We Pray for the President, Whether We Like Him or Not

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54 Responses

  1. Bob Miller says:

    I see the standard version as a tactful plea to HaShem to get the various political officials to use their powers in a beneficial way. Who could object to that?

  2. Steve Brizel says:

    Unfortunately when President Trump came down with Covid some on social media engaged in discussions as to whether to be Mispallel for a Refuah Shlemah It is unfortunate to use the mildest possible adjective that such a debate as well as the quoted conduct took place regardless of ones differences with a sitting President

  3. Observer says:

    We are told by the Torah to pray for the peace of the government. The government is a massive entity, whether we mean the gargantuan federal government, state governments that are quite large, or more local governments, that can be quite sizable as well. The idea of the prayer is not just about one person.

    Daven on!

  4. Reb Yid says:

    Most shuls today no longer use the original formulation which asked for “rachamanut”. This implies a level of passivity, servility and powerlessness which, although perhaps the case in the 14th century, was no longer appropriate with the advent of republics and democratic governments.

    • Nachum says:

      That’s an entirely different discussion, though.

      • Reb Yid says:

        It’s actually a needed corrective on the following sentence from the piece:

        The focus of the current text of the Prayer for the Welfare of the Government is that the nation’s leader should be protected and blessed with success (as when the nation is at peace, the Jewish community is at peace), that he should act with mercy and compassion toward the Jewish People

    • tzippi says:

      I’m not so sure that we should make these kinds of assumptions. If the last year has taught us anything, there are no assumptions of any level of power or control.

      May I say a few more things:
      I don’t believe President Biden has dementia. I do think he’s tired.
      And, years ago there was a Light magazine story (Unexpected Evidence? Not sure.) about Rav Elya Chaim Meisels, zt”l and the saying of this prayer under much more trying regimes.

  5. Nachum says:

    Just bear in mind that this is the same Yanklowitz who refuses to say “Shefoch Chamatcha” at the Seder because…it’s unclear. He thinks it’s talking about us taking action against our enemies- as opposed to the obvious fact that it’s addressed to *God*, not that there would be anything wrong with Jews taking action? That he thinks it’s aimed at all non-Jews, again leaving aside the obvious fact that it *isn’t*? That he thinks anti-Semitism doesn’t exist anymore- except, of course, among Republicans, who he hates? Don’t ask me, but the man clearly has some deep-seated beliefs that have nothing to do with Judaism and that keep him from seeing obvious truths.

    I think Orthodox Judaism fails in its over-eagerness to attract new members, whether through kiruv or conversion, and thus, among other things, doesn’t sit down with such “potentials” and say, “Look, Orthodox Judaism is all-encompassing. It’s not just a matter of keeping Shabbat and kashrut, but there are certain things you may see as core beliefs of yours that you’re going to have to drop if you want in.” It shouldn’t be enough to have some pro-forma “Do you believe in the Torah?” or whatever. In today’s day and age, there should be a “Do you think homosexuality is perfectly normal?” and “uncomfortable” questions like that.

    So we’ll get less converts. So they’ll call us haters. We’ve survived worse.

    • Raymond says:

      I think that was why the Rambam formulated his famous thirteen principles of our Jewish religion so many centuries ago. I strongly suspect, however, that most Jews these days do not study the Rambam. btw, since the individual in question is part of the Open Orthodox movement, I do not value anything that he has to say. He seems to have a knack for always being on the wrong side of every issue.

    • mb says:

      “Do you think homosexuality is perfectly normal?”
      Well, yes I do, for homosexuals.
      Only somebody illiterate in human sexuality would say otherwise.

      • nt says:

        “Do you think cannibalism is perfectly normal?”
        Well, yes I do, for cannibals.
        Only someone illiterate in human gastronomy would say otherwise.

      • mb says:

        ““Do you think cannibalism is perfectly normal?”
        Well, yes I do, for cannibals.
        Only someone illiterate in human gastronomy would say otherwise.”
        Actually, yes to that too. As revolting as it sounds human cannibalism was quite normal. Indeed, we can’t drink camel or donkey milk, only because the torah prohibits it, but we can drink human milk. Regardless, if this was your way of protesting my comment on homosexuality, it’s a poor attempt. Those that desire human flesh have many other options for food. A homosexual has no other option for their sexual desires, WHETHER THEY ACT ON IT OR NOT. (Emphasis added for import.)

      • nt says:

        Actually, the cannibals of Australia lived in very protein-deficient environments, without many prey animals, so eating humans was necessary for nutrition.
        The main point is that you can’t define normal as “normal for those who do it.” In that case everything is normal. Mental illness is normal for the mentally ill. Murder is normal for murderers. Normal by definition means normal among the general population.

    • mb says:

      “Do you think homosexuality is perfectly normal?”
      Well, yes, for homosexuals.
      Only somebody illiterate in human sexuality would think otherwise.

    • David Z says:

      Except Yanklowitz is OTD, not BT. But yes, he is an enemy of Torah certainly. Unfortunately rather than admitting that and starting his own religion, he insists on dragging us through the mud.

  6. DK says:

    Pretty ironic, but with 20/20 [both intended], it seems that Trump did more for the Jewish People than any other president in American history. Perhaps “Rabbi” Shmuly should offer an apology…

    • Raymond says:

      I am not so sure that it is only with hindsight that we can now realize what a good friend to the Jews that Donald Trump has been, for the fact is that he was a good friend of our people even long before he ever even thought of running for President. It was the main reason why I enthusiastically voted for him twice.

    • Bob Miller says:

      Progressives never have to say they’re sorry. They just advance from failure to failure and call that success.

  7. dr. bill says:

    The issue of greatest concern is the correct grammar now that a woman is vice president. Given both the history and the federated nature of the United States, it is the local government for whom we ought to be praying. Of course, praying for the US government and not for that of the State of Israel, does not indicate an appreciation of what the Hashgahah has done.

  8. Raymond says:

    I will never pray for Sleepy Joe Biden, simply because the open, obvious, massive voter fraud that enabled him to get in the position that he is in, renders him to be an illegitimate President. Nor will I ever forgive any person or any institution who has in any way participated in the mocking, abusing, and vilifying of the greatest President that we Jews ever had in the White House. Chasing the man who is arguably this country’s greatest President since Abraham Lincoln, is a dramatic and frightening indication how the Radical Left has taken over this country. Nor will they be satisfied until they completely destroy not only the life of President Donald J Trump, but the United States of America as well. And so if I had any prayer at all for our government, it would be for the miraculous reinstatement of Donald Trump as our President less than four years from now. May G-d Will it to be so.

    • JL says:

      How do you know there was fraud?

      • Raymond says:

        I am hesitant to answer your question because I think that getting into the weeds like that would take us away from anything specifically Jewish, and keeping it Jewish is I think one of the purposes of this website.

      • Lawrence Reisman says:

        If you think that “getting into the weeds like that would take us away from anything specifically Jewish” then why did you mention it in the first place?

      • Bob Miller says:

        Human nature being what it is, fraud happens when controls on fraud are disabled or brushed aside. For states where that happened by design in 2020, we can make certain assumptions. The genius of our system was that all tangible evidence of fraud could be rejected or ignored piece by piece without proper review. With the pieces gone, little was left of the puzzle.

    • Bob Miller says:

      There is a possible Prayer Option B:
      https://youtu.be/8jZFnKZcids

      • Raymond says:

        That is absolutely hilarious, and most definitely the funniest thing I have ever seen on this website. and btw, I fully agree with you. 🙂

    • DK says:

      Your statement is exactly what this article is going against… It doesn’t matter who is the leader. It could be Trump, Biden, or Stalin. We pray for peace for the sake of peace and to prevent anti-Semitism, not because we believe in the person who happens to sit in the Oval Office or throne in the country we live in…

      • Raymond says:

        I simply cannot overlook the fact that Sleepy Joe Biden has been illegitimately placed in the White House, plus he does not have a good track record regarding Israel. Just ask Menachem Begin.

      • DK says:

        The fact that he may be in power because of a stolen election does not change the fact that he is now the leader of the United States. Besides that, Biden does have a good track record (it’s Obama that has a bad record and Biden may [Ch”V] continue his destructive policies). Also Menachem Begin cannot be asked because he is no longer with us.
        You don’t have to overlook the facts. But you also must not overlook the new reality. Because if reality is ignored it leads us in terrible directions.

    • DF says:

      Have to agree with Raymond. One has to be very foolish to think, or pretend to think, that the ability to “vote from home” (!) had nothing to do with the election. Please. And one has to be beyond foolish to think a clearly senile man won, with more than ten million – ten million!!! – votes than anyone in history. I never heard any issues with the prayer when Obama won, despite his leftist views, bc he clearly won. But Biden? He’s not the real president.

      Anyway, its a moot point, as the relatively few orthodox shuls that actually say the prayer are mainly older and on the fringe left sides of modern orthodoxy, so either their membership is pleased with the aftermath or at least not troubled by it. The majority of orthodoxy – and far and away the fastest growing segments of it – don’t even say the prayer to begin with. Given what we just witnessed (and the point Reb Yid makes about the language of the prayer), that seems to be the right approach.

  9. Micah Segelman says:

    I agree with this article. But I believe there was also an eivah concern – and I would argue it was more substantial than the one described here – with the adulation bestowed upon Former President Trump by many in our community. That many frum Jews were partisan loyalists of someone who was unfit to be President and refused to appropriately distance themself when Trump time and again confirmed his unfitness – I’m quite concerned about the impact of this. A lot of frum Jews were on the wrong side of history. I would appreciate if the author of this article had spent more effort these past years addressing this issue.

    • Bob Miller says:

      So why do you champion a person and party who are less fit?

    • Raymond says:

      The Left finds excuses for any pro-Israel Republican candidate to somehow be unfit for office. Let us not forget how they also trashed George W Bush, Ronald Reagan, Richard Nixon and even Abraham Lincoln. The fact is that President Trump defied all expectations (including admittedly my own) by accomplishing more that was positive for this country than just about any President in relatively recent American history, managing to do it while facing unceasing hostility from his opposition, and all in just four short years. In fact, that partly explains why the Left has made such an obsessive, concerted effort to destroy him, because he represents such a threat to their unbridled thirst for absolute power. Besides, given the fact that President Donald J Trump is the best friend that we Jews ever had in the White House, it stands to reason that any Jew proud of his or her Jewish heritage, would strongly support him.

  10. DF says:

    Have to agree with Raymond. One has to be very foolish to think, or pretend to think, that the ability to “vote from home” (!) had nothing to do with the election. Please. And one has to be beyond foolish to think a clearly senile man won, with more than ten million – ten million!!! – votes than anyone in history. I never heard any issues with the prayer when Obama won, despite his leftist views, bc he clearly won. But Biden? He’s not the real president.

    Anyway, its a moot point, as the relatively few orthodox shuls that actually say the prayer are mainly older and on the fringe left sides of modern orthodoxy, so either their membership is pleased with the aftermath or at least not troubled by it. The majority of orthodoxy – and far and away the fastest growing segments of it – don’t even say the prayer to begin with. Given what we just witnessed (and the point Reb Yid makes about the language of the prayer), that seems to be the right approach.

  11. lacosta says:

    the only reason to pray for Alzheimer Joe ,shlita , is because gd forbid the opportunist arch-leftist vice president takes over , and will show us what a true leftist, with her AOC acolytes , can do….. r”l

    • Raymond says:

      I think I would rather have Kamala Harris in the White House than Sleepy Joe. That way, nobody could claim that the person in the White House defeated Donald Trump, plus everybody knows what a radical she is while most people still harbor the illusion that Sleepy Joe is some kind of moderate. Thus Kamala Harris would not be able to get away with a radical agenda nearly as much as Sleepy Joe can.

      • Bob Miller says:

        Oh, really? The Left is now in its subtlety-free, “in your face” mode. Having “won,” they seek to rub our noses in it. All government plotters against Trump have been let off easy or promoted, with the usual bipartisan help. Biden’s only purpose for the Left was to get elected, as the only available vehicle to get unlikeable Harris into position. The best and possibly only way for us as Orthodox Jews to save America is to become worthy enough to bring the Geulah Sheleimah.

  12. mb says:

    Synagogues in Germany prayed for the welfare of the State and government during the Nazi period.

  13. Mr. Jay says:

    Rabbi Chanina, the assistant High Priest, says: “Pray for the welfare of the government. For without fear of it, people would swallow each other alive.” — Pirkei Avot 3:2
    We’re not praying for any political leader’s personal welfare. We’re praying for peace and stability. And remember: Jewish prayer is stronger than any politician, legitimate or not.

  14. Bob Miller says:

    This US siddur (1912) has a longer prayer in Hebrew and English, and calls out William Howard Taft and his VP by name:
    https://archive.org/details/Sidur-Tifereth-Jehudah_A-Hyman-Charlap_1912_copy1
    Later printings didn’t use names.

    This UK siddur (1962) has the standard prayer in Hebrew and English, naming Queen Elizabeth and the Royal Family:
    https://opensiddur.org/compilations/liturgical/siddurim/kol-bo/the-authorised-daily-prayer-book-of-the-united-hebrew-congregations-of-the-british-commonwealth-of-nations-2nd-revised-edition-1962/

    • Reb Yid says:

      Only the beginning 10 words or so of the UK Siddur are the “standard” HaNoten Teshua.

      The remainder is completely different.

      The US siddur is completely different.

      This prayer is actually a fascinating look at the social history of modern Jews, as it has continually gone through changes. Not surprisingly many of these changes were as a result of developments in the larger world at the time–either Jewish or in the country where the siddur was published. I would there expect to see other versions of this prayer over the next decade when reflecting on the tumultuous times our country has seen of late.

      In that respect, Rabbi Yanklowitz’s prayer is simply the latest version to be created in a very long evolving history. It most certainly will not be the last.

  15. Rivka Leah says:

    I’m suprised – from the tenor of these arguments, i would think many of you would be davening hard for the wellbeing of Biden, for his incapacitation or demise would put Harris in the driver’s seat. But honestly, to the extent that one is a Maamin in “Lev malachim b’yad H'”, one should direct more of their energies Above.

    • Raymond says:

      I realize on some level that G-d, in working behind the scenes, has arranged Donald J Trump to lose to Sleepy Joe. What I cannot figure out is why. We Jews cannot possibly have a better friend in the White House than Donald Trump has been, and now I recently read that no less an authority than Caroline Glick considers the current Biden Administration to be the most antisemitic Administration in all of American history. And so again, I ask the question, why did G-d make this happen? I refuse to believe that we Jews are so morally defective that we somehow deserve this. About the only answer I can come up with is that none of us have all of the pieces to the puzzle yet, but that perhaps the time will come when people will look back on our times and realize that somehow it is all for the best. Honestly, I just don’t see it, though. To me, it is an unmitigated disaster. This is even worse than when the 2008 Presidential elections were decided.

      • DK says:

        If Biden is anti-Israel or not is up for debate. But calling him “Sleepy Joe” definitely makes things worse… please respect him as the head of the most powerful nation in the world and don’t increase their hatred towards us…

    • David Z says:

      Which would have been the one good reason not to pray for Trump, given that it would have put pence in power (I can only hope he would have been as friendly toward the Jews though). That is a difference form the past when power transitions may not have been as smooth…

      • Raymond says:

        Perhaps I am misunderstanding what has been said here, because it seems to be objecting to the possibility of Mike Pence becoming our President. If so, I would find that absolutely incomprehensible, since Mike Pence is as good of a friend to Israel as Donald Trump is. Time and time again, those on the Left side of the political spectrum display a remarkable hostility to any Republican who is strongly pro-Israel. That has to be more than a coincidence.

  16. David Z says:

    Can we actually disagree with Yanklowitz’s version? It’s just that I would think it fits Biden more (his “support” for white supremacists being limited to stupid policies that will strengthen them by discriminating against and antagonizing European Americans). What was offensive was assuming that Trump needed it more than others rather than less and the white supremacy thing which was just stupid given his Jewish daughter and grandkids and general friendship to the Jews and Israel. And African Americans. And Latino Americans. Among others.

  17. lacosta says:

    oh really? i thought you weren’t anti-zionist. we could look from her administration at angles like– a Tlaib like anti-apartheid relationship with the zionist entity; a Berkeley like approach to brit mila; a PETA like approach to shechita ; a Rainbow coalition type of approach to rabbis /congregations / schools /yeshivot that do not have a full-on LGQTB agenda endorsed…. i could go on . not all of those issues merit protection in the courts , especially after a repeal of RFRA-type laws….

  18. mavin says:

    Just got to reading this post. But, what else would one expect from the likes of this Yanklowitz. He’s about everything that’s against Torah and, of course, this present leader is more to his liking. He’s a joke and his sermonizing has no value anyway!

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