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[Prayer] for the Sabbath Day, by Rabbi Moritz Mayer (1866)

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Almighty God! with profound humility I would offer unto Thee the oblations of my gratitude for the precious gift of this holy day of bodily rest and spiritual elevation. After six days of toil and labor, this messenger of peace again and again appears unto us, to give strength unto the weary, freedom unto the enthralled, courage unto the oppressed, and teaches us, that Thine almighty protection accompanies us in the pilgrim paths of this earthly life, from its beginning even unto its end; that Thou blessest the fruits of our labor, and bestowest upon us all that of which we stand in need; that “not by bread alone man doth live, but by every, thing that proceedeth out of Thy mouth,”[1]cf. Deuteronomy 8:3. by obedience to Thy holy Law, for the preservation and diffusion of which Thou didst deliver Israel from the Egyptian bondage, and hast guided them safely through all perils and sufferings even to this day.

Heavenly Father! we feel Thy blissful and quickening presence; we hear the mighty voice of Thy spirit as in the endless Universe, so also in the course of our own destinies, and even in the longing of our soul that “panteth after Thee, O Lord! as a hart panteth after brooks of water”[2]Psalms 42:1. in the desire of our hearts to approach Thee, and take refuge from the billowing ocean of earthly life beneath the shadow of Thy protecting presence, and all that is within us exults in Thee, Thou, Eternal God and Father! Thy mercy shall never forsake us, not even in death! Through the darkness of the grave, Thou leadest the righteous unto the everlasting Sabbath, unto never-ending salvation!

“With honor and glory Thou hast crowned the son of man”[3]cf. Psalms 8:5. and hast vested him, the most miraculous being of Thy creation, with freedom to choose between life and death. Oh! mayest Thou also teach me to number my days, and apply my heart unto wisdom. Grant me a pure heart, a spirit permeated by Thy holy word, a life filled with deeds of love for Thee and my fellow-beings.

Help me, O God! to attend, on this holy Sabbath, with earnestness to the things that concern our everlasting peace; grant, that all my thoughts and actions may be holy and unblameable in Thy sight; fill me with the spirit of true devotion in the hours of worship and open my mind for the truths that may be proclaimed in Thy Holy Sanctuary. By attending upon the ordinances of our holy religion, on this day, may I grow wiser and better, purer and holier, more meek and humble, more resigned and thankful, and more heartily disposed to follow Thy sacred behests.

Speedily we feel this speedily as the days of the week, do our years vanish hence, and the work and work-days of this shadow-like existence will be ended, ere we be aware thereof; Oh! may my soul, when my day of departure shall come, look back with contentment upon the removing shadows, hopefully soar to its Heavenly Source, and everlastingly walk in Thy light, my Rock and Redeemer! Amen.

“For the Sabbath Day” 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. Deuteronomy 8:3.
  2. Psalms 42:1.
  3. cf. Psalms 8:5.

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