Monday, April 11, 2016

#BlogExodus 3: Purity

I have to be honest here: Initially, “purity” didn’t strike me as a particularly Jewish concept.

And, I’m not quite sure what, exactly, it has to do with Passover.
Nonetheless, our daily liturgy includes this prayer about the return of our souls to us each and every day:

Elohai, n’shmah shenatata bi
t’horah hi. Atah b’ratah, atah y’tzartah,
atah n’fachtah bi,
v’atah m’shamrah b’kirbi.
Kol z’man shehan’shamah b’kirbi,
modeh/modah ani l’fanecha,
Adonai Elohai v’Elohei avotai v’imotai,
Ribon kol hamaasim,
Adon kol han’shamot.
Baruch atah, Adonai,
asher b’yado nefesh kol chai
v’ruach kol b’sar ish.

The soul that You have given me, O God, is pure!
You created and formed it, breathed it into me,
and within me You sustain it.
So long as I have breath, therefore,
I will give thanks to You,
my God and the God of all ages,
Source of all being, loving Guide of every human spirit.
Baruch atah, Adonai, asher b’yado nefesh kol chai v’ruach kol b’sar ish.

Then I remembered this blog post and what my Aunt Claire said in it about our Tante Mina:
Tante Mina was a cousin. I don't know how she was related. She was a very short lady and we always used to measure our height against hers. At a very young age we found ourselves taller than her. To know her was to love her because she was so sweet and kind. She was widowed at an early age. I never knew her husband. She was rather poor, and as she got older she arranged to go to a Jewish home for the aged. She was very happy there; she loved the arts and crafts classes and also volunteered to feed those people in the home who were unable to feed themselves. She was a “gutte neshumah,” a good soul. We try to remember her because there is no one else to do so.
Although I haven’t quite connected the dots about purity and Passover, I do understand that to be a gutte neshumah is a worthy – and challenging – goal, and now, the beginning of this last new year of 5775, is a fine time to start striving to achieve it.

Inspired by Ima on (and off) the Bima, this post is one in a series marking the days of the Jewish month of Nisan leading up to Passover, which begins at sundown on Friday, April 22, corresponding to 15 Nisan. If you want to play along, check out this year's #BlogExodus and #ExodusGram prompts. Once again, this series of posts also is priming my heart, mind, and spirit to participate in Beyond Walls: Spiritual Writing at Kenyon, a six-day summer writing seminar that is an initiative of the Kenyon Institute at Kenyon College in Gambier, OH.