God is a Sanctuary
Therefore say, Thus saith Ad’ni HaShem; Although I have cast them far off among the heathen, and although I have scattered them among the countries, yet will I be to them as a little sanctuary in the countries where they shall come. (Ezekiel 11:16)
“Banished from the public means of grace, we are not removed from the grace of the means. Ad’ni who places His people where they feel as exiles will Himself be with them and be to them all that they could have had at home, in the place of their solemn assemblies. Take this to yourselves, O ye who are called to wander!
“HaShem is to His people a place of refuge. They find sanctuary with Him from every adversary, He is their place of worship, too. He is with them as with Jacob when he slept in the open field and rising, said, “Surely HaShem was in this place,” To them also He will be a sanctuary of quiet, like the Holy of Holies, which was the noiseless abode of the Eternal. They shall be quiet from fear of evil.
“HaShem Himself, in Ad’ni Y’shua, is the sanctuary of mercy. The Ark of the Covenant is Ad’ni Y’shua, and Aaron’s rod, the pot of manna, the tables of the law, all are in HaShem our sanctuary. In HaShem, we find the shrine of holiness and of communion. What more do we need? O Ad’ni, fulfill this promise and be ever to us as a little sanctuary!” -C.H. Spurgeon
“Yeshayah 8:14 And He shall be for a Sanctuary; but for an Even Negef (Stone of Stumbling) and for a Tzur Michshol (rock of offense) to both the Batei Yisroel, for a pach (snare) and for a mokesh (trap) to the inhabitants of Yerushalayim.
“We would rather be ruined than changed. We would rather die in our dread than climb the cross of the present and let our illusions die.” -W.H. Auden
“The most exalted moral statutes concerning the treatment of strangers are connected with the Exodus, and are, from a psychological point of view, impressively inculcated by means of the reminder: ‘Ye know the heart of the stranger, seeing ye were strangers in the land of Egypt’ (Exod. 23:9). It is remarkable how even the law of the Sabbath rest, on first sight unconnected with the story of Israel’s slavery and redemption, is brought into relation with and illuminated by it. The fourth commandment in the second version of the Ten Commandments in Deuteronomy disregards the dogmatic reason attached to it in the first version; ‘For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth and rested on the seventh day.’ It emphasizes rather the ethical motive, that the servant should be granted a day of rest and employs the memory of the Egyptian experience to urge consideration for such ordinances. This method, characteristic of the Bible and still more of the Rabbis, which strives to establish a connection with the most important moral laws and the history of Israel in Egypt the Prophets and Psalmists employ to give reality chiefly to the idea of God’s providence and grace. The Rabbis finally deduce from it the two fundamental elements of man’s education: the idea of liberty and the idea of man’s ethical task.
“Political and even civil freedom was lost. If the Roman Pharaohs did no exact labor, they the more despotically exacted property and blood and aimed at the annihilation of the ideal possessions – the Law, Its study, and Its practice. Yet the idea of liberty, of inner moral and spiritual liberty, was cherished as a pure and exalted ideal possible only under and through the Law and was associated with the memory of redemption from Egyptian bondage; the memory of which was connected with symbolic practices accompanying every act, pleasure, and celebration.
“[Our Ideals are] The Sovereignty of God over all creatures, the brotherhood of the human family, the revelation of the divine spirit to man, the providence of God, the concept of reward and punishment, the restoration of the Jewish people and the sanctuary in Zion where a center for enlightenment for mankind shall be created.
“Uv’chen ten cavod – God’s restoration of Israel in Zion and the reinstitution of the Davidic dynasty. (This work-in-progress has been the hidden secret of America’s success for many generations).
“[As the hymn] acher emathecha…recounts God’s greatness over all the worlds and yet He desires the praise from man who, formed from the dust, strives and falls.”
“‘First, there is the fall and then we recover from the fall. Both are the mercy of God!’ – Lady Julian of Norwich
“According to the prophetic and Talmudic conception, all disasters came as a result of sins.
“Nevertheless, and more to the present reason to rejoice: ‘Whoever mourns over Jerusalem will merit to behold its joy’ (b. Taanith 30b).
“The compassion of God is asked for mourners of Zion and for the despised and desolate city which has been devoured by legions who have killed the pious. (Another less fortunate truth of Zion in America – we have suffered many setbacks and defeats). Nevertheless,
“…only through repentance and wholehearted return to God can redemption come…our fate is the consequence of our sins, [which still dates back to the time when] the independence of the Jewish people was lost – (II Kings 25:22-25), [an original Fast-day] Later, the fast of Esther [starts tomorrow evening and last all of 13 Adar II, 5776. or Wednesday, March 23, 2016. Be sure to keep it! It was originally a three-day fast. And we celebrate Purim on the following day, 14 Adar II/March 24. Yom tov!]
“Sihoth – [best part of private devotion] which means heart to heart conversation.
“My Father in heaven! Cause me to merit that Thy faith be ever routed in my heart, and remove all partitions which stand between me and Thee. Cause me to merit that in the hour when I engage in the study of Tora and in Thy service my thoughts be pure and clear so that I be able to worship Thee with truth and a perfect heart, and save me from all errors and impediments. Cause me to merit that I unite my heart, my words, my actions, and all my movements and emotions, both revealed and hidden, to Thy service with truth and sincerity. Sanctify me and purify me, and plant in my heart love and fear of Thee. Guard me against all strange thoughts, against haughtiness, anger and ill-temper, and against all evil things which undermine Thy worship – so holy, so pure, so beloved of Thee. Imbue with Thy sacred spirit, that I may cleave unto Thee and yearn after Thee. Save me from all envy and jealousy, so that no thought of hatred ever enter my heart. Give me the vision to see in everyone his good qualities, and close my eyes from beholding his defects. Lead me in the path of truth, so that I speak with my friends truthfully and righteously. Amen.
“Lord of all worlds! Thou art the God who doest wonders through the true and righteous men in every generation. Even in our generation, there are righteous men who perform real miracles. In Thy great mercy endow me with the merit and help me to be able to recount the stories of those true righteous men, all the wonders they have done in public and in secret. For their praise is Thy praise and their glory is Thy glory. And through that may my thoughts be purified from all confused and dangerous ideas which spring from petty minds. And may this save me from all tribulations produced by those petty minds. O help me to occupy myself with the lore of the true ‘tzadikim,’ the great minds. Thou hast made known unto me that corresponding to each story of the true righteous there is a story of the wicked. Teach me, therefore, whose story I shall recount. There are, too, stories of those who mix up the good with the evil, and wrap themselves in the garment of others, so that the difference between them and the true righteous is as great as the difference between light and darkness. O may I merit to recount the lore of the true righteous men, so that my thoughts may be purified…
“My parents abandoned me, and without a single friend in the whole world, I put my trust in God and in His dear books.
“We remember today the day on which Jerusalem fell by the mighty hand of an enemy, on which day Judea ceased to be a people of the Lord and its sons and daughters were dispersed in all parts of the world…Lamenting did they go into captivity, saying that we are doomed to be extinguished among the nations of the world…In days of severe oppression, they hoped that Thou wilt cause them to return to the land of promise and that Thou wilt reestablish the empire of Juda and rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem…Thou didst hear their petitions but didst not fulfill their prayer, not because Thou wast angry with them, but because Thou hast chosen them to Thy service. Thou didst send them among the peoples of the world…Not because Thou wantest to punish them did they endure persecutions and oppressions, but because Thou wantest them to be able to testify to the invincible power of Thy truth. Therefore, they ought to declare Thy Name in the presence of their abusers, even under severe sufferings…A great and holy work didst Thou entrust into our hands, O God. Thou hast desired that we shall carry the light of Thy Wisdom silently through the world until the time will come when the eyes of the nations will open to Thy light. Thou hast willed that we shall not ask ‘What have we transgressed that such a heavy burden shall weigh down upon me and bend me to the ground,’ but that we carry it with humility…until the hatred of the people shall disappear before the radiance of love which we proclaim in Thy Name.
“Everywhere the national and dogmatically narrowing point of view had to yield to the living flow of the purely human and truly religious thought; for a noble, truly pious nature, belief in the universal Father of mankind has more attractive force than the belief in the God of Israel; the doctrine that all men are created in the image of God is of higher poetic worth than the election of Israel. The teaching of a universal law of human brotherhood and love for the neighbor has a greater potency than a particularistic ceremonial legislation…We call particular attention to such prayers as have for their themes the holiness of God and of man, the priestly mission of Israel, the purified Messainic idea…
“We left the Messiah, the bearer of our lofty ideals, His sacred place (Zion). Where else? Not in Berlin, the metropolis of Protestantism; not in Rome, the center of paganism of old and now of the Catholic world; but in Jerusalem, the holy city, from there the light will shine again for all mankind [or] the spiritual and cultural Zionism of the present day…[a] pure progressive conception. Particularism and one-sidedness must be omitted.
“The historical position of Israel must be interpreted in a way whereby Judaism is the bearer of the religion of truth and light. Israel’s mission is to proclaim this message to the world, until it will be accepted by all men, and Israel will ultimately broaden to embrace the human race.
“Our hope for the future shall be the unity of all nations into one family of truth, justice, and peace.
“[This is] Divine Service for the American Israelites.
“…now the whole earth has become their habitation, the children of Israel still assemble…this day of sacred memories to offer unto Thee the more acceptable sacrifices of prayer…charity and benevolence.
“Israel still yearns to be the messenger of Thy word.
“As from the tiny seed Thou bringest forth the blossom and the fruit, so didst Thou cause Israel, the seed of Thy planting, to grow into a sturdy tree, bearing fruit for the nations of the earth…Animated by faith in Thee may we never cease to hope and to labor for that spiritual harvest, when all Thy children, shall be gathered together under the banner of Thy truth.
“Into His hand, I commend my spirit when I am asleep and awake. For Thy Salvation, I hope, O Lord.
“Let no self-deception hide from me the record of sin and short-coming, of opportunities neglected, of time misspent, of abilities and powers perverted to lower purposes against my own better impulse and knowledge.
“[May] God’s truth become manifest to all men, so that, united in fellowship, they may strive to do Thy will with perfect hearts.
“Joy to Thy land, gladness to Thy city, a flourishing horn unto David Thy servant, and a clear shining light unto the son of Jesse, Thine anointed.
“Praised be Thy Name, O Holy One of Israel, Who hast sanctified us for Thy service and hast consecrated us as a messenger of good tidings to mankind.
“May it be God’s will to redeem us from all trouble and from all servitude. Next year at this season may the whole house of Israel be free.
“Grant deliverance to mankind through Israel Thy people…so that Thy Name shall be sanctified in the midst of all the earth, and that all peoples be moved to worship Thee with One accord.”
“Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting;
The soul that rises with us, our Life’s star
Hath had elsewhere its setting,
And cometh from afar;
Not in entire forgetfulness,
And not in utter nakedness,
But trailing clouds of glory do we come
From God, Who is our Home;
Heaven lies about us in our infancy!
Shades of the prison-house begin to close
Upon the growing boy,
But he beholds the light, and whence it flows,
He sees it in his joy.”
“Unless the reformer can invent something which substitutes attractive virtues for attractive vices, he will fail.”— Walter Lippmann
“Gentle Love Union”
“Let all breath the spirit of love; the romance between God the Lover and Israel the Beloved.
“Schmachtend um dich, muss, Lieb’ ich mich verzehren und rufend geh’n umher, dich su umfangen; Lebendig sterb’ ich, willst du nicht mehr kehren, und wein ‘und seufz’, aufs neu dich zu erlangen…So wächst das Herz, das in dich aufengaugen; O stille mein Verlangen, Komm, heile meine Wunden, Lied’ halt mich so gebunden, Die letzte Kraft entschwand.”
“My Ad’ni, be welcome, be thousand times kissed, be passionately embraced, thou my soul’s desire.”
May Watchers of the Morning become Bringers of the Dawn!
[The above text is all from various sources collected in the book Jewish Liturgy and Its Development by A.Z. Idelsohn except where otherwise noted/specified by me. I’d also like to thank Baruch Naschon for the first and third to last work of art divinely inspired which has enriched not a few of my blog entries of late. Todah rabah!]
Yom Chag Sameach Purim Tov! May One and all have an easy fast and joyous celebration! Next year at complete and joyful Liberty in Unity of Brotherhood around the world! And may God Bless America!