For millennia, Jews have prayed on behalf of the places where we have dwelled and its rulers. The prophet Jeremiah instructed exiles in Babylonia, “seek the peace of the city into which I have caused you to be carried away captives, and pray to God for it; for in its peace shall you have peace” (Jeremiah 29.7).
Centuries later, Rabbi Chanina instructs Jews to “pray for the welfare of the government.” He adds that the reason why we should pray for those in authority is, “because if not for people’s fear of those in power, we would swallow each other alive” (Avot 3.2).
In the America we live in today, it feels like we are ready to devour those with whom we disagree. Partisanship is at a fever pitch. Hardly a day passes without a tweet by the president or an action by his administration sending shock waves through the body politic.
Where are the expressions of moral outrage that demand justice and truth?
Where are the words for a prayer that reflect our yearning for peace?
During this evening’s Shabbat service, we will explore prayers for our country that are in our siddur, Mishkan T’filah. We also will encounter a newly composed Prayer for Our Country that may reflect our aspirations for this age.