Asher Yatzar — Thank You for Creating Me
In Judaism we have a prayer called Asher Yatzar. The prayer begins with
בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְהוָֹה אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, אֲשֶׁר יָצַר אֶת הָאָדָם בְּחָכְמָה, וּבָרָא בוֹ נְקָבִים נְקָבִים, חֲלוּלִים חֲלוּלִים.
“Blessed are You, God, Who formed me with wisdom and fashioned the human body.”
It’s typically called the “bathroom blessing,” and Jews traditionally say it every morning after one does their business in the bathroom.
I’m a Reconstructionist rabbi and part of my role in Jewish is life is to find ways “Reconstruct” our tradition, and our text to make them more relevant today.
The entire prayer in english is:
Blessed are You, God, Who formed me with wisdom and fashioned the human body. Creating many openings arteries, glands and organs marvelous in structure… It is revealed and known before You that if any one of these passageways be open when it should be closed, or blocked up when it should be free I could not to stay alive or exist for even just an hour. Blessed are You, God, the healer of all flesh who sustains our bodies in wondrous ways.
While I was studying to become a rabbi this prayer meant everything to me and it became my favorite prayer.
I did not see this prayer as just a bathroom blessing thanking God for allowing me to relieve myself in the morning. I saw it as a prayer thanking God for creating me exactly who I am. A black, queer, Jewish woman and a rabbi. I’ve been reflecting on the rise of anti-semitism, racism, and violence in our country. I am someone who is targeted my racism, sexism, anti-semitism and homophobia. I am well aware that I live in a world that sees my blackness before they see me or get to know me, and my Jewishness often represents a threat.
I am well aware that I live in a world that sees my blackness before they see me or get to know me. I also live in a Jewish world that sees my blackness and often refuses to recognize my Jewishness.
I am black, I am queer and I am a rabbi, for many, especially the people who follow me that spells excitement and for others my mere presence not only as a Jew but as a rabbi makes them uncomfortable and sadly makes some angry. For those who find it uncomfortable I invite you to stay in that place of uncomfortableness for a little while. I assure you it will get better. For those who are angry, I feel sad for you because people like me represent the future of Judaism. And if you stay angry you are missing out on how awesome it is to be Jewish in America today.