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

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The prayers for hurricane victims that are circulating here 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 a longer essay on the concerns inspiring the composition of this prayer, please read “After the Storm: How Should we Pray?,” at The Times of Israel.

Hebrew English Transliteration (Romanized Hebrew)

”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 

אָדוֹן הָעוֹלָם, אֶדֶן הָעוֹלָם, | רִבּוֹנוֹ שֶׁל עוֹלָם,
אַתָּה צִוִּיתָנוּ ”וּבָחַרְתָּ בַּחַיִּים“ (דברים ל:יט),
וּבְנֵי דוֹרֵנוּ
אֵינֵנּוּ יוֹדְעִים אֵיךְ לִבְחֹר בַּחַיִּים.
וְכֻלָּנוּ אַחֲרָאִים
גַם בַּעַל כּוֹרְחֵנוּ גַם מִבְּחִירַתֵנוּ
לְהַפְרַעַָת הַאַקְלִים
שֶׁסָבִיר לְהַגְדִּיל הַסְּעָרוֹת וְהַשְּׂרֵפוֹת
וְהַסּוּפוֹת וְהַהֲצָפוֹת הַקָּטְלָנִיוֹת,
וּכְמוֹ כֵן אַחֲרָאִים וּלְרַפֹּאתוֹ.
Master of the Universe | Foundation of the Universe
You commanded us, “Choose life,”[2] Deuteronomy 30:19 
but the people of our generation
do not know how to choose life.
We are all of us responsible,
whether by necessity or by our choices,
for the disruption of the climate
that intensifies deadly storms
and fires and hurricanes and floods,
and so we are responsible for its healing.
Adon ha’olam | Eden ha’olam,
atah tsivitanu “uvacharta bachayyim”,
uv’nei doreinu
eineinu yod’im eikh liv’chor bachayyim.
V’khulanu achrai’im,
gam ba’al korcheinu gam mib’chiroteinu,
l’hafra’at ha’aklim
shesavir l’hagdil hase’arot v’hasreifot
v’hasufot v’hahatsafot hakat’laniyot
ukh’mo khen achra’im l’rapo’to.

וְהִנֵּה אָנוּ מְבַקְּשִׁים אֶת הַכֹּחַ וְהָאֹמֶץ
לְקַבֵּל אַחֲרָיוּת עָלֵינוּ עַתָּה
לַעֲזוֹר לְאֵלוּ שֶׁנִפְגָעִים עַל יְדֵי הַסְּעָרָה,
וְגַם לְהִמָשֵׁך לַעֲזוֹר
כְּנֶגֶד סְעָרוֹת בָּאוֹת,
וְלִתְּמוֹךְ בְּאֵלוּ שֶׁמִּצְטָרְפִים
בַּעֲבוֹדוֹת הַהַצָּלָה וְהַסְעַד
וּלְחַבֵּר אִתָּם.
וְאָנוּ מִתְּפַּלְּלִים בְּעַד כָּל הַבְּרוּאִים
הַנִזְקָקִים וְחֲשׁוּפִים
”כַּעֲבוֹר סוּפָה“, (משלי י:כה חלק)
נָא לְהוֹשִׁיעֵם.
So we seek the strength and the courage
to accept our responsibility now
to help those harmed by the storm/firestorm
and also 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 we pray for all the creatures
who are in need and exposed
with the passage of the storm:,[3] Proverbs 10:25 partial 
please save them.
V’hineh anu m’vakshim et hakoach v’ha’omets
l’kabel ha’achrayut aleinu atah
la’azor l’eilu shenifga’im al y’dei hase’arah,
v’gam l’himasheikh la’azor
k’neged se’arot ba’ot,
v’litmokh b’eilu shemits’tarfim
ba’avodot hahatsalah v’hase’ad
ul’chaber itam.
Va’anu mitpal’lim ba’ad kol hab’ru’im
haniz’kakim v’chashufim
“ka’avur sufah”:
na l’hoshi’eim.

כִּי אַתָּה ”הַיֹּסֵר גוֹיִים“
וְ”הַמְלַמֵּד אָדָם דַּעַת“ (תהלים צד:י)
נָא לְלַמְּדֵנוּ אֶת הַדֶרֶךְ קָדִימָה
לָקַחַת אַחֲרָיוּת זֶה אֶל זֶה
וְאַחֲרָיוּת עַל עַתִּיד הָעוֹלָם הַנִּפְלָא
עַל יְדֵי חָזוֹן וְלֹא עַל יְדֵי אָסוֹן.
עֲזוֹר לָנוּ לִבְחוֹר בְּדֶרֶךְ הַחַיִּים
מְיוּסָד עַל הַצֶדֶק, כִּי ״צַדִּיק יְסוֹד עוֹלָם״ (משלי י:כה חלק),
בַּעֲבוּר צֶאֱצָאֵי צֶאֱצָאֵינוּ
לְמַעַן יִתְּקַיֵּם הַכָּתוּב,
”בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה בָּעִיר
וּבָרוּךְ אַתָּה בַּשָּׂדֶה“, (דברים כח:ג),
וְשֶּׁלֹא נֹאבַד ”מְהֵרָה
מֵעַל הָאָרֶץ הַטֹּבָה“. (דברים יא:יז)
For You are the One who reproves nations
and who teaches humanity knowledge.[4] Cf. Psalms 94:10  —
Please teach us the path forward
to take responsibility for each other
and for the future of this wondrous planet
through vision and not through calamity.
Help us choose a way of life
rooted in justice, for the just are a foundation for the world,[5] Proverbs 10:25 partial 
for our descendants and those coming from them,
so that the promise may be upheld through us
Blessed will you be in the city,
blessed will you be in the field
,[6] Deuteronomy 28:3  
and that we may not be lost quickly
from off the good earth
.[7] Deuteronomy 11:17 
Ki atah “hayoseir goyim
v’ham’lamed adam da’at”—
na l’lamdeinu et haderekh kadimah,
al y’dei chazon v’lo al y’dei ason,
lakachat achraiyut zeh el zeh
v’achraiyut al atid ha’olam hanif’la hazeh.
Azor lanu liv’chor b’derekh chayyim
m’yusad al hatsedek, ki “tsadik y’sod olam”,
ba’avur tse’etsa’ei tse’etsa’einu
l’ma’an yit’kayeim banu hakatuv,
“Barukh atah ba’ir,
uvarukh atah b’sadeh”
v’shelo “novad m’heirah
mei’al ha’arets hatovah”.

This prayer was originally written in the context of Hurricane Sandy in 2012 and updated in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey in 2017. 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.

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

 

Notes

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

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