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Yom Kippur and a Prayer for the Government

Category : politics

For those that don’t know, yesterday was Yom Kippur, which is the Jewish day of atonement. You’re supposed to fast and attone for your sins, etc. I’ve never really been a religious type, and I’m most definitely not observant. But I usually go to services more as tradition and something to do with family.

Anyways, at every service, whether for the High Holidays or not, there’s always a prayer for the government. I usually gloss that over, since it’s pretty vague. But this time, the words popped out of the page and struck a real chord with me. Somehow, this time, the words of the prayer seem quite relevant to the times.

As excerpted from the Jewish Virtual Library:

The prayer for the government is a biblical prayer, and is read during the Saturday morning service on Shabbat. The concept of praying for the wellbeing of the government was started in 586 B.C.E. by the prophet Jeremiah after the first expulsion from Jerusalem. Seeing as the Jewish people could not govern themselves, they implored God to guide their foreign rulers. David Abudarham first introduced this prayer into the modern siddurim (prayer book) in the 14th century. Jews have adopted different prayers for the governments of the countries in which they live. The prayer is read aloud after the Torah reading, but before the Torah is placed back into the ark. This blessing asks God to guard the proceedings of the government and the nation’s leaders.

Here’s the prayer as is usually translated:

Our God and God of our ancestors: We ask Your blessings for our country, for its government, for its leader and advisors, and for all who exercise just and rightful authority. Teach them your insights that they may administer all affairs of state fairly, that peace and security, happiness and prosperity, justice and freedom may forever abide in our midst. Creator of all flesh, bless all the inhabitants of our country with Your spirit. May citizens of all races and creeds forge a common bond in true harmony to banish all hatred and bigotry and to safeguard the ideals and free institutions which are the pride and glory of our country. May this land under Your Providence be an influence for good throughout the world, uniting all people in peace and freedom and helping them to fulfill the vision of your prophet: “Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they experience war any more.” And let us say: Amen.

How can anyone disagree?

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