Guidance

True Repentance

From Likutei T’fillot for the month of Elul (6:42), based on the teachings of Rebbe Nachman of Breslov. Accessed here on August 13, 2013, p. 38. Translated by Hinda Tzivia Eisen.

Lord my God, my soul very much knows that I am very far from true repentance, for my sins have passed in my head and they have confused my thoughts, so much so that I don’t have any idea how to return to you. The knowledge eludes me and my heart has left me. I walk in this world here and there dejected, without knowledge, and without heart.

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A Prayer for Our Soldiers

By Rabbi Jerome M. Epstein, published by United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism. Accessed 9 Nov. 2010, <http://uscj.org/images/iraqprayer.pdf>.

God of love, God of peace, min ha-meitzar karati Yah. Out of the depths of despair, we call to You. Our ears ring with the words “Do not fear.” But our stomachs churn with the acid of doubt. Determined to preserve our shared world from the tyranny of terrorism, we turn to You for answers, for values, for strength.

We stand before You with respect and concern for those who have been summoned to protect and secure our nation, our world. Give them the courage to meet the chilling stare of death. Show compassion to them as they seek to make the world safer for us and for those we love.

Ease the pain of their loneliness as they face the darkness of their daunting task. Let them feel Your presence as You warm the chill of their souls with the blanket of Your light. Help those far from the comfort of home to find value and meaning in their mission; that their sacrifice not be an empty act.

Let them sense the yearning of those who await their return and long for their presence — their loved ones, their parents, their children. Protect them when they find themselves in harm’s way. Salve their wounds with Your healing balm.

Melekh chafeitz ba-chayyim, Sovereign who desires life, above all protect them with Your merciful care. Return them safely to fulfill dreams unrealized so that they may bless Your name through the lives they live.

May their efforts further the cause of peace throughout the world, and bring us closer to the day when “Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn of war anymore.” Amen.

Installation Prayer

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.

Amen.

* The original text says “a true Rabbi” instead of “clergy,” but I wanted it to be accessible to all new clergy – cantors, too!

A Prayer for Our Teachers

By Rabbi Albert G. Baum
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. 64. Adapted by Hinda Tz. Eisen, 2013.

O Lord our God — If our lips were filled with song and our tongues with words of constant praise, we would still be unable to thank You for the many blessings that You bestow upon us daily.

We sing Your praise for the masters and teachers in Israel, for our educators who help us understand that the universe, that You have given us as a home, is founded on law and order, harmony and peace.

May Your spirit ever inspire our teachers, poets, and writers of songs so that they may help us wipe out the ugliness, strife, suffering, and cruelty that mar the beauty and goodness of Your universe.

Enable Your servants to speak clearly and knowingly so that all people everywhere can learn to do Your will, with one common purpose.

Bless the endeavors of all who strive to bring knowledge and understanding into the world and into the hearts of people everywhere.

May our songs of praise always be upon our lips.

Amen.