Amidah for Shabbat Ma’ariv

This poem is a kind of meditation that grew out of my attempt to get a better understanding of poems that make up the Amidah or Tefillah, the most important daily Jewish prayer. I decided that, to get my hands around the Amidah and see its diverse and multifaceted themes as a unity, I would write a poem that tied together all the prayers. I also decided to use the Amidah for Shabbat Ma’ariv because that service is the most common one at my synagogue, and because its seven poems were easier to unify than the nineteen of the weekday Amidah. Clearly, I have emphasized certain words and chosen to interpret particular aspects in my idiosyncratic way, but everything in this poem can be located in the Amidah. I'm emboldened to offer my interpretation of this ancient text by a Talmudic ruling (Sotah 32a.5) that the Amidah prayer is one of the passages that can be recited in any language.

As you remember, Blessed One, we praised you from the time of Abraham and Sarah.
As a man and a woman of good deeds, they followed you,
and thus their children, their children’s children, and their descendants could
be redeemed and live under the protection of the Blessed One.

Marvelously, life comes to all through the Blessed One,
who lifts up those who fall, heals the sick, frees the captives,
and keeps faith with the dead.

To what can be compared this one who rules both the dead and living?
Everything about you is holy.
Even the concept of you is holy.
Every day we use to celebrate your holiness.

But most holy is the seventh day.
Even above the wondrous earth,
even above the heaven with all its armies,
the seventh day, the day of rest,
where nothing is made or destroyed,
is blessed and made holy.
Blessed One, give the seventh day as inheritance to the children of Israel.

Give us this time to pray,
and be satisfied with our prayers now
as you were when the temple was standing
and will when you return in glory.

And we in return thank you
for life, for salvation,
for your kindness at every turn,
for miracles,
and for being with us at every moment,
evening, morning, and midday.

Most of all we bless you for peace.
The one who yourself is whole
can make us whole and put us all at a state of peace magnificent.

Guard my very tongue and lips from doing harm to others.
Make my soul like dust,
and in return oppose the counsel of those who would do harm to me.

My words are directed to your name, your right hand, your holiness, your Torah, your answer to me.

Andy Oram
4 March 2005

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