I have a hard time praying for something I don’t want. I have an even harder time praying for something I think is objectively a bad thing. I think that to ask God to protect and watch over something I don’t want and that I think is bad, makes a mockery of what prayer is.
In my shul they say the prayer for the welfare of the State of Israel and its leaders and advisers. I know that to try to change that minhag and convert everyone in the shul to libertarianism is futile, so I just ignore it. My personal policy is that I don’t stand during the prayer, but I do stand during the prayer for Tzahal. I will pray for the safety of the slaves, but never the masters.
There’s very little that I dislike about the prayer for the Welfare of the State of Israel, except for the first line. If ברך את מדינת ישראל were replaced with ברך את עם ישראל היושב בציון then I would gladly stand for the whole thing and even say it. But I know that the intent of the prayer is for the government, that group of people that takes money and labor by force, just like any other form of slavery. That is something I cannot and will not pray for, especially given the Torah reading, smack in the middle of the exodus from Egypt.
The fact that most people in my shul also hate the government of Israel and its prime minister, more or less, makes the prayer for the state and the prime minister’s welfare even more dissonant. Not that I don’t understand it. I do. The State is “holy” to them, so no matter how much evil it does, how many people it kills, how many homes it tears down, and how many people it expels and how much money it steals, it’s still “holy” so you pray for it. And its leader, even though you’re sick of him.
Well, last week I was called to daven from the amud, (lead the prayers), I did not volunteer but was asked, and I was supposed to say the prayer for the welfare of the State of Israel. I refused, and said to the gabbai that if he wanted it said, someone else would have to do it. So someone else came up and said it, and I stood on the side. I wasn’t going to outright skip it and go on because I knew that would cause a riot or something close to it.
This has happened before, but in a smaller minyan. This time it was in the main minyan.
One week passed, and yesterday after shul, I stopped at a kiddush with my two daughters at someone’s house who was celebrating the birth of a grandchild. On my way out, someone stops me and asks “Why didn’t you say the תפילה לשלום המדינה last week?”
“Because I don’t believe in the מדינה,” I answered.
“You are a disgrace, a disgrace to the shul,” he says.
“I didn’t ask to daven,” I say, “I was asked to.”
“Well I’m going to do everything I can so that you can never daven from the amud again, you’re an embarrassment,” he says.
“So do it,” I say, and I leave with my 4 and 2 year old.
It is especially…I won’t say “strange” because I understand the State Worship Avoda Zara thing…but I will say ironic, that it was davka this person to call me a disgrace for not saying the prayer for a gang of thieves writ large, because I remember this person. On the night that Ariel Sharon finally died, I was walking past this same person. I don’t recall exactly if he said it or someone else said it first, but somebody said “Sharon died!”
And he said, this same person that thinks I’m a disgrace for not saying the stupid prayer for the State and Prime Minister, and I quote exactly, “Good fucking riddance! It’s about fucking time!”
And I said to him, “Well I wouldn’t go that far.”
I, the anarcho-capitalist, who hates government and everything it stands for, wouldn’t go that far. I don’t celebrate death. But he, the guy who thinks I’m a disgrace for not praying for the State, says good fucking riddance to one of its leaders.
It’s interesting. I was at a meeting of Shomron activists last night with Feiglin, and he spoke about people calling him the “Israeli libertarian.” He said, not so surprisingly but it still hurt a bit, “But I’m not at all coming from that direction. I believe the State is holy, but it’s not holy above everything, and I know it’s very dangerous. The first commandment is ‘I am God,’ not ‘I am the State.'”
He also described how hard it was, even for him, to vote against the budget to prevent the release of terrorists. It’s like voting to tear down the government, he explained, and only he was able to do it, with difficulty, not even Orit Struck of Bayit Yehudi was able to. Because voting against the budget as part of the ruling coalition is voting against the State. Voting to tear it down. Even for Feiglin, who believes in the legitimacy, even the holiness, of the State, that’s hard to do.
But he was able to do it because despite believing the State is “holy”, he understands that it is not holy in and of itself. It is only holy as a tool, if it does the right thing. Nevermind the fact that it can never do the right thing, in his mind it theoretically can. So OK, it’s theoretically conceivable even if practically impossible. Even so, he can still vote against the State because it is not inherently holy for him.
For Orit Struck though, who is the perfect example of the State’s beaten wife who keeps returning to her abusive husband, the State is holy in and of itself. No matter what it does, she is incapable of voting against it. She is a survivor of the Yamit expulsion and lives in Hevron, the most hard core of hard core settlements.
I clearly remember hearing her speak that night that Jewish sovereignty on Har Habayit was being discussed in the Knesset for the first time in history. I was in the audience, and she comes up to speak. I don’t remember exactly what she said, but I remember the introduction. She said something like this, “Every day I get up and I’m in awe of this State, its institutions, its symbols, the Knesset. I love it so much and it thrills me that I’m a part of it and that God gave us this gift…” etc. Sycophantic praise of the Ruling Class from A to Z. State worship. As a thing in itself. She then went on to blather about how much it hurts her that the Holy State she loves so much is preventing Jews from praying on Har Habayit. Like the perfectly obedient beaten wife.
Again, not that I don’t understand that. You go through 2000 years of exile being enslaved to goyim who systematically kill you and it can be a thrill to finally at least be only systematically enslaved, expelled, and robbed by your own people who at least won’t try to systematically kill you. So I get it. But it doesn’t make it any less State Idol Worship.
That’s why Orit Struck could not, I mean could not, vote against that budget, even if it meant saving lives and stopping a terrorist release. Because to her, the State is holy in and of itself. She loves it like a god. She worships it. It is her intermediary to God. Nothing less than that.
It’s the same with this guy who thinks I’m a disgrace. As much as he hates what the State does, and can wish “good fucking riddance” to Ariel Sharon, the State of Israel is a demigod to him. I can break Shabbos, stop keeping kosher, steal lie cheat and spread gossip and I wouldn’t be a disgrace to the shul as long as I say the prayer. But if I dare not pray for the State in public, I have disgraced God himself, ah…then I am a disgrace, because I have voted against the budget. I am an insult to the Father and His Son, The State of Israel.
The Jewish People do not need a State. The State is not holy. It is nothing more than a gang of thieves that conspire to rob you and hire intellectuals to convince you that your slavery is necessary. To see why no State is needed, read my Zero State Solution.