web analytics
April 21, 2015 / 2 Iyar, 5775
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post


Home » InDepth » Op-Eds »

How Many Jewish Leaders Actually Read The Prayer Book?


Rabbi Ovadia Yosef’s ill wishes toward Israel’s Palestinian Arab enemies, including the Palestinian Authority and its Holocaust-denier president, elicited disdain and disavowals from much of the leadership of Israel and the Jewish world.

Rabbi Ovadia’s “words do not reflect the approach of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, nor the position of the government of Israel,” the Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement.

The Rabbinical Assembly, the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, the Jewish Theological Assembly and related groups said, “As leaders of the Conservative/Masorti movement, we deplore these recent comments of former Chief Sephardic Rabbi Ovadia Yosef.”

ADL National Director Abe Foxman said, “We are outraged by the offensive and incendiary comments made by Rav Ovadia Yosef.” And the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations added, “We are disturbed by the reported comments of Rabbi Ovadia Yosef.”

Why these entities and eminences have reacted this way is an interesting question – even putting aside the paternalistic attitude of superiority so commonly used to justify ignoring the constant barrage of hate and incitement to genocide emanating from many of Israel enemies. And that vitriol is not voiced by individuals but promulgated by governments and leaders, including Israel’s purported “partners for peace.” Advertisement

I was gratified to learn I am not the only one who found the situation peculiar. In a letter published on the Jerusalem Post’s website, Chana Pinto accurately and articulately pointed out that in our prayers, Jews beseech God to defeat our enemies. For example, the Amida includes “Frustrate the hopes of those who malign us” and “Let all your enemies be speedily destroyed.”

So is Rabbi Ovadia Yosef the only prominent Jew who reads the prayer book? Can Jewish leaders be fairly likened to America’s legislators who now routinely pass multi-thousand page bills without reading them or knowing what is in them, much less understanding and reflecting on their implications?

Or is it that other Jewish leaders are aware of their prayers but Rabbi Yosef is the only one who means it when he says them? If they are so offended by their own prayers, they should change them. If Obama and his Democrats can ram through their unwanted legislation, perhaps these Jewish leaders can change the prayers to be more consonant with their political and worldly sensibilities.

The controversy over Rabbi Yosef’s remarks reminded me of a similar hypocrisy that occurred during George W. Bush’s presidency. Bush was well known to have been inspired by his faith during his time in office. And he was routinely mocked for it, with many Jews among those criticizing him.

But consider the “Prayer for Our Country,” a commonly recited Shabbat and Festival prayer in Conservative (and other) American congregations. The prayer includes the plea to God to “Teach [our leaders and elected officials] insights of Your Torah so they may administer all affairs of state fairly, that peace and security may forever abide in our midst.”

So those Jews who criticized Bush for being inspired by the Bible were criticizing him for doing precisely what they were praying for him to do.

In my view, there is a twofold reason why so many people claimed offense at Rabbi Yosef’s remarks. First, the fact is that most people in the world don’t want Israel to prevail in its struggle, and Israeli and Jewish leaders are overly sensitive to that sentiment. More important is the widespread and tragic refusal by Israelis, Jews, and westerners in general to acknowledge that Israel is at war.

(If it’s not a state of war, why do we need peace talks? Does this enemy to whose defense the Israeli government and Jews throughout the world are rushing even acknowledge Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state? Last time I checked, no. And the enemy even says it never will.)

Related to the refusal to acknowledge the state of war is, on the part of many, a lack of understanding of what war actually entails. That lack of understanding results in a sense of shock and horror when the enemy is killed, injured, or even inconvenienced (think “checkpoints” and “blockade”).

As has been learned over the course of human history, Israel will never achieve the security of peace until it defeats its enemies. And as has also been true throughout human history, Israel will never be able to defeat its enemies by being nice to them. Love bombs don’t work. Real armaments are needed.

About the Author:


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “How Many Jewish Leaders Actually Read The Prayer Book?”

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
Amb. Thomas Pickering testified before the  House Armed Services Committee,  about Iran's nuclear program on June 19, 2014.
Brandeis Commencement Speaker Leads Iran Cheerleader Squad
Latest Indepth Stories
Rav Aharon Lichtenstein

What was supposed to have been a 15 minute interview, turned into an intense learning session and intellectual battle, the likes of which I had never experienced in my entire life.

Rabbi Lichtenstein (z"l).

Rav Lichtenstein did not learn Tanaim, Amoraim, Rishonim and Achronim, rather he learned with them

Israel Supreme Court at Night

How can NIF claim they don’t support BDS when they try to repeal laws forbidding boycotts of Israel?

Rabbi Lichtenstein (z"l).

“Rav Lichtenstein’s vision and inspiration served to guide the development of Tzohar.”

As Holocaust survivors decline rapidly attacks on the veracity of the Holocaust rapidly escalates

The Constitution created history’s most powerful legislature & inherent foreign policy power battle

The S-300 poses a major problem; Israel will have to get creative as to if, when & where it strikes

“The resentment towards us (Jews/Israelis) was really intense. They clearly hate Zionism & Zionists”

Egypt has been more effective against Gazan smuggling tunnels than Israel’s military operations

She had many names and was many things to many people, but to me she was just Babineni.

Is ISIS in Gaza? “No, but there are ISIS loyalists here..we pray to God they unite under ISIS’ flag”

Rabbi Portal was that great “inspirer,” changing people for the better, enriching the lives of all

Iran knows Obama, Putin, and the Europeans don’t have a Red Line beyond which they will go to war

There is no way to explain the Holocaust. I know survivors who are not on speaking terms with G-d. I know many who are the opposite. I have no right to go there…

When a whole side of your family perishes, friends become the extended family you do not have.

“We stand with Israel because of its values and its greatness and because its such a wonderful ally”

More Articles from Mark Gold

Rabbi Ovadia Yosef’s ill wishes toward Israel’s Palestinian Arab enemies, including the Palestinian Authority and its Holocaust-denier president, elicited disdain and disavowals from much of the leadership of Israel and the Jewish world.

I regret to report on the ascendance of an American Jewish version of Replacement Theology and a corresponding new American Jewish Bible. These have been adopted primarily in the Reform and secular sectors, as well as in the overlapping wider societal groups of Democrat Party faithful, academia, and the media establishment.

Israel has no shortage of avowed detractors. It also has many genuinely avid supporters. Even more people and institutions claim to support Israel. But what does supporting Israel really mean?

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/how-many-jewish-leaders-actually-read-the-prayer-book/2010/09/15/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: