I Must Praise God

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.

Posted in Ecumenical, Meta, Prayer, Thanksgiving | Leave a comment

A Meditation on Prayer

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)

Posted in Ecumenical, Meta, Observances, Prayer | Leave a comment

Prayer for a Sick Person

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.

Posted in Ecumenical, Healing, Jewish, Observances, Supplication | Leave a comment

Prayer for the Government

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.

Posted in Ecumenical, Jewish, Military, Supplication, United States | Leave a comment

Who am I in God’s Picture?

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.

Posted in Meta, Personal | 1 Comment

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.

Posted in Guidance, Military, Observances, Supplication | Leave a comment

Prayer for a Mother, Whose Son is in the Military (1858)

From Fanny Neuda, Stunden der Andacht: Ein Gebet und Erbauungsbuch für Israels Frauen und Jungfrauen  [Hours of Devotion: A Prayer and Devotional Book for Women and Young Women of Israel], (Prague: Wolf Pascheles Publishing, 1858, 2nd ed.), pp. 101-102. Translated from the German by Hinda Tz. Eisen.

Almighty, Lord of Hosts, You who rule mightily in Heaven and on Earth, to You my prayer rises from a deep maternal heart. Turn Your face to me and answer me in Your Grace.

Following the call of duty, my son has joined the ranks of fighters for the Fatherland, to stand up for right and order, and to ward off evil and malice where they threaten the Fatherland and its inhabitants. Well, this is a fine, honorable profession, and I thank You, Father of All, that You gave me a child with healthy, strong limbs, capable of bearing arms in service of the Holy Fatherland; but it shakes and trembles my motherly heart when I consider the dangers and obstacles that surround him. Young and inexperienced, away from the teachings and reprimands of his parents, how difficult it will be for him not to give into the temptations of his youthful heart and to be unfaithful to his obligations and fall into sin!

Therefore I beseech You, Father of All, take him into Your mighty protection, surround him with Your overwhelming kindness. Strengthen every strong and noble feeling, every good impulse in him, that he should let every memory of the teachings of virtue and the Fear of God never go out of sight, that his soul may not harden under the hard service of the weapons, so the voices of sin will never master him. Grant him, Compassionate One, insight and strength, vigor and stamina, to meet his heavy obligations promptly, that he commit no transgression. Make him feel no false guilt, never to be misled by anything, or to shake his abounding obedience, in the self-sacrificing loyalty and devotion to his Prince and Ruler, whose flag he swore. And if the hot hour strikes, trust him out on the battlefield, where death is rampant; Father of All, envelop him with Your Grace, let Your steadfast love be his shield and armor, and pour courage into his heart. And let the memory of the fine old heroes of Israel inspire him, that he may join freely and enthusiastically in battle against his enemy. May his courage be impenetrable and bravery in his people’s honor, and may he prove his loyalty to Prince and Fatherland.

Hear, Maker of All, my prayer for him; let him be supported by my motherly blessing, as a protective banner, that he may come back again after completion of services, healing of body and mind, adorned with the sign of recognition of duty fulfilled, to the delight of my heart, for fame and glory of Your Name. Amen.

Posted in Maternal, Military, Original Translations, Supplication | Leave a comment