The Evening Blessings directed towards the Gaza Conflict

July 24, 2014 by

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As I walked down the streets of Jerusalem this delightful, breezy July night, I passed two demonstrations supporting the soldiers of the IDF—one particularly dedicated to the Golani Brigade, which suffered so grievously this week.  Two tangible reminders that the calm of Jerusalem masks the sorrow and the fear, the violence and the uncertainty of this war.  And then I recited Ma’ariv, the evening service with its 23 blessings—through whose timeless words the prayers of a moment manifest.

The evening comes, and we reflect on a trying day, hoping that on another evening, sometime soon, the news will be better.  Blessed are You, Lord, who brings on evenings.

The world “regrets,” “condemns,” “urges,” and “demands,” and airlines cancel their flights.  Israel yearns not to be alone.  Blessed are You, Lord, who loves His people Israel.

Amid the trials of the moment, we recall that Israel has prevailed through worse.  Blessed are You, Lord, who redeemed Israel.

But what’s passed is past; we need you now.  Blessed are You, Lord, who guards His people Israel forever.

We have seen that armor cannot withstand a shell, or Kevlar explosives.  Soldiers need something more.  Blessed are You, Lord, shield of Abraham.

We read the obituaries and cry over lives lost and families torn asunder.  Blessed are You, Lord, who revives the dead.

We struggle to reconcile the dirty work of this war with the holy purpose of protecting our People and our Land.  Blessed are You, Lord, the holy God.

We look for the wisdom that can find a way out of this conflict.  Blessed are You, Lord, who graciously grants knowledge.

We know that a war forces even the righteous to sin.  Blessed are You, Lord, who desires repentance.

And yet, this is the third time in recent years we have seen this same conflict—these same horrible headlines.  Will you forgive again?  Blessed are You, Lord, the gracious One who repeatedly forgives.

If only more soldiers do not have to die to protect this Land.  Blessed are You, Lord, the Redeemer of Israel.

The hospitals are full with those who have been shattered.  Blessed are You, Lord, Healer of the sick of His people.

We can’t bear to see the future looking like this year.  Blessed are You, Lord, who blesses the years.

And yet, amid the strife in Israel or even because of it, we see how unwelcome our people are in so many places around the world, and how, even amid rockets, the olim still arrive.  Blessed are You, Lord, who gathers the dispersed of His people Israel.

To be a free people in our land is a just cause.  Blessed are You, Lord, the King who loves righteousness and justice.

End the terror, we implore.  Blessed are You, Lord, who destroys enemies and humbles the arrogant.

Strengthen our people to act justly even when danger presses.  Blessed are You, Lord, who is the support and trust of the righteous.

War is destructive.  But we fight so we can build our land and our future.  Blessed are You, Lord, who builds Jerusalem.

And we trust that better will come.  Blessed are You, Lord, who makes the glory of salvation flourish.

So many prayers.  Can You hear them all?  Blessed are You, Lord, who listens to prayer.

And can we hear You, amid the explosions and sirens?  Can we see your hand, through the smoke and the blood?  Blessed are You, Lord, who restores His Presence to Zion.

We can—in the smiles of children who don’t know to cry and in the hope we yet carry.  Blessed are you, Lord, whose name is “the Good” and to whom thanks are due.

Just give us peace.  Blessed are You, Lord, who blesses His people Israel with peace.

 

Arthur Sandman is the Executive Vice President of the Jewish Agency for Israel International Development

 

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