Published in The Jerusalem Post on September 19, 1999
The recent earthquakes in Turkey and Greece, the hurricane in the Carolinas, the shootings in Los Angeles and Chicago, the massive bombings in Moscow and the serial rapes across Gush Dan are cogent reminders that life is unpredictable. We’re not really in control. Our health, happiness and security are subject to whim, miscalculation, passion, the sudden, unexpected and absurd.
So as you settle back in the synagogue pew or your living room armchair to contemplate life, here are a couple of things to pray for this Yom Kippur:
Pray that you never have to walk into a pediatric oncology hospital wing. Pray for friends and strangers alike who spend their days and nights in these tragic places. Ask God to keep you and your children out of emergency rooms, cardiac units, psychiatric wards, etc.
Pray that you do not become a victim of this country’s more than 60,000 burglaries per annum; 25,000 traffic accidents; 20,000 cases of violence within the family; close to 200 non-terrorist murders; and brutal rapes that take place on average once every 12 hours.
Pray that classroom violence – experienced by one out of every two school kids – does not affect your son or daughter, and that they get to be part of the lucky 38 percent of Israeli kids who actually complete bagrut.
Pray for rain.
Pray for the 13 innocent Iranian Jews about to be tried by Teheran’s mullahs for “espionage” and threatened with death sentences. Pray hard.
Pray for all the Israelis who aren’t praying: those off on organized sexual pleasure tours in Asia, those gambling the day away in Jericho, those getting themselves high at trance parties, or those who have been, unfortunately, simply turned off by this country’s noxious mix of religion and politics. Pray for Jews who are in synagogue but who pray only for themselves. Think about others, and pray for state of the nation.
Pray for Zionism, now under assault by revisionist educators, post-Zionist politicians, a cynical media, and a public that is just plain tired. Pray that the “intellectuals” who would question Israel’s morality and just achievements do not succeed in corroding our patriotism. Pray that we can reenergize our national spirit, to teach our children pride in the accomplishments of Zionism along with a sense of responsibility for its continuation.
Pray that Prime Minister Ehud Barak stays honest. Pray that he levels with us on the peace process, and sticks to his self-declared red lines in the coming final status negotiations. Pray that he lives up to at least half his campaign promises.
Pray that all the recent terrorist releases and the handcuffing of the Shin Bet by our Supreme Court do not come back to haunt us.
Pray for the residents of the Golan, whose homes could be uprooted at the drop of a smile by Syrian President Assad. Pray for the Israelis in Judea and Samaria, some of whom now have Jibril Rajoub’s heavies encircling their homes. And pray that Yasser Arafat’s declaration of Palestinian statehood next spring doesn’t lead to bloodshed and unending tragedy – for both sides.
Pray for Jerusalem; that it remain under Israeli control. Pray that we have the national backbone to reassert our sovereignty in the face of increasing Palestinian Authority encroachment throughout the city and on the Temple Mount — despite the expected international disapproval for whatever we do.
Pray for our soldiers lying in ambush in the Hezbollah-infested valleys of Lebanon. Pray for a quiet year.
Pray that we can halt the vulgarization of our society; the unbridled, untamed confrontation in which we all harshly judge and stereotype each other. Pray that we can successfully re-introduce honesty and good faith as behavioral standards in public and private life.
Pray, if you can, like the legendary Rabbi Nahman of Bratslav. “May it be your will, O Lord”, he wrote, “that there be great affection and peace among all your people of Israel; that we should all be guided by brotherly love and compassion; that we should accept one another, and learn from one another; that we should appreciate all your living beings; and that the misfortune of one person should touch the hearts of all”.