Rosh haShanah la-Behemah (the Jewish New Year’s Day for Animals) falls on the first day of Elul. It's a time when we begin an accounting for all the souls with whom we're in relationship. Usually, we think about our relationships with other people, but much of our lives and our happiness is tied to animals. Bees polinating flowers and trees, fruit and vegetables. Pets who bring us joy. Domesticated animals who nourish us.
This ceremony is adapted from the Isabella Freedman Retreat Center, Elat Chayyim and the Adamah Jewish Farming Fellowship. The ceremony was co-developed by Rabbi Jill Hammer and Sarah Chandler, with the kavvanah added by Aharon Varady.
Before we ask the blessed Holy One, our Shepherd, to take responsibility with care and compassion for their flock, we must show that we are taking care and responsibility for the flock that depends on us.
For Elohim gave us dominion, the power to domesticate other creatures to cultivate and preserve the Garden of Eden with them.
We are liable for their care and we are liable for our impact together on the Adamah, which Elohim loves.
May the One who is the breath of life guide us to protect the earth and make room in it for other creatures to thrive.
We are grateful for all the good we receive from domesticated animals.
May the One who is the breath of life cause us to be mindful of these gifts and never to waste them or take them for granted.
We bless all the creatures, behemot and ḥayot we are privileged to live with on the earth:
May the One who is the breath of life bless all living things that we love and strengthen them.
Blessed are You, Infinite Presence surrounding and filling the world, who makes many kinds of creatures.
May we hear their voices and delight in them.
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