Thoughts and Prayers?

The Prayer for the State of Israel was instituted right from the beginning of it’s formation. Credit is given to Rabbis Ben Zion Meir Hai Uziel and Yitzchak HaLevi Herzog for it’s institution.

According to the Times of Israel, it was only recently confirmed that Rabbi Herzog is the true author, while Shaya Agnon is credited as the editor of this sacred text.

We could certainly use this prayer more than ever, as long simmering tensions between Israel and Iran have bubbled over in the wake of President Trump’s declaration that we plan to void the Iran Nuclear Deal.

Those on the right think it’s long overdue, the withdrawal that is. Those on the left think it’s a broken promise and a slap in the face to our allies.

Either way, Iran is state sponsor of terror and conflict with them seems inevitable.

I’m wondering about our relationship to this prayer for Israel, or any prayer for peace really. I don’t think praying for peace is going to end a war.

And if God wants to protect Israel from harm, which God arguably does, considering Israel’s already miraculous, albeit short history- does our prayer provide extra benefit?

Well, yes I think it does. But mostly to us the petitioners. I think praying for peace does as much to strengthen our resolve towards a peaceful world as actually seeing that peace delivered by divine will.

Look at modern Israeli society. A culture that lives under the threat of war, but still sings songs of peace, togetherness and hope. Why? Because our liturgy says so. Sim Shalom Tova Uvracha. Shalom Rav. Oseh Shalom. Shalom Aleichem. Shiru Ladonai.

Hey, this isn’t to say that achieving peace always happens through pacifism. Israel’s wars are plenty evidence against that. But Israeli society, founded on Jewish values and religious conviction, clearly seeks a peaceful world.

So with that in mind, Yes our prayers for Israel’s safety this Shabbos and over the next months will be more fervent, more immediate and less idealogical. But ultimately, they will continue to reinforce our ancestral heritage of a people that loves peace.

Enjoy this recording of Avinu Shebashamayim and may we all soon live in a world at peace.

 

 

 

Posted by Hazzan Asa Fradkin

Hazzan Asa Fradkin is the hazzan at Congregation Beth El in Bethesda, MD. He is a native of Baltimore.