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

Oct. 26 2015

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.

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


A Lesson from Moshe Dayan for Israel’s Syria Policy

Dec. 11 2019

In the 1950s, Jerusalem tasked Moshe Dayan with combating the Palestinian guerrillas—known as fedayeen—who infiltrated Israel’s borders from Sinai, Gaza, and Jordan to attack soldiers or civilians and destroy crops. When simple retaliation, although tactically effective, proved insufficient to deter further attacks, Dayan developed a more sophisticated long-term strategy of using attrition to Israel’s advantage. Gershon Hacohen argues that the Jewish state can learn much from Dayan’s approach in combating the Iranian presence in Syria—especially since the IDF cannot simply launch an all-out offensive to clear Syria of Iranian forces:

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More about: Iran, Israeli Security, Moshe Dayan, Palestinian terror, Syria