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May We Be Our Prayer

Posted on June 4, 2020

By Hazzan Ben Tisser

There is a beautiful phrase at the end of the Ma Tovu prayer we recite each morning when we enter the Sanctuary (which we will hopefully be able to recite again, soon!) — “Va’ani Tefilati – Let me be my prayer…” In difficult times such as these, there aren’t words to express the deep emotions we are all experiencing. There is anger, sadness, confusion, fear…and yet we still march, gather, and pray, so there also exists hope.

Hope is core to the Jewish experience. No matter what our people have lived and died through, we have always carried hope. It is the very name of the national anthem of our homeland. Prayer, then, is a gateway to experiencing hope. It allows us to draw strength from the words of those who came before us, and to make those words our own. It opens and minds and hearts to the possibility that we can affect change, and that we have a responsibility to do so. L’taken Olam B’malchut Shadai, the prayer teaches us – “To repair the world in the Kingdom of God.”

This week, in Parashat Naso, God gives humankind a new charge and a new possibility: to bless each other. Until now, it was God who did the blessing and the cursing. This is infinitely powerful. We have the ability to bless each other in a very real way, using God’s words.

May Adonai bless you and keep you.

May Adonai show you favor and be gracious to you.

May Adonai show you kindness and grant you peace.

What if we read this differently. What if we read these words as our charge? What if we allow them to guide the way we treat one another, the way we interact with one another?

Tonight we will gather with the clergy and communities of Congregation Beth Shalom in Northbrook and Pastor Mark Smith of Spates Temple in Elgin. Join us. Show your friends and your children that you care. Make a statement with us. Pray with us. Let us each be our own prayer, and with these prayers, may we bless and strengthen each other.

See you in shul.