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Prayer for the First Day of Sukkot, by Rabbi Moritz Mayer (1866)

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Lord, our God, and God of our forefathers! Graciously accept the thanks-offerings which with filial hearts we bring unto Thee in the festive commemoration of this day. Thou hast appointed this festival season, that we may rejoice thereon in the blessings which earth hath bestowed upon us in abundance, and, with firm confidence in Thy help, to banish from our bosoms all fainthearted fear and anxiety for further sustenance. Thou wiliest that man enjoy in gladness Thy gifts for the preservation of his body, but also ennoble and sanctify his enjoyment by thinking of Thee, the Great Giver of all blessings, by attending to the wants of his imperishable and eternal part, in the remembrance of the high mission of his finite existence upon earth.— All-merciful God! Thy grace is without end, Thy mercy never ceases, every day, every hour is full of Thy loving-kindness; Thou blessest the fruit of our labors and providest all of which we stand in need. Thou bringest up from the dark ground the puny seed and causest it to grow unto thousand blessings. Often the weak heart of man trembles and asks: “Whence shall my help come?”[1]Psalms 121:1. for we are not permitted to receive Thy gifts without toil and struggle, but we must with the sweat of our brow eat the bread that nourishes us. And even herein we acknowledge Thy paternal providence, that we may be guarded against foolish and vain pride, and be fortified in the recognition of our dependence upon Thine almighty protection. But they that trust in Thee shall not be put to shame! “There is no king saved by the multitude of his host, a mighty man is not delivered by the fullness of his strength,[2]Psalms 33:16. Thine eye is upon them that fear Thee and hope in Thy mercy, to deliver their soul from death, and to feed them in famine.”[3]Psalms 33:18-19.

But we remember this day not alone the benefits which Thou hast bestowed upon us, the inhabitants of a flourishing, fertile Eden,—no! with unutterable gratitude we also remember that distant antiquity, when Thy wonderful guidance preserved our fathers in a dreary, barren wilderness. Beneath the protection of Thy tent Thou didst hide our wandering ancestors against the burning rays of the sun and raging storms. Thou didst refresh them with sprouting waters from rocks and causeet streaming rains to descend. Thou didst open the gates of heaven and sent Manna from above for their nourishment,—corn from Thine exalted height. All this Thou didst for Thy people, for Thine elect. Withersoever we turn our eyes, we behold the shining testimonies of Thy mercy, filling us with joy and exultation. Yea, our souls hope in Thee! Thou art our Help, our Shield, our Redeemer! Our hearts rejoice in Thee, we confide in Thy holy name.—And thus, O God! let Thy mercy be ever over us, as we hope in Thee, now and evermore. Amen.

“Prayer for the First Day of the Feast of Tabernacles” 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. Psalms 121:1.
  2. Psalms 33:16.
  3. Psalms 33:18-19.

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