon, u’v’chayei d’chol beit yisrael, b’agalah u’vizman kariv, v’imru: --   Amein.


Y’hei sh’mei rabbah, me’vorach, l’olam almei almaya.


Yitbarach, v’yishtabach, v’yitpa’ar, v’yitromam, v’yitnasei, v’yit'hadar, v’yit’aleh, v’yit'halal --  Shmei di’kudshah, --  Brich hu, (Cong: Brich Hu) 


L’eylah min kol bir’chatah v’shir’atah tush’be’chatah v’nehematah, de’amiran be’alma, v’imru: Amein (Cong: Amein) 


Yehei Shlama Rabah min Shemaya v’chayyim { aleinu v’al kol Yisrael, v’imru Amein.


Oseh Shalom bi’m’romav, hu ya’aseh shalom aleinu v’al kol yisrael v'al kol yishmael v'al kol yoshvei tevel -- v’imru: Amein.


May Your Great Name, through our expanding awareness and our fuller action, lift You to become still higher and more holy.


For Your Great Name weaves together all the names of all the beings in the universe, among them our own names and the names of those we mourn --   (Cong: Amein)


---   Throughout the world that You have offered us, a world of majestic peaceful order that gives life to the Godwrestling folk through time and through eternity ---- And let's say, Amein


So may the Great Name be blessed, through every Mystery and Mastery of every universe.


May Your Name be blessed and celebrated, Its beauty honored and raised high, may It be lifted and carried, may Its radiance be praised in all Its Holiness –--  Blessed be!


Even though we cannot give You enough blessing, enough song, enough praise, enough consolation to match what we wish to lay before you –


And though we know that today there is no way to console You when among us some who bear Your Image in our being

are slaughtering others who bear Your Image in our being --


Still, may it be that from the unity of Your Great Name there flows a great and joyful harmony and life for us and for all who wrestle God;   (Cong: Amein)


You who make harmony in the ultimate reaches of the universe, teach us to make harmony within ourselves, among ourselves -- 

and peace for the children of Israel, the children of Ishmael, and for all who dwell upon this planet.  (Cong: Amein)




[This service was shaped by Rabbi Arthur Waskow, director of The Shalom Center <



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