A Prayer For Peace

Every week Jews recite this prayer for peace, which is drawn from various biblical passages, in shul. This is just part of it:

May we see the day when war and bloodshed cease,

when a great peace will embrace the whole world.

Then nation will not threaten nation,

and mankind will not again know war.

For all who live on earth shall realize

we have not come into being to hate or to destroy.

We have come into being

to praise, to labor and to love.

This week more than ever.


  1. John T. Maher November 14, 2015 at 2:11 pm | #

    And no in the history of mankind, Jew or otherwise, has ever lived by these thoughts. Peace is perhaps best reconfigured as an internal concept and the Buddhists seem to have taken something akin to this route already.I say there is also an inherent contradiction within the prayer as it is limited to ‘mankind’ and does not address interspecies war, notably the war of the human against animals and nature.

    • xenon2 November 14, 2015 at 5:15 pm | #

      Agree with you on interspieces war.

      Not with the Rohingyas .

  2. Howard Swerdloff November 14, 2015 at 2:40 pm | #

    Nonetheless, it was precisely for notions like this, that put humans above animals, that Hitler targeted the Jews. These pacifist ideas “warp the structure of nature,” as Timothy Snyder put it, and distracted the Germans from the instinctual struggle of race against race.

  3. Jen Dyck Art November 14, 2015 at 3:47 pm | #

    And how many thousands of years has this prayer been uttered….and what has been the result? And who is the prayer directed to?

  4. John T. Maher November 14, 2015 at 5:57 pm | #

    @ Swerdloff

    Exceptionalism is a matter of opinion, whether inter or intra species. As regards the Godwin;s law aspect you bring to this discussion, at various times Jews have been genocidal in both the old testament and, as concerns the subset of Zionists, this continues today. The greater truth is possibly a less palatable one:(referred to in your quote as “instinctual”) that humans are genocidal by nature unless they subscribe to an ethic of constructed kinship. It may be ethically wrong for both Nazis and Jews, but it also appears to be part of the human condition.

    If the idea of pacifism and quote you employ refers to me, that is truly funny.

    @ Xenon2 I am not advocating Buddhism or saying what is known as such is uniform or that Buddhists are passive or violent. Merely that Buddhist theory encompasses a worldview of inner peace that has gone unaccuated across cultures.

  5. Mushin November 15, 2015 at 9:30 am | #

    I am a jew, christian, moslem, hindu, buddhist, taoist and by free choice recently a Lakota American Indian. This week produced a deeper reflexion on the ancient Homeric Greek poem Odyssey versus the Hebrew Old Testament in western civilization that has produced an unending family feud igniting a third world war. Needless to say humanity is experiencing a massive collapsing opportunity in the lost stable state of institutional governing discourses in every domain of human concerns. Universities are in turmoil. Religion has become the abomination of planet earth where man’s prayers mean absolutely nothing and this notion of any God listening to this western clerical nonsense denying responsibility for the human condition is absurd. Never mind that man;s hatreds are now compounding to the point where attempting to change this globalization monetary process is like trying to change a snowball in hell.

    Odyssey is a comedic love story that recapitulates the profound ancient heart-felt nobility and yearning for home over the last 2,500+ years of becoming a warrior king in this world. I thought Bush was a nut in regards to drones and Obama has turned into Bush on technological steroids. Imagine if Trump had access to weapons purporting American Exceptionialism as the maniac of “Madness at the Gates of the City.” Everyday drives me further away form liberal engineering and regressive fundamentalism. I feel like I am as a blind as Homer in modernity. What makes sense is Odyssey’s tears and sadness owning the futility of war and his deep longing to return home to family, hospitality, conversations and real peace based in child centric learning.

    So in the end what I discovered is my fruitful curiosity of the truth of reality is a cultural biology based in my own ancestral roots of human realization-in-living in familial coexistence that operates beyond all this modern philosophic bullsh$t and meaningless prayers of religiosity killing the earth and all its people. The way forward is to own what owns us by going back into future. Children are a priceless precious love affair that continuously make me smile in the midst of this insanity.

  6. Escott November 15, 2015 at 10:11 am | #

    Thanks Corey, the first four lines should be repeated daily, the last four not.
    I think the Jewish ethical philosophy reflected in the prayer is mostly forgotten nowadays

    • Carol Wagner November 16, 2015 at 10:44 am | #

      On an environmentally level playing field we see 1 in 10 born abusers/haters, 2 more who’d step over an infant on their doorsill but not revel in harming it – that leaves 7 individuals : the seekers, the carers: “us.”

      In every culture, given comparable conditions, it is thus. (See Rabbi/Psychiatrist Abe Twerski, Founder of Gateway Rehab, on Spousal Abuse.)

      We’re judged re: our humanity by ourselves, ( mirroring whatever designation) to struggle, looking back in summing up later to see how we have done.
      THIS is the challenge given to “us.” Analyzing and quantifying are part of it, as are compromising… often needing to choose least-worst.
      Note: Odysseus had his allies and his enemies, but survived on literally a sea of confusion to make it home. So may we all. In good will and love,
      Thank you so much for this post, Corey.
      Carol Wagner, RN

  7. John T. Maher November 16, 2015 at 6:49 pm | #

    I remind all that prayers, Jewish, Muslim, sometimes Christian, are also said over animals slaughtered in sacrifice. It seems a bit hypocritical to pray for peace when the means of seeking human transcendence covers instrumental killing in any species.

  8. Roquentin November 17, 2015 at 12:58 pm | #

    War is like a disease or a fire. It doesn’t stay contained. It spreads, it pulls other places in. I was thinking about Camus’ The Plague with the above. That was a far better metaphor than I ever realized when I first read it. Or even Louis-Ferdinand Celine’s famous line from Journey To The End of the Night, “I cannot refrain from doubting that there exist no more profound realizations of our deepest character than war and illness, those two infinities of nightmare.”

    Syria didn’t stay in Syria for long. It was already in Turkey and Iraq (obviously, that was where ISIS originated). The attacks on the Kurds in Turkey have been nearly this bad in 2015 and no one really noticed. The Kurds are up against so much, and the PKK and YPG/J are probably the best organizations in the region. It’s sad that they don’t get more help.

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