Monday, September 22, 2008

Liturgical creativity

Though it is already being described -and denounced- as a "blessing on gay sex," the author of the "Kavannah for Unexpected Intimacy," which has been included in the new siddur released by San Francisco's main gay synagogue, says his prayer has a subtler intention.
[Andrew] Ramer, who describes himself as “fiercely monogamous” and politically conservative, stressed that the prayer was not intended solely for gays and lesbians. He also emphasized that it need not refer solely to encounters of a sexual nature, but to any exchange with a stranger that was deemed meaningful.
If this seems like an odd thing to pray about, well, consider some of our more traditional blessings.

The Anshe Keneset ha-Gedolahh have already asked us to take a moment to remember God upon seeing rainbows, oceans, mountains, and men of great power, intelligence, ugliness or beauty. There's a prayer to be said on seeing men who are blind, and lame, and a prayer to said when meeting giants, dwarfs, elephants or apes. We bless the appearance of the new moon. We even have a prayer for when the myriads of Israel gather in one place.

The purpose of all these prayers, I think, is that they require us to recognize the presence of the divine in these moments, indeed in all moments. If a man is ugly, its because God made him so, and so on. If a mutar/permitted moment with a stranger (i.e., something besides anonymous, gay sex: I don't say we should be recognizing the Jewish God in acts and moments the Torah prohibits) makes possible a similar recognition, what's the harm in blessing it?


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