Ki Atah: A Karaite Liturgical Psalm

Ki Atah (Because of You) in this instance is certainly not being used for casting blame although it definitely has become an expression of choice when attempting to pin our bad decisions on someone else. More appropriately, it has been and is an expression of gratitude, of recognition of owing all that we are to a far greater power that we could ever appreciate. It is the embodiment of personal choice and growth yet symbolizing our realization that our abilities to achieve and succeed as a result of our decisions had nothing to do with the randomness of fate or coincidence but were in fact guided by an unseen hand. Many a detractor has confronted me and proclaimed that my Karaite faith is nothing more than a relic of ancient dogma, a fossil of archaic practices and a blind offshoot of a heretical movement. How mistaken they are! What they failed to appreciate regarding Karaism, what they still fail to comprehend is that as a religious group, we Karaites were geared for survival from the day of our inception. Whereas other religions totter on the verge of fragmenting into oblivion, weakened to the point of atheism, undergoing reformation to the Nth degree that guarantees obscurity, as Karaites, our doctrine of establishing a one to one relationship with God has always assured us of continuity without the threat of massive dilution of our principles. One can follow the commandments and the precepts of the Torah without endangering their faith through modernization simply because Karaism allows for personal interpretation. What others have accused of stringent archaic practices in reality was the ultimate in progressiveness and tolerance. To not have recognized that their opinion was not a condemnation of Karaism per se but a critical comment on their own myopic perspectives and that there is only some truth to their criticism in that we have grown silent over these past few centuries, achieving nothing of great literary value, having become restricted to a liturgy and sermonization passed down from long dead and buried scholars who’s heyday faded with the Golden Age of Islam. I personally have never understood why we let ourselves become so. Transforming from what was once a society of literary limelights to nothing more than introspective traditionalists seemingly more focused on dissecting every word of the Tanach than lettering the creative juices of interpretive genius that was the hallmark of such great authors as Anan, Kirkisani, Benjamin Nahevendi, Sahl ibn Maẓliaḥ, Jeshua ben Judah, Jacob ben Reuben, Solomon ben Jeroham, Yafit ibn 'Ali, Troki, even Firkovich, and without trying to be immodest, my third great grandfather Jakob Goldenthal. There exists no reason that I can fathom why once again we cannot flourish in this regard concerning our music, our writing, our liturgy and our lyrics.

So here in is my challenge to all that share my faith and my strength of personal convictions. The Ki Atah provides the perfect opportunity for all of us to proclaim both who and what we are. My choices in life could have never been made without the influence of my faith in the Lord Almighty. Although most are familiar with my travels they may not be completely aware of exactly why I fly off to the far corners of the world from time to time. Essentially, it is to work on projects to save the lives of countless people. I am a medical researcher having dedicated my life to make this world a slightly better place when I leave this mortal coil from the way I first found it. That from my perspective will be my greatest reward. Even with this most noble of ambitions there are those that wish to undermine our efforts, eradicate our achievements and maintain the constant threat of massive life-ending epidemics through uncontainable outbreaks. They say the sacrifices we make cannot justify the gains we have achieved against the onslaught of impending disease and death. Each time I stare into the faces of the children that never had to experience the threat of a life cut short, an existence dependant on a mechanical monster in order to breathe, or suffer a life sentence from a crippling disorder, I can only shake my head at these objectors and wonder how they cannot see what I see? How they cannot see what the vast majority of people see? Yes sacrifices have been made but the rewards have been tremendous. Even with all our achievements, we still do not rest in our travails as the only ones trying to improve our techniques and our methodologies are my fellow researchers and myself, not those that protest loudly in their arrogance and lack of concern for their fellow man. And then I realize the only way in which I could have found the strength to continue in this valiant struggle was ‘Because of You.’

We all have stories to tell. We all have songs of praise for the Almighty as his hand extended downwards into our lives and helped us make the right choices. I hope that you can find your own words to add to mine and perhaps if enough of us append these liturgies of praise to this Ki Atah, we can put together what will be the first Karaite liturgical work in centuries. An anthology created from the voices of His people. And unlike our Rabbanite brothers, it will not be a song of hollow construction but instead a song that will stand timeless because it heralds from within our hearts and from the depths of our souls. It will be the essence of all things Karaite and why we can say proudly, “We are not relics of a bygone past, but messengers of the here and now!”

Because of You

 

Because of you I have the strength to carry on.

                Because of you I have the courage to face each new dawn,

Because of you I push myself to go so far beyond

                Because of you I’ll challenge each and every wrong.

 

Because of you I see the good in my fellow man,

                Because of you I find your truths among many lands,

Because of you I seek each place you have laid your hand,

                Because of you I am committed to your divine plan.

 

Because of you I fear not even the darkest night,

                Because of you each truth shines forever bright,

Because of you there are no insurmountable heights,

                Because of you I am assured that what I do is right.

 

Because of you I can write so my heart can sing,

                Because of you I am inspired to achieve almost everything,

Because of you I can challenge what this life might bring,

                Because of you, life is the only elixir from which I drink.

 

Because of you I soar above clouds upon eagle’s wings

                Because of you my eyes gaze upon ancient scenes,

Because of you I know what your teaching really means,

                Because of you each night I can hear your voice in my dreams.

 

Because of you I am trained as your most willing tool,

                Because of you my skills in medicine are exceptionally hewn,

Because of you I am placed in a balance that can be borne by so few,

                Because of you to find the cures I know exactly what I must do.

 

Because of you I sense the stream of tears of each suffering child,

                Because of you I feel the anguish of loss in each mother’s sighs,

Because of you I feel the failure for each victim of disease that cruelly dies,

                Because of you I perpetually battle these entities that take our lives.

 

Because of you my mind and hands deliver the gift that heals,

                Because of you I must ensure that I continue to perform with relentless zeal,  

Because of you I cannot surrender to those that aggrieve me for their own flawed ideals,

                Because of you this treasured gift was provided upon mankind’s appeal,

 

Because of you I strive to protect and save each man’s life,

                Because of you I bear their condemnation and the eternal strife,

Because of you I am scarred by the turn of their poisoned knives,

                Because of you I still feel for their everlasting plight. 

 

Because of you each child that I aid I know was always within your plan,

                Because of you my science is designed to preserve this world of man,

Because of you the millions saved will certainly understand,

                That I do what I must because you made me what I am.

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