בסיעתא דשמיא

כעבור סופה | After the Storm: A Prayer to Choose Life by Rabbi David Seidenberg (neohasid.org)

Download a formatted PDF of this prayer from neohasid.org

Hebrew English

הַעִידֹתִי בָכֶם הַיּוֹם אֶת הַשָּׁמַיִם וְאֶת הָאָרֶץ
הַחַיִּים וְהַמָּוֶת נָתַתִּי לְפָנֶיךָ הַבְּרָכָה וְהַקְּלָלָה
וּבָחַרְתָּ בַּחַיִּים לְמַעַן תִּחְיֶה אַתָּה וְזַרְעֶךָ.‏
“I call on the skies and the land to witness against you today:
Life and death I have put before you, the blessing and the curse.
And so choose life, in order that you will live, you and your seed.”[1]Deuteronomy 30:19

רִבּוֺנוֺ שֶׁל עוֺלָם,
צִוִּיתָנוּ ״וּבָחַרְתָּ בַּחַיִּים״ (דברים ל:יט),
וּבְנֵי דוֺרֵנוּ אֵינֵנוּ
בְּטוּחִים בִּבְחִירַת הַחַיִּים.
וְכֻלָּנוּ גַם אַחֲרָאִים
בַּעַל כּוֺרְחֵנוּ אוֺ מִבְּחִירַתֵנוּ
לְהַפְרָעַת הַאַקְלִים
שֶׁסָּבִיר לְהַגְדִיל הַסְּעָרָה הַקָּטְלָנִית הַזֹּאת,
וּכְמוֹ כֵן אַחֲרָאִים לְרַפֹּאתוֺ.
Master of the Universe,
You commanded us, Choose life,[2]Deuteronomy 30:19
but the people of our generation
have no certainty how to choose life.
We are all also responsible,
whether by necessity or by our choices,
for the disruption of the climate
that would intensify this deadly storm,
as we are responsible for its healing.

מְבַקְּשִׁים אֲנַחְנוּ אֶת הַכֹּחַ
לְקַבֵּל אַחֲרָיוּת עָלֵינוּ עַתָּה
לַעֲזוֺר לְאֵלוּ שֶׁנִּפְגָעִים עַל יְדֵי הַסְּעָרָה,
וּלְהִמָּשֵׁךְ לַעֲזוֺר
בְּמֶשֶׁךְ הַסְּעָרוֹת הַבָּאוֹת,
וְלִתְּמוֺךְ בְּאֵלוּ שֶׁמִּצְטָרְפִים
בַּעֲבוֺדוֺת הַהַצָּלָה
וְהַסְּעַד וּלְחַבֵּר אִתָּם.
וּבְעַד כָּל הַבְּרוּאִים הַנִּזְקָקִים
וְחֲשׂוּפִים כַּעֲבֹור סוּפָה (משלי י:כה חלק)
אָנוּ מִתְפַּלְּלִים, נָא לְהוֺשִׁיעֵם.
We seek the strength
to accept our responsibility now
to help those harmed by the storm,
and to persist in helping
in the face of coming storms,
to support all those engaged
in rescue and relief work,
and to join with them.
And for all beings who are in need and
exposed by the passage of the storm,[3]Proverbs 10:25 partial
we pray, please save them.

כִּי אַתָּה הַיֹּסֵר גֹּויִים
וְהַמְלַמֵּד אָדָם דַּעַת –
נָא לְלַמְּדֵנוּ דֶרֶךְ קָדִימָה
עַל יְדֵי חָזוֹן וְלֹא עַל יְדֵי אָסוֹן (תהלים צד:י)
לָקַחַת אַחֲרָיוּת זֶה אֶל זֶה
וְאַחֲרָיוּת עַל עַתִּיד הָעוֹלָם הַנִּפְלָא.
עֲזוֹר לָנוּ לִבְחוֹר בְּדֶרֶךְ הַחַיִּים מְיוּסָּד עַל הַצֶּדֶק,
כִּי צַדִּיק יְסוֹד עוֹלָם (משלי י:כה חלק),
לְמַעַן יִתְקַיֵּם בָּנוּ
לְבָנֵינוּ
וְלִבְנֵי בָּנֵינוּ הַכָּתוּב,
״בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה בָּעִיר
וּבָרוּךְ אַתָּה בַּשָּׂדֶה״ (דברים כח:ג),
שֶּׁלֹא נֶאֱבָד מְהֵרָה
מֵעַל הָאָרֶץ הַטֹּבָה (דברים יא:יז).
For You are the One who disciplines nations
and who teaches humanity knowledge[4]Psalms 94:10 —
please teach us a path forward
through vision, and not through calamity,
to take responsibility for each other
and for the future of this wondrous planet.
Help us choose the path of life rooted in justice,
for the just establish the world,[5]Proverbs 10:25 partial
in order that the promise will be upheld
through us for our children
and our children’s children,
Blessed will you be in the city,
blessed will you be in the field
,[6]Deuteronomy 28:3 
so that we will not be lost quickly
from off the good earth
.[7]Deuteronomy 11:17

Transliteration

Ribono shel olam,
tsivitanu uvacharta bachayyim,
uv’nei doreinu einenu b’tuchim biv’chirat hachayyim.
V’kulanu achrai’im,
ba’al korcheinu o mib’chirateinu
l’hafra’at ha’akilim
shesavir l’hagdil ha-s’ara hakat’lanit hazot,
ukh’mo khen achrai’im l’rapo’to.

M’vakshim anachnu et hakoach
l’kabel ha’achrayut aleinu atah
la’azor l’eilu shenifga’im al y’dei has’arah,
ul’himasheikh la’azor b’meshekh ha-s’arot haba’ot,
v’litmokh b’eilu shemits’tarfim
ba’avodot hahatsalah v’has’ad ul’chaber itam.
Ba’ad kol haniv’ra’im haniz’kakim
v’chasufim ka’avur sufah
anu mitpal’lim, na l’hoshi’eim.

Ki atah hayoseir goyim vha-m’lamed adam da’at —
Na l’lamdeinu derekh kadimah
al y’dei chazon v’lo al y’dei ason
lakachat achraiyut zeh el zeh,
v’al atid ha’olom hanifla’.
Azor lanu liv’chor b’derekh hachayyim
m’yusad al hatsedek, ki tsadik y’sod olam,
l’ma’an yitkayeim banu
l’vaneinu v’livnei baneinu hakatuv,
Barukh atah ba’ir,
uvarukh atah b’sadeh,
shelo ne’evad m’heirah mei’al ha’arets hatovah.


The prayers for hurricane victims that are circulating through the Open Siddur Project and elsewhere are poignant and heartfelt, but they don’t speak an important piece of the truth that we need to hear. What about our collective responsibility for climate disruption that undoubtedly increases the harm caused by this and every major storm? And what about the Deuteronomic promise that God brings us recompense for our actions davka through the weather? Here’s an attempt at a prayer that incorporates a deeper understanding of our responsibility. For the final version of this prayer, I started with an anonymous Hebrew translation of my original English prayer, then I tweaked it and wove in scriptural references, and retranslated it back into English. -Rabbi David Seidenberg. For a longer essay on the concerns inspiring the composition of this prayer, please read Rabbi Seidenberg’s essay “After the Storm: How Should we Pray?,” at The Times of Israel.

Aharon Varady, Baruch Sienna, and Hinda Labovitz all assisted in helping to prepare this prayer on the Open Siddur Project Facebook discussion group.

Rabbi Seidenberg wishes to remind everyone seeking prayers for the victims of this seasonal hurricane, that we are not just dealing with Harvey but with monsoon floods covering a third of Bangladesh, where over 1200 have already died – far worse than our hurricane here.

Download After-the-Storm-A-Prayer-to-Choose-Live-David-Seidenberg-neohasid.org_.pdf (PDF, 123KB)

Notes   [ + ]

1, 2. Deuteronomy 30:19
3, 5. Proverbs 10:25 partial
4. Psalms 94:10
6. Deuteronomy 28:3
7. Deuteronomy 11:17

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