Reb Lisa's Message

Last week, I wrote about the mass shooting in Atlanta. Six days later, less than one week, I type almost the same words...

Yesterday, we lost ten lives to gun violence during a shooting spree in Boulder.

Different city, different shooter. Ten different lives lost.

We are stunned and numb from unrelenting overexposure to tragedy. It’s natural to erect a protective wall, or let out a prolonged wail.

This week’s parasha, Tzav, teaches us about korbonot. Offerings. Ritual gifts brought to the Temple. The fire on the altar burned perpetually, consuming the offerings. The smoke ascended heavenward, to God.

Today, rather than bring animal and meal offerings to the Temple, to be burned in the fire, we offer the korban of prayer. We open our mouths, bringing the prayers of our hearts to the altar, so they too may rise upward, to the Source of All.

At times like these, we wonder if our prayers have lift off--are they even heard? Even more challenging to ponder, is it possible for prayer to be answered?

Should we keep praying anyway? Should we continue to offer up our yearnings and our questions. Our angst and our pain? Our gratitude and our praise? One prayer asks us to praise even in the midst of loss. Kaddish. Can we garner the strength to offer it again, and again? Less than a week later?

Today I offer the words of my fellow Rabbinical student, Heather Paul. May the memories of all who died in Boulder be for a blessing.


Yitgadal v’yitkadash sh’mei raba

Life is a volley of bullets

b’alma di v’ra hirutei, v’yamlikh malkhutei,

Time is a bleeding wound

b’hayyeikhon uv’yomeikhon uv’hayyei d’khol beit Yisrael,

in houses of worship, schools, shopping malls

ba'agala uviz’man kariv,

It seems that no one is safe.

v’imru: Amen.

God, these words tumble from my tongue

Y’hei sh’mei raba m’varakh l’alam ul’almei almaya.

marbles in a bowl overturned

Yitbarakh v’yishtabakh v’yitpa'ar v’yitromam v’yitnasei,

I don’t want to praise, I

v’yit’hadar v’yitaleh v’yit’halal sh’mei d’kud’sha

just want it to stop. Words, bullets, headlines,

faster and faster, they run

b’rikh hu

and I am out of breath.

L’eila min kol birkhata v’shirata,

God, I am voting, marching, organizing,

tushb’khata v’nekhemata,

I don’t know if anyone is listening, but God,

da’amiran b’alma,

We are a chance worth taking.

v’imru: Amen.

Time, blood, thoughts and prayers

Y’hei sh’lama raba min sh’maya,

are never enough, but I can’t seem to stop praying

v’hayyim aleinu v’al kol Yisrael,

even though I’m not sure

v’imru: Amen.

You are listening.

Oseh shalom bimromav,

May the One Who Makes Peace in Heaven

Hu ya'aseh shalom

Make Peace

aleinu, v’al kol Yisrael

Over us and over all Israel

v’al kol yoshvey tevel

and for all who dwell on earth.

We are a chance worth taking.

v’imru: Amen

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