Take a moment to read the text of the evocative eleventh-hour Day of Atonement prayer proffered by the High Priest in the Temple in Jerusalem (found in all standard Yom Kippur prayer books). It is called Yehi Ratzon, “May it be Your Will, O Lord…”, and here is my contemporary interpretation of this prayer.
“That this be a year in which You open before us Your storehouses of beneficence and excellence.” In our days, we cry-out for quality spiritual leadership. Pray for far-sighted leaders, with perhaps a little Divine guidance, who can inspire the confidence and repentance of the people of Zion.
“That this be a year of gathering in Your Temple.” Pray that Wakf malevolence and our government’s gross malfeasance do not bring down the fragmenting walls of the Temple Mount. Pray that we find the national backbone to reassert our sovereignty on the Holy Mount in the face of increasingly flagrant and destructive Palestinian encroachment – despite the international condemnation that is sure to ensue, whatever we do.
“That this be a year of atonement for our sins.” Like the sin of providing arms to the Palestinian Authority or the sin of continuing to fund the PA even as it launches diplomatic war against Israel.
“That this be a year in which You bless the fruit of our wombs.” Time to encourage a return to larger families, through truly-subsidized education and cheap housing and other tangible socio-economic incentives. What can Trachtenberg add to this effort?
“That this be a year in which you bless our comings and goings.” Which means praying that Israeli residents of Judea and Samaria manage to make it to work and back home safely every day this year. That the IDF be given the freedom to operate extensively enough to guarantee that Yesha residents do not become sitting ducks to picked-off one-by-one by Abbas’ policemen or Hamas gangs.
“That this be a year of salvation for our community… May Your mercy overflow upon us.” May God grant Barack H. Obama the determination to sweep-away Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his menacing regime, without the military operation incurring severe costs to us, or undue losses to US forces. May He protect us from mega- and mini-terrorism alike. May He calm the rising tide of anti-Semitism that threatens to engulf the Jews of the Diaspora.
“That this be a year in which You will carry us up to the Land of Israel, in joy, settling-in forever.” Keep those American, Canadian, and French immigrants coming! Expand and strengthen settlements, especially in areas of national consensus like the Jordan Valley, around Greater Jerusalem, along the mountain ridge overlooking Gush Dan — and in the Galilee and Negev too.
“That this be a year in which the People of Israel not be dependent on other nations.” Protect us from the global riff-raff and their corrupted international institutions, such as the UN, the UN Human Rights Commission, the International Criminal Court and the International Court of Justice – that would try our leaders for “war crimes,” boycott our academics, and impose sanctions on our trade. Give us wise world leaders with clarity of thought, like Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who understand the challenges of our times and appreciate Israel’s heroic struggle.
“That this be a year of good life before You.” Pray that we can reenergize our national spirit with Zionist and Jewish values, and with historical perspective that allows us to see the positive in this country and to recognize our achievements. Pray that we learn to give each other the benefit of the doubt; overlooking, instead of emphasizing, our differences.
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.”
* Originally published in The Jerusalem Post, October 6, 2011.