A New Serenity Prayer

Stuart Fickler

Ever since God commanded Abraham, "lech lecha" 1 ("go out to yourself"), Torah has given us the guidance for finding our relationship with God and God's creation. That relationship was challenged when Adam and Eve ate of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. 2 The result was that humans became self-aware. As a consequence, they separated themselves from the rest of creation.

In modern terms, brain science has demonstrated that humans live in two worlds. One is the world programmed within us by genes, family and culture. The other is the world that exists beyond ourselves, a world that exists independently of us. For the purpose of this article, we might call them the world we created for ourselves and the world God created.

The command to Abraham set him on a journey back to a relationship with the world of God's creation. To achieve that, he had to come to know himself. This is a journey that we continue today. As Maimonides tells us in "The Guide for the Perplexed", we can only know God through the acquisition of knowledge of God's creation. 3 Then, God's command to Abraham applies to us as well.

Toward that end, I would like to offer my variation of Reinhold Niebuhr's famous "Serenity Prayer":

God grant me

The serenity to accept myself as I am;

The courage to become who I will be;

And the wisdom to find the right path.

May we all be blessed with its fulfillment.


1. Genesis 12:1

2. Genesis 3

3. Maimonides, Guide for the Perplexed, Part I, Chapter XXXIV

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