A Modern Prayer

By Cantor Lorna Wallach

A modern prayer in our service?

Yes!! At our Instrumental Musical Kabbalat Shabbat service on July 15, we heard and learned an Israeli song from the early 1980’s called “T’Fila”, which is appropriately named because it really is a prayer to God! (See the translation of the words below!)

The great Medieval philosopher, Maimonides, stated that until the Babylonian exile (586 BCE), all Jews composed their own prayers, but thereafter the sages of the Great Assembly in the early Second Temple period composed the main portions of the siddur. While it’s true that over the last 2000 years, some variations have emerged among the traditional liturgical customs of different Jewish communities, such as Ashkenazic, Sephardic, Yemenite, Eretz Yisrael and others, most of the prayers in our Siddur are of ancient origin.

The earliest existing codification of the prayerbook was compiled by Rav Amram Gaon of Sura, Babylon, about 850 CE, and half a century later Rav Saadia Gaon, also composed a siddur. These were the basis of Simcha ben Samuel’s Machzor Vitry (11th-century France), which was based on the ideas of his teacher, Rashi. From this point forward, all Jewish prayerbooks had the same basic order and contents. The Kabbalat Shabbat service as we know it, Psalms 95 – 99, 29, L’Cha Dodi, and Psalms 92 and 93, was a later addition to the Siddur from the 16th century Kabbalists in Safed.

So in the spirit of the opening words of Psalm 96, “Shiru Ladonai Shir Chadash,” “Sing Unto God a New Song,” the CBI Band and I decided to introduce this beautiful and uplifting contemporary prayer/song from Israel, made famous by the Israeli pop star Ofra Chaza, with words by Bezalel Aloni and music by Henry Bratter.

Here are the lyrics. You can click on the link at the bottom to listen now!

Chorus (Transliteration):
Shmor na aleinu k’mo y’ladim
Shmor na v’al ta’azov
Tein lanu or v’simchat ne’urim
Tein lanu Ko’ach, od va’od
Tein lanu gam le’ehov.

He who sits somewhere up there in the heavens
He who heals all the sick
He who gives great joy to children
He who makes judgments
He is in the heavens and He is the Only One
He, the great and awe-inspiring
He is the one who protects us from troubles –

Watch over us, please, like children
Watch please and don’t leave
Give us light and the joy of youth
Give us strength, more and more,
Also give us the ability to love

What still remains for us in our days?
What remains all day long?
Sunshine, hope and so many sights
Nights and days of dreams
He is in the heavens and He is the Only One
He, the great and awe-inspiring
He is the one who protects us from troubles.