Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Ozi Vezimrat Ya
Ilana Streit, crosslegged and flanked by two full-branching mechitzas, begins chanting halleluyah, gathers a slowly rising chorus in gentle, wave-rising rhythm. I don't join the chorus myself, instead opening my artscroll and paddling into pesukei dezimra on waves of halleluyah. Around me are many other swimmers. The chorus of wave-making halleluyahs, the silent meditations, a voice praising in English verse, a countervailing and harmonizing niggun, the sound of thirty different psalms intoned in Hebrew to complementary rhythms and strokes. Swimming with this sea of praise upon waves of halleluyah, each word I stroke gets lifted by a wave and I feel them moving out of my mouth propelled by the prayer surrounding me, and I swimming, rising and falling and being pulled fully-embraced into the tide of halleluyah. Pesukei Dezimra rises and falls in my chest with riptide force, and the power of those words manifest, sobbing, I cannot remember ever crying so hard.

Jews in the Woods. Walking down the street or sitting in someone's house or working at my laptop, I find myself singing a niggun from this past shabbat, and my feet leave the ground entirely. All through this week the weekend will just wash over me and coat me in a fullbodied smile, a fullness of shabbat energy. I pray that I can keep that energy, cultivate it within me and manifest it in the work of my hands, as I approach the next stage of my journey. All I can ask, all I can be able to pray for, is to dwell in this house of hashem, all the days of my life. achat shaalti meim hashem, ota avakesh, shivti bebeit hashem kol yemei chayai.


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