The prayers Jews say and the Torah Jews read and study, week after week and year after year, invoke God’s power to save them from disaster and to bring salvation “speedily and in our day.” But over the millenniums of Jewish history, the Jewish people have yearned and waited for their salvation to come.
The Kaddish of Rabbi Levi-Yitzchak of Berdichev (Russian city) from the 18th century is one of the most poignant expressions of this yearning. Rabbi Levi-Yitzchak wrote it as a protest against the Czar. Here is one translation.Good morning to You, Lord of the Universe!
I, Levi-Yitzchak, son of Sarah, of Berdichev,
Have come to You in a law-suit on behalf of Your people Israel.
No matter what happens, it is: “Command the Children of Israel!”
No matter what happens, it is “Say to the Children of Israel!”
No matter what happens, it is “Speak to the Children of Israel!”
Father, sweet Father in heaven!How many nations are there in the world?
Persians, Babylonians, Edomites...The Russians, what do they say?
That their Czar is the only ruler.The Prussians, what do they say?
That their Kaiser is supreme.And the English, what do they say?
That George the Third is sovereign.And I, Levi-Yitzchak, son of Sarah, of Berdichev, say:
“Hallowed and magnified be the name of God!”
And I, Levi-Yitzchak, son of Sarah, of Berdichev, say:
“Lo o-zuz mim-koi-mee! I will not stir from here!
An end there must be to this. It must all stop!
Yisgadal v’yis-ka-dash shmay rabah! Hallowed and magnified be the name of God!” …
Such yearnings and pleas are not exclusive to the Jewish people. Most humans at some time make similar and fervent pleas. And yet, such requests to the Lord of the Universe, that “There must be an end to this. It must all stop” (for all humans), are not answered. We still wait.
With thanks to my sister Judy for bringing this prayer and the commentary to my attention through a D'var Torah (study of Torah) she led in 2012 on Parasha Va-era, Exodus 3:2 - 9:35. This Torah portion begins with God identifying Moses as the one to "go down to Egypt" and save the Children of Israel from slavery there and ends with a display of God's power when God brings down the first plagues on Pharoah and the people of Egypt.