Now, as I immerse myself, I begin a new cycle, a cycle of rebirth and renewal of Your world and Your people IsraelLit. ''the one who struggles with God.'' Israel means many things. It is first used with reference to Jacob, whose name is changed to Israel (Genesis 32:29), the one who struggles with God. Jacob's children, the Jewish people, become B'nai Israel, the children of Israel. The name also refers to the land of Israel and the State of Israel.. I prepare for my new life and for the sanctification of that life through kiddushinThe first part of the traditional wedding service in which the groom acquires the bride by giving her a small token, usually a ring, and declaring that she is betrothed to him according to Mosaic law. Today, most non-Orthodox couples have made this ceremony egalitarian, exchanging rings and empowering the bride to speak too. Some, disliking the property aspects of the ceremony, have dispensed with it altogether, substituting a brit shutafut – a partnership covenant., Your holy state of marriage.
Prayer Before Immersion
Our mothers RebekahThe second Jewish matriarch, Isaac's wife, and mother to Jacob and Esau. Rebecca is an active parent, talking to God when she is pregnant and learning the fate of her children, then ultimately manipulating Isaac and the children to ensure Jacob's ascendancy. Her Hebrew name is Rivka. and RachelLavan's younger daughter and Jacob's beloved wife second wife (after he is initially tricked into marrying her older sister, Leah). Rachel grieves throughout her life that she is barren while Leah is so fertile. Ultimately, Rachel gives birth to Joseph and dies in childbirth with Benjamin. Rachel is remembered as compassionate (she is said to still weep for her children), and infertile women often invoke Rachel as a kind of intercessor and visit her tomb on the road to Bethlehem. were betrothed and began new lives at the gently flowing waters of the well (Gen. 24 and 29).
Our mother Yocheved gave life to her child MosesThe quintessential Jewish leader who spoke face to face with God, unlike any other prophet, and who freed the people from Egypt, led them through the desert for forty years, and received the Torah on Mt. Sinai. His Hebrew name is Moshe. in the ever flowing waters of the Nile (Exod. 15).
Our sister MiriamMiriam 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. danced for the saving of lives beside the overflowing water of the Sea of Reeds (Exod. 15).
Water is God’s gift to living souls, to cleanse us, to purify us, to sustain us, and, to renew us.
As Moses and AaronBrother of Moses, chosen as Moses' interlocutor. His Hebrew name is Aharon. and the priests of Israel washed with cleansing waters before attending to God’s service at the altar (Exod. 40), so do I now cleanse myself before Your altar of sanctification.
“I will sprinkle clean water upon you, and you shall be clean” (Ezek. 36:25).
As God separated the waters in the first creation (Gen. 1:6), so I ask that You surround me with protecting waters and separate out threatening waters.
“Deliver me, O God, for the waters have reached my neck…I have come into the watery depths; the flood sweeps me away” (Ps. 69:2–3).
As God cleansed the earth with the waters of the Great Flood, making it livable for a new generation (Gen. 8:8), so I pray for renewal and prepare myself for new life.
I am a well of living waters, a garden spring, a stream flowing from the heights of Lebanon (Song. 4:15).
ושאבתם-מים בששון ממעיני הישוע.
“Joyfully shall you draw water from the fountains of salvation” (Isa. 12:3).
I am now prepared
to shed the impurities of my earlier life,
to become one with another life,
to become a creator of new life,
to become a partner in sharing the joys of life,
to teach and to learn in the lessons of married life.
The soul You have given me, my God, is a pure one. You have created and formed it, breathed it into me, and within me You sustain it. So long as I have breath, I am thankful before You, YHVH, my ShekhinahThe feminine name of God, expounded upon in the rabbinic era and then by the Kabbalists in extensive literature on the feminine attributes of the divine., Shield of my ancestors, Sovereign over all things, Creator of all souls. Praised are You, YHVH, in whose hand is the soul of all life, and the spirit of all humankind.
(based on the translation in The Gates of Prayer)
Praised are You, Shekhinah, Shepherd of all the world, who sanctified us with Her commandments and commanded us concerning immersion.
Originally published in The Reconstructionist, September, 1986; used by permission of the authors.