The Reverend Don Prange from St James UCC forwarded Rabbi Arthur O. Waskow’s 2013 Yom Kippur prayer.
Yom Kippur 2013
Isaiah breaks into the official liturgy of Yom Kippur
The Prophetic Reading for the Fast of Yom Kippur, Isaiah 57:14-58:14
[Slightly midrashic translation by Rabbi Arthur O. Waskow, with interruptions in red]
And God said:
Open up, open up, Clear a path!
Clear away all obstacles
From the path of My People!
For so says the One
Who high aloft forever dwells,
Whose Name is Holy:
I dwell on high, in holiness,
And therefore with the lowly and humiliated,
To breathe new breath into the humble,
To give new heart to the broken-hearted.
For your sin of greed
Through My Hurricane of Breath YyyyHhhhWwwwHhhh
I smashed you.
Worse: I hid My face, withheld My Breath.
–The richest 300 Persons on earth (about 1/3 from the U.S.) together have more wealth than the bottom 3 billion people on earth, an INEQUALITY by a factor of 10 million.
Yet I will not do battle against you forever,
I will not be angry with you forever.
From Me comes the breath that floats out to make all worlds.
I breathe the breath of life, I am the Breath of Life.
When you wander off the path as your own heart,
wayward, takes you.
I see the path you need —— and I will heal you.
I will guide and comfort you
With words of courage and of consolation
For those who mourn among you.
Peace, peace … shalom, shalom!… to those who are far and near,
Says the Breath-of-Life —-
And I will heal you.
But the wicked are like a troubled sea
Which cannot rest,
Whose waters toss up mire and mud.
There is no peace, said my God,
For the wicked.
Cry out aloud, don’t hold back,
Lift up your voice like the shofar!
Tell My people what they are doing wrong,
Tell those who call themselves the “House of Jacob” their misdeeds.
For day after day they go out searching for Me,
They take some kind of pleasure in getting to know My ways —-
As if they were a people that actually did righteous deeds
And never ignored the just rulings of their God.
They keep asking Me for the rules of justice
As if they would take delight in being close to God.
They say: “Why is it that we have fasted, and You don’t see our suffering?
We press down our egos —- but You don’t pay attention!”
Look! On the very day you fast, you keep scrabbling for wealth;
On the very day you fast, you keep oppressing all your workers.
Look! You fast in strife and contention.
You strike with a wicked fist.
You are not fasting today in such a way
As to make your voices heard on high.
Is that the kind of fast that I desire?
Is that really a day for people to “press down their egos”?
Am I commanding you to droop your heads like bulrushes
And lie around in sackcloth and ashes?
Is that what you call a fast day,
The kind of day that the God of the Burning Bush would wish?
This is the kind of fast that I desire:
Unlock the hand-cuffs put on by wicked power!
Untie the ropes of the yoke!
Let the oppressed go free,
And break off every yoke!
–On any given day in the U.S., supermax prisons and solitary confinement units hold at least 80,000 men, women and children in conditions of extreme isolation and sensory deprivation.
In California alone, there are 12,000 prisoners in solitary, some for more than two decades.
A California judge ruled that it is Not illegal for prison authorities to lie in order to lock somebody away in solitary.
Share your bread with the hungry.
Bring the poor, the outcasts, to your house.
When you see them naked, clothe them;
They are your flesh and blood;
Don’t hide yourself from them!
– About 50 million people, 1 out of 6,in the U.S. are food insecure, children face insecurity at a rate of 1 out of 4. The U.S. produces far more food than it needs, Compared to the world’s other advanced economies, the U.S. has the highest level of hunger.
Then your light will burst through like the dawn;
Then when you need healing it will spring up quickly;
Then your own righteousness will march ahead to guard you.
And a radiance from YHWH will reach out behind to guard you.
Then, when you cry out, YHWH will answer;
Then, when you call, God will say: “Here I am!”
If you banish the yoke from your midst,
If you rid yourself of scornful finger-pointing
And words of contempt;
If you open up your life-experience to the hungry
And soothe the life that has been trampled under foot,
Then even in darkness your light will shine out
And your moments of gloom turn bright as noonday.
Then the Breath of Life will always be your guide,
Will soothe your own life in your own times of dryness
And strengthen your bones when they are weary.
Then you shall be like a garden given water,
Like a wellspring whose waters never fail.
Those who spring from you shall rebuild the ancient ruins
And you shall lay foundations for the coming generation.
You shall be called “Those who mend torn places,”
You shall be called “Those who build lanes to live in.”
Three of the five largest waste facilities dealing with hazardous materials in the United States are located in poor black communities.
Approximately half of all Native Americans live in communities with an uncontrolled toxic waste site.
Living near toxic waste facilities and in low income housing affects the food, water, and air.
Children of color who live in poor areas are more likely to attend schools filled with asbestos, live in homes with peeling lead paint, and play in parks that are contaminated.
96 percent of African American children who live in inner cities have unsafe amounts of lead in their blood
If you refrain from trampling my Renewal-time*
And from being busy-busy on My holy day;
If you will not only call Renewal-time* delightful
But also turn far from your usual way
And set aside your business and your chatter
To be yourselves the rays by which God’s Holiness
Can turn this world into a radiant joy —-
Then indeed you will find delight in YHWH.
For then —- when you have joined the lowly —-
I will set you all with Me,
Astride the heights of earth.
Then —- when you feed others —- I will let you eat your fill
From what is truly due you as the heirs of Jacob.
For this word come from the Mouth that
Breathes all life.