God’s Prayer

After hearing the cycle of the alarm clock and snooze button from 7:00 until now, 7:32, I open her shades and curtain. 


“Time to get up,” I coo, trying to soften the transition from delicious sleep to preparing for school.


She orients herself to the room and declares, “I need eight more minutes of sleep. And, please close the curtains.”


The Talmud has some really neat ideas in it.


Although, the odds are that any collection of 2,700+ pages with hundreds of words per page is bound to have a few nuggets of wisdom in it.


Amidst the recorded (picayune) arguments the rabbis of old had about the morning prayers—what words should be included, how light it should be when they’re said (answer: when one can distinguish between the colors blue and white, though Rabbi Eliezer said blue and green), and if it is permitted to pray morning prayers if one stayed up the whole night—the rabbis ask a great question: “What does God pray?”


What does God pray?


And, how do we find out?


She’s standing next to the dishwasher. It’s her day to undo it. I remember it with alliteration: “Emmett even. Annie odds.”


“Annie, I have some great news for you this morning.” 


When they used to ask “what?” I used to answer, “It’s your day to undo the dishwasher.” No one has asked in years. 


“I know,” she says and then adds, “Can somebody tell me what time it is?”


I snark, assuming she is going to try to get out of her task, “Clocks are in the same place as yesterday.”


Jane lovingly reminds Annie there is a clock on the microwave. 


“I’m going to be late.”


I knew it.


An explanation as to how the ancient rabbis happened to find out what God prays is recorded in Berakhot 7a:


Rabbi Zutra the son of Tovia said that Father Arikha (known as Rav) said that Rabbi Yishmael the son of Elisha was in the Temple, on Yom Kippur — the holiest days of the year — in the Holy of Holies — the inner sanctum where only the high priest was allowed — and he came across the angel Akatriel Ya — mentioned here and never again in all of rabbinic literature — who who transmitted the phrase that God prays as a blessing to him, Yishmael the son of Elisha.  


So, that’s how they came to know the prayer God prays!


“Dad, please, I’m going to be late.”


She wants me to drive her the 0.3 miles to school.


It’s faster to walk at this time. Our neighborhood, with a 2,000 student high school and a K-8 elementary three blocks away, is flooded with cars from 7:45 until 8:30 on school days.


But, really, she just needed some TLC.


Rabbi Yishmael the son of Elisha tells us that God prays  “May it be that my will that my attribute of mercy overcomes my anger.” 


I’m sitting in the driver’s seat of our 2010 blue Subaru Forester, parked catty-corner from her school. I just dropped her off. Late.


We sat through five cycles of the traffic light at 33rd and U.S. Grant Place. Five cycles of the traffic light. Five.


I was smart enough to bring my laptop with me. So I can sit here for ten minutes, writing the first draft of this piece, waiting for my neighborhood to again be clear of traffic.