The Birthday of the United Nations, a prayer by Rabbi Avraham Samuel Soltes

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Father of all Men:
Since time immemorial
Thy children
have sought
to find Thee
in the realm of nature
and in the varied experiences of their
lives:
In the roar of thunder
have they heard Thy stirring voice;
in the golden glory of the sun
have they seen Thy radiance.
Where the mountains tower
above the plain,
they have built Thee
their altars,
and in the forest’s cooling shade
have they heard
Thy still, small voice.

But
deepest of all
has been
the resonance of Thy spirit
that has echoed to man
from the heart of his fellow.
He has longed
through the ages
for the day
When the swords of battle
Would be beaten
into ploughs of peace,
when the spears of conquest
would be bent
into hooks of harvest.

And he has prayed unto Thee
for the coming of a day
when
nation would not lift up sword
against nation,
nor learn war any more.

We thank Thee,
O Master of the Universe,
that
in our lifetime
the agonies of war
have
at last
been converted
to the birth-pangs of peace,
and
out of countless centuries
of bloodshed
there has emerged
the soft-skinned babe
of brotherhood.

We are grateful
for this child
of the Nations United
‘though his legs
be still unsteady
and the fingers of his mastery
Weak.

For
in his heart
he bears
the talisman of our future,
and
upon his head
rests
the crown of human aspiration.

Help us,
O Heavenly Father,
to be patient with him
as he wanders
and stumbles
along the paths of growth;
teach us
to cherish him
as a priceless treasure
tho’ he fulfill
but slowly
and imperfectly
the high promise of his advent.

Endow with wisdom and vision,
we pray Thee,
those who are charged
with guiding the destinies
of this
heir of human hope,
that they may lead us
to that era,
when every man
shall sit under his vine and fig tree,
beside his own house and garden,
and none shall make him afraid.
Amen.

“Birthday of the United Nations” was first published in Rabbi Avraham Soltes’ collection of prayers, תפלה Invocation: Sheaf of Prayers (Bloch 1959). No date was given for its composition but sometime between 1948 and 1958 is certain. In 1948, the United Nations General Assembly declared 24 October, the anniversary of the Charter of the United Nations, as which “shall be devoted to making known to the people of the world the aims and achievements of the United Nations and to gaining their support for” its work.[1]United Nations General Assembly Session 2 Resolution 168. United Nations Day A/RES/168(II) 31 October 1947.

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Notes   [ + ]

  1. United Nations General Assembly Session 2 Resolution 168. United Nations Day A/RES/168(II) 31 October 1947.

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