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.
By Epictetus (1st century), 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. 21.
And what words can truly express our praise of the works of Providence? if we had understanding, ought we not incessantly sing hymns to the Deity to rehearse His benefits? Ought we not as we dig or we plow or eat, sing a hymn to God? Great is God who has given us the strength and skill and tools to till the ground! Who has given us limbs and power and organs! And that which should be the subject of the greatest and most divine hymn: that he has granted us the faculty of apprehending his gifts!
What else then can I, a lame old man, do but chant the praise of God? If I were a nightingale, I would sing as a nightingale; if a swan, as a swan. But as I am a rational creature, I must praise God. This is my task and I will do it. nor will I leave this duty so long as I live; and I exhort you all to join in this same thing.
By Alvin I. Fine, 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. 10. Adapted by Hinda Tz. Eisen, 2013.
Prayer is aspiration. The self-satisfied disregard it. They who reach for higher things find it a necessity.
Prayer is a discipline. They who seek meaning and purpose in life discover it was a wise teacher.
Prayer is an art. We perfect it only through practice.
Never are we more truly and nobly ourselves than when we pray. Never are we more honestly aware of our shortcomings than when we are in God’s presence. never do we aspire more earnestly toward self-improvement and human betterment than when we worship Him.
Gradually, the interval between prayer and deed diminishes until, at last, all life becomes a sanctuary.
“I rejoiced when they said unto me: ‘Let us go unto the house of the Lord.'” (Psalms 122:1)
From Rabbi Simon Glazer, Techinah: Prayers and Religious Duties for the Daughters of Israel (New York: The Star Hebrew Book Company, 1930), p. 70-72. Adapted by Hinda Tz. Eisen.
Merciful Father of all mankind, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob! I come before You broken down in spirit and body, full of contrition and humility, to pray for the restoration of the health of [name of sick person]. Have compassion upon him/her; let no evil befall me by the misfortune of this dearly beloved member of my family.
You, O Lord, are mighty and righteous in judgment; who am I to advance my cause before Your Throne of Glory? But You, O Lord, know the needs of even Your smallest creature and provide sustenance for it. In Your hand are all living; our souls are Yours; so too our lives; our fate on this earth, and You alone have the right to judge us when our earthly cares no longer trouble our consciousness. In Your hand is the real cure of all sickness; You are the only source of all help and succor. But You did ordain in Your Torah, that when one is sick, medical aid must be given to relieve suffering, to effect a cure and to restore health and vigor.
May the doctor, under whose care the sick person now is, be Your true messenger of mercy and bring the proper remedy to this member of my family. […] May I be deserving to receive Your blessings for complete healing to this member of my family, speedily. Amen.
From the Jewish Welfare Board, Abridged Prayer Book for Jews in the Armed Forces of the United States (Philadelphia, PA: Jewish Publication Society Press, 1941), p. 107. Adapted by Hinda Tz. Eisen.
May He who is the source of all good gifts bless all those assembled here and be with all the members of their families and their households; may He prosper and help them in their needs and guide them in their difficulties. May He hear the prayers of all who worship Him in truth, comfort the sorrowing, and cheer the silent sufferers. May God reward with the joy of goodness the charitable and the merciful who aid the poor, care for the sick, teach the ignorant, and stretch forth their helping hand to those who have lost their way in this world.
Fervently we invoke Your benediction for this our country and our nation. Guard them, O God, from calamity and injury; may their adversaries not triumph over them, but the glories of a just, righteous, and God-fearing people increase from age to age. Enlighten and sustain with Your power those whom the people have set in authority: the President and his counsellors and advisers, the judges, law-givers, and executives, and all those who are entrusted with our safety and with the preservation of our rights and liberties. may peace and good will obtain amongst all the citizens of our land; may religion spread its blessings among us, and exalt our nation in righteousness. Amen.
by Hinda Tzivia Eisen, summer 2013.
I feel insignificant.
When God is infinite, and there are seven billion people in the world, how much audacity must I have to believe that God pays attention to me? How selfish to think I deserve for Him to heed me.
And yet, I do. I do believe that I am in God’s consciousness. I do believe He checks in on me when I call. And also when I am not looking — like a parent who checks in on a sleeping child.
So I vacillate between feeling deeply tiny in this Universe, and feeling a bloated sense that my God is with me.
Even in the best of times we must choose the torch we carry wisely, and we must be careful who we choose to illumine.