Side Arms: Readings, Prayers and Meditations for Soldiers and Sailors (1918) by Rabbi Morris S. Lazaron is an ecumenical prayerbook for men serving as United States military personnel during what later became known as World War Ⅰ.
This work is in the Public Domain due to its having been published more than 95 years ago.
This work was scanned by Aharon Varady for the Open Siddur Project from a volume held in the collection of the HUC Klau Library, Cincinnati, Ohio. (Thank you!) This work is cross-posted to the Internet Archive, as a repository for our transcription efforts.
Scanning this work (making digital images of each page) is the first step in a more comprehensive project of transcribing each prayer and associating it with its translation. You are invited to participate in this collaborative transcription effort!
Let us be very clear, and make clear to all the world what our motives and our objects are….. We are glad to fight for the ultimate peace of the world, and for the liberation of its peoples, the German peoples included; for the rights of nations great and small, and the privilege of men everywhere to choose their way of life and obedience. The world must be made safe for democracy….. We have no selfish ends to serve. We desire no conquest, no dominion….. We fight without rancor…..seeking nothing but what we shall wish to share with all free peoples….. We enter this war only where we are clearly forced into it, because there are no other means of defending our rights…..in armed opposition to an irresponsible government which has thrown aside all considerations of humanity and of right, and is running amuck….. The day has come when America is privileged to spend her blood and her might for the principles that gave her birth and happiness and the peace which she has treasured. God helping her she can do no other.—President Wilson.
This little booklet is intended for all of you.
It does not seek to appeal to you as Catholics, Protestants or as Jews, but as men!
We are all deeply concerned in the spirit in which you go forth to fight, and in the transformation which these trying experiences will effect in your character.
For you will have to fight, not the enemy alone— the enemy visible—the enemy outside!
You will have to fight the enemy inside!
The enemy who may seek to degrade and debauch you; to deaden and kill your better self.
Read these little things when the spirit prompts*
May they help you.
And may God be with you and us for a glorious victory to our righteous cause!
—Morris S. Lazaron.
Camp Merritt, N. J., July, 1918.
It may be glorious to write
Thoughts which glad the two or three
High souls like stars that come in sight
Once in a century.
But better far is it to speak
Some simple thought which now or then
May waken their free natures in the weak
And friendless sons of men.
Acknowledgment must be made for material in these pages taken from A Book of Jewish Thoughts, by Chief Rabbi Hertz of England, a most helpful work and a real contribution to the war.literature; to the Y.M.C.A. Service Song Book, some of the inspiring prayers of which we have included in our collection, and to Mr. Harry Emerson Fosdick for his prayer for our cause.
TO A LAD LEAVING FOR FRANCE
Well, my friend, you’ve started!
You’ve started to do the biggest job that ever man had to do. This is just to shake your hand and say, God bless you!
You’re leaving all that’s most cherished and loved behind you, and many’s the time when your thoughts will span the distant miles as they do now. You’re probably thinking about yourself, your life, as never before. You’ve laid on your bunk in the barrack at night and some one yelled, “Aw! Put the lights out!” and all was darkness and the silence of sleep. But you were awake with your thoughts and they raced over the years gone by. Or maybe as you lie in your hammock on ship, with the hum and throb of the engines in your ear, or stand on deck and gaze out on the endless expanse of the ever-restless sea, there come into your mind on the wings of memory more serious thoughts than ever before: your tender baby years, watched over so lovingly by your devoted parents; the happy, irresponsible years of your boyhood and school days; your start in life, your opportunities, all the full independence of the past, contrasting strangely, acutely, with the iron discipline of the army; you’re thinking about your friends: you’re thinking about your aspirations, your mistakes, your defeats, your struggles, your successes. . . . And you’re thinking about the things that were to be, your own home perhaps, your place in life, and little children to climb with simple trust upon your knees; and you’re heartsick maybe at this thing which came so suddenly upon you. which pulled you out of these pleasant places and sends you over into the great unknown!
This may be your thought.
Or, maybe you’re filled with the spirt of this fight, and long to be there and doing; to feel yourself a part of this titanic effort to cast out of the world forever the blasphemous, boastful tyrant.
Whether you’re sad or whether you’re glad, there’s a man-sized job ahead of you; a job that will take all you have of courage, of endurance, of faith; a fight that will call into play every potentiality and power you possess; a fight that will show what you are. You’re going to be tested and tried, thrown into the furnace of suffering.
What are you going to do about it?
How are you going to meet it?
There’ll be times when your body will fall from fatigue, when your spirit may wilt in weariness. There’ll be times when the stench and the dread and the terror and the horror and the misery of it all will nearly overwhelm you. There’ll be times when you’ll face a hell of shot, and flame and gas, and look death squarely in the eye.
What are you going to do about it?
Are you going to sniffle and bend and break, or are you going to grit your teeth, set your jaws and say: “I’m going on! I’m going to see this thing through!”?
There’ll be times lad, when, away in that distant land, on furlough from the fight, the siren voices of temptation will call you with alluring charm. They’ll say: “What’s the use? You’re going back to hell after this and you may never come out. Have a big time! Have a fling! and the rest be damned! Besides, who’ll know?”
Lad! No one will ever know but God and you! But there is no wound whose pain and agony burn and sear a man like that of remorse. No cry from human heart so fearful as this: Oh! if I had not done it! Oh! If things could be different! Yes. No one will know but God and you.
But others care! There are your dear ones at home: the little mother who sits and prays, who each night sends over the seas a last loving goodnight thought for her boy; the father whose heart is filled with pride in his son; the sweet, pure sister; or maybe the sweetheart; or the faithful, longing, prayerful, patient wife; the waiting kiddies who talk of daddie. They care! They care! And the countless homes of America to be saved from the desecration of the unclean brute—they care! And the blessed country which nurtured you, which educated you, which gave you opportunity and freedom and a man’s place in the world—America cares! Parents, loved ones, your country, all cry out to you as did Maccabee of old to his son, “Be strong, my lad, be strong, and show yourself the man!”
Keep yourself fit to fight the good fight! We’re all thinking of you. We’re all praying for you. More! We have confidence in you. We have faith in you. We know you will do your job because you can do it.
America expects great things of you. She has the right to ask your all. She does not seek wealth nor power, but simple justice and sweet liberty for all men. Bring back her standard unsullied as she would have you!
And may God bless you and keep you and bring you back in greater strength to enjoy the peace and freedom which your effort will have brought to bless humanity!
Our hand and heart and prayers! And God be with you!
Prayer Before Going Into Battle
Prayer When Out on Guard or Any Other Dangerous Duty
For the Day’s Round in Camp
For Those at Home
For All Mothers
Prayer for Our Country
Prayers on Recovery from Sickness
Prayers for the Sick and Wounded (a prayer of the afflicted, when he fainteth, and poureth out his complaint before the Lord)
Prayer in Times of Affliction
“Side Arms: Readings, Prayers and Meditations for Soldiers and Sailors, by Rabbi Morris S. Lazaron (1918)” is shared by the living contributor(s) with a Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication 1.0 Universal license.
Works of related interest:
Prayers for Trench and Base, by Lt. Basil Lucas Quixano Henriques (Office of the Chief Rabbi of the British Empire 1918)
An Offering of Prayer: Prayers and Meditations — Private and Public, compiled by Rabbi Morrison David Bial (1962)
The Faith of America: Readings, Songs, and Prayers for the Celebration of American Holidays, compiled by Rabbi Mordecai Kaplan, J. Paul Williams, and Eugene Kohn (1951)
For the Day’s Round in Camp, a prayer for soldiers by Rev. Howard A. Bridgman adapted by Rabbi Morris Lazaron (1918)