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The Interfaith Peace Project is pleased to offer you prayer reflections for each day of Interfaith Harmony Week, February 1-7.

 

Judaism

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Jewish Reflection on Compassion and Loving-Kindness

In the Jewish tradition, kindness is expressed through the Jewish word chesed. Chesed like many Jewish words does not translate precisely into English. The word means more than simply “kindness”. Chesed means giving oneself fully with love and compassion. The word chesed appears in the Torah more than 190 times.

“When we are able to experience chesed, true loving-kindness, we are truly in a state of blessing and being blessed. Much of the Torah concerns itself with cultivating loving-kindness and compassion, for these are seen as being the essence of God.”

                                                          Avram Davis
The Way of Flame

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Judaism speaks of Thirteen Attributes or aspects of Loving-kindness: 1) realizing the divinity of self, 2) realizing the divinity of the other, 3) cultivating creativity, 4) engendering compassion, 5) finding grace, 6) acting with equanimity, 7) creating kindness, 8) bringing forth truth, 9) preserving kindness, 10) forgiving iniquity, 11) forgiving willfulness, 12) forgiving error, 13) cleansing yourself of delusion.

No one religion has a monopoly on loving-kindness and each has something to offer those who have made a choice for heaven. I encourage you to study broadly in the world’s religions and adapt what you need from wherever it is found.

It is not enough to be versed in only one religion. You are heir to the entire spectrum of human spirituality; while one of them may resonate more strongly than another, you can learn from them all and adapt practices from each to enrich your own capacity for loving-kindness.

                                                    Rabbi Rami Shapiro

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The Sacred Art of Lovingkindness

Judaism holds that the world was built with chesed (lovingkindness). We read in the Psalms: Olam Chsed Yibaneh (the world is built with chesed) and we learn that the entire world is continually sustained by learning, intention and acts of lovingkindness (torah, prayer/avodah, lovingkindness/g’milut chasadim).

A few weeks ago, I taught my students a beautiful practice that I learned from my teachers, rabbi Sheila Weinberg and Sylvia Boorstein. Sylvia Boorstein teaches about the Buddhist practice called Metta, which means in Poli, “lovingkindness”. Perhaps one reason this practice has resonated with so many Jews is the similarity to our anciently Priestly Blessing:

May God bless you and keep you.
May God’s presence shine upon you and be gracious to you.
May God’s presence be with you and give you peace.

However, in the Priestly Blessing (thought to be our most ancient prayer) it is the high priest who “channels” the blessing of God to the people. We too, can be channels of blessings to others, and even to ourselves. In fact, in our day we need to be vehicles of blessing and in fact we are. Every time our heart opens and we then reach out to another human being, blessing flows from us. We desperately need as much blessing as all of us can conjure up – not only for others but for our own bruised souls. Now modern science is validating and adding what religious life has known is true: compassion can be cultivated.

www.ravjill.com/2014/03/28/lovingkindness-hesed-practice

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Jewish Prayer for Compassion

Baruch Atah Adonai, Brucha At Shechinah
Blessed One-ness, Blessed Connection,
Kadosh Baruch Hu:
We pray for all who are in pain
And all who cause pain.

We pray for those of us
Who are so angry
That we have lost compassion for the suffering
Of anyone who is not a member of our group.
And we pray for those of us
Who cannot see the suffering behind
The loss of that compassion.

We pray for the strength
To resist the urge to inhumanity
That we feel in times of fear and mourning.
We pray for courage
To resist the calls to inhumanity
That others may make upon us in times of crisis.

Baruch Atah Adonai, Barucha At Shechinah
Blessed One-ness, Blessed Connection,
Kadosh Baruch Hu:
May we find relief from our hurts and fears.
And may we not in our pain,
Lose our empathy
For the hurts and fears of others.
We pray for all who are in pain
And all who cause pain

Amen

Trisha Arlin

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