We recite the Avinu Malkenu prayer during the Shacharit and Mincha services on Rosh HaShana, throughout the Aseret Y’Mei Tshuva- The Ten Days of Repentance (aside from Shabbat) as well as on the evening, morning, afternoon and Neila services of Yom Kippur.
Repeating the same prayer so many times may cause us to rush through and lose kavana (intent). How can we keep up our kavana and make the prayer even more relevant to our lives today?
Rav Yoel Bin Nun came up with a more updated and expanded version of Avinu Malkenu. His view is that the prayer has had many additions made to it since it was first composed by Rabbi Akiva who requested rain during a drought (Talmud Taanit 25b). In fact, the petition for rain (Rabbi Akiva’s original request) is not in the versions of the prayer found in our machzors! Rav Bin Nun explains that this is because when the Jews were in exile, there wasn’t such a dire need for rain the way that we have in the Land of Israel as it says in Dvarim 11:11-12:
The land into which you go to possess it, is a land of hills and valleys and drinks water of the rain of heaven: a land which HaShem, your God cares for: the eyes of Hashem, your God are always upon it, from the beginning of the year to the end of the year.
Rav Bin Nun suggests that we pray for rain in Avinu Malkenu requesting that God “give us rain of blessing in our land”, “fill our reservoirs with water” as well as update and expand some of the other lines to match what we really need in Israel and throughout the world today. Here are a few examples of his additions:
Close the mouths of our adversaries and our accusers in the media, in Israel and in the world.
Remove kidnappings, murders, stabbings, vehicle ramming attacks, fires and bombs from Your land.
Remove missiles, tunnels and fires from above and below.
Save us from disasters that we have caused (pollution!).
Save us from disasters that arise from your creation (earthquakes!).
Save battered and tormented women and men who are threatened and tortured from the hands of cruel people.
Send your blessing to the poor and to those who have trouble standing on their feet.
Other themes that he includes are: releasing women and men who have not received a get (Jewish divorce), the soldiers fighting for the sanctification of God’s name, those who are being held as prisoners throughout the world, Raise the might of the State of Israel, Raise the might of Jerusalem, the Holy City, eradicate destructive weapons, evil rulers…
Rav Bin Nun’s full list of additions (in Hebrew) can be found here.
May these additions help give us more kavana to pray for the things that are troubling the State of Israel and the world at large and may all of our prayers be fulfilled for the good.