Friday, November 6, 2015

Asher Yatzar - A Meditation

by Rabbi Katy Z. Allen

Often we want to focus on how we are connected to everything else in the Universe, and I write about that frequently, for we are just one tiny part of G!d’s infinite Creation. The Asher Yatzar blessing, however, with its focus on our physical being, offers the opportunity to explore the boundaries and the differences between us and all that is beyond our skin, which can, paradoxically, bring us to greater understanding of our connections. 

The blessing begins with these words:
בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ אֱלֹהֵֽינוּ מֶֽלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, אֲשֶׁר יָצַר אֶת הָאָדָם בְּחָכְמָה, וּבָרָא בוֹ נְקָבִים נְקָבִים, חֲלוּלִים חֲלוּלִים.
Baruch ata Adonai, Eloheinu Melech ha'olam, asher yatzar et ha'adam be'chochma, u'vara vo ne'kavim ve'kavim, chalulim chalulim.

Blessed are You, Hashem/Adonai/Holy One/Mysterious One, our G!d, King/Ruler/Sovereign/Amazing One/Source of All of the universe, Who fashioned humans with wisdom and created within humans many openings - for each physical opening a spiritual opening - and many hollows - for each physical hollow a spiritual hollow.
It is traditional to recite these words and the remainder of this blessing after washing our hands after using the bathroom. The idea is to stop. To take a moment to acknowledge our physicality. To take a moment to let G!d into our lives, into our very physical beings. To acknowledge the wonder and blessing of our functioning bodies.

I offer this meditation to be used together with these words; sometimes there is more than one option of how to translate a word - I invite you to take your pick.

Meditation on First Line of Asher Yatzar
בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ אֱלֹהֵֽינוּ מֶֽלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם
Baruch ata Adonai, Eloheinu Melech ha'olam... 
Blessed are You, 
Hashem / Adonai / Holy One/Mysterious One, 
our G!d, 
King / Ruler / Sovereign / Amazing One / Source of All 
of the universe...

As you recite these words, envision the entire Earth, the entire Cosmos, and feel the energy that surrounds it and flows through it.

...אֲשֶׁר יָצַר אֶת הָאָדָם בְּחָכְמָה...
...Asher yatzar et ha'adam be'chochma...
...Who fashioned humans with wisdom...

With your eyes open, focus on what is before you. You may gaze out the window at the more-than-human world or to focus on some item, any thing, that appears in front of you. As you fix your eyes upon the view before you, feel in your heart how you are different from this object or group of items.
...וּבָרָא בוֹ נְקָבִים נְקָבִים, חֲלוּלִים חֲלוּלִים. 
...u'vara vo ne'kavim ve'kavim, chalulim chalulim. 
...and created within him / her 
many openings, 
for each physical opening a spiritual opening, 
and many hollows, 
for each physical hollow a spiritual hollow.
As you recite these words, focus first on your lower body and legs and feel the flow - of blood, of energy, of life - that flows thorough the openings and hollows of your body; then focus on your upper body and arms and again notice and feel and be aware of all that flows in rhythm and well-being through your body.

When you are ready, continue on with your day.

May we grow healthier in body and spirit with each blessing; may we grow in understanding of the special gifts we each hold within us; may we recognize our connections to all the Universe, may we understand our responsibilities to ourselves and to all that surrounds us.

Rabbi Katy Allen is a board certified chaplain and serves as a Nature Chaplain and the Facilitator of One Earth Collaborative, a program of Open Spirit. She is the founder and rabbi of Ma'yan Tikvah - A Wellspring of Hope, which holds services outdoors all year long. She is the co-founder and President pro-tem of the Boston-based Jewish Climate Action Network. She received her ordination from the Academy for Jewish Religion in 2005.  

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