By Rabbi W. Gunther Plaut
as published in Rabbi Morrison David Bial (ed.), An Offering of Prayer: Prayers and Meditations Private and Public (Summit, NJ: Temple Sinai of Summit, 1962) p. 51. Adapted by Hinda Tz. Eisen, 2013.
O Lord, Our God, we thank You for Your countless mercies. For the incomparable gift of love that comes to us from family and friends and from these, Your children, to whose service we dedicate our lives.
We need Your help, O God; since without You the burden is heavy, and the tablets of Your commandments weigh us down.
But when Your writing is clear and Your spirit upon it, the burden is lifted, the tablets take on wings and the commandments carry us on high.
Help us, O God, to follow in the way which we have been taught, which our parents gave us as their greatest gift.
Teach us, O Lord, to follow the path of Joseph, our forefather, always to say like him: “I seek my brothers.”
We need Your help to walk the way before us with surety and confidence, the way already paved by great leaders who stood here and who served Your people.
Help us to be true clergy*- a teacher to old and young, to be a friend and counsellor to this holy congregation.
Help us to speak where silence is cheap; help us to be ever sensitive to the heartbeat of our fellow man;
Help us to preserve our balance in the swirl of human enterprise; help us to teach Your Torah, thus to magnify You day and night, until the end of our days.
* The original text says “a true Rabbi” instead of “clergy,” but I wanted it to be accessible to all new clergy – cantors, too!