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Rosh Hashanah Prayers: Gevurot By on


Hallel: Soaring With the Skies



My students and I climbed through and over large rocks and boulders to get closer to the cascades of Yosemite Falls. There were signs that warned: Danger! Stay Out! Area Slippery! We joined the tens of people who, like us, chose to foolishly ignore the signs in order to feel the spray of the falls and listen to the thunder of the magnificent waterfall.
When we reached our goal and peered down over our path we realized how dangerous the climb really was. The black rocks were glistening from the spray. We watched other climbers slip and fall as they struggled up the same path we had taken. Path is a generous description. There wasn’t a path, just a way to fit between boulders larger than buildings, strewn with broken pieces of rocks that had been smashed and shattered by the powerful falls. We gulped in relief and wonder as we rested. We were relieved that we had safely arrived and wondered what insanity possessed us to risk the climb and whether we would be able to return to the base of the falls where all the normal people gathered to watch the falls.
Then, we looked up, around and down. The view at the top of our climb justified the risks. Yosemite itself is thousands of feet above sea level and we had climbed hundreds of feet higher. We could peer down at much of the breathtaking park. We felt closer to the heavens. The air was different. The sounds, from the roar of the water to the susurrus of the wind, all had a different quality. We were overwhelmed by what we saw and experienced.
The trip was a celebration of great accomplishment in learning, growing and service of God. At the moment when we took in the view, all the work and accomplishment we were celebrating congealed into a whole and we were moved to sing to God. Our song was a celebration of the magnificent view, God’s power, the beauty of creation, our accomplishments, our unity as a group and a special perspective we had never before experienced:
It was impossible to watch the scene without a terrifying sense of humility – our insignificance. Yet, we also felt larger than ever before. We silently and proudly shared our growth and development even as we tasted humility as never before. Our small and unified group concomitantly experienced humility and potential greatness.
Without discussion, we all chose the same song: The Hallel. What else could we possibly sing that would express the awe, the humility, the power and the joy we all felt?
My Hallel would never be the same: It was no longer a song of joy to praise God. It had become the prayer that gave voice to soaring feelings. Hallel became the song of my soul when it could not find another way to express all of its intense feelings. Hallel allows me to express an overwhelming passionate love of God and the feeling that God enriches my life in so many ways – the God loves me, and His love fills me with a taste of the World to Come. Hallel provides the words to express infinite joy and possibility even when giving me a way to deal with my fears and frustrations.
Please join me in a journey into Hallel. Climb with me and capture a view of the richness of life in both this world and the next. Come and see what I saw from the top of Yosemite Falls and what I continue to see in those moments when my soul is so energized that it bursts forth in song to its source.

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