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David Seidenberg
Ecohasid meets Rambam

A lunar eclipse election: praying for justice and hope

Nov 2022 eclipse, rough cell phone pic, looking like a ball of fire, R. Riqi Kosovske, used with permission

As the lunar eclipse faded to blue in the dawn, I was thinking about what kind of sign this is for the U.S. election day.

Our ancestors thought of an eclipse as a bad omen — they did not even prescribe a blessing for it. But we understand an eclipse to be a natural marvel that reminds us of the grandeur of Creation. Many believe that means that we should say a blessing, like the blessing I said this morning for the lunar eclipse:

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ אֱלֹהֵֽינוּ מֶֽלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם עוֹשֶׂה מַעֲשֶׂה בְּרֵאשִׁית

Barukh Atah Adonai Eloheinu Melekh Ha’olam `oseh ma`aseh v’reishit

Blessed be You YHVH/Adonai our God, Ruler of all space and time, the One who makes the masterpiece of Creation!

If we can say a blessing, perhaps that means the eclipse can also be a sign of blessing. And so on this day I also say: may the eclipse of the moon be a harbinger of an eclipse of hatred, thuggery, and division, and a downfall of the forces arrayed against democracy. As the moon takes on color and glows like fire, so may the forces for good, for life, spread like fire to overwhelm the evil that threatens our country and our whole world.

And with that thought, here is the neohasid prayer for voting and for democracy (found also at neohasid.org and opensiddur.org):

Behold, I am intending through my vote | through my prayer to seek peace for this land and country, as it is written (Jer. 29:7):
“Seek the peace of the city where I cause you to roam and pray for her to YHVH (Hashem/Adonai/God), for in her peace you all will have peace.”

May it be Your will, YHVH, that votes be counted faithfully
and may my vote count as if I had fulfilled this verse
with all my power.

May You give a listening heart to whomever we elect
and may it be good in Your eyes
to raise for us a good government
to bring healing, justice and peace
to all living in this land and to all the world, and upon Jerusalem,
a government that will honor the image of God
in all humanity and in Creation,
for rulership is Yours.

Just as I participated (or: will participate) in today’s election
so may I merit to do good works
and to repair the world through all my efforts,
and through the act of… [fill in your pledge]
which I pledge to do on behalf of all living creatures,
in remembrance of the covenant of Noah’s waters,
to protect and to not destroy
the earth and her plenitude.

May this be the beginning of Your acts and Your power,
to tear out autocracy, tyranny and despotism,
ruin those who cheat and deceive,
and upend those who oppress the vulnerable.
Make the reign of the arrogant disappear from all lands.

May the people attacking democracies everywhere
stumble and fail, and may their plans be as nought.
Stop them, humble them, bring on their downfall,
soon, in our days.

Please, today, give to all the peoples of this land and of the whole world
the strength and will to pursue righteousness
and to seek peace as unified force
to uproot racism and violence
and to make healing, good life and peace flourish
here and throughout the world
and fulfill for us the verse (Ps. 90:17):

“May the pleasure of Adonai our God
be upon us, and establish
the work of our hands for us,
and make the work of our hands endure.”

הַרֵינִי מְכָוֵון בְּהַצְבָּעָתִי ׀ בִּתְּפִילָתִי
לִדְרֹש שָׁלוֹם בְּעַד הַמְדִינָה הַזֹאת כְּמוֹ שֶׁכָּתוּב
וְדִרְשׁוּ אֶת שְׁלוֹם הָעִיר אֲשֶׁר הִגְלֵיתִי אֶתְכֶם שָׁמָּה
וְהִתְפַּלְלוּ בַעֲדָהּ אֶל ה’ כִּי בִשְׁלוֹמָהּ יִהְיֶה לָכֶם שָׁלוֹם

יְהִי רָצוֹן מִלְפָנֶיךָ ה׳ שֶׁהָהַצְבָּעוֹת יִמָּנוּ נֶאֱמָנוֹת
וְתִמְנֶה הַצְבָּעָתִי כְּאִלוּ קִיָּמְתִי הַכָּתוּב הַזֶה בְּכָל עָצְמָתִי

תִּתֵּן לֵב שׁוֹמֵעַ לְמִי שֶׁאָנוּ בּוֹחֲרִים
וְטוֹב יְהְיֶה בְּעֵינֶיךָ שֶׁתִּשָׂא עַלֵינוּ מֶמְשָלָה טוֹבה
שֶׁתָּבִיא רְפוּאָה וּמִשפָּט וְשָׁלוֹם לְכָל יוֹשְבֵי הָאָרֶץ הַזֹאת
וּלְכָל יוֹשְבֵי תֵבֵל וְעַל יִרוּשַׁלָיִם
מֶמְשָלָה שֶׁתְּכַבֵּד הַצֶלֶם בְּכַל אָדָם וּבַבְּרִיאָה
כִּי הַמַּלְכוּת שֶׁלְּךָ הִיא

כְּשֵׁם שֶׁהִשְׁתַּתָפְתִי | אֶשְׁתַּתֵּף בַּבְּחִירוּת
כֵּן זַכֵּנִי לַעֲשׂוֹת מַעֲשִׂים טוֹבִים וּלְתַקֵּן עוֹלָם בְּכָל פֹּעַלִי
וּבַפְּעוּלָה שֶׁל… שֶׁאֲנִי מִתְנדֵּב ׀ מִתְנדֶּבֶת לְקַיֵם
בְּעַד כָּל הַבְּרִיאוֹת, בְּזִכְרוֹן בְּרִית מֵי נֹחַ
לְהַגֵּן וּלְבָל תַשְׁחִית אָרֶץ וּמְלוֹאָהּ

וִיְהִי רָצוֹן מִלְפָנֶיךָ ה׳ שֶׁתְעַקֵּר טִירוּנִיָא וָעָרִיצוּת
וּתְשַׁבֵּר רַמַאִים וּתְמַגֵּר עֹשְׁקֵי נִדְכָּאִים
תַעֲבִיר מֶמְשֶׁלֶת זָדוֹן מִן הָאָרֶץ
תַּכְשִׁיל פּוֹגְעִים בְּדֵמוֹקרָטִיָה וְתָּפֵר תַחְבּוּלוֹתם
תְכַלֵּם וְתַשְׁפִּילֵם וְתַכְנִיעֵם בִּמְהֵרָה בְיָמֵינו

 נָא לָתֵּת הַיּוֹם לְכָל אֻמּוֹת הָאָרֶץ הַזֹאת עִם כָּל הָעוֹלָם
הָחַיִל וְהַרָצוֹן לִרְדֹף צֶדֶק וּלְבַקֵּשׁ שָׁלוֹם כְּאַגֻדָה אַחַת
לֲעַקֹר גִזְעָנוּת וְחָמָס וּלְהַצְמִיחַ רְפוּאָה
וְחַיִים טוֹבִים וְשָׁלוֹם, פֹּה וּבְכָל הָעוֹלָם

וְקַיֵּם לָנוּ הַכָּתוּב: וִיהִי נ֤עַם אֲדֹנָי אֱלֹהֵינוּ עָלֵינוּ
וּמַעֲשֵׂה יָדֵינוּ כּוֹנְנָה עָלֵינוּ וּמַעֲשֵׂה יָדֵינוּ כּוֹנְנֵהוּ

May we find at the end of the day that we are refreshed by good news and strength and hope, and may we never give up the fight to bring justice and to save this world.
About the Author
Rabbi David Mevorach Seidenberg is the creator of neohasid.org, author of Kabbalah and Ecology (Cambridge U. Press, 2015), and a scholar of Jewish thought. David is also the Shmita scholar-in-residence at Abundance Farm in Northampton MA. He teaches around the world and also leads astronomy programs. As a liturgist, David is well-known for pieces like the prayer for voting and an acclaimed English translation of Eikhah ("Laments"). David also teaches nigunim and is a composer of Jewish music and an avid dancer.
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