Monday, November 19, 2012

Masorti UK: A Prayer in These Difficult Times by Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg

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A prayer in these difficult times

by Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg

Thank God, tonight there seems to be more talk about a cease fire. Let's pray that it may be the beginning of a process which removes the rocket attacks on Israel's cities and lands not just in the short but in the long term. Let's pray too that the people truly suffering in Gaza will find safety and hope for their future.

Being a community rabbi over many years has taught me nothing about military strategy but quite a lot about the human heart. I've listened to many words of suffering and anguish, and to the silence in between, when pain can find no other speech. I've been with many people as they explore the huge wounds, the torn and jagged edges of the soul, left by the deaths of their children, their spouses, their parents.

If I'm asked where God is, I certainly believe that the presence of God is here, weeping in the broken heart. That heart may be Jewish or Christian, Israeli or Palestinian. That is all the same. God is near to those in pain; God seeks healing, and is with all those who strive to heal.

I've been with doctors, nurses, ambulance personnel and police. But I've always, an unusual privilege, been with them in peacetime, never amidst the cry of sirens or the smash of explosions. I have no real conception of what terror, rage and a sense of utter helplessness before violence may do to make wounds worse, but I can only imagine that their impact is immense. The very thought of the fear and hate such experiences are likely to engender is itself extremely frightening, and unbearably troubling when one thinks about the future.

Therefore I pray that the politics of the Middle East and the world may not lead us into ever more violent confrontation, but enable us to be healers rather than the receivers or givers of hurts, and that the presence of God may be with us all.

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