Shake Us & Unsettle Us: A Modern Tefilat Ha-Geshem

To be inserted in the Amidah on Shemini Atzeret in memory of the fallen during the Yom Kippur War. The former generally coincides with the last day or two of the latter.

Barukh atah Adonai eloheinu melekh ha’olam… G-d, let us remember the moment of this cease-fire and pray that the downpour of your tears and ours softens the hearts of all warring human beings.

In the holy month of Ramadan
on the holiest day of the Jewish year
some 2,000 tanks, 500 armoured vehicles, and 300 aircrafts rained down on the earth and leeched into it the iniquity that machines should surpass human beings; that metal and chromium steel are worth more than the flowers and mountains; and the storied history of a land, unto which Arab farmers and Jewish ones moulded their “swords into ploughshares,” nursed babes under common skies and stars, finding within themselves and each other the courage to trust, to till and true, to heal.

And then, the ancient bondage of Abraham, Sarah, and Hagar stretched through time to pull us to our baser nature. Our blood and theirs. Firstborns and concubine’s sons. And so, as we selectively looked through our past, we watched our shared work slip through our fingers and the earth grow dead with despair.


But cannot the dead rise again? Can the earth not be watered with the departed’s tears?

Let us among the living remember the fallen of ages past. Let us drink of the well that quenched Hagar and Ishmael’s thirst. Let us pray for our friends and our enemies, that the better angels of our nature grant us a full and enduring peace. And when the better angels are lost to us, let us look beyond fallow ground to the mighty heavens, to the Maker of Rain and Winds.

Shake us, unsettle us, O Maker. Pour unto us the tears of those afflicted by war, so we may finally know the opposing side and the most important blessing: To live, O Maker! We pray that we all shall live.  

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