Chasing My Spirit

As part of my blackout poetry / text rehabilitation efforts lately, I decided to use pages from my old siddur. It sits in a filebox along with other paraphernalia from a life I no longer lead. (Okay, that’s an overly dramatic way of saying – it’s in a filebox full of old memories. Same as anyone else has boxes full of childhood memories. But allow me my little moment of melodrama? Okay, thanks ๐Ÿ˜‰ )

I flipped to the front cover for a moment of nostalgia, to read the inscription there. My group of friends had gotten me this siddur as a bas mitzvah gift. I’m the oldest of the six of us, and their gift to me started a tradition of exchanging bas mitzvah gifts. The inscription is a standard “yemalei hashem kol mesh’alos libeich l’tova,” along with their signatures in Hebrew.

But then I saw this sticker. I had forgotten about it.

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Sticker with Hebrew statement pasted into the front cover of my old siddur.

At the school shabbos of my sophomore year (2004), the theme was “Turning Time into Eternity / v’chayei olam nata b’sochenu.” This sticker was a keepsake from the shabbos, and we were encouraged to put it in our siddurim so that we can recite it after davening as we started each day.

A rough translation:

Here I am, ready from this moment, on every detail of my actions, words, and thoughts, of this entire day until tomorrow at this time, for the sake of the One Holiness Blessed and His Spirit(?), in the name of all Jews, to submit myself and all Jews and all the world to merit(?). And here I am, ready from this moment until tomorrow at this time, that I will remember each time that the holy name of god in its written form should be thought of as “was, is, and will be” (shem havaya / YHWH) and in its spoken form as “lord of all” (adonai), and when I mention the name elokim (elohim), I will remember that he is powerful, master of ability, and master of every single power, burden of burdens(?) and reason of reasons.

I could provide commentary on this. But I think for now I will leave it here as is. Corrections and emendations to this very rough and quick translation are welcome in the comments ๐Ÿ™‚ , as are any thoughts about this practice (one which did not become an institution in any way – it was just a “kabbalah” after the shabbos that quickly died, as most inspired kabbalos do).

Bonus #1: this photo from the beginning of Az Yashir / Shiras HaYam in my siddur. I used this siddur every day from sixth grade through seminary (except for some shabbosim in high school when I started skipping davening, and on yomim tovim when I used a machzor, but you get my point…), and the oils from my fingers eventually left permanent stains on the pages where I held them.

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Bonus #2: a blackout poem I created from the above page:

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Translation of the blackout poem: “In the heart of the sea, I will chase my spirit.”

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