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Prayer for the Departed (הזכרת נשמות), by Rabbi Moritz Mayer (1866)

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Dark and mysterious are the ways of Thy providence, O Lord, for us dust-born mortals, yet, they are just! “When I thought to know all this, it was too painful for me, until I shall go into the Sanctuary of God, then I shall understand their end.”[1]cf. Psalms 73:16-17. But this we do know, that Thy providence rules with paternal hand over all Thy creatures, that even the most bitter afflictions wherewith Thou visitest us are only for our own welfare.

In Thy heavenly household, God, nothing is done in the wrong place, nothing at an inappropriate time. It was Thy holy will to bereave me of my (father,—mother,—parents) and to call (him,—her,—them,) into a better world. My soul is sad within me, my heart mourns when I think of this irretrievable loss, when I remember, that my (father,—mother,—parents) who once showed me so much devotion and affection does (do) no longer walk with me upon this earth, and that I can no longer reward (him,—her,—them) with my filial love and gratitude. Generations go, generations come according to Thy divine wisdom, in order that this earth may last for ever. I acknowledge Thy supreme goodness and wisdom, yet, my heart bleedeth, mine eyes are bathed in tears, when I remember those dear departed ones that once were my delight on earth, and now rest in their dark graves. But no! only the earthly part of my dear ones rest in the grave, they themselves walk in yonder lucid heights of heaven, where there are no more tears, no grief, no separation,—there they are quickened by the contemplation of the glory of God, enjoy everlasting salvation, at Thy right hand, O All-just Rewarder!

True, mine eye no longer beholds their venerable countenances, my ear no longer hears their soft, instructive and consoling voice, but they, the sainted souls, see and hear me,—their spirits invisibly hover around their loved ones on earth, and every good deed which I perform here below heightens their heavenly beatitude. And thus I may even now bestow my love and gratitude upon my dear departed ones, when I walk in the ways of Religion, when I do no act without asking myself: “Would this be pleasing unto my (father,—mother,—parents?”—) Thus I will ever strive to pursue the paths of virtue and morality, to do good unto all men, so that (thou, my father,—my mother, mayest,—ye, my parents may) with pleasure look down upon (thy,—your—) child from yonder heavenly abode, and perceive with delight my righteous course of life; and whenever my hour shall come, when I also shall rest in the grave from the cares and toils of this life, then (thou, my dear father, shalt,—thou, my dear mother shalt,—ye, my dear parents, shall) see (thy—your) child again in the realms of glorification, I shall for ever rejoice with (thee,—you,) in eternal salvation. Amen.

“Prayer for the Departed. (הזכרת נשמות)” is one of thirty prayers appearing in Rabbi Moritz Mayer’s collection of tehinot, Hours of Devotion (1866), of uncertain provenance and which he may have written. –Aharon Varady

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Notes   [ + ]

  1. cf. Psalms 73:16-17.

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