On this Shabbat haGadol, this Great Shabbat, across the country and around the world, many thousands of people, especially young people, are rallying in support of action against the plague of gun violence that afflicts our country.
This plague manifests itself in mass murder. This plague manifests itself in the panicked purchase of pistols. This plague manifests itself in the grief of family members, friends and communities, and in the physical and emotional life-scarring wounds of survivors.
This plague casts a pall of fear upon our citizenry, fear for personal safety that drives some to acquire weapons and others to seek constrained access to weapons; fear that drives some to withdraw and raise arms and others to reach out and open arms.
Next week, we will celebrate Pesach, our festival of freedom. It pains some of us that the straw that broke Pharaoh’s back was God’s killing all the first-born in Egypt. Why the deaths of many innocents before the Egyptian leader was moved to take action?
Today, we can ask why the deaths of so many innocents have not motivated our government to seriously address this scourge, to determine that there must be a balance between the American ethos of self-determination and the American dream of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
This is a prayer for our country, for our children, and for their parents and grandparents:
Dear God, We offer You praise for opening our hearts and our lips in supplication.
We pray for and we are grateful for those who serve the public with generosity and with justice.
We pray for and we are grateful for the armed forces who safeguard us and this sweet land of liberty in which we are privileged to live.
We pray for and we are grateful for the unarmed forces — first responders, teachers, volunteers — who work to protect our safety and freedoms.
We pray for and we are grateful for our elected officials who understand that strength comes not only from military force but also from moral conviction.
We pray for and we are grateful for those in power who see that our fraying social safety nets might not be strong enough to catch the weakest among us, and who are willing to mend those nets for the benefit of all.
We pray for and we are grateful for all who recognize the dangers of unfettered access to weapons and who support common-sense regulation for instruments of lethality.
We pray for and we are grateful for the opportunities we have to participate in healing this world. As Rabbi Tarfon said nearly two thousand years ago, it is not incumbent upon us to complete that task, but we are not free to abstain from it.
We pray for and we are grateful for the strength to do our part. O’se shalom bim’romav; just as You, Adonai our God, make peace in the heavens, please help us make peace among one another — and within us — here on earth.
Together, we say, “Amen!”
Shabbat shalom!שבת שלום