The “Aleinu” Prayer: A Vision for the Jewish People, or for All Humanity?

The prayer Aleinu, originally written as part of the High Holy Day liturgy, later became a mainstay of the daily service. The first half emphasizes the uniqueness of the Jewish people’s connection to God and the falsehood of other religions. The second half, however, depicts an eschatological future in which the whole world unites to worship God. Reuven Kimelman explores the tensions between the prayer’s particularism and its universalism:

Unlike most Jewish visions of the future, Aleinu is not restorative, looking to revive an ideal past; rather, it is utopian, looking to establish an ideal future. Although every knee bends to God, this is not under the threat of Jewish swords. In other words, Aleinu does not envision the Judaization of the world. Instead, it seeks the monotheization and ethicization (“to turn to You all the wicked of the earth”) of all humanity. It looks forward to the acceptance of God’s sovereignty by all humanity, which is synonymous—in Aleinu’s thinking—with the uprooting of evil.

Read more at theTorah.com

More about: Eschatology, Jewish liturgy, Judaism, Messianism, Religion & Holidays, Universalism

As Hamas’s Power Collapses, Old Feuds Are Resurfacing

In May, Mahmoud Nashabat, a high-ranking military figure in the Fatah party (which controls the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority), was gunned down in central Gaza. Nashabat was an officer in the Gaza wing of the Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade, a terrorist outfit that served as Fatah’s vanguard during the second intifada, and now sometimes collaborates with Hamas. But his killers were Hamas members, and he was one of at least 35 Palestinians murdered in Gaza in the past two months as various terrorist and criminal groups go about settling old scores, some of which date back to the 1980s. Einav Halabi writes:

Security sources familiar with the situation told the London-based newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat that Gaza is now also beleaguered by the resurgence of old conflicts. “Many people have been killed in incidents related to the first intifada in 1987, while others have died in family disputes,” they said.

The “first-intifada portfolio” in Gaza is considered complex and convoluted, as it is filled with hatred among residents who accuse others of killing relatives for various reasons, including collaboration with Israel. . . . According to reports from Gaza, there are vigorous efforts on the ground to contain these developments, but the chances of success remain unclear. Hamas, for its part, is trying to project governance and control, recently releasing several videos showcasing how its operatives brutally beat residents accused of looting.

These incidents, gruesome as they are, suggest that Hamas’s control over the territory is slipping, and it no longer holds a monopoly on violence or commands the fear necessary to keep the population in line. The murders and beatings also dimension the grim reality that would ensue if the war ends precipitously: a re-empowered Hamas setting about getting vengeance on its enemies and reimposing its reign of terror.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Fatah, Gaza War 2023, Hamas