03 February 2010

13/19

The thirteenth of 19 brief meditations on the 19 blessings of the Amidah.

============13

May your compassion be stirred, Eternal our God, towards the righteous, the pious, the elders of your people the house of Israel, the remnant of their scholars, towards converts to Judaism, and towards us also. Grant a good reward to all who truly trust in your name. Set our lot with them forever so that we may never be put to shame, for we have put our trust in you. Blessed are you, Eternal, the support and stay of the righteous.

The prayer of humility. There is none like it among the 19. Everyone else is ahead of us in line, here, in our prayers to God for compassion, reward and blessing. The righteous--there is always someone who does it better than us; toward the pious--there is always someone whose pure spirit exceeds our own; toward the elders--ah, well, youth is wasted on the young, as they say; toward the scholars--how we struggle to know a fraction of what our teachers know; toward those not born Jewish who *choose* to be counted among us--seeing the covenant come alive, knowing the pain and fear of rejection they often shoulder as a burden, and coming to honor the sacrifices they make in leaving a faith (and sometimes another life, behind); and, then, finally, us.

Humble, nondescript, us.

Arguably, the most counter-intuitive of our 19 blessings when one considers the context of the immediacy and narcissism of the American every day. Me, me, me. myTunes. myPhone. myPad. myLife.

The ego-inverse. Them. And more of them. And more of them. And then us. Only us. The *I* here sublimated, humbled in one's acts and learning and essential affiliation with God and people.

This prayer a way out--the beginning of the Amidah's conceptual winding down toward a close. The next prayer, our eternal center, Jerusalem; the next, the hope for redemption; and finally, a last call for God to hear us and accept our offering. That there be a partner in our pursuits for inner wholeness and external repair. Concluding with thanksgiving--a severely under-valued expression--and the prayer for peace. Always useful.

A way out of the woods--of the dark and entangling trees of I-I-I. The tools of extrication: Them. Us.

Amen.

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