A Pandemic Blessing and Prayer

Ever since Lilah, our oldest child, was born, Adira and I have sung a prayer called “B’shem Hashem (The Angel Song)” to our children each night at bedtime, using a melody from Rabbi Solomon Carlebach. It’s a lovely ritual, but like all rituals, it is more or less at this point a somewhat mindless routine. But last night, for the first time in a long time, the prayer hit me especially hard. To understand why, consider the words of the prayer, translated into English: “In the name of the Infinite, the God of Israel — may the angel Michael be on my right, and may the angel Gabriel be on my left. May the angel Uriel be in front of me, and may the angel Raphael be behind me. And may the Imminent Presence of God be over my head.”
In Jewish tradition, the angel Michael symbolizes possibility; the angel Gabriel, strength; the angel Uriel, clarity; and the angel Raphael (behind us to catch us if we fall), healing. And God’s imminent presence is an image evoked in the Torah and in later Jewish tradition to depict loving, nurturing protection. The image of these angels surrounding us is meant to be a prayer for support; or, if you prefer, a faithful affirmation that “God has ordered angels to guard you wherever you may go” (Psalm 91:11).
I want to bless all of us as Adira and I bless our children each night: May possibility and strength be close at hand. May you see the path ahead with clarity, And may healing be near when you fall. And may you always feel divine encircling protection. For those of us who believe in God, remember that God is with you, always. And for those of us who may wrestle with belief in God, remember that we are all in this together. In either case, you are not alone.


Finally, this Shabbat, we will conclude Sefer Shemot, the biblical Book of Exodus, and exclaim the words, “Hazak, hazak, venit’hazek,” be strong, be strong, and may we continue to strengthen ourselves and each other. Let us, this Shabbat, turn these words into a prayer — may we have the strength to endure this challenging time, may we have vigor of body and resilience of spirit, and may we do whatever we can to support each other.
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1 Response to A Pandemic Blessing and Prayer

  1. Joy Keiser says:

    Lovely. Loving. Strong.

    Regards, Joy

    JWK -Sent from my iPad


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