Prayer During Wartime

Prayer During Wartime

Read and discuss a prayer written by Rabbi Moses Sofer (Chatam Sofer)  and reflect on the power of prayer in difficult times. 

This short prayer was written in 1809 by Rabbi Moses Sofer* as a response to the Austro-Polish War. It was reprinted over a century later after the outbreak of World War I. The prayer shows the dual identity of the Jews of Hungary; they prayed for the welfare of the Jewish people but also for the defeat of the enemies of “our land,” namely, Hungary. The prayer was adapted to the events of 1914 with the addition of the names of the current rulers: Emperor Franz Joseph I, the emperor of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and his ally, German Emperor Kaiser Wilhelm II. Another copy of the prayer was printed later in the war. This version also refers to Sultan Mehmed, the fifth and last Ottoman sultan who allied with the Austro-Hungarian and German leaders. 

This is one example of prayers in which Jews around the world prayed for the success of the leaders of their respective countries. These prayers, which originate in the Talmud, were recited during regular prayer services but also at times of war and danger. To this day, many Jewish communities around the world pray for the success of the monarchs and governments of their country. 



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