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August 23, 2014 / 27 Av, 5774
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A Prayer For Freedom

In very recent issues of the Jewish Press there have been a number of disturbing articles detailing the dire plight of various types of people who have lost their physical or social freedom. These include Zach Baumel, an American-Israeli who was captured in battle by the Arabs, over 22 years ago. While many believe he and the other Israeli MIAs are no longer alive, Zach’s father says he has recently received proof that his son is imprisoned near the Syrian/Iraqi border. Zach taken at age 21, would be in his early 40s now.

There was also a front-page essay addressing the problems of high school graduates studying in Israel, who have life threatening alcohol and drug addictions, eating disorders and other harmful habits. There were two full-page ads put out by concerned Jews who are outraged over the ongoing shackling of agunot by their husbands who deny them a Get and the freedom to move on with their lives. There was mention of yet another appeal by Jonathan Pollard who has been languishing in prison for almost 20 years while others convicted of similar crimes have been released. In other parts of the world there are people who are rotting in jails because of their religious or political convictions and because of various miscarriages of justice.

On Purim we celebrate our release from the jaws of death and on Pesach we commemorate our emancipation from slavery. It behooves all of us to take time out from our merriment to remember and pray for those who are incarcerated, imprisoned and held captive by others or by their own weaknesses. Here is a tefillah I say when I light my Shabbat candles.



Our Father who is Everywhere, our lives are known to You,

You ask us to spend our days in joy – but for some it’s impossible to do,

For they are hapless prisoners, restrained from living life,

For them and those who love them, there are unceasing tears and strife.


Please remember the missing soldiers, hidden away for years,

Listen to their loved ones’ cries; be moved by their tor mented fears,

Please end the unbearable separation, stop their relentless grief,

For the sake of your holy nation – grant them full relief.


Let their cell doors be opened, let the captives return to life,

Let them know once again, the embrace of parents, child and wife.

May they be returned, intact and sound of mind,

May they again taste the nectar of freedom – and life, sweet and kind.


Please remember the bitter hopelessness that is the chained wife’s lot,

Let all be free to find the fulfillment, that so many of them have sought.

Open the closed hearts of their husbands, give wisdom to all involved.

So that this tragedy that poisons our society, will forever be resolved.


Please remember those who languish, unfairly and much too long,

Incarcerated and forgotten, both the innocent and those who did wrong.

Remember our tzaddik Joseph, cruelly thrown into a cell,

Let true justice be the lot of the blameless – and those who are guilty as well.


Remember your sons and daughters who suffer from self-affliction,

Slaves to toxic habits, ensnared by numbing addiction.

Give strength to their spirits; help them reclaim their lost souls,

So they may return to the sunlight, free from their bot tomless holes.


Whatever the cause of bondage – we look to You for re lease,

Emancipate all from their “chains” – let all heartbreak cease.

Bless all Your children with freedom, so that they can start their lives anew,

All will see Your loving mercy, and pour loving praise on You.

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