Jewish Journal


February 16, 2011

Are you witholding prayer for Egypt out of anger?


Rav Asher, my friend and my colleague:
If I had only seen your words, and did not know your golden heart, I would think that you were a mean-spirited person, God forbid. You are clearly angry at President Obama, and it feels like you have decided to take out your anger with him, on people who are not in any responsible for President Obama’s actions.

When Moshe first came before Pharaoh and angered him by declaring that even Pharaoh needed to heed the word of God, Pharaoh became furious with Moshe. And he proceeded to take out his anger against Moshe, by depriving the Hebrew slaves of straw. We recognize this absence of moral reasoning on Pharaoh’s part to be the flaw that ultimately renders him an irredeemable, hopeless figure.

We both know that the masses who rose in Egypt have been legitimately suffering for generations. We both know that that risked great danger to liberate themselves from a tyrant. And I would hope that we can not only admire their courage and appreciate their struggle, but that we can also to find it somewhere in our hearts to pray that they indeed achieve a life that is better, and a life that will not bring our two peoples into conflict.

I understand. You are angry with the President.  But it is precisely when our anger toward one party begins to blind us toward the humanity of another, that we have to re-check our moral compass. And it is precisely at this kind of moment that we are most in need of prayer, if for no one else’s sake then for our own.

Your chaver,

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