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תפילת נחם לשלם בירושלם | Tefilat Naḥem for the Peace of Jerusalem on Tisha b’Av, by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer

Hebrew English

נַחֵם •••• אֱלֹהֵֽינוּ
אֶת אֲבֵלֵי צִיּוֹן
וְאֵת אֲבֵלֵי יְרוּשָׁלָֽיִם.
נִשְׁאַל שְׁלוֹם יְרוּשָׁלָֽיִם‪.‬
יִשְׁלָֽיוּ אוֹהֲבֶֽיהָ,
יְהִי שָׁלוֹם בְּחֵילָהּ,
שַׁלְוָה בְּאַרְמוֹנוֹתֶֽיהָ. (כמו תהלים קכב:ו-ז)
וַאֲנַֽחְנוּ נִתְפַּלֵּל בַעֲדָהּ אֵלֶֽיךָ,
כִּי בִשְׁלוֹמָהּ יִהְיֶה לָנוּ שָׁלוֹם. (כמו ירמיה כט:ז)
Comfort, ‪•••• our God,
the mourners of Zion
and the mourners of Jerusalem.
We seek the peace of Jerusalem –
may those who love Her be at peace,
may there be peace within Her ramparts,
well-being within Her palaces.[1]based on Psalm 122:6-7
As for us, we pray for Her sake to You,
for in Her peace will be peace for us.[2]based on Jeremiah 29:7

אָכֵן, אָבִֽינוּ מָלְכֵּֽנוּ, הַחַנּוּן וְהָרַחוּם,
עֹשֶׂה שָׁלוֹם שֶׁהַשָּׁלוֹם שֶׁלּוֹ,
דְּרֹשׁ אֶת שְׁלוֹם הָעִיר אֲשֶׁר הִגְלֵֽיתָ אוֹתָֽנוּ שָֽׁמָּה. (כמו ירמיה כט:ז)
שׁוּבָה •••• אֶת־שְׁבִיתֵנוּ, (תהלים קכו:ד)
שׁוּבָה וְהִנָּחֵם עַל־עֲבָדֶֽיךָ. (תהלים צ:יג)
Thus, our Parent, our Sovereign, Gracious and Merciful One,
Maker of Peace to whom Peace belongs,
seek the peace of the city from which You had exiled us.[3]based on Jeremiah 29:7
Return, ‪••••, from our captivities,[4]Psalm 126:4
return and have mercy on Your servants.[5]Psalm 90:13

וְאַז נַעֲלֶה אֶל־הַמָּקוֹם אֲשֶׁר־בָּחַֽרְתָּ לְשָׁכֵּן אֶת־שִׁמְךָ שָׁם, (כמו דברים טז:ו)
כִּימֵי עוֹלָם וּכְשָׁנִים קַדְמֹנִיּוֹת. (מלאכי ג:ד)
וּפְרוֹשׂ סֻכָּת שָׁלוֹם הַמְּכוֹנֶֽנֶת
עַל סֻכָּת דָוִד הַנּוֹפֶֽלֶת,
עַל הָעִיר אֲשֶׁר כׇּל תְּפִלּוֹתֵֽינוּ וְכׇל בַּקָּשׁוֹתֵֽינוּ,
כׇּל תַּחֲנוּנֵֽינוּ וְכׇל קִינוֹתֵֽינוּ,
כׇּל שִׁירֵֽינוּ וְכׇל זְמָרֵֽינוּ,
אֵלֶֽיהָ פּוֹנִים אֲנָֽחְנוּ.
And thus we will go up to the place that You chose Your Name to be,[6]based on Deuteronomy 16:6
as in days of old and years of yor.[7]Malachi 3:4
And spread the established sukkah of Your peace
over the fallen sukkah of David,
over the city to which all our prayers and all our petitions,
all our supplications and all our lamentations,
all our songs and all our hymns,
to Her we face.

וּלְכׇל־גּוֹיִם
קְרָא עַל שְׁלוֹם יְרוּשָׁלַֽיִם עִיר קׇדְשֶֽׁךָ,
וְנָשִֽׁירָה וּנְזַמְּרָה וּנְרַנְּנָה בְּהַר שְׁלוֹמֶֽךָ‪,‬
בִֹּשְׁלוֹם עוֹלְמֵי עוֹלָמִים‎,
כַּכָּתוּב בְּדִבְרֵי נְבִיא תִּקְוָתֶֽךָ‎ –
כִּי בֵיתִי בֵּית־תְּפִלָּה יִקָּרֵא לְכׇל־הָעַמִּים׃ (ישעיה נו:ז)
בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה ••••, מְנַחֵם צִיּוֹן וּבוֹנֵה יְרוּשָׁלָֽיִם׃
And to all the nations,
call out upon the peace of Jerusalem Your holy city,
that we will sing and hymn and praise in the mountain of Your peace,
in universal peace eternal,
as written in the words of the prophet of Your hope –
“For My house, a house of prayer it will be called for all the peoples.”[8]Isaiah 56:7
Blessed are You, ‪••••, comforter of Zion and builder of Jerusalem.

On Tisha b’Av, Jewish communities all over the world add a paragraph called Tefilat Naḥem (the prayer of comfort) to the standard daily Amidah (either for the afternoon service or for all services) praying for a return to Jerusalem. The traditional text discusses Jerusalem being defiled, in the hands of the idol worshipers, putting our people to the sword. But post-1967, Jerusalem has been under Israeli control, and this text has, to many people, felt no longer appropriate in the face of a Jerusalem being rebuilt.

Many have written their own versions of a new Tefilat Naḥem for a Jerusalem under Israeli control, but I have felt dissatisfied with a lot of these. Some treat Jerusalem as already fully redeemed, which any glance at the news tells you isn’t the case. Others treat the major step in redeeming Jerusalem as building the Temple, but this seems to me to be only one eschatological part of a larger hope for Jerusalem.

Jews have often considered the peace of Jerusalem to be a microcosm of the peace of all the earth. Thus for the Shabbat and Yom Tov Hashkivenu we pray for God to “spread the shelter of peace over us, all Israel, and Jerusalem.” The name Jerusalem, ירושלים, has been analyzed as “they will see peace” יראו שלום, since the peace of Jerusalem means all will see peace. But it’s clear that the peace of Jerusalem is not final or eternal, and it remains a city on the edge of a knife.

So my version of Tefilat Naḥem prays not for a return, nor for a Temple, but for the peace of Jerusalem. It can be used at the same time as the standard Tefilat Naḥem (as an extension of the Birkat Yerushalayim in the Shmoneh Esreh for Tisha b’Av) or on its own. Thus I used four puncta (“‪••••” a tetrapuncta) in place of the Tetragrammaton, and also at the end, for those who might consider it a b’rakhah levatalah to avoid. Those who would prefer to use this blessing in the Amidah itself could replace the tetrapuncta with the Name and its spoken circumlocution (e.g. Adonai).

Notes   [ + ]

1. based on Psalm 122:6-7
2, 3. based on Jeremiah 29:7
4. Psalm 126:4
5. Psalm 90:13
6. based on Deuteronomy 16:6
7. Malachi 3:4
8. Isaiah 56:7

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