I sat down to start weaving on the tallit the other night - finally! What is the appropriate prayer, I wondered, for starting to weave? Treadle, the shed raises, throw the shuttle in, catch it coming out the other side, close the shed, beat, all that again. Weaving is this repetitive motion of up and down, in and out. Coming and going.
And there it was, my prayer for weaving. “The Lord bless thy going out and thy coming in.” A prayer for me, for the wearer. Also a prayer for perfect selvedges.
This phrase is used several places in the Bible. First in Deuteronomy, where the Lord promises to bless those who follow His commandments. It’s also the close of Psalm 121:
I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help.
My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth.
He will not suffer thy foot to be moved: he that keepeth thee will not slumber.
Behold, he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.
The Lord is thy keeper: the Lord is thy shade upon thy right hand.
The sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the moon by night.
The Lord shall preserve thee from all evil: he shall preserve thy soul.
The Lord shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore.
I’m thinking about this while I weave. A favorite psalm. A song based in this psalm was sung at my wedding - “A Simple Song” by Steven Schwartz and Leonard Bernstein.
Blessed is the man who loves the Lord,
Blessed is the man who praises Him.
Lauda, Lauda, Laude
And walks in His ways.
I will lift up my eyes
To the hills from whence comes my help.
I will lift up my voice to the Lord
Singing Lauda, Laude.
I sing as I weave (singing badly - it’s a difficult tune). Bernstein was a brilliant composer. Brilliant, but challenging. I’m thinking about Bernstein and Schwartz as I weave. Two Jewish men writing a musical about a Roman Catholic Mass. Kind of like a Christian weaving a tallit for a Jewish friend.
Also wondering about how “the moon shall not smite me by night.” The sun, I get, but the moon, I don’t know. I keep weaving.