'Twas my turn to do the pre-class devotion:
Barukh atah Adonai, ha-mavdel ben kodesh l’chol. (Amein)
Blessed are you, Lord, who separates the sacred from the mundane.
This is the final line of the final prayer that closes Shabbat on Saturday evenings.
Let us pray.
Lord, Hebrew is hard.
Yesterday as we left class, our brains were reeling with the sheer volume of information with which we were presented. We were worried about our quiz score, whether we’d get the “qal” paradigm memorized by Monday, if we would ever be able to gracefully pronounce guttural sounds, much less memorize rules about gutturals and radicals. We may have wondered why we were doing this, and if perhaps we would have been wiser to opt for Greek.
There was a moment, though, Lord, when we were listening to Mark read that excerpt from Genesis, when a thin beam of light shone on us. We could hear the poetry, sense the rhythm and even get a hint of the humor of the language. We could imagine that this difficult and ancient language of our forebears might one day be meaningful to us, that it would inform our exegesis of Scripture, that it would teach us about the very different world in which it was written.
Lord, it is so easy for us to forget that this is not simply about memorization of today’s vocabulary words and rules, although that’s an important part of the work. It is not about these words. It is about Your Word. It is about the sacred, not the mundane.
Keep shining that thin beam of Your light on us as we struggle to learn. Actually, a broader beam would be helpful, but that’s Your decision, not ours.
Let us never forget, though, that we seek the sacred not in extraordinary moments but in the mundane work we are called to do everyday.
We ask Your blessing on us and on our work this day.