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Yet Again: A Prayer for Israel and Gaza, by Rabbi Victor Reinstein (2014)

https://opensiddur.org/?p=40850 Yet Again: A Prayer for Israel and Gaza, by Rabbi Victor Reinstein (2014) 2021-11-23 19:35:25 A desperate prayer against the dehumanization and reductive feelings of anger and desperation in the context of the conflict between Israel and Gaza in the summer of 2014. Text the Open Siddur Project Victor Reinstein Victor Reinstein https://opensiddur.org/copyright-policy/ Victor Reinstein https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/ Conflicts over Sovereignty and Dispossession War 21st century C.E. 58th century A.M. English vernacular prayer 2014 Israel–Gaza conflict
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B’rikh At Raḥmana | Blessed are You, Compassionate One,
Have compassion upon us as we offer yet again
another prayer so pained for the people of Israel and Gaza.
How hard it must be for You,
as we cry out yet again from this place of torment,
that we have returned yet again to this abyss,
that we have not learned yet again that war and violence will
only bring more of war and violence,
only more of grief, of suffering and pain.

In what way, with what heartache, do You hear
yet again the same prayers we’ve prayed so many times before?
Help us to hear the same refrain as we sing it
yet again, that we might wonder why so many times the same.
What does it take,
what will it take to break out of this cycle
of death and destruction,
of so much hate and fear?
Help us to renew the cycle of life,
of all that is good,
hand in hand around the world,
beginning now with Israel and Palestine,
container of our tears.

In the image of Your oneness,
help us to know at day’s end that there are no enemies,
only grieving suffering humanity, Your children all.
Beyond the failure of leaders to envision and imagine another way,
beyond the hate and disdain of one for another,
beyond the rockets and bombs,
help us all as people to end the madness
and find that other way before it is too late.
With eyes open to recognize when hate is directed against us,
let us be neither victim nor aggressor in response.

Help us to hold all the disparate realities that plead for space in our hearts.

Help us to distinguish between anti-Israel vitriol
that cares not for the state of our people, its land and its soul,
and the welling up of human grief and horror
that cries out from hearts that burst
for the wretched state of so many innocents,
for people in their suffering and pain.

Help us to feel the fear of Israelis,
the psychic numbness that engulfs them all,
fear for children and grandchildren,
for soldier sons their bodies and souls,
and the jagged despair so deep of those who are rodfei shalom,
seekers of peace who tremble for their country,
joined across the spectrum,
all as one when the rockets fly.
Help us to speak with each other,
to listen and to cry,
to be as we are meant to be,
with ourselves and with others,
raḥmanim b’nei raḥmanim
compassionate children of compassionate ancestors.[1] Sefer HaḤinukh haRokeaḥ 44:1, 498:2. Cf. Talmud Bavli, Beitzah 32b: ואמר רב נתן בר אבא אמר …כל המרחם על הבריות בידוע שהוא מזרעו של אברהם אבינו וכל מי שאינו מרחם על הבריות בידוע שאינו מזרעו של אברהם אבינו  
Guide us back from the labyrinth of our wandering
to know again of Torah
that all her paths are peace
if we make them so.

From that very place of heartsick worry for our own,
may we realize that they too are also us and our own.
From shelters throughout Israel,
no place safe from the rockets’ range,
help us then to imagine the terror they must feel,
no sirens or shelters beneath the falling bombs,
no refuge to seek, helpless to shield their children,
no place at all in Gaza to hide.

Help us not to oversimplify into encompassing categories of good and evil,
nor to make more complex than the horror of one child or one parent.
From the terror of rockets and the terror of bombs,
the shrieks of children,
the shriek of their parents,
the shriek of a missile,
the shriek of a plane and of its bombs,
the shriek of the siren,
the shrieking of children that surpasses them all.

Help us not to dehumanize the other,
not to create narratives that rationalize violence through fear and despair,
and help us refrain from turning our fears
into mantras of need to believe
that we have greater regard for life,
greater love for our children,
forgetting that all life is infinitely precious in Your eyes.
In addition to a cease-fire,
so desperately needed now,
give us finally the wisdom and the courage
to address and redress the needs of all
before the flaring of war,
all the same issues now that festered then
before there were so many dead.

Help us to go beyond but half of the story
as it forms in this moment of fear.
Is there only one way to respond
even now as the rockets fall?
Not knowing just how or what,
of contours and context unsteady,
but believing there must be another path
than the tortured one we’ve walked so long,
we plead for guidance, will, and way.
Open our hearts even now to brave possibility
and our minds to consider how we came to be here yet again,
how to balance what is with what might have been,
what might have been to influence what is.
Turn us from the corrosive way of occupation
that consumes all as one,
the other and ourselves.
Not to be dissuaded by hate or violence,
give us the courage to chart a new vision and its way,
even in the midst of the horrors of today.

And if you will,
both God and people,
let us say, yet again, Amen

 

Notes

Notes
1 Sefer HaḤinukh haRokeaḥ 44:1, 498:2. Cf. Talmud Bavli, Beitzah 32b: ואמר רב נתן בר אבא אמר …כל המרחם על הבריות בידוע שהוא מזרעו של אברהם אבינו וכל מי שאינו מרחם על הבריות בידוע שאינו מזרעו של אברהם אבינו

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