A few weeks back, Tamara Reese wrote a beautiful post about how babies pray. It was an incredibly sweet piece that I’ve reread multiple times since. (Yes, I work for Kveller, but they don’t pay me to reread blog posts–I do that on my own time.) She referenced a friend who sang her baby to sleep every night with the Shema, and how special it was for her to watch their bedtime routine.
When it came to creating a bedtime routine for our daughter, we purposefully chose a Hebrew song to sing to her every night. It’s a version of the Hashkivenu prayer that I adore, written by the group Mah Tovu. (If you’re looking to get your own version, my very favorite is sung by Cantor Angela Warnick Buchdahl of Central Synagogue.) We sang it at our daughter’s baby naming and have sung it to her every night since (well, maybe not every night, since in the beginning I could barely differentiate night from day). One of the things I love about it is that it’s in Hebrew and English–so everyone can understand.
Here’s the English text:
Shelter us beneath Your wings, oh Adonai
Guard us from all harmful things, oh Adonai
Keep us safe throughout the night, till we wake with morning’s light
Teach us, God, wrong from right. Amen.
All of which is a beautiful message to send to our children (and is pretty close to an accurate translation of the Hebrew too).
But recently, our daughter has started singing along. It’s adorable. She can’t understand the Hebrew well enough to get it right (so it sounds like a lot of aaaah’s and ooooh’s) and she has no clue about the English because usually she’s so exhausted by that point in the song that she can’t pay attention to it. But she is singing.
And it’s kind of incredible to have your baby pray back at you.