Recommended Posts

Morning Blessings For the Nine Days & Tisha B’Av: Part Five

I received an e-mail this morning asking why I am relying on so many secular sources for this commentary to the Siddur. My intention is for this commentary to be an expression of our prayers in exile, specifically, our ability to find moments of transcendence even in the darkness of exile. As stated in the commentary to the fifth paragraph of the Hallel for Rosh Chodesh Av, our job in exile is to become Spark Collectors.

“Who spreads out the earth upon the waters.”

I saw the world and yesterday!
A flight of Angels tore
It’s cover off and Heaven lay
Where Earth had been before.

I walked about the countryside
And saw a cricket pass.
Then, bending closer, I espied
An ecstasy of grass.
(Elizabeth B. Rooney; Eschaton)


Even when we do not have the Beit Hamikdash through which to view the Heavens, we can still bend down and find, “an ecstasy of grass,” sparks of Heaven sprinkled throughout the world; sparks through which we can glimpse Heaven.

“Who firms man’s footsteps.”

“These men asked the pilgrims whence they came; and they told them. They also asked them where they had lodged, what difficulties and dangers, what comforts and pleasures, they had met with in the way; and they told them. Then said the men that met them, “You have it but two difficulties more to meet with, and then you are in the City.” (John Bunyan; The Pilgrim’s Progress)


We acknowledge that with each difficulty with which You present us, You are moving us forward toward our ultimate goal.

“Who has provided me my every need.”

O sweeter than the marriage-feast,
‘Tis sweeter far to me,
To walk together to the kirk
With a goodly company! –

To walk together to the kirk,
And all together pray,
While each to his great Father bends,
Old men, and babes, and loving friends,
And youths and maidens gay!

Farewell, farewell! but this I tell
To thee, thou Wedding-Guest!
He prayeth well, who loveth well
Both man and bird and beast.

He prayeth best, who loveth best
All things both great and small;
For the dear God who loveth us,
He made and loveth all.”
(Samuel Taylor Coleridge; The Rime of the Ancient Mariner Part VII)


“He prayeth best, who loveth best
All things both great and small;
For the dear God who loveth us,
He made and loveth all.”
We are celebrating the powerful role of prayer in empowering us to thrive in exile: By providing us with prayer; the ability to speak to You and to know that You are listening, You have provided us with a means to address our every need.

“Who girds Israel with strength.”

Three Silences there are: the first of speech,
The second of desire, the third of thought;

This is the lore a Spanish monk, distraught
With dreams and visions, was the first to teach.

These Silences, commingling each with each,
Made up the perfect Silence, that he sought
And prayed for, and wherein at times he caught
Mysterious sounds from realms beyond our reach.

O thou, whose daily life anticipates
The life to come, and in whose thought and word
The spiritual world preponderates.

Hermit of Amesbury! thou too hast heard
Voices and melodies from beyond the gates,
And speakest only when thy soul is stirred!
(Henry Wadsworth Longfellow; The Three Silences of Molinos)

We acknowledge our ability to catch the “Mysterious sounds from realms beyond our reach,” which has given us the great strength to survive the devastating challenges of exile.

“Who crowns Israel with splendor.”
G. K. Chesterton’s “The Man Who Was Thursday,” features a plot to infiltrate the Central Council of Anarchists, whose 7 members are named for the days of the week, Sunday, Monday, etc., The main character Gabriel Syme finds himself recruited as a spy, first by a regular police officer and then by a mysterious man in a dark room, whose face he never sees.
“Are you the new recruit?” asked the invisible chief, “all right. You are engaged.”
Syme, quite swept off his feet, made a feeble fight against this irrevocable phrase.
“I really have no experience,” he began.
“No one has any experience,” said the other, “of the battle of Armageddon.”
“But I am really unfit–”
“You are willing, that is enough,” said the unknown.
“Well, really,” said Syme, “I don’t know of any profession of which mere willingness is the final test.”
“I do,” said the other, “martyrs. I am condemning you to death. Good day.”

Thus it was that when Gabriel Syme came out again into the crimson light of evening, in his shabby black hat and shabby, lawless code, he came out a member of the New Detective Corps for the frustration of the great conspiracy. Before he had finally left the police premises his friend provided him with a small blue card, on which was written “The Last Crusade,” and a number, the sign of his official authority.

There are times when our job as, “A Light unto the nations,” seems a death sentence, and yet, we, as does Syme in this story, carry our “small blue card,” with pride in our authority as official members of the corps to battle the great conspiracy of evil.
We declare with this blessing, the pride of our Crown of Splendor, despite its great costs.

Go Back to Previous Page

  • Other visitors also read