Sunday, April 15, 2007

A Sabbath Prayer

Overlooking Jerusalem on a Holy Day

Israel over the Sabbath is a quiet, introspective place where we take the opportunity to rest and spend time with our families. Amid the hussle and bussle of the work week, time flies and you aren't so preoccupied with thoughts of where each child is and what they are doing. You know this one is in school, this one has gym today. Did she wear her sneakers, did he take an extra sandwich because he has a late class?

When the Sabbath comes, the routine is interrupted. For Orthodox Jews, the Sabbath means a time with no radio, no computers, email and Internet. It's a time dedicated to family and if someone isn't at the table, their absence is felt so much more strongly. Routine seems...less than routine.

So much of what happens in your life seems just a little bit different when you have a son in the army, even the Sabbath here in Israel. Something that you are accustomed to hearing or seeing suddenly seems different, more real, more urgent.

Today was the Jewish Sabbath in Israel and as I try to do as often as possible (that's my way of saying not often enough), I went to the synagogue. And, as they do each week, the chazan (the person who leads the prayer service) said two special prayers, one for our soldiers in general, and another specifically for those being held by our enemies. Another time, I'll write about the one for the kidnapped soldiers - this post is about the one we say each week for all our soldiers.


He Who blessed our forefathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob-may He bless the fighters of the Israel Defense Forces, who stand guard over our land and the cities of our God, from the border of the Lebanon to the desert of Egypt, and from the Great Sea unto the approach of the Aravah, on the land, in the air, and on the sea.

We invoke the names of our forefathers because they brought us to this land and helped cement the connection we feel so strongly. They are our advocates, praying for the safety of our sons on high, as we pray for them here. From the most northern points of our country and deep in the desert, where Elie is now. From the Mediterranean Sea on our west, the Jordan River and beyond, they are all in our hearts. Somehow the words seem more real and I think of my son, not yet standing guard of the land of Israel, but that will come. What made the moment more special was that there were so many others whose sons are also in the army, also serving the nation, each one quietly praying for his or her own son and my son too, just as I am praying for their sons, and for the daughters of Israel and the fathers and husbands.


May the Almighty cause the enemies who rise up against us to be struck down before them.
The chazan's son is in the tank division. Another friend's son is in Elie's division. More than one has a son in an elite unit, another just starting out in the navy.


May the Holy One, Blessed is He, preserve and rescue our fighters from every trouble and distress and from every plague and illness, and may He send blessing
and success in their every endeavor against our enemies. May He lead our enemies under our soldiers' sway and may He grant them salvation and crown them with victory.
Prayers help us and give us hope. They allow us to crystallize our fears and move past them to hope. We entrust the army with our sons, but we entrust the army to God.


And may there be fulfilled for them the verse: For it is the Lord your God, Who goes with you to battle your enemies for you to save you.

The history and successes of the IDF are a reflection of their training, their dedication, at times their desperation, but always a result of the faith they carry with them and the faith we have in them and in God.


May He bless the fighters of the Israel Defense Forces, who stand guard over our and. Amen.


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