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[Prayer for] Our Contemners, by Rabbi Abraham Cronbach (1924)

https://opensiddur.org/?p=54745 [Prayer for] Our Contemners, by Rabbi Abraham Cronbach (1924) 2024-03-12 17:03:57 Titled, "Our Contemners ," this prayer from Rabbi Abraham Cronbach is the second in his collection of prayer, <em>Prayers of the Jewish Advance</em> (1924), on pages 8 through 11. Text the Open Siddur Project Aharon N. Varady (transcription) Aharon N. Varady (transcription) Abraham Cronbach https://opensiddur.org/copyright-policy/ Aharon N. Varady (transcription) https://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/ Hateful Intolerance, Prejudice, and Bigotry 20th century C.E. תחינות teḥinot 57th century A.M. English vernacular prayer combating anti-Jewish oppression Jewish pacifism
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“As ye deal with your contemners
So with you, My grace shall deal.”
—Julia Ward Howe.[1] Lines adapted from “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” (1861) by Julia Ward Howe (1819-1910). 
Thou Refuge of the troubled!
Our heart is sore distressed.
Contemners have risen up against us.
Whirlwinds of misconception overwhelm us.
Our motives have been misconstrued,
our actions misinterpreted.
Father,
steady us in this troubled hour.
Let our steps through the mazes and the gloom
be guided by the lamp of truth.
How bracing, to the floundering soul,
that cold unflickering light!
Truth!
This is truth:
We are in pain
but our contemner also is in pain.
His scorn and anger betoken pain.
O sacred paradox,
that the mystic linkage of all human life
should stand thus revealed
in the moment of all moments
when the linkage would seem to have vanished!
Our pain answers to our oppressor’s pain.
We suffer when he suffers.
We suffer because he suffers.
Also this is truth:
Our contemner understands us not.
His every word betrays
that our circumstances and motives
are hidden from his view.
Did he but understand,
his pain would not be.
Did he but understand,
our pain would not be.
Again, O Father, this is truth:
Our contemner, though grieving us,
is doing the right as he sees the right.
His misinformed conscience assures him
that we deserve as he inflicts.
We may not ask that any man act otherwise.
His remedy is false because his diagnosis is false.
The injurious medicine, retaliation, is used
because the pain’s true origin
has not been uncovered.
From this bitter happening,
we would therefore learn, O Father,
the worth of diagnosing correctly
and seeking the true medicine.
Vouchsafe that we may not,
driven by passion,
presume to know our contemner’s
circumstances and motives.
Even as our circumstances and motives
are hidden from him,
his must needs be hidden from us.
And the medicine?
Is not love the true medicine?
Is not forbearance the true medicine?
Much talking will not help us.
Disputation will not help us.
When minds are inflamed,
words are not oil upon the water
but oil upon the fire.
But patience will help us.
Self-restraint and silence will help us.
And if, behind the bulwark of patience,
self-restraint and silence,
love can build its stronghold,—
glorious our achievement,
immeasurable our gain.
Oh, puny and vain the triumphs
we win over another;
resplendent the conquest
when we are victors over ourselves.
Truth and love are, in the end,
the only worship of Thee.
What ritual
or usage
or tradition of prayer
can be the substitute
for clear-seeing truth
and love all enduring!
Not by force and not by strife, then,
would we seek to prevail,
but rather, O Eternal,
would we rise
by the rungs of patience and forbearance
to that high rock where Thou dost shelter us,
and remain with Thee forevermore
secure against all ill.
Amen.

Titled, “Our Contemners ,” this prayer from Rabbi Abraham Cronbach is the second in his collection of prayer, Prayers of the Jewish Advance (1924), on pages 8 through 11.

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Notes

Notes
1Lines adapted from “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” (1861) by Julia Ward Howe (1819-1910).

 

 

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