Kavvanah for Tree of Life
As we stand here before the open ark, we are about to sing Etz Hayim Hi, it is a tree of life, and we call to mind our brothers and sisters who were murdered in their synagogue, called Tree of Life, a week ago.
עֵץ חַיִּים הִיא לַמַּחֲזִיקִים בָּהּ. וְתמְכֶיהָ מְאֻשָּׁר
“It is a tree of life for those who grasp it, and all who hold onto it are blessed.” Our Torah is a tree of life. It is deeply rooted but also stretches outward and upward. It gives us a sense of where we’ve been and where we are going. The Jewish people are also like a tree. We are very old, but still growing. You can cut off some branches, but the tree will still be there. And above all, we celebrate life. Help us, One Who Makes Redemption Grow, to be a resilient tree of life.
דְּרָכֶיהָ דַרְכֵי נעַם וְכָל נְתִיבתֶיהָ שָׁלום:
“Its ways are pleasant, and all its paths are peace.” The Torah instructs us to seek peace and pursue it, and tells us to bless each other with words of peace. But peace is not just the absence of violence. It is a wholeness, a completeness, and deep sense of well-being. Help us, Master of Peace, to pursue peace in our world, in our country, our communities, our families and within every single one of us. May all of our paths be of peace.
הֲשִׁיבֵנוּ ה' אֵלֶיךָ וְנָשׁוּבָה. חַדֵּשׁ יָמֵינוּ כְּקֶדֶם:
“Turn us toward you, Adonai, and we will return to you; make our days seem fresh, as they once were.” Everything we do as Jews is an act of turning: inward, outward and upward. God Who Desires Repentance, help us to turn in repentance, teshuva. Help us confront the ways we have ignored our responsibilities, the ways our society has let violence and hateful words go unanswered. Help us confront our fears and our apathy, as we summon the courage to do what is right but may not be popular. Give us a fresh chance to do better, so that a new day will shine its glorious light on us.