Global, Religion

Two Prayers for Syria (and updated with more)

What can we pray about Syria? As the United States looks to enter the fray of a Syrian civil war, concerned American Jews and Israelis are penning responses in prayer. Shared here are two recent liturgical creations, by very different authors: The first is by Rabbi Barenblat, a Renewal rabbi at of Congregation Beth Israel in Massachusetts and the author of The Velveteen Rabbi. The second is by Rabbi Yuval Cherlow, a leading figure in the religious Zionist movement and head of the Petach Tikvah hesder yeshiva.
Both rabbis ask for both sides to display compassion, mercy, humanity and brotherhood to forestall further loss of innocent life and unnecessary revenge upon the other. That said, the Cherlow prayer leaves me a mite uncomfortable by invoking Number 35:33, that killers be killed. Nevertheless, his draft is reportedly being read by the Bnei Akiva youth movement across the religious-national world. Movement secretary-general Danny Hirshberg said on settler media, “The Israeli public needs to look beyond the screen of hate and enmity to see the pain of those civilians being hurt by the Syrian tyrant.”
Read both below the fold…

Prayer for Syria
by Rabbi Rachel Barenblat
Shekhinah, in Whose womb creation is nurtured:
when your children are slaughtered you weep.
Bring peace beneath Your fierce embrace
to Syria. Let a new image of the world be born
in which American Jews pray for Syrians, who pray
for Israelis, who pray for Palestinians, who pray
even for American Jews. Fill the hearts
of the insurgents with Your compassion
so that when the regime comes to its end
no one seeks the harsh justice of retaliation.
Awaken conscience in the Syrian government
and spark their dormant mercy. And for us:
help us to wield our power in service of good
and strengthen our resolve not to turn away.
We bless You, Source of Mercy. Bring wholeness
to this broken creation. And let us say: Amen.

Prayer for Syria
by Rabbi Yuval Cherlow, translated by Elli Sacks
Master of the universe, who makes peace on high
Though we are not accustomed to new formal prayers, we can no longer look at the slaughter taking place in Your world and fail to pray about it. Though we know that both sides in the war are guilty of wanton bloodshed, we are unable to keep silent when so many who are beyond the circle of conflict have fallen victim.
We beseech You in prayer to arouse in the killers their basic humanity and evoke mercy in their hearts, that they may recognize that we are all created in the image of God, and that there are limits even to human cruelty. May You bring to pass what is written in Your Torah: “He who sheds the blood of man, by man his blood shall be shed, for in God’s image was man created.”
Grant us the wisdom to know how to act in this hour of distress, when the dark face of humanity’s evil inclination is once again fully exposed and we are unsure how to stand against it. Enable us to act with all our energies to prevent bloodshed in Your world, above all in the Holy Land and its environs, as it is written in Your Torah: “You shall not pollute the land where you are for blood pollutes the land; and the land will not expiate the blood shed upon it, but with the blood of he that shed it.”
May God who makes peace on high, make peace upon us and upon all Israel, and let us say amen.
נוסח התפילה המלא שחיבר הרב יובל שרלו:
ריבונו של עולם, העושה שלום במרומיו,
אף שלא הוסמכנו לתקן תפילות – אין אנו יכולים עוד להביט אל הטבח הנעשה בעולמך ולא להתפלל על כך; אף שאנו יודעים כי שני הצדדים במלחמה הם שופכי דמים פראיים – אין אנו מסוגלים לשתוק בשעה שנפגעים רבים שהם מחוץ למעגל הלחימה.
אנו פונים אליך בתפילה כי תעורר ברוצחים את האנושיות הפשוטה ואת מידת הרחמים, את ההכרה כי
כולנו נבראנו בצלם א-לוהים וכי גם למידת האכזריות יש גבולות, ותופיע בעולם את מה שכתבת בתורתך “שופך דם האדם באדם דמו יישפך, כי בצלם א-לוהים עשה את האדם”.
שלח בנו גם את התבונה לדעת מה לעשות בשעה הקשה הזו, בו שוב מתגלה הצד האפל שביצרם הרע של בני אדם, ואין אנו יודעים מה מוטל עלינו מול מציאות מרה זו; שלח בנו את היכולת לפעול ככל יכולתנו כדי למנוע שפיכות שמים בעולם, ובמיוחד בארץ הקדושה והרחבה, עליה כתבת בתורתך “וְלֹא תַחֲנִיפוּ אֶת הָאָרֶץ אֲשֶׁר אַתֶּם בָּהּ כִּי הַדָּם הוּא יַחֲנִיף אֶת הָאָרֶץ, וְלָאָרֶץ לֹא יְכֻפַּר לַדָּם אֲשֶׁר שֻׁפַּךְ בָּהּ כִּי אִם בְּדַם שֹׁפְכוֹ”.
עושה שלום במרומיו, הוא יעשה שלום עלינו, ועל כל ישראל, ואמרו אמן.


A Rosh haShana Prayer for Syria
by Rabbi Mishael Zion
Master of the Universe, Father of Orphans, Protector of Widows, Whose compassion is upon all creations – look upon the nations and rise from the seat of judgment and turn to the seat of compassion. Heal the wounded, release the imprisoned, sustain the fallen, and hasten redemption for the Syrian people.
God who can make paths in an ocean, carve out a path in this sea of distress, engender in the hearts of the warring sides compassion towards each other, and open their hearts in understanding towards us as well.
Guide us as we strive to understand our role in this crisis. Give wisdom in the hearts of our leaders, and strengthen the hands of our defenders. Holder of Mercy, bring an end to this suffering, spread justice and forgiveness throughout the land, and may a great and wonderful peace spread all over the region, from Your holy land to all its neighbors, and to your entire world, and let us say: Amen.

Hat tips to ASB and Raffi Magarick for two of these.

One thought on “Two Prayers for Syria (and updated with more)

  1. That said, the Cherlow prayer leaves me a mite uncomfortable by invoking Number 35:33, that killers be killed.
    Let’s remember that for a generation the religion of the State Department, western Europe, and much of the “Progressive” Jewish world has been that the leaders of the Arab countries (Mubarak, Assad, King Huessein, King Mohammed, etc.) are actually “moderates” who need to be embraced by the West and, even more, what’s preventing those moderate leaders from making reforms in their respective countries is the open sore in the Middle East, that the state of Israel occupies lands beyond its “natural” borders of June 4, 1967.
    This is what we’ve been hearing for 40 years; however, now it is obvious what a farce that theory was.
    Yet, there is hardly any soul searching about how so many people could have been so off the mark in understanding the Middle East. It’s hard to understand.
    It should leave us all a mite uncomfortable.

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