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Answer Me: A Litany for Pittsburgh


מה טבו אהליך יעקב, משכנותיך ישראל

How beautiful are your tents Jacob, your dwelling places, Yisrael


The first words we say upon entering a synagogue.

How beautiful are our spaces, how beautiful are our souls.

In the Torah, these words were first uttered by an enemy who God turned into an admirer, a friend

God didn't have enough time to turn him to a friend today


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ואני ברב חסדך אבוא ביתך, אשתחוה אל היכל קדשך ביראתך

And in great love, I enter your house, worshipping you, in your holy sanctuary, in awe


The second line of the sanctuary prayer.

How many people entered your house in great love, today,

and left it in body bags?

How many people entered with fear of God in heaven

How many with fear of Her children

ignorant, childish, blood-letting fear


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יה׳ אהבתי מעון בתיך ומקום משכן כבודך

God, I love your house! The place where your glory dwells!


Your house is full of glory! But, today,

They filled your house with blood.

Your glory is covered in blood.

They sent bullets through your glory.

Bullets ripped through glory, and flesh.

Goryglorygoryglorygoryglorygoryglorygoryglory


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ואני אשתחוה ואכרעה ואברכה לפני יה׳ עשי

And I pray and kneel and bless before God, my maker


Is falling the same as kneeling? Does a gunshot rhyme with Halleluyah? If you kneel in love, or in last-dying-breath, can HaShem tell the difference?


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ואני תפלתי לך, יה׳, עת רצון

I pray that this, God, is a time for prayer in line with your will


Even though, I know, today, it wasn't.

I'm sorry you had to see my mouth filled with cries other than praise

With red rivers, like plague

Not ones of milk, not ones of honey

I'm sorry that you saw my body writhe in anything but ecstasy

Cries of anything but your name

I'm sorry that your sanctuary echoed with foreign instruments of steel and war, instead of trumpet and song

I'm sorry you had to see all this

I'm sorry to've laid it out on your doorstep, and stained the floors of your home


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אלוהים ברב חסדך ענני באמת ישעך

God, in abundant love, answer me with your true salvation


I said:

God, in abundant love, answer me with your true salvation

I said:

GOD, in ABUNDANT LOVE, ANSWER ME with your TRUE SALVATION

I said:

GOD IN ABUNDANT LOVE

ANSWER ME

WITH YOUR TRUE SALVATION


GOD GOD GOD

ANSWER ME

ANSWER ME

GOD

GOD

GOD!!!!

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