Saturday, July 02, 2016

An Empathic Rationalist Prayer

During the past three years, Ambassador Jilal Abbas Jilani  has given me the honor and privilege of delivering the Jewish prayer at the annual Interfaith Iftar that is held at the Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan in Washington, D.C.  Each year, I’ve written a prayer especially for the event.  This year’s Iftar was held this past Thursday evening, and what follows is the text of what I delivered.   


             My beloved Adonai.  What a sweet feeling it is to gather with my cousins from throughout the family of Adam and Eve.  You have given us so much, Adonai.  Trees.  Oceans.  Ethics.  Math.  Music.  Love.

So how are we doing with what You have given us?  I am not at all satisfied.  As a Jew, I’ve been taught to dream of a time on Earth when, in the words of our Prophet Isaiah, swords will be beaten into plowshares and spears into pruninghooks: when nation shall not lift up sword against nation, nor shall we learn war any more.  May we come to realize that dream, and to understand that it is our duty to pave the way for those blessings and not to take Your gifts for granted.

Adonai, we human beings live today during a time of great challenges.  We are challenged to work for peace among warring tribes and to serve our environment as custodians, not exploiters – givers, not just takers.  We are challenged also to speak truth to power and show compassion to those who are ill or who suffer from ignorance, which is among the worst types of illness.

Tonight, though, we face not only challenges but opportunities.   We can take stock in the majestic ritual of a fast devoted to Your Holy Name. And what an honor it is to participate in an interfaith Iftar, where the human family gathers to sing Your praises and build our bridges.  At this Iftar, we recognize our power to make peace and pursue justice.   At this Iftar, we are reminded that what is most high is not a tower or a star, but rather You, Adonai.  It is You whose Infinity and Mystery we can label but cannot even begin to comprehend.   It is You who ground us in empathy for one another, motivation to help one another, and insight about what it means to help and what it means to hinder.

Let us tonight dedicate ourselves to recognizing our power to repair this world without further delay.  And let us work together with both pride and humility: pride, in recognizing our gifts as servants of the Divine, and humility, in recognizing that we are so very tiny in relation to You, our wondrous Lord, our Ultimate Benefactor.  

Adonai, as we feel weaker in body this evening, we grow stronger in spirit and more loving in our hearts.  And above all other names, we give that love to You.

(Note – the Empathic Rationalist will be on vacation after this post, to return on July 16th or 17th.  Have a great 4th of July!)

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