The Five Books of Moses, and the foundation of all of Jewish life and lore. The Torah is considered the heart and soul of the Jewish people, and study of the Torah is a high mitzvah. The Torah itself a scroll that is hand lettered on parchment, elaborately dressed and decorated, and stored in a decorative ark. It is chanted aloud on Mondays, Thursdays, and Shabbat, according to a yearly cycle. Sometimes "Torah" is used as a colloquial term for Jewish learning and narrative in general., prayer, and politics mix. Even in an elections season that has been characterized as bitter and nasty, void of civility or compassion, the Torah does not let us off the hook.
Torah, prayer, and politics mix. Even in an elections season that has been characterized as bitter and nasty, void of civility or compassion, the Torah does not let us off the hook.
The Torah understands that the need for peace and prosperity transcend the politics of the day. No matter who’s in power, no matter who’s on the ballot, Torah takes an activist view of prayer and politics. Even when we’re disgusted with government and politics, we’re instructed to pray.
Perhaps the clearest instruction comes from Jeremiah. We’re instructed to pray for peace on behalf of all inhabitants. “Seek the peace of the city…and pray unto G-d for it.” (Jeremiah 27:9)
Even when we oppose a specific politician, we must pray for the wisdom of our leaders. “When there is rebellion in the land, it has many rulers, but with a man of understanding and knowledge, stability will endure.” (Proverbs 28:2)
We also must pray for just and righteous leaders. “Behold, a king shall reign in righteousness, and as for princes, they shall rule in justice.” (Isaiah 32:1)
Critical to these prayers: the instruction to have faith that history is in G-d’s hands. “Adonai frustrates the counsel of nations, bringing to naught the designs of peoples. What Adonai plans endures forever; what God designs, endures for generations.” (Psalms 33:10-11)
There is reason to hope. Our United States democracy has survived mediocre presidents and presidents tested in ways that history demanded, but could not have been predicted. The presidency has weathered assassinations, impeachments, resignations, scandals, and a Civil War with an orderly transition of power. It’s because we pledge ourselves to the highest ideals, the U.S. Constitution. It’s because of the checks and balances in the system. It’s because—even in the rhetoric and acrimony that has permeated our daily dialogue during the 2016 presidential election campaign—fundamentally we are a good people.
Here’s a prayer “In Thanks for U.S. Democracy, as well as a link to a prayer “For Wisdom during U.S. Presidential Elections.”
In Thanks for U.S. Democracy
G-d of history,
We give thanks for the blessings
Of democracy in the United States,
Blessings unparalleled throughout the world.
No nation can match these gifts.
We give thanks:
For free and fair elections,
For the 15th Amendment,
For the 19th Amendment,
For the Voting Rights Act,
For decentralized control of balloting,
For decentralized control of vote tallying,
For the peaceful transition of power,
For the two-party system,
For third party and independent candidates,
For robust debate and political compromise,
For patriotism above partisanship,
For the separation of power,
For leaders taking an oath of office,
For leaders taking an oath to serve the people,
For leaders taking an oath to defend the Constitution,
For a military sworn to defend the Constitution,
For judges sworn to uphold the Constitution,
For two chambers of Congress,
For accountability to constituents,
For the Supreme Court,
For our Chief Executive, the Commander-in-Chief,
And for one another, citizens of a great nation.
Let us cherish the right to select our government.
Let us cherish the right to select our representatives,
The national, state and local leaders
Who will steer our nation and guide our communities.
Our system is strong.
On election day, our voices are heard.
We, the People, are blessed.
© 2016 Alden Solovy and tobendlight.com. All rights reserved.
Alden Solovy is a Jewish poet, liturgist and teacher whose prayers have been used by people of all faiths around the world. The author of Jewish Prayers of Hope and Healing, his nearly 600 new prayers appear in multiple anthologies, prayer books and websites. His work can be found at http://tobendlight.com/. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Photo by Alden Solovy.