In memory of Aaron Shmuel ben Menachem Mannes – Samuel Stern
The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference.
There is probably no greater curse in our world today than the curse of indifference. While we are surrounded by abundant beauty and have much to be thankful for, millions of children and other innocent people live lives of ongoing war, hunger, displacement, and other disasters.
Demonic forces that we cannot control, or do not care about because they are far away from our lives of comfort, strike our fellow human beings all over the world.
While we Jews have our share of calamites, it is our duty as the chosen people to care not only for our fellow Jews but for all of humanity.
Here is a prayer, in Hebrew and English, which I suggest we say in all our synagogues on Shabbat, when saying the prayer for the State of Israel and our soldiers, or when praying at home.
This is not just a prayer to God; it is also meant as a reminder to us not to remain indifferent to all the pain in our world and to what requires our care and serious attention.
I invite all of you to ask your rabbis, and your gabbaim who assist in the running of the services, to add this short payer to the synagogue Shabbat service, and send it out to your friends, Jews and gentiles alike.
I suspect that if God were to give the Torah today, He would add an eleventh commandment:
“Thou shalt not be indifferent”
The beginning of the Jewish New Year, less than two weeks away, gives us a unique opportunity to start saying this prayer.
Shana tova to all good people!
Nathan Lopes Cardozo
With special thanks to my dear friend Shimon Kremer for helping me formulate this prayer.
Download a PDF version of the prayer
תפילה לשלום העולם
“מָה-רַבּוּ מַעֲשֶׂיךָ ה’, כֻּלָּם, בְּחָכְמָה עָשִׂיתָ, מָלְאָה הָאָרֶץ קִנְיָנֶךָ”
אָבִינוּ שֶבַּשָמַיִם רִבּוֹן כָּל הָעוֹלָמִים
רַחֵם נָא עַל כָּל הַסוֹבלִים מִפִיגוּעֵי טֶרוֹר וּמִלחָמוֹת בָּאָרֶץ וּבחוּץ לָאָרֶץ.
הַגֵן עַל כָּל בּרִיוֹתֶיךָ מִפנֵי אַלִימוּת, תּרַפֶּה ידֵי בּנֵי בּלִיַעַל,
ותַנחֶה אוֹתָם לדֶרֶך הטוֹבָה ולִתשוּבָה שלֵמָה.
מנַע אסוֹנוֹת טֶבַע:
רעִידוֹת אֲדָמָה, מַיִם גוֹעשִים, וגַלִים רוֹעֲשִים,
אֵש מִשתוֹלֶלֶת או רוּחַ סוֹחֶפֶת.
רַחֵם עַל נטוּלֵי מָקֹום, חַסרֵי בַּיִת וּמזֵי רָעָב בּעוֹלָמֶךָ.
חֲמוֹל עַל מַעֲשֶיךָ, נַחֵם אֶת הָאֲבֵלִים ורַפֵא אֶת הַפצוּעִים.
פּתַח אֶת ליבֵּנוּ למַעַן כָּל יצוּרֵי אֱנוֹש בּכָל אַרבַּע כַּנפוֹת הָאָרֶץ.
ותִמחֶה רוֹעַ מכָּל יוֹשבֵי תֶבֶל אַרצךָ.
(הִרְכַּבְתָּ אֱנוֹשׁ, לְרֹאשֵׁנוּ: בָּאנוּ-בָאֵשׁ וּבַמַּיִם; וַתּוֹצִיאֵנוּ, לָרְוָיָה”(תהילים סו:יב”
נתן לופס קרדוזו
Prayer for World Peace
“How abundant are Your works, Hashem; with wisdom You have made them all; the earth is full of Your possessions.” (Psalms 104:24)
Our Father in Heaven, Master of the Universe,
Have mercy on all who suffer from terrorism and wars, in Israel and the world over.
Protect all of Your creatures against violence; weaken the hands of villains, and lead them to the path of goodness and complete repentance.
Prevent natural disasters:
Earthquakes, hurricanes, tsunamis, raging fires and tornadoes
Have compassion on all the displaced, homeless, and starving people in Your world.
Have mercy on your creations. Comfort the mourners, and heal the injured.
Open our hearts to all human beings in all four corners of the earth.
Eradicate evil from among all the inhabitants of Your world,
As is written:
“You allowed people to subjugate us; we went through fire and water and You brought us out to a place of abundance.” (Psalms 66:12)
And let us say Amen.
Nathan Lopes Cardozo
Question to Ponder from the David Cardozo Think Tank
(We suggest printing out and discussing at your Shabbat table, if you like)
- Assuming you agree that Jews should care about all of humanity, do you think that any distinction should be made between Jewish and non-Jewish lives? Should Jewish lives be saved first, for example?
- What do you think it means, practically speaking, to not remain indifferent? Does it mean talking, demonstrating, voting, or something else?
- Can you think of times in the Torah/Jewish history where the issue of indifference to someone else’s suffering arose? What did God have to say about it? What did Jewish leaders do? Could one argue from any of these sources that it is a mitzvah to not be indifferent?
Chaim Joachim Bardach says
I read you ‘ Thoughts to ponder ‘ about the indifference towards suffering of Non-Jews and the reluctance to pray for them. I totally agree with you and by looking at the teaching of Buddhism in particular of the Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh a lot could be learned.