Harvard University dropout and Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg stunned the graduation class of 2017 by ending his half-hour commencement speech with a Hebrew prayer. Telling the crowd that he hopes they will “find the courage to make your life a blessing”, Zuckerberg shared that he sings the Mi Shebeirach prayer, the prayer of healing, to his daughter each night as he tucks her into bed.
“Before you walk out those gates one last time, as we sit in front of Memorial Church, I am reminded of a prayer, Mi Shebeirach, that I say whenever I face a challenge, that I sing to my daughter thinking about her future when I tuck her into bed. It goes, ‘May the source of strength, who blessed the ones before us, help us find the courage to make our lives a blessing,’” recited Zuckerberg, who is Jewish.
“Traditionally, the Mi Shebeirach is said in synagogue for those who are ill or in recovery,” explained Roni Segal, academic adviser for The Israel Institute of Biblical Studies, a company which offers courses on Bible and and Biblical languages in collaboration with Hebrew University, to Breaking Israel News.
“Mi Shebeirach” by Debbie Friedman (Hebrew and English)
Thirty-three-year-old Zuckerberg is the sixth-richest person in the world with an estimated net worth of $63.4 billion. He married his college sweetheart, Priscilla Chan, in 2012, who is not Jewish. The couple have one daughter. Together, they have promised to give 99 percent of their income to charity and the support of organizations which do good in the world.
Following last year’s Facebook post stating that he was “celebrating Christmas”, Zuckerberg was asked online if he was still a self-proclaimed atheist. “No,” he replied. “I was raised Jewish and then I went through a period where I questioned things, but now I believe religion is very important.”
His speech urged students to work towards something bigger than themselves. “I’m here to tell you that finding your purpose isn’t enough. The challenge for our generation is to create a world where everyone has a sense of purpose,” he told the graduates.
“There is something impressive about a young and incredibly successful man publicly stating to the world that he prays each night asking God to heal the sick, show compassion, and strengthen and enliven His creations,” commented Segal to Breaking Israel News.
“It is scientifically documented today that those who are prayed for, even without their knowledge, have a higher rate of recovery than those not prayed for. This fits right into Zuckerberg’s commencement message, that everyone in the world is part of one community and therefore must have ‘a higher purpose to take on big, meaningful projects’ to heal the world and make it a better place.”
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