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.