Jewish Journal

A Prayer for the post-Mubarak Middle East, and for Israel

by Rav Yosef Kanefsky

February 11, 2011 | 2:25 pm

God and God of our ancestors:

We are grateful to You for restoring us to our land after millennia of exile and wandering.  This is the work of Your hands; it is wondrous in our eyes. We turn to You today for the sake of Zion, and for the sake of peace.

You have blessed humanity, these past centuries, with the wisdom that has given rise to the emergence of democracy, a political order than recognizes and honors every person’s God-given value and dignity as no political order has ever done before. You have in this way brought freedom into Your world on a scale unprecedented in human history.

You taught us at Sinai that freedom is a means, not an end. You instructed us that when - in freedom - we would devote ourselves to Your vision, then this freedom would ennoble us and bring forth blessing. And that when we would harness our freedom to achieve tzedaka umishpat, righteousness and justice, then we would remain worthy of your Presence among us. And we learned, often painfully, that freedom without moral vision could auger calamity. It is because of this that we petition You daily to grace us with understanding, wisdom, and discernment, and is it because of this that we turn to You today with both hope and concern. 

Even as Medinat Yisrael, the first flowering of our redemption, struggles nobly and continuously to make its own freedom and democracy a more perfect tool of tzedaka umishpat , we today casts our eyes with both hope and concern to our great neighbor to the south, as freedom has finally reached the land of Egypt.

You have commanded us in Your Torah to harbor no enmity toward Egyptians, for we had been strangers in their land. And so we pray that their new-found freedom indeed bring them the dignity and justice they rightfully seek and desperately deserve. But we know as well that Your people’s place in this world can be a precarious one, and that we are often subject to the great winds of history. And so we beseech You, our God and God of our fathers, to look with favor today upon the words of Your servant Isaiah, who envisioned the day when freedom would bring only knowledge of You, and knowledge of You would bring only peace:

And it shall come to pass in the end of days, that the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established as the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it.
And many peoples shall go and say: ‘Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; and He will teach us of His ways, and we will walk in His paths.’ For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.
And He shall judge between the nations, and shall decide for many peoples; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.
They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain; for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.

May the words of our mouths and the meditations of our hearts find favor before You God, our rock and redeemer.

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