by Rabbi Jeff Foust
Sunrise and sunset are special liminal times calling forth awe and mindful awakening to spiritual realities we otherwise might totally miss. It’s no accident that the main traditional prayer times for Jews are sunrise and sunset.
This simple profound reality is especially moving me this year as I prepare for the Teshuvah/Realignment/Renewal work of Elul before Rosh HaShanah. I’ve been reflecting on a powerful liturgical adaptation by Rabbi Geela Rayzel Raphael of the opening evening prayer Ma’ariv Aravim. She calls it “Evening the Evenings”. It combines interpretive English with the traditional Hebrew. What especially moves me is the chorus: “Evening the evenings; evening the frayed edges of our lives; Ma’ariv Aravim…; amen.” The key for me is that “Ma’ariv Aravim” refers both to “The One Who brings on the evening” and to the Creator of the heavenly vaults of light and darkness (Aruv can a heavenly vault or a containing boundary) which almost come together at the time of sunrise and sunset (in Hebrew called “Bein HaArbayyim”/Between the Heavenly Vaults of Light and Darkness).
When I hear and experience “Evening the evenings” I experience the light of “Bein HaArbayyim” touching the shadows and ragged edges first between the heavenly vaults of day and night at sunset, and then touching all the shadowy dark constricted frayed places of the world, including in my own self and my entire bodyheartmindspirit. I actually tremble and shake in the original sense of “haredim” (the tremblers), but it feels good because I know that the path to teshuvah and renewal is in letting my frayed, shadowy dark place be evened out by G!D’s light and love.
With G!D’s help and our sincere efforts, may our Elul journeys be enlightening and renewing.
It’s also often sung Friday nights at Boston’s B’nai Or.
Rabbi Jeff Foust is Jewish Chaplain and member of the interfaith Spiritual Life Center atBentley University. He does pastoral care and counseling through the Jewish Chaplaincy Council, leads creative life cycle events and services, tutors youth and adults, and has a special interest in Kabbalah and embodied spirituality. He can be reached through his website www.rabbijeffreyfoust.com
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