Thursday, April 10, 2008

Israel Prayer....Too Offensive

Cross posted on my blog

JTA has a story about an egalitarian shul that are having some problems with this prayer for Israel. Apparently, they think it is too militeralistic, "Conflation of religion and politics, its tone of Jewish triumphalism and exclusivity."

Here are some quotes:
Expecting everyone to stand and recite, in unison, something so political clearly sends a message: If you don't identify with the vision of Israel that is expressed in this prayer, then you are wrong,"
What vision bothers this poor soul?
Alpert says the prayer should account for the consequences of Israel's creation for the land's other inhabitants.
I feel such triumphalism in the face of the conflict in Israel and Palestine is irresponsible."
I think this person needs a hug.
Aviva Bock, a member of the Newton Centre Minyan who teaches psychotherapy at Harvard University, says there is something problematic about simply reciting this formula.

"The prayer should be a reflection of our hopes and prayers in the context of today rather than something that feels to me like it was written at a very different moment in time," she said.
Well, what could you expect from a psychotherapist? Sorry 
Kalmanofsky himself recommended an alteration of the passage that speaks of Israeli soldiers achieving "victory," substituting instead a verse from Isaiah asking that they return in peace
At Manhattan's Jewish Center, a modern Orthodox shul, the congregation for many years had substituted an alternate version of the Israel prayer due to discomfort over the messianic element in the line characterizing Israel as "the first flowering of the redemption."
I really don't understand people sometimes. First of all, it says this shul (not the OJ one) follows a traditional siddur liturgy. Have they opened up the siddur lately. It's full of stuff about Israels exclusivity. Its full of places where we hope God will deliver us from its enemies. And messianic yearnings??? Ya, I think it mentions it there too. I wonder if this shul has a problem with the Torah's telling the Israelites to destroy the original inhabitants of Canaan. Perhaps we should add prayers for the souls of the Hittites. What about Tanakh?

I don't know. The way people conceive the world boggles my mind. Wanting those that want you destroyed, to be destroyed, is now politically incorrect. Victory is assur. It's offensive to the sensitivies of those that are defeated I guess. And why does it bother them calling Israel the first budding of the redemption? I mean, isn't that what these people are davening for? A redemption? In Judaism IIRC, redemption and a return to the land go hand and hand. So why do they get so offended by it all?

I would love to get a list of all the "offensive" things in the siddur and email this shul and see if they have a problem with it too. Or is just Israel? Anyone up for the challenge?

And then you have types like Gil, that have no problem tinkering with the prayer or ommitting it. Why? Two reasons. One, because it is recent. Well, weren't all prayers recent at some point or another? And the second, which I feel is for more sad is the fact that he says its political. The fact that Gil can say THIS prayer is political bothers me. How can it be political Gil? You are praying for its safety. You are praying for it being victorious. You are praying for its leaders to make right choices. And yes, you are praying that it is the beginning of a redemption. A redemption that you OBVIOUSLY believe is coming. If anything Gil, Israel should be a cause for all us to say thank you to God without you having to catogorize it into some sort of ideology first. I am SURE we can scroll through the siddur and even Talmud and find many "political" references.

Wherever I am, people keep hassling me about waffles. Leave me alone. I hate waffles.


Ben-Yehudah said...


That's the spirit! Down with waffles!

Listen, even so called Religious Zionists have some problems with the "prayer for the State," and have made several variations to reflect their/our feelings.

There is also a version of the shmonah esreh which calls for the throwing out of evil judges and police from the land.

No stirah here, IMHO, but many "zionists" would be offended for even suggesting the existence of such individuals.

Kae Gregory said...

Let's not anyone tell them about Torah then. If they open that up and find out what G-d has to say about Israel...well I can't imagine!

Ben-Yehudah said...

"Israel?" in the Torah? Yes, well, let us not forget that "state of Israel," "land of Israel," "gov't of Israel," "current evil, Eruv rav regime in Israel" and Jewish sovereignty over the Land are all separate concepts.

The Torah is pretty as what should happen to evil people, supposed "Zionists" or not.

JoeSettler said...

May He who blessed our forefathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, bless the soldiers of the Israel Defence Forces, who stand watch over our land and the cities of our Lord, from the Lebanese border to the desert of Egypt and from the great sea to the verge of the wilderness, on land, in the air, and at sea

It always bothers me that the prayer for the soldiers appears to be geographically limited to within the borders of Israel.

Yes I am aware that a specific (probably original intent) reading seems to imply the soldiers of Israel who are protecting what are the borders of Israel as defined by the prayer, but I always hear it as the soldiers that are within those borders - and that bothers me.

It always seems to me that the ones who need our prayers the most are the ones who are fighting outside of the borders mentioned.

Perhaps I don't get the poetic style of writing.

Lion of Zion said...

a few years back there was a movement to ammend to the prayer so that it would read מהלבנון instead of מגבול הלבנון and to add in ובכל מקום שבם נמצאים

i have heard shuls use these variants (although the lebanon was more of an issue before israel pulled out).

JoeSettler said...

Each time I went into Lebanon I hoped I was included in that prayer (as is).

nikki said...

you forgot about amalek.

don't you know that no one is allowed to be better than anyone else at anything? life should be one big celebration of mediocrity! (what movie did i reference?)

Anonymous said...

2 Jews, 3 opinions. I guess one just has to face that not everyone thinks of the State of Israel as reishit semichat geulateinu. Some because they are "too" religious and some because they are not religious enough (sarcasm intended).
In an ancient religion that some view as ethnic and some view as a "world" religion, with all the ethical implications that connotes, it's not surprising that some elements oppose any militarism at all and some feel G-d must kill their enemies in particular.
It's pluralism, and there's simply nothing you can do about it.

Mordechai Y. Scher said...

Right on! ;-)

I must admit, I was willing to alter the 'first flowering of our redemption' part for the sake of others in our davenning. For myself, I subscribe to every single word; but I didn't want it to be an issue with our few participants. Imagine my delighted surprise when one of the hevra said to me, 'there needs to be a minhag hamakom. By default, for a new davenning, it follows you.' (We don't have a minyan yet.) 'Ay, but you don't hold by this prayer?' 'That's my problem. You should say the prayer for the soldiers and the State of Israel out loud, just as you normally would.'

The man is right, of course. And so it has been...

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

Its not any more political than the archaic aramaic "Yekum Purkan" prayer, that gives blessings to non-existant people today, like the "Raish Galuta."

I dont see Gil changing that.

Search the Muqata



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