Scoundrel Time

New Prayer for Peace

May we see the day when war and bloodshed cease,
when a great peace will embrace the whole world
and right now especially Ukraine;
when all who live on earth shall realize
we have not come into being
to drop bombs on people or rebuild the Russian Empire.

Compassionate God, bless the leaders of all nations with compassion
along with other useful virtues.
You already gave Volodymyr Zelenskyy
the strength to lead, the voice to inspire,
the cleverness to plan, and the courage to stay put—
which was very nice of You! Please keep it up.
Now give V******* P****, may his name be erased,
the heart-softening You did not give to Pharaoh.
Alternatively, collapse his spirit.
Send a skilled assassin
or a heart attack.

Bless the people of Ukraine with items convenient to survival:
places to hide, food to eat, water to drink, trains to catch,
the luck to step out of death’s way,
and the ingredients for Molotov cocktails.
Give their soldiers endurance, equipment, training, good aim,
and superior officers who know what they’re doing.
Merciful God, amongst Your various preoccupations do not forget
the ones who lie in the street,
the ones who dig the graves,
the ones who are cold and frightened,
the ones with homes and cities on fire.
Whatever a blessing would mean in this context,
that’s definitely what they should get.

Fair-minded God, spare a thought for the people of Russia:
the ones sent to Ukraine to fight and die
and the ones who wait for their sons to come home,
the ones who shout in the streets and are immediately arrested
and the ones who believe the lies they are told.
Inform the deceived who live in ignorance
and the confused who don’t understand.
Their leader sits deranged at a very long table
and now they wander in a trackless waste.
Awaken them.

Let our Lord not be angry if we say: rouse Yourself, too.
Fulfill the promise conveyed in Scripture:
I will bring peace to the land,
and you shall lie down and no one shall terrify you.
The tormentors will be removed and the cities rebuilt.
The elephant in the Kyiv zoo will be able to sleep without sedatives.
Where the trees were cut down for heat new trees will be planted.
The people will come home.
They will find what they lost.
The abandoned pets will be adopted.
The children will stop having nightmares.
The dead will be mourned and remembered
and the living will be comforted.
Justice and righteousness will flow like a mighty stream.
God’s peace will fill the earth as the waters fill the sea.
Okay, it seems unlikely, but as long as we’re here we might as well ask.

May it be Your will to recognize that this is a time-sensitive situation
and that You have a complicated reputation to consider.
At least think over the following proposition:
Act for the sake of Your name; act for the sake of Your triumph;
act for the sake of Your holiness; act for the sake of Your Torah.
Answer our prayers for the deliverance of everybody.
Do something uncommon.



Italicized lines are quotations or close adaptations of the Prayer for Peace and the conclusion of the Amidah in the Siddur Lev Shalem. Other lines include fragments from Lecha Dodi in the same Siddur, as well as from Genesis and Job in the JPS translation of the Tanakh. 


Miriam Fried‘s stories have appeared in The Threepenny ReviewAlaska Quarterly ReviewThe Baltimore ReviewAmbitCrab Creek Review, and Watchword. She lives in Brooklyn with her daughter.





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