This is a prayer for peace, yearning for the day when all peoples will live together in harmony. It’s my first attempt to emulate paytanim of old – the liturgical song writers – by weaving lines of Psalms into a prayer. It includes the closing couplets of Psalms 120, 121 and 122, in both Hebrew and English. Special thanks to papercut artist Deborah Tepper for allowing me to illustrate this with “Pathway of Protection,” which is based on the closing line of Psalm 121. This prayer appears in This Joyous Soul: A New Voice for Ancient Yearnings.
Let Tranquility Reign
Some days the prayers
Of Your people
Are so close
We can hold them in our hands,
Feel them with our eyes,
Taste them with our breath.
They surround our hearts
To become our yearning.
They surround our song,
To become our grieving.
They surround our souls,
To become our pleading.
“My soul has dwelled too long
Among those who hate peace.
I am for peace, but when I speak of it
They are for war.”
:רַבַּת שָׁכְנָה-לָּהּ נַפְשִׁי, עִם שׂוֹנֵא שָׁלוֹם
:אֲנִי-שָׁלוֹם וְכִי אֲדַבֵּר, הֵמָּה לַמִּלְחָמָה
When will peace come,
Source of Peace,
When will sorrow be vanquished?
When will tranquility reign?
“Adonai will guard you from all harm;
G-d will guard your soul.
Adonai will guard your going and coming;
Now and evermore.”
:יְהוָה יִשְׁמָרְךָ מִכָּל-רָע, יִשְׁמֹר אֶת-נַפְשֶׁךָ
:יְהוָה יִשְׁמָר-צֵאתְךָ וּבוֹאֶךָ, מֵעַתָּה וְעַד-עוֹלָם
For You are our Hope.
Let those who cherish life
Bless this day and every day.
“For the sake of my comrades and companions,
I shall say: ‘Peace be within you.’
For the sake of the House of Adonai our God
I will seek your good.”
:לְמַעַן אַחַי וְרֵעָי, אֲדַבְּרָה-נָּא שָׁלוֹם בָּךְ
:לְמַעַן בֵּית-יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵינוּ, אֲבַקְשָׁה טוֹב לָךְ
Let these prayers ascend
To the lofty heights,
So that the nations,
And peoples of the earth,
Will rejoice in holiness,
Will rejoice in splendor,
And will rejoice, together, in righteousness.
© 2019 CCAR Press from This Joyous Soul: A New Voice for Ancient Yearnings
Postscript: Psalms 120-122 are the first three of 15 Songs of Ascent. Along with the Barchi Nafshi, Psalm 104, these Psalms are traditionally said each Shabbat afternoon from the Shabbat after Simchat Torah until (but not including) Shabbat HaGadol, the Shabbat before Pesach. The translation from the Psalm 122 couplet is from Siddur Sim Shalom, which uses “comrades and companions” in lieu of the more literal “brothers and friends.”
Thanks again to papercut artist Deborah Tepper for allowing me to illustrate this with “Pathway of Protection.” She explained that it was commissioned by the Jewish Federation in Kalamazoo, MI, to honor a Righteous Gentile in their community. The women was a teenager during the Holocaust. Her family hid and protected two Jewish children. It was “the family’s love of humanity and belief in God that guided them to protect the going and coming of the Jewish children, while they were in hiding from the Nazis,” Deborah wrote. “The family remained tranquil and loving through their ordeal.” Deborah previously allowed me to use “The Joy of Shabbat – Lecha Dodia” to illustrate “Come Beloved.”
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Photo Source: Deborah Tepper, papercut image used with permission