Rituals have the power to mark or to move us through transitions. Sometimes they take the form of a long, thoughtfully-planned ceremony, such as a wedding, conversion, or baby naming. Other times, they bubble up in a short, spontaneous prayer—such as before a meal or in a moment of pain or celebration. We can look to our biblical texts for examples of both, whether reading about the carefully proscribed Temple rituals or Moses’ impromptu plea for healing on behalf of Miriam is the sister of Moses and Aaron. As Moses' and Aaron's sister she, according to midrash, prophesies Moses' role and helps secure it by watching over the young baby, seeing to it that Pharaoh's daughter takes him and that the baby is returned to his mother for nursing. During the Israelites' trek through the desert, a magical well given on her behalf travels with the Israelites, providing water, healing, and sustenance..
Ritualwell has been blessed with contributions of both kinds. Recent current events have sparked an outpouring of spontaneous prayers and rituals from our community. We’ve been inspired by prayers that echo our liturgy and weave in personal quests for peace and wholeness, and moved to witness individuals and communities responding to social injustice while deepening their sacred connections to Jewish tradition—and each other.
These rituals remind us that the power to experience or even create Jewish life is in our hands in every moment. Tradition should be revered and passed on, but we must also remember that our tradition is rooted in the ability to respond extemporaneously from the heart, without a “script.” This is especially true when our blessings and kavannot point us toward a better world.
Ritualwell has resources to inspire, whether we’re creating passionate and heartfelt rituals and prayers, or simply feel the need for them.
As we move into 2015, may we each feel inspired to discover our own unique prayers. And may we have the courage to share these offerings to inspire those we encounter.
This piece originally appeared as Ritualwell’s January 2015 email. Sign up here to receive our monthly emails.