top of page

A Prayer for the Opening of Gates (in the Middle East)

Posted on September 27, 2011 by Ela Merom

Breather of empty drapes

Exalt of angel wings

Moan of empty dreidels

Impetus of hand knocking on door

Present Eternal

That which peeks through the cracks

Of impermanence, and bitter is its cracking

Turner of newspapers’ pages, leafing themselves on streets

Rainer of tears exact and counted

Into the great sea


For day has turned

*  Haviva Pediaya, from Heb Ela Merom

It is a sensitive time here in “The Promised Land,” sensitive and fragile on all levels. Still we experience the lingering beauty of the revolution, and beauty is fragile. This is what our addiction to beauty is about. Unconsciously, through beauty we experience fragility by which we can touch impermanence, and let go for one split second into that which is beyond.

Autumn is finally here too, just in time to receive the new Jewish sacred cycle. Yesterday the yoreh (first rain) has fallen. In the Middle East we notice rain and bless The Source Life, rain is no small thing, and after the long dry summer the earth is very thirsty. After the first drops cleanse us the sun immediately comes out (it never hides for too long around these parts) and everything is so very bright, and a new fragrance fills the air.

Something is changing; gentle, cool breezes come and go. There is something bittersweet about it; it is lovely and shaky all at the same time. The weather is unpredictable in this season, a liminal state between summer and winter.

A feeling of insecurity is usually perceived as something negative, but that is only true when we are not aware of it and it acts out as something else, or when we immediately choose to do everything in our power to cover it up in order to feel more secure. Awareness of insecurity and surrender to it can soften us to let Eternity in, can humble us enough to receive that which is beyond our false sense of control. This is what The Days of Awe, and the Jewish month of Elul coming right before them is all about.

And this year something else is shaking us up.

The Palestinians are counting our sins to the world. This is the Jewish season of heshbon nefesh, soul-search and repentance, WE should be counting them ourselves. The dynamic between the Palestinian and Israeli leaders is one that we know all too well from our own personal lives. Fingers are being pointed towards each other. When will we learn that there will never be healing until we turn that finger around towards our own hearts?

This is one of the hardest things to do for most of us. Teshuvah, Return!

We spend so many of our days pointing out, looking out, learning about who we are outside in instead of inside out. This season is asking us to Re-Turn, turn towards the inner most part of ourselves, to reflect on the ways in which we have “missed the mark” (this is the literal meaning of sin in Hebrew). How, how, oh how have we been untrue to ourselves time and again, untrue to others, untrue to Truth? This calls NOT for self-righteousness, but deep and tender alignment. For once we do not justify, we do not react, we just listen as the “still small voice” of creation, that which has been missed endless times during this past year arises in our inner ear, in our “listening heart.” Like Jonah we stop our running. STOP. This is why the Day of Atonement is called the Sabbath of all Sabbaths. It takes that perfect, still stop to truly listen, truly return. In that stop, undressed of the world’s masks of security, of permanence, of control, we admit that we might not live through this year, that every person we love or hold dear might not either.

We ask for mercy during this time, we plea that we should be sealed for Life. But what kind of life are we asking for ourselves? A Life that IS life, that in it we remember, remember that which gives us life. We ask that the choices we make will be more true to that force. Life and death are constantly placed before us to choose from, it is in this season that we are to practice discerning between them. And it takes great courage to plunge in, to see falsehood in ourselves, to admit to mistakes, to the ways we have wronged others, to the ways we have wronged ourselves. We are afraid we might die if we do that, but the truth is that if we let our heart break open we will finally live.

This is the opening of the gate, the inner gate of our heart, of our Garden. We have so closely guarded the sweet fruit of that Garden that we were not able to taste of that fruit, we were not able to let others taste of it. The rain that is falling here and now is nourishing us, helping us grow that fruit to be eaten through the cold months of winter, as they come and go, always come and go, as everything does, always making way for something new.

I am now calling out in prayer to The Most High that we all let go of our tight grip to allow for newness.

This part of the world has been stagnant in unhealthy patterns and constricting conceptions for much too long. May we be brave enough to redefine in love our relationship to each other as nations, as societies, and as individuals. May the sweet force of change and of fragility help us grow not in aggression but in Strength, not in righteousness but in Truth, not in control but in Peace.

A Prayer for the Opening of Gates: Text
bottom of page