Havdallah Meditation

From Ella Tav, RTI Youth Leader. This year, three alums of the Ma’yan Research Training Internship (RTI) have returned to lead the new group as youth facilitators. The youth facilitators lead activities, help the Ma’yan staff plan sessions, and meet outside of RTI sessions to reflect on the progress of the group. For havdallah during the RTI sleepover retreat, youth leader Ella Tav wrote a poem that she shared with the group: 

I’m thankful for the light that bounces off the buildings when the sun finally shines through the clouds after a storm.

I’m thankful for the coziness of evening

I’m thankful for the songs that find their ways into my legs and knuckles and cheeks and my bones

I’m thankful for the relationship artists have with their artwork

I’m thankful for the seductiveness of touch

For the breath of thought

For a belief in something more powerful than man and woman

I’m thankful for people who choose not to hate,

And I’m thankful that hating takes up so much energy because hopefully ill eventually get tired.

Shabbat is our mandatory break from reality. Its time to fall deeply in love with stories, couch cushions, and breakfast cake, and sometimes people.

It gives us time to let go.

Of pain, of the harshness of our world, of needing purpose.

On Shabbat we are gifts to ourselves- perfect guests at the wedding of the eternal.

Some say Shabbat is a bride.

I always thought that if God was the king or queen of the universe, then Shabbat was God’s bride

I would dream about their perfect union.

The song as she walked down the aisle

The firey breath of God standing at the alter

The angels of love bringing these beings together again

The attendees- the sun the moon and the stars, the trees, the clouds, and the earth

Peace and calm, everyone dressed in their best

Peace, Peace, Peace

All would be serene, for on Shabbat, the peace was unbreakable

This divine union amazed me. How can they get married every Friday night?

Well it’s a whole new world every Friday night.

We get to exist again

A new time

As we separate the holy from the mundane, we being can begin again

We can take on new burdens, or let ourselves be freed from old burdens.

We get to re-envision what it means to be alive, what it means to be living on an earth filled to the brim with both beauty and catastrophe.

After the wedding ends, we return to the lions of existence.

We return ourselves to the center of our beings

Every week we go through a transformation from divine to routine practice,

But it is our jobs to hold onto the bites of divinity we see during our time of renewal.

We smell the air, filled with cinnamon, and cloves, and freshly cut grass, or any other happy smells

We reflect on the week in the nails of our fingers

We drink the tranquility of new beginnings and the hope and dreams we have for our new world that comes after we blow out the candles.

With grace, we separate our bodies from their pillows and from their seats at the wedding of the eagle and the dove.

An Author I love wrote “we need never be hopeless, because we can never be irreparably broken. We think that we are invincible because we are. We cannot be born, and we cannot die. Like all energy, we can only change shapes and sizes and manifestations. Part of us greater than the sum of our parts cannot begin and cannot end, and so it cannot fail.”

When we wake from our rest, we will all come together to make a shift from holy to mundane. Before we get up, I want to read a poem called a psalm of dust.


Guard my tongue from evil

And my roar from dimming even slightly;

Guard my lips from speaking falsehoods

Even though the truth is what can really maim;

And to those who curse me – may my soul be silent

And my heart roar, wounded right beneath the surface of my burning

And my soul shall be as dust, as earth

For, before and under everyone;

For a blessing,

For the benefit of strangers everywhere,

Especially the ones I’ll never get to know;

May my soul be fertile ground

Compassionate, passionate ash of lion

Turned to mead,

A shadow of myself, a trace of silt and honey;

Open up my heart and guard my gates

My eyes, my comings and my goings –

Once the gates are opened can the lion be contained?

Chase me with your teaching

Pursue me till my breath falls heavy unto you,

Draw me near; subdue me with that thing you say is love –

I have nothing but your word for it,

I have nothing but these ramblings that I utter –

May they be of use to someone;

May the meditations of my breaking heart be acceptable before you?

My-hidden rock

My luminous, 
 One I yield


Ella Tav is in grade 11 at Beacon and has been taking part in Ma’yan programs since she was 12. Besides Ma’yan, she likes to spend time playing cello, singing in Hazamir and playing with her cat. Ella is super excited to be an Alumni Leader this year because she can’t wait to bring the RTI experience that she learned so much from to other girls.

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