Tuesday, August 11, 2015

When You Need a New Prayer

Prayers are interesting in a many ways. There are the formal prayers we say - many written hundreds...even thousands...of years ago. I often smile when I hear the Torah read and recognize a phrase that has found its way into our daily prayers.

But prayers have always been fluid. Jews believe that all you need in order to allow you to pray to God is...a brain, a voice, a thought. Many years ago, a Russian Jew wanted to leave the Soviet Union and he knew that if they drafted him into the army, the Soviets would never let him leave. When he was called to join, he told them that he could not. They asked him why. He told them that he was crazy.

They laughed at him and said, how do you know you are crazy?

And he answered that he puts a box on his head and a box on his arm every morning. And then he talks to God.

The Soviets looked at him and laughed and said, "a lot of people talk to God." Remember that Communist Russia was a God-less country so religion was something to laugh off. "Yes," answered the Soviet Jew, "but my God answers me."

They figured he was crazy and let him go...God had answered him.

I often speak to God. Sometimes in the formal prayers but more often in the simple words that come from my heart...and God always answers me...though I'll admit that sometimes, the answer is no. I'm still not rich; I still don't own a vacation home in the north; I've never been to Scotland; and I don't have a full time cook and cleaner. But the other stuff...the important stuff...oh yes, God has blessed me over and over and over and over and over again. My sons went through the army, through war and operations, and came home safe. Two are happily married, one blessed with a beautiful daughter. My oldest daughter married the kindest, sweetest of guys, talented, amazing with kids, calm and patient...and they have two sons...each a blessing beyond words.

My husband and I will soon celebrate our 33nd wedding anniversary and with all the ups and downs and moves and kids and life...there is great love between us - each and all, an answer from God.

So, back to prayers. Prayers that were written hundreds of years ago still have a place in our lives, but sometimes, new prayers are needed...a friend, an amazing rabbi in our community has written one that summarizes much of what we ask God for in these difficult days.

He published it here in English. I should ask him for a Hebrew version as well but for now, if you can, consider printing this. Take it to your synagogue, even your Church, this is indeed, a Prayer for these Troubling Times.

With thanks and blessings to Rav Zev Shandalov. 

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