Exploring Prayer of the Secular

Prayer of the Secular

Words and music by Kobi Oz

℗&© Anana Ltd

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EXJvIx-7ubE]

Father, oh merciful Father

Be to me a trusted soul-mate

Cushion my heart in your faith

Lend to me awe at the sound of your name

 

I never found myself a teacher

and my laws are improvised

When I am in distress I take a pill

I made great progress

(descendant of monkeys)

And for all my weaknesses

my parents are to blame

And there’s no well-ploughed furrow,

it’s a multi-lane highway

That leads to the general mall

And if a miracle happens

it’s really no big deal

Doesn’t happen because of me

 

Father, oh merciful Father

Be to me a trusted soul-mate

Cushion my heart in your faith

Lend to me awe at the sound of your name

 

That’s how I prayed at a Jewish minyan

Next to me a Haredi trembled

a volcano of fears(1)

For the sake of G-d he is a systematic robot

Hugely sweaty,

blessed with (many) children(2)

Next to us a National Orthodox

who worships dust(3)

And for all his invasion of the past

He praises battle-dress as if the battle’s won

And we all live by his sword

An immigrant and caretaker

decorated in a hunched back

A reform Jew with a brand new cover,

or a different book.(4)

A traditional and his lad

Bar Mitzvah boy

Kuzaris without candies(5)

And from behind there is

a wild rustling and whispering

Headscarves and wigs and hair-do’s

For on the other side of the divide

lifts the sensuous sound

The feminine voice

Of the non-counted(6)

 

Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakkai (7) wept from on high out of sadness, or maybe happiness

And the rain fell or he shed a tear

A sigh escaped my heart

All are thy students, Powerful Hammer, Candle of Israel, Right-hand Pillar.(8)

Bless thy children of all kinds,

both religious and also secular

 

 

 

Father, oh merciful Father

Be to me a trusted soul-mate

Cushion my heart in your faith

Lend to me awe at the sound of your name

 

אַבָּא הוֹי אָב הָרַחֲמָן

הֱיֵה לִי יְדִיד נֶפֶשׁ נֶאֱמָן

רַפֵּד לִבִּי בֶּאֱמוּנָתְךָ

תֵּן בִּי יִרְאָה לְמַשְׁמָע שִׁמְךָ

 

 

לֹא עָשִׂיתִי לִי רַב וחוּקוֹתַיי הֵן אִלְתּוּר

כְּשֶׁאֲנִי בִּמְצוּקָה אֲנִי לוֹקֵחַ כַּדוּר

מְאֹד הִתְקַדַּמְתִּי

(מוֹצָאִי מִקּוֹפִים)

וּבְכָל חוּלשוֹתַיי אֲשֵׁמִים הַהוֹרִים

 

 

וְאֵין אֵיזֶה תֶּלֶם יֵשׁ כְּבִישׁ מָהִיר רַב מַסְלוּלִי

הַמּוֹבִיל אֶל הַקַּנְיוֹן הַכְּלָלִי

וְאִם מִתְרַחֵשׁ נֵס זֶה לְגַמְרֵי לְגַמְרֵי סְתָמִי

לֹא קוֹרֶה בִּגְלָלִי

 

 

 

אַבָּא הוֹי אָב הָרַחֲמָן

הֱיֵה לִי יְדִיד נֶפֶשׁ נֶאֱמָן

רַפֵּד לִבִּי בֶּאֱמוּנָתְךָ

תֵּן בִּי יִרְאָה לְמַשְׁמָע שִׁמְךָ

 

כָּךְ הִתְפַּלַּלְתִּי בְּמִנְיָן יְהוּדִים

לְצִדִּי חֲרֵדִי רָעַד גָּעַשׁ פְּחָדִים

כִּי לְמַעַן הַשֵם הוּא רוֹבּוֹט שִׁיטָתִי

מְיֻזָּע כַּמּוּתִי, מְכוֹנַת יְלָדִים

 

 

 

לְיָדֵנוּ דָּתִי לְאֻמִּי שֶׁסּוֹגֵד לָעָפָר

וּמֵרֹב הִתְפַּלְּשׁוּת בְּעָבָר

מִתְּהַלֵל הַחוֹגֵר כְּמַשִּׁיל חגוֹרוֹ

וְכֻלָּנוּ חַיִּים עַל חַרְבּוֹ

 

עוֹלֶה וְשֶׁמֶשׁ מְעֻטָּר חֲטוֹטֶרֶת

רֵפוֹרְמִי בְּשִׁנּוּי גְבֶרֶת אוֹ בְּשִׁנּוּי הָאַדֶּרֶת

 

 

מָסַרְתִי וְנַעֲרוֹ

חָתָן גִּיל הַמִצְווֹת

כּוּזָרִים חֲשׁוּכֵי מַמְתָּקִים

 

מֵאָחוֹר יֵשׁ רַחַשׁ וְלַחַשׁ חָפְשִׁי

מִטְפָּחוֹת וּפֵאוֹת וְעִצּוּב מִסְפָּרוֹת

כִּי מֵעֵבֶר פַּרְגּוֹד רָם הַקּוֹל החוּשִי

קָם הַקּוֹל הַנָּשִׁי

שֶׁל הֲלֹא נִסְפָּרוֹת.

 

 

רַבָּן יוֹחָנָן בֵּן זַכַּאי בָּכָה מִלְּמַעְלָה מִצַעַר, אוּלַי מִשִמְחָה

וְהַגֶּשֶׁם יָרַד אוֹ דִמְעָה הוּא מָחָה.

מִלִּבִּי נִפְלְטָה אֲנָחָה,

כֻּלָּם תַּלְמִידֶיךָ פַּטִּישׁ הֶחָזָק, נֵר יִשְׂרָאֵל, עַמּוּד הַיְמָינִי

בָּרֵךְ אֶת בָּנֶיךָ מִכָּל הַגְוָונִים גַּם דָּתִי גַּם חִלּוֹנִי.

 

 

 

 

 

אַבָּא הוֹי אָב הָרַחֲמָן

הֱיֵה לִי יְדִיד נֶפֶשׁ נֶאֱמָן

רַפֵּד לִבִּי בֶּאֱמוּנָתְךָ

תֵּן בִּי יִרְאָה לְמַשְׁמָע שִׁמְךָ

 

 

To download the full  pdf guide, click here.

To follow the guiding questions online, click here.

  1. Haredi – Ultra-Orthodox. The literal translation of ‘haredi’ would be ‘quaker’, or ‘trembler’.
  2. The phrase “blessed with children” is now, among other things, a political phrase. It recalls the fact that large families are eligible for significant government subsidies, far more per child than small families.
  3. Here the reference is to the religious settlers who value the land of the Bible. The continued settlement of Biblical lands on the West Bank is, in this song, blamed for Israel’s continuing wars with her neighbours.
  4. Here Kobi Oz raises a question as to whether Reform Judaism has reformed Judaism, or created an entirely different religion.
  5. The Khazar nation, that legend has it converted to Judaism after the persuasions of Rabbi Yehuda HaLevi in the Book of the Kuzari, was a blond nation. Sephardi legends have it that the Ashkenazim are descended from the Kuzaris. The tradition of throwing candies at a Bar Mitzvah is a Sephardi tradition. Hence if you are a descendent of the Kuzaris, you will be without candies…
  6. A Jewish prayer quorum, a minyan, requires 10 people to pray together. In orthodox and ultra-orthodox Judaism, this number refers only to men: women are not counted.
  7. The story of Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakkai that Kobi Oz draws on is from the Babylonian Talmud Gittin 55b-57a.  When the Romans were besieging Jerusalem, extremists were in control of the population of the Holy City. In order to hasten the coming of the messiah, these zealots even burned all the food stores of Jerusalem. It was at this point that Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakkai decided to sneak out of the city. The Roman commander Vespasian came upon him, and Yochanan ben Zakkai cried out: “Greetings, Emperor of Rome!” Before Vespasian could explain to ben Zakkai that he was not the Emperor, a messenger from Rome arrived with the decree naming Vespasian Emperor. Vespasian was so impressed with ben Zakkai’s prophetic powers, he offered to grant the Rabbi’s any request. Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakkai did not ask for Jerusalem to be saved, or for the Holy Temple to be spared destruction. Instead, he asked for “Yavneh and her sages” – the permission to establish a Jewish scholars’ academy in the city of Yavneh. In Yavneh, following the destruction of the Temple by the Romans, these scholars built the Jewish religion anew. This religion would have no centralizing Temple, nor would it be ruled by the hereditary Priestly caste: it would be, in Kobi Oz’ words, a privatized religion, interpreted differently in different places. The multi-denominational, multi-customed Judaism that we know today was set in motion – so Kobi would maintain – by the fateful decision of Yochanan ben Zakkai.
  8. Kobi Oz sees Rabbi Yochanan Ben Zakkai as something of a ‘Patron Saint’ of Pluralism. He is so pluralist, suggests Kobi, that he even has three names! These three names are given to R Yochanan Ben Zakkai on his deathbed, by his distraught students, when asking him to bless them as he weeps. (Babylonian Talmud Berakhot 28b)

© Makom 2011 | Site by illuminea : web presence agency