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prayer pings #2

What do a flask full of air and resurrection have to do with getting up in the morning? The answer is: Everything.


Chazal teach us that the world is recreated everyday, מחדש בכל יום, which means that we are also recreated. We are made of a body and a soul, each sustained by God. Because we cannot exist with just a body or with just a soul, the rabbis ruled that we should juxtapose the prayer for the body (Asher Yatzar) and the prayer for the soul (Elokai Neshama) in our morning tefillot.


In Asher Yatzar, we praise God for making the body with openings and closings. The rabbis explain that the body is wondrous because it is comparable to a flask full of air. If a person were to make a tiny hole in a flask full of air, the air would escape. But our bodies are full of outlets, and yet our air is still preserved inside of us! And so, every morning we must thank God not only for giving us breath, but also for allowing air to move through us without depleting us.


In Elokai Neshama, we thank God for returning our souls to us every morning, for resurrecting us when we wake up. This is based on the tradition that each night God takes our souls, leaving us lifeless in sleep, and then returns our souls to us when we open our eyes. The soul, which God breathed into us, ultimately belongs to God, and so we thank Him for giving us the gift of waking up to a new day, a new creation.


By saying Asher Yatzar and Elokai Neshama in conjunction, we act out our own recreation. The body and the soul, which God created with words, are recreated through our words of prayer. And so each flask full of air is resurrected with a fresh breath of air so that we can be God's partners in creation. As you say Asher Yatzar and Elokai Neshama morning, focus on your breath-- how it is simultaneously physical and spiritual, renewed in every moment.


--Rabbanit Alissa

Mon, July 13 2020 21 Tammuz 5780