Friday, 6 August 2021
‘He will make an end to war … he will
break the bow and smash the spear’
This has been a busy day, taking part in the annual Hiroshima Day commemorations in Merrion Square, Dublin, and speaking as president of the Irish Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (Irish CND).
It is 76 years since the atomic bombing of Hiroshima on 6 August 1945, and it is 42 years since I visited Hiroshima in 1979. But that visit, and my meetings with hibakusha or victims of the bomb, are still fresh in my memory.
This evening, for my Friday evening reflections, I am reflecting on some prayers and readings on the theme of world peace in Service of the Heart, a prayer book edited by Rabbi John D Rayner and Rabbi Chaim Stern, and published in 1967 by the Union of Liberal and Progressive Synagogues.
The prayer beginning ‘May it be your will …’ is from The Language of Faith, edited by Nathan Tucker, and comes, in turn, from Likkutey Tefillot, a collection of person prayers ascribed to Rabbi Nachman of Breslov (1772-1811), the founder of the Breslov Hasidic movement and a great-grandson of the Baal Shem Tov, founder of Hasidism.
The responsive reading beginning ‘Keep your tongue from evil …’ draws on the psalms and readings in the Mishnah (M Avot) and the Babylonian Talmud (B Gittin).
May it be your will that war and bloodshed shall vanish from the earth, and that a great and glorious peace may reign in all the world. Let all who dwell on earth perceive and understand the basic truth, that we have not come into this world for strife and discord, hatred and envy, greed and bloodshed, but that we have come into this world only to understand you, who are to be praised for ever.
Let your glory fill our minds and hearts. Teach us so to use our skills and understanding that through us your presence may come to dwell on earth, and that your power and the splendour of your kingdom may be known to all mankind. Amen.
Keep your tongue from evil, and your lips from speaking guile.
Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace and pursue it.
Be of the disciples of Aaron, loving peace and pursuing peace,
loving your fellow-men, and bringing them to the Torah.
The whole Torah exists only to bring peace, as it is written, ‘Its
ways are ways of pleasantness, and all its paths are peace.’
‘Peace, peace, to the far and the near,’ says the Lord.
‘Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit,’ says the Lord of hosts.
He will make an end to war throughout the world; he will break
the bow and smash the spear; he will make the chariot of war
go up in flames.
Justice shall dwell in the wilderness, and righteousness shall abide
in the fruitful field. And the effect of righteousness shall be
peace, and the result of righteousness, quietness and
confidence for ever.
They shall not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain, for the
earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters
cover the sea.
They shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig-tree,
and none shall make them afraid.
The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge.