Tuesday, June 02, 2020

Jewish prayer and current events

Rav todot--many thanks, to Rabbi Elie Kaunfer, whose class in Tefillah this past semester inspired this post.

In the beginning . . . (or close to it, in Birkot HaShachar/Morning Blessings), we praise HaShem for spreading the earth above the waters, and next, we praise HaShem for providing for all of our needs.  I think it makes sense that those two b'rachot (blessings) are in that order--if climate change raises the waters so far above the earth that we don't have enough land available to raise our food, all of our needs won't be provided for.  :(

In the Baruch Sheh-Amar prayer, we praise HaShem for having compassion on the earth and for having compassion on all creatures.  Between climate change and the coronavirus, we could use some compassion on both, at the moment.  :(

When we get to the Amidah prayer, there's this interesting line-up:  Somech noflim, v'rofei cholim, u-matir assurim--HaShem supports the fallen, heals the sick, and frees captives.  With healthcare workers exhausted, they could certainly use some support in healing the sick, and if enough of the sick are cured, we may, eventually, be freed from our current state of "house arrest."  (Speedily, in our day.)

We ask HaShem to grace us with knowledge, understanding, and discernment (Chonen HaDaat).  Medical researchers could certainly use all of the above.  I think that HaShem is our Rofeh Cholim, the One who cures the  sick, because HaShem enables both healthcare workers and medical researchers to take care of the sick.  "Lo bashamayim hi, it is not in heaven"--HaShem has assigned the power to heal to us humans, and we dare not decline the responsibility to heal or to support those who do.

I'm going to work my way backward in the siddur (prayer book) for a moment to make mention of what I find one of the scariest biblical quotes in the siddur:  " . . . va-avad'tem m'heirah mei-al ha-aretz ha-tovah asher HaShem notein lachem--and you will perish swiftly from the good land that HaShem is giving you." (Second paragraph of the Sh'ma, from Numbers 16)

Call me a cockeyed pessimist and I'll plead guilty as charged, but I can't help thinking that if climate change doesn't kill us, COVID-19 will.  :(  That is, if we don't die from being turned violently against one another, instead.  :(

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