02 February 2010


The twelfth of 19 brief meditations on the 19 blessings of the Amidah.


Let there be no hope for slanderers, and let all wickedness perish in an instant. May all your enemies quickly be cut down, and may you soon in our day uproot, crush, cast down and humble the dominion of arrogance. Blessed are you, Eternal, who smashes enemies and humbles the arrogant.

When hatred rears its hatred, it stirs dangerous passions in the object and the objectifier. Its great danger is that once unleashed, there is the risk of an endless cycle of hatred. This prayer allows us to acknowledge the anger we feel when hatred arises, it gives life to the feeling--not through physical manifestation but through words of prayer, like rocks cast into the ocean, asking God to absorb the desire for own efforts to eradicate evil by transferring that impulse onto the Source of Life.

On one hand, the language of this prayer is alarming--how could it possibly be a prayer? How could we call upon God to express such anger?

On the other hand, why not? Better God than us, no? Especially given what often happens when humans unleash anger. Our goal is to express but not cut down, or crush, or cast down. That as this prayer aspires is for God. When religious fanatics act in hatred, seemingly on behalf of God, they do so mistakenly. This blessing doesn't sanction human acts of revenge. To the contrary--it reminds us that "revenge is the Lord's" not ours.

Yesterday afternoon, I stood in our Chapel at CBE along with City Councilman Brad Lander, City Councilman Steve Levin, Boro President Marty Markowitz, Congresswoman Yvette Clarke, and several religious leaders including Rev Daniel Meeter, Rabbi Ellen Lippman, Rabbi Bob Kaplan, Rabbi Carie Carter and Mo Ravzi, a Muslim leader in the city as well as activist educator Debbie Almontasser. We were joined by representatives of the Mayor's office and the NYPD.
We stood together to denounce the recent finding throughout Brooklyn of small sheets of paper saying, "KILL JEWS."

We were unified in our friendship and united in our stand against hate
. But no words of hate were spoken. Only words of encouragement, promise, and hope that our work together as leaders will prevail over the work of a few to sow dissent, bigotry, trouble and even violence.

It's a challenging stance but one which must be modeled. And of interest, is that from a psychological perspective, we are invited to unleash or off-load the anger toward God while we ourselves re-commit to living lives of peace.

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