Poem 111 ± September 23, 2015

Achat Sha’alti
Traditional Hebrew song from Psalm 27

Achat Sha’alti me’eit Adonai,
otah avakeish;
shivti b’veit Adonai kol y’mei chayai,
lachazot b’noam Adonai ulvakeir b’heichalo.
אַחַת שָׁאַֽלְתִּי מֵאֵת יְיָ, אוֹתָהּ אֲבַקֵּשׁ, שִׁבְתִּי בְּבֵית יְיָ כָּל יְמֵי חַיַּי,
לַחֲזוֹת בְּנֹֽעַם יְיָ וּלְבַקֵּר בְּהֵיכָלוֹ.
One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life,
to behold the graciousness of the Lord, and to visit early in His temple.Source: Jewish Publication Society Bible 1917 (public domain)

This song is sung frequently in Jewish services, but never with so much kavanah (spiritual intentionality) as during the Days of Awe, from Rosh Hashanah to Yom Kippur, which this year we celebrate today. Many find great comfort in singing these words or hearing them sung. I do. Since I’ve been attending High Holiday and Shabbat services at Congregation Beit Simchat Torah, the LGBT synagogue in New York City, I have learned from Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum that it is okay to exercise self-determination in my beliefs about God, whether God exists, what kind of God God is. Rabbi Kleinbaum says, “I believe in God, but the God I believe in is not the kind of God who cares whether or not you believe in God.” What I know about God is that God does not want us to be ashamed of our race, class, gender identity, sexual orientation, or HIV status.

—Michael Broder

This recording were ripped off shamelessly and without permission from Mechon Hadar, an educational institution that empowers Jews to create and sustain vibrant, practicing, egalitarian communities of Torah learning, prayer, and service. If I can find out who the singer is, I will credit him.