We're almost there. For many of us, this is occasion for some fear and trembling; much depends on the outcome of this Presidential election, and I suspect that the acrimony which has marked the election season to date will mark the weeks which follow. I dread the prospect of a long, drawn-out, post-Election-Day legal battle for the White House.
Many excellent blogs focus on politics, and it's not my intent to encroach on their territory. (They say that God and politics are the two subjects one should never bring up at a dinner party; as I commit the former faux pas all the time, there's no need to compound my sin!) But since Jews strive to sanctify every moment with blessings, let me share with you a bracha for voting, which I learned from my rabbi Jeff:
. ברך אתה יהוה אלוהינו מלך האולם אשר חנין לאדם דעת להבין בלבחר
Baruch Atah Adonai, Eloheinu Melech Ha-Olam, asher chonein l'adam da'at l'havin v'livchor.
Blessed are You, Adonai, our God, Ruler of the Universe, who has graced human beings with thought, enabling us to understand and to choose.
My friend David, whose Hebrew is better than mine, points out that the word for "to choose" (לבחר/liv'chor) shares a root with "election" (בחירה/b'chirah). The same relationship exists in English, of course, but we don't often use "elect" that way anymore, at least not in colloquial speech. It's good to be reminded that choice is at the heart of this enterprise.
Anyway, in a similar vein to the blessing for voting, the folks at the Shalom Center just sent out an excellent Prayer Before Voting, which I will share below.
Here I am ready with my vote
Hareni muchan b'hatsbei`ati
to seek peace for this country, as it's written:
lidrosh shalom ba`ad ham'dinah hazot, k'mo shekatuv
"And you will seek peace of the city where I exile you to"
v'dirshu et sh'lom ha`ir asher higleti etchem shama
"And you will pray for her sake to YHWH, for through her peace you will have peace."
v'hitpal'lu ba`adah el YHWH ki bish'lomah yihyeh lakhem shalom.
May it be Your will that my vote will be accounted as if I fulfilled this verse in all its meaning,
y'hi ratson milfanekha shet'hei hatsbei`ati chashuvah k'ilu qiyamti hakatuv bkhol `atsmato
and just as I participated in elections today
uk'shem shehishtatfti b'v'chirut hayom
so may I merit doing good deeds and healing the world with all my actions.
ken ezkeh/ezkah l'ma`asim tovim ul'tikun `olam b'khol po`alai.
May it be good in Your eyes, YHWH my God and God of my forebears,
y'hi tov b`einekha YHWH elohai v'elohey horai
that you give a heart of wisdom to those whom we choose today
shetiten l'vav chokhmah lmi shanu bochrim hayom
and give to us and to all the peoples of this country
v'ten lanu ulkhol ha`amim bam'dinah hazot
the strength and will to pursue righteousness and to seek peace as one unity
hakoach v'haratson lirdof tsedek ul'vakesh shalom k'agudah achat
and may you raise up a government for us for the sake of good and blessing
v'tisa' lanu memshelah l'tovah ulivrakhah
to cause to grow throughout the world lives of goodness and peace
l'hatsmi'ach bkhol ha`olam chayyim shel tovah v'chayyim shel shalom
for us and for all your Godwrestling folk (Yisrael), and for all the inhabitants of the world, and for Jerusalem -- the City of Peace/Ir HaShalom, the heritage of the world/Yerushat Olam.
`aleinu v`al kol amkha yisra'el v`al kol yoshvey teivel v`al y'rushalayim.
"And may the pleasure of YHWH our God be on us, and may the One establish the work of our hands for us; may the work of our hands be established."
viy'hi no`am YHVH eloheynu `aleinu uma`aseh yadeinu kon'nah `aleinu, uma`aseh yadeinu kon'neihu.
Amen to that.