web analytics
November 1, 2014 / 8 Heshvan, 5775
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post
Meir Panim with Soldiers 5774 Roundup: Year of Relief and Service for Israel’s Needy

Meir Panim implements programs that serve Israel’s neediest populations with respect and dignity. Meir Panim also coordinated care packages for families in the South during the Gaza War.



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.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Yehudah Glick on the Temple Mount.
Yehuda Glick’s Condition Stabilizing, “He Was Very Lucky” (1:00 PM)
Latest Indepth Stories
Which glass has the poison?

The White House wanted to defame Netanyahu, undermine his reputation, impugn him & his policies

Adolf Hitler and the representative of the Palestinian Arabs, the Mufti of Jerusalem, Amin al-Husseini, December, 1941.

Palestinian anti-Semitism in 2014 is more extreme and mainstream than German A/S in the 1930s.

Sheldon Silver

Woven deeply through it all is the Jewish obligation to fight injustice.

Cravatts-Richard--new

Only in the inverted world of academia would Jewish professors denounce the AMCHA Initiative report.

Many poskim were and are adamant about the responsibility of every individual to vote.

Individuals who may have been abused are the “clients” in need and receiving care and protection.

An accomplished Torah scholar and ardent adherent of Bobov chassidus, he was renowned for his self-effacing dedication and skills as an international lawyer and law professor

The fact that the United States government after World War II sought to take advantage of the expertise of German scientists, even those known to have contributed to the Nazi war effort, is well known and largely accepted as having been necessary for America’s national defense. (Wernher von Braun is perhaps the most famous and […]

The New York State comptroller manages the state’s $180.7 billion pension fund, audits the spending practices of all state agencies and local governments, oversees the New York State and Local Retirement System, reviews the New York State and City budgets, and approves billions in State contracts and spending.

Rabinovich is the author of several popular books on Israel’s wars, including The Battle for Jerusalem, The Yom Kippur War, and The Boats of Cherbourg.

To say he was beloved because of the way he loved his students does not sufficiently capture the reality.

The birth I speak about is to give birth to ourselves, to our full potential.

The extreme hypocrisy, contempt & vulgarity of the attacks indicate more than a policy disagreement

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: