A Prayer for the Soldiers

Prayer in an Anxious Time

A Prayer for Chayalei Tzahal 

Inspired by Deuteronomy 20:1-9

The soldiers, dear God.

Their beautiful faces.

Radiant, confident, and proud.

Smiling out from their uniforms.

Berets folded neatly atop their shoulders.

Rifles slung casually off to the side.

God, You know the soldiers, each of them, from before the uniformity of their uniforms.


You know that in turning toward battle,

a soldier must turn from a girlfriend, a partner, a love,

leaving empty for now their side of the bed.


God, you see that in taking up a rifle,

a soldier sets down the hammer that they’d held –

a hammer to hang a picture from this summer’s hike,

or of their savta beaming,

or to put up a Mezuzah at their new apartment.


You’re listening, God, as they give quick, distracted instructions,

To hand off their projects at work,

or the plants in their den,

or the modest grapevine on the mirpeset,

or that invoice that’s all screwed up,

or how to tuck the children into bed at night.


God, you feel, you share, their trembling fear.

Even as you imbue them with strength.

With Your reassurance, God, and the steadiness from their training.

Help them remember their commitment to their cause.

Help them trust their assurances, mouthed over staccato breaths,

that they’ll be home, whole, and soon.


Adonai Tzva’ot – Soldiers’ God:

Be with the women and men of Tzahal.

Be with all in this war for Israel. For the Jewish People.


Wellspring of Blessing –

May courage steel the fighters’ backs,

bravery quicken their legs,

discernment sharpen their minds,

vigilance focus their eyes,

purpose steady their hands,

love calm their pounding hearts.

Shield them, God, from corrosive anger and hatred.


Shomer D’latot Yisrael, El Shaddai,

Bless and guard the soldiers of Israel in this godawful war.

May these warriors one day soon turn homeward,

wearing the dusty crown of victory.

May they once again take up that hammer, that watering can.

God, please one day soon restore chayalei Tzahal to the outstretched,

grateful hands of the ones they love.

About the Author
A Conservative rabbi, solo parent, and gay man, Rabbi Joel Alter has served Milwaukee's Congregation Beth Israel Ner Tamid since 2018.
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