Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Tuesday Morning Kavvanah, 2/8/2011 - At Dawn I Seek You

When I was in cantorial school, I was once tasked with bringing a couple of new cantorial students up to speed on the morning minyan. One of them, after her first morning minyan experience, remarked to me, "What a great way to start the day!"

Dawn is the holiest moment of the day. Quiet and reflective, the arrival of the first light recalls God's first act in the Torah, the separation of darkness and light.

The 11th century Spanish-Jewish poet Solomon ibn Gabirol wrote a brief poem about dawn, Shahar Avaqeshkha, found in Siddur Sim Shalom for Shabbat and Festivals, p. 103, in which the poet accurately portrays the prayerful sweet spot of the day:

At dawn I seek You, Refuge, Rock sublime;
My morning prayers I offer, and those at evening time.
I tremble in Your awesome presence, contrite,
For my deepest secrets lie stripped before Your sight.

My tongue, what can it say? My heart, what can it do?
What is my strength, what is my spirit too?
But should music be sweet to You in mortal key,
Your praises I will sing so long as breath's in me.

Nearly a millennium later, ibn Gabirol's words still apply.

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