My mind roars in turmoil.
Far away from my kitchen table, sit parents weeping at their own
struggling with the unimaginable
So unspeakable, we grasp our children’s popsicled hands before we cross benign streets
And hold our breath – just a little bit – every time they jump from the couch
When they are small
Everything feels so close.
It is all mixed with my own fear
Because I courageously kissed my kindergartener and first grader before they entered in their classrooms.
Because my twins’ preschool is an open classroom kind of place and not a fortress of childhood.
They say in times of trouble, our people turn to the Psalms.
So I went through them all
and cherry picked a few for you.
In the hopes of helping you
Mostly because I feel so helpless myself.
On the depths of grief:
I am all bent and bowed;
I walk about in gloom all day long.
For my sinews are full of fever;
There is no soundness in my flesh.
I am all benumbed and crushed;
I roar because of the turmoil in my mind.
– Psalm 38:7-9
I am weary with groaning;
Every night I drench my bed
I melt my couch in tears.
My eyes are wasted by vexation,
Worn out because of all of my [distress].
Away from me, all you evildoers,
For Adonai heeds the sound of my weeping
Adonai hears my plea
Adonai accepts my prayer.
– Psalm 6:7-10
Have mercy on me, O Adonai,
For I am in distress;
My eyes are wasted by vexation
My substance and body too.
My life is spent in sorrow,
My years in groaning;
My strength fails…
My limbs waste away.
– Psalm 31:10-11
On feeling abandoned by God:
How long, O Adonai; will You ignore me for forever?
How long will You hide Your face from me?
How long will I have cares on my mind,
grief in my heart all day?
– Psalm 13:2-3
My God, my God
Why have You abandoned me;
Why so far from delivering me
And from my anguished roaring?
I cry by day – You answer not;
By night, and have no respite.
– Psalm 22:2-3
On being angry about this tragedy:
I was very still
While my pain was intense.
My mind was in a rage,
My thoughts were all aflame;
I spoke out:
Tell me, O Adonai, what my term is,
What is the measure of my days;
I would know how fleeting my life is.
You have made my life just handbreadths long;
Its span is nothing in Your sight;
No man endures any longer than a breath.
– Pslam 39:3-6
On the magnitude of this loss:
The heavens declare the glory of God,
The sky proclaims God’s handiwork.
Day to day makes utterance,
Night to night speaks out.
There is no utterance, there are no words, whose sound goes unheard.
Their voice carries throughout the earth
Their words to the end of the word.
– Psalm 19:2-5, so too the words and actions of those we lost on Wednesday….
On the capriciousness of this loss:
Many, his days are like those of grass;
He blooms like a flower of the field;
A wind passes by and it is no more.
– Psalm 103:15-16
Prayer for safety:
May Adonai answer you in time of trouble,
The name of Jacob’s god keep you safe.
May God send you help from the sanctuary
And sustain you from Zion.
– Psalm 20:2-3
Prayers for the ability to find comfort:
Hear, O Adonai, when I cry aloud;
Have mercy on me, answer me.
On Your behalf my heart says
“Seek My face!”
O Adonai, I seek Your face.
Do not hide Your face from me…
Do not forsake me, do not abandon me,
O God, my deliverer.
– Psalm 27:7-10
O Adonai, I call to You;
My rock, do not disregard me…
Listen to my plea for mercy
When I cry out to You
When I lift my hands
Towards Your inner sanctuary…
– Psalm 28:1-2
O Adonai, hear my prayer;
Let my cry come before You.
Do not hide Your face from me
In my time of trouble;
Turn Your ear to me;
When I cry, answer me speedily
– Psalm 102:2-3
A song of ascents:
Out of the depths I call to You, Adonai
O Adonai, listen to my cry;
– Psalm 130: 1
Prayers for comfort:
Turn to me, have mercy on me,
For I am alone and afflicted.
My deep distress increases;
Deliver me from my straits.
Look at my affliction and suffering,
And forgive all my sins…
Protect me and save me;
Let me not be disappointed,
For I have sought refuge in You.
May integrity and uprightness watch over me,
For I look to You.
O God, redeem Israel
From all its distress.
– Psalm 25:16-22
Hear my cry, O God,
Heed my prayer.
From the end of the earth I call to You;
When my heart is faint
– Psalm 61:2-3
Adonai is close the the brokenhearted. – Psalm 34:19(a)
On memory and loss:
By the rivers of Babylon,
There we sat
Sat and wept
And remembered Zion
– Psalm 137:1, for what is Zion, if not the place before tragedy
Perhaps a little too “on the nose”
Rescue me, O Adonai, from evil men;
Save me from the lawless,
Whose minds are full of evil schemes,
Who plot war every day.
– Psalm 140:2-3
My favorite prayer:
May the words of my mouth and the prayer of my heart
be acceptable to You
O Adonai, my rock and my redeemer
– Psalm 19:15
Rabbi Lauren Ben-Shoshan, M.A.R.E., lived in Tel Aviv, Israel until recently, and now resides in Palo Alto, California with her lovely husband and their four energetic and very small children.