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The Power of Prayer

Wednesday, 2 July 2008

psalm 121

The practice of reciting Tehillim on behalf of one who is ill or is a captive dates back hundreds and hundreds of years. And yet this tradition presents a nagging question. Do we truly believe that God will only spare the life of one for whom others pray? What about those who have no one to intercede for them?

When life becomes unpredicable and scary, we fight to assert whatever control we can on the situation. Turning to God through our ancient texts as did our ancestors give us strength. And joining with others in a prayerful act of solidarity brings a great amount of power to a situation that otherwise feels overwhelming.

At 8:00am this morning, in the solitude of my garden, I recited this Psalm. But I was not alone. I was joined by hundreds and hundreds of Jews throughout the world who recited the very same Psalm at the very same time. Today coincides with the 29th of Sivan and marks the second anniversary of the kidnapping of Gilad Shalit. It has been two long years since he was taken. Kidnapped. Stolen. Two years since he has been home with his family. Two years since he was abducted for the crime of defending his country from terrorists.

Jews taken into captivity solely because they are Jews is nothing new. As long as we have lived among a hostile host majority, we have been vulnerable. In reaction to this reality, the obligation of redeeming the captive (pidyon sh’vuyim) has fallen upon the larger Jewish community. Certainly this obligation has played out in the state of Israel more than any other time or place. Over and over again, the State of Israel has stepped into dangerous situations in order to liberate Jews and bring them home to Eretz Yisrael. When mothers send their children to the army, it is with a heavy heart. Full of pride and fear. And the knowledge that should, God-forbid, the unthinkable happen, their son or daughter will not be abandoned on enemy soil. The sons and daughters of Israel will be redeemed and brought home, as it is written, “…and they shall come back from the land of the enemy … and your children shall return to their own border.” (Jeremiah 31:15-16)

Keyn y’hi ratzon – may this be God’s Will.


3 Comments leave one →
  1. Wednesday, 2 July 2008 8:33 pm


  2. Dadgiraffe permalink
    Wednesday, 2 July 2008 11:44 pm

    I loved your sensitive approach to the thorny theological question of how those who do not have others to pray for them might fare. We cannot know how our prayers might affect the actual outcome of a situation. However, they can help us to draw strength to face the challenges of life.

    I, too, recited the psalm this morning, and felt connected to all those throughout the world doing the very same thing at the very same time.

    May Gilad soon be reunited with his family, friends, and community.


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