An Urgent Prayer for the Protection of Human Life

three hands--one with brown skin, one with white skin, one with black skin touch each other over the image of a world map
אֱלֹהֵינוּ אֱלֹהֵי כָל בָּשָר
יוֹצְרֵֽנוּ יוֹצֵר בְּרֵאשִׁית
Eloheinu, Elohei khol basar,
Yotsreinu, Yotser bereshit [1]
Our God, God of all human beings,
Who created each person with a spark of the Divine,[2]
we pray for the urgent protection of human life.
May we recall that You give life to all,
and sustain all life through Your love,
and may we remember Your instruction to us
that preserving life is our highest duty
in our service to You,
אֲשֶׁר יַעֲשֶׂה אֹתָם הָאָדָם וָחַי בָּהֶם (ויקרא יח:ה)
Asher ya’aseh otam ha-Adam va-ḥai bahem (Leviticus 18:5) —
that we fulfill our humanity
in the safeguarding of human life.
So, we pray:
May the destruction
of innocent life
come to an end.
May the ruin
that comes from war
cease now.
May each life be treated
as a sacred treasure,
as You have intended.
In a time of growing darkness,
grant us the strength
to be beacons of light,
defenders of the vulnerable,
and champions of justice.
May our hearts be filled with compassion,
our minds with wisdom,
and our hands with action,
as we strive to safeguard
the dignity and well-being
of all Your children.
May none stand idly
by the blood of any other.
For we know that the lives,
security and peace of us all —
Jew, Muslim and Christian;
Israeli and Palestinian,
are bound up with each other, all as one.
We are all one and connected.
So, may we fulfill the words of the Psalms:
סוּר מֵרָע וַעֲשֵׂה־טוֹב
בַּקֵּשׁ שָלוֹם וְרָדְפֵֽהוּ (תהלים לד:טו)
Sur mé-ra va’aseh tov,
baqesh shalom v’radféhu
“Turn away from harm and do good;
Seek peace and pursue it.” (Psalm 34:15)
May we be among those
who speak out
and resist evil.
May peace and justice
fill Your world.
And may we be among those
who make peace
and pursue justice.

This prayer originally appeared at Open Siddur.

1 Liturgy from the Modim/Gratitude portion of the public repetition of the Amidah. “Our elo’ah (god) and elo’ah of all mortal creatures, the one who formed us, the one who formed creation.”
2 Find Genesis 1:26-27, Genesis 2:7, and Genesis 5:1-3. On the history of this idea, the scholar Rabbi Louis Jacobs (1920-2006) writes: “The belief that there is a special mystical ‘spark’ in every human breast can be traced back, in western mysticism, at least to Jerome in the fourth century. Both Bonaventura and Bernard of Clairvaux speak of this mystical organ; the latter, calling it scintillula, a small spark of the soul, and speaking of the nearness of God, said: ‘Angels and archangels are within us, but He is more truly our own who is not only with us but in us.’ However, both these mystics are anxious to prevent an identification of this mystical spark with the divine. Eckhart, on the other hand, embraces the identification, calling the spark, among other endearing names, das Kleidhaus Gottes, ‘the house in which God attires Himself ’. This and other pantheistic tendencies in Eckhart’s thought were condemned in the papal Bull of 1529…” (in “The Doctrine of the ‘Divine Spark’ in Man in Jewish Sources” Studies in Rationalism, Judaism and Universalism, ed. Raphael Loewe (Humanities: 1966) 87-114.) For those more familiar with Quaker theology, a similar belief is shared by George Fox (1624-1691). –Aharon Varady
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