Why Bow before God?

Bowing plays a regular part in Jewish prayer, and, for many Jews, the High Holy Day services involve complete prostration. While the Hebrew Bible frequently mentions genuflection before God, the action is quite foreign to modern Western society; the philosopher Immanuel Kant even described it as “contrary to human dignity.” But to Avital Levi, bowing has profound ethical and religious significance:

Bowing elevates us by shaping us into servants of God. . . . God is a king whose aim is to rule with justice and charity, and the rule of any king is only made possible by the king’s servants, who assist him. Like a human king, God, [in the Hebrew Bible, does not] carry out his plans alone. . . . God oversees the actions of others, but He needs human beings who will take charge, command, lead, and act as an example so that His charity and justice will prevail.

This is why we find that the individuals who are called servants of God in the Hebrew Bible are those who use their position, power, and influence to carry out God’s goals. For example, God chooses His servant Abraham to found the Israelite people because he knows Abraham will teach his children God’s way of doing charity and justice (Genesis 18:19).

Thus the biblical commandment to serve God is not a commandment to be a slave. Rather, it is a commandment to use one’s power and influence to serve God by keeping his laws and carrying out his will.

When we bow down, we hide our eyes that help us see danger and understand our surroundings. This helps us focus on and be aware of the limits of our power and understanding, as well as our need for leadership and assistance. We place ourselves in a position that lowers us before someone else, and makes us vulnerable to them, by exposing our backs and limiting use of our arms and legs. We thereby acknowledge that someone else is more powerful, allowing Him to take charge and direct us.

Read more at Center for Hebraic Thought

More about: Hebrew Bible, Judaism, Prayer

What Is the Biden Administration Thinking?

In the aftermath of the rescue of four Israeli hostages on Friday, John Podhoretz observes some “clarifying moments.” The third strikes me as the most important:

Clarifying Moment #3 came with the news that the Biden administration is still calling for negotiations leading to a ceasefire after, by my count, the seventh rejection of the same by Hamas since Bibi Netanyahu’s secret offer a couple of weeks ago. Secretary of State Blinken, a man who cannot say no, including when someone suggests it would be smart for him to play high-school guitar while Ukraine burns, will be back in the region for the eighth time to urge Hamas to accept the deal. Why is this clarifying? Because it now suggests, here and for all time, that the Biden team is stupid.

Supposedly the carrot the [White House] is dangling in the region is a tripartite security deal with Saudi Arabia and Israel. Which would, of course, be a good thing. But like the stupid people they are now proving to be, they seem not to understand the very thing that led the Saudis to view Israel as a potential ally more than a decade ago: the idea that Israel means business and does what it must to survive and built itself a tech sector the Saudis want to learn from. Allowing Hamas to survive, which is implicitly part of the big American deal, will not lead to normalization. The Saudis do not want an Iranian vassal state in Palestine. Their entire foreign-policy purpose is to counter Iran. I know that. You know that. Everybody in the world knows that. Even Tony Blinken’s guitar is gently weeping at his dangling a carrot to Israel and Saudi Arabia that neither wants, needs, nor will accept.

Read more at Commentary

More about: Antony Blinken, Gaza War 2023, Joseph Biden, Saudi Arabia, U.S.-Israel relationship