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תְּפִלָּה לְמַעַן אַרְצוֹת הַבְּרִית בְּעֵת נִסָּיוֹן | A Prayer for the United States at a Time of Trial, by Rabbi Joe Schwartz (2019)

Source (Hebrew) Transliteration (Romanization) Translation (English)

אֵל עֶלְיוֹן,
רָם עַל כָּל גּוֹיִם,
אוֹהֵב צְדָקָה וּמִשְׁפָּט,
חוּס וְהָגֵן עַל אַרְצוֹת הַבְּרִית —
אֲנְשֶׁיהָ, שָׂרֶיהָ וְיוֹעֲצֶיהָ —
וּשְׁמוֹר נָא עַל שְׁאִיפוֹתֶיהָ וּמוֹסְדוֹתֶיהָ הַחָפְשִיִּים,
שֶׁהֵם תְּהִלָּתָהּ וְתִּפְאָרְתָּהּ.
מִי יִתֵּן וּתְהֵא לָעֲשׁוּקִים וְלִמְשֻׁעְבָּדִים תִּקְוָה,
וּמָנוֹס לְכָל חַסְרֵי קֵן וּטְרוּפֵי סוּפָה,
מְגַנָּה שִֹנְאַת חִנָּם וְדוֹחָה כָל רְדִיפָה.
El Elyon,
ram ’al kol goyim,
ohev tsedakah umishpat,
ḥus v’hagen ’al artsot habrit — 
ansheiha, sareiha v’yo’atzeiha —
ushmor na ’al she’ifoteiha umos’doteiha haḥofshi’im,
shehem tehilatah v’tifartah.
Mi yiten utehe la’ashukim v’limshubadim tikva,
umanos l’khol ḥasrei ken utrufei sufah,
m’ganah sinat ḥinam v’doḥah khol redifah.
El Elyon, God on High,
supreme over all nations,
who loves righteousness and justice:
protect and keep the United States of America —
its people, its ministers and its advisers —
and safeguard the ideals and free institutions
that are its pride and its glory.
May it be a beacon of hope for the oppressed and the enslaved
and a refuge for the homeless and tempest-tost,[1] Cf. Emma Lazarus’s New Collossus (1883). 
giving “to bigotry no sanction, and to persecution no assistance.”[2] George Washington’s Letter to the Jews of Newport, Rhode Island (1790). 

רוּחַ חֲדָשָׁה בְּרָא בָּהּ,
לְהַשְֹכִּיל עַל כָּל רָשׁ וָדַּל בְּקִרְבָּהּ,
הַקְּטַנִּים עִם הַגְּדֹלִים,
כְּמָה שֶכָּתוּב בְּתוֹרָתֶךָ:
יְיָ ״עֹשֶׂה מִשְׁפַּט יָתוֹם וְאַלְמָנָה,
וְאֹהֵב גֵּר לָתֶת לוֹ לֶחֶם וְשִׂמְלָה.״ (דברים י:יח)
וְכֵן כָּתוּב: ״וְגֵר לֹא תוֹנֶה וְלֹא תִלְחָצֶנּוּ ….
כָּל אַלְמָנָה וְיָתוֹם לֹא תְעַנּוּן.״
וְכָתוּב: ״אִם עַנֵּה תְעַנֶּה אֹתוֹ,
כִּי אִם צָעֹק יִצְעַק אֵלַי —
שָׁמֹעַ אֶשְׁמַע צַעֲקָתוֹ״ (שמות כב:כ-כב)
וְתָרִיב רִיבוֹ.
Ruaḥ ḥadasha b’ra bah,
lehaskil ’al kol rash vadal bekirbah,
haketanim ’im hagedolim,
k’mo shekatuv betoratekha:
Adonai “oseh mishpat yatom v’almanah,
veohev ger latet lo leḥem vesimlah.”
Vekhen katuv: “v’ger lo toneh v’lo tilḥatsenu . . . .
kol almanah v’yatom lo t’anun.”
V’khatuv: “im ’aneh t’aneh oto,
ki im tsa’ok yits’ak elai —
shamo’a eshma’ tsa’akato”
v’tariv rivo.
May it renew its commitment
to protect the vulnerable and the powerless in its midst,
the small with the great,
as it is written in your Torah:
“God does justice to the orphan and the widow,
and loves the migrant, feeding and clothing him.”[3] Deuteronomy 10:18. 
And it is written: “You shall not wrong or oppress the migrant,
nor abuse the widow or the orphan — 
and if you do abuse them,
they will cry out to Me,
and I shall surely hear their cry”[4] Exodus 22:20-22. 
and take up their cause.

אֵל רָחוּם וְחַנּוּן,
לַמְּדֵנוּ אוֹרְחוֹת רַחֲמִים וְדַרְכֵי נוֹעָם;
שְׁפוֹךְ אֶת רוּחֲךָ עַל הָאָרֶץ,
שֶׁכָּל יוֹשְׁבֶיהָ יֵדעוּ
שֶׁבָּנִים אֲנַחְנוּ לָךְ,
וְאַחִים נוֹצַרְנוּ לְזוּלָתֵנוּ.
קַיֵּם בִּמְהֵרָה מִקְרָא שֶׁכָּתוּב,
״כִּי־מָלְאָה הָאָרֶץ דֵּעָה אֶת־יְהוָה
כַּמַּיִם לַיָּם מְכַסִּים.״ (ישעיה יא:ט)
וְנֹאמַר: אָמֵן.
El raḥum v’ḥanun,
lamdenu orḥot raḥamim v’darkhei no’am;
shfokh et ruḥakha ’al ha’arets,
shekol yoshveiha yed’u
shebanim anaḥnu lakh,
v’aḥim notsarnu l’zulateinu.
Kayyem bimheira mikra shekatuv:
“Ki mal’a ha’arets de’ah et Adonai,
kamayim l’yam m’khasim.”
V’nomar: Amen.
El, author of mercy and compassion,
teach us the ways of compassion;
pour out Your spirit upon the land,
that all who dwell within it might know
that we are all Your children,
created as brothers and sisters to one another.
May the words of scripture speedily be fulfilled:
that “the land be filled with knowledge of You
as the waters cover the sea,[5] Isaiah 11:9. 
and let us say: Amen.

“A Prayer for the Spiritual Welfare of the United States at a Time of Trial,” by Rabbi Joe Schwartz was first published in a low resolution graphical format at The Forward on 28 June 2019. It is published here as text. For several lines without direct translation in the English, I have added a translation. –Aharon Varady


1 Cf. Emma Lazarus’s New Collossus (1883).
2 George Washington’s Letter to the Jews of Newport, Rhode Island (1790).
3 Deuteronomy 10:18.
4 Exodus 22:20-22.
5 Isaiah 11:9.

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3 comments to תְּפִלָּה לְמַעַן אַרְצוֹת הַבְּרִית בְּעֵת נִסָּיוֹן | A Prayer for the United States at a Time of Trial, by Rabbi Joe Schwartz (2019)

  • Avatar Shulamit Rosner

    There is misleading element in the translation to English. “Ger” does not mean migrant. גֵר
    A ger is a non-Jew who lives among us in The Land. Ger can mean foreigner, stranger, convert. “Migrant” is much to much of a stretch. Could it be politically motivated?

  • Avatar Anna Boswell-Levy

    a person who moves from one place to another, especially in order to find work or better living conditions.
    synonyms: immigrant, emigrant, incomer, newcomer, asylum seeker, settler, expatriate, expat, exile;

    I think it is certainly a fair translation for ger.

  • There is a lot of scholarly discussion over who, exactly, the ger was. For the purposes of the prayer, he or she is invoked as a non-citizen to whom, in any case, a just society influenced by biblical ethics owes a high moral duty. The terms often used to translate the term — stranger, or wayfarer — are either misleading or obscure. “Stranger” today just means anyone you’re not acquainted with; “wayfarer” is antiquated, but essentially means migrant. Interestingly, it was Ben Yehuda who coined the word for migrant in Modern Hebrew, מהגר; the root he invented — ה ג ר — was built off of the word גר. (Ger as convert to Judaism is rabbinic and not the straightforward meaning of the term in the Torah itself.)

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