Don’t Just Stand There…DO Something!

When will I EVER learn!? I am told by so many that it is not worth wasting my breath (or in the case of writing, it is not worth all the typing), but I can’t resist any longer.

Israel is protected by the best army in the world. The pride that the average Israeli has in the army is second to none in the world. Yes, there are many things that could be improved, but what “institution” doesn’t have flaws that need correction? Our army is an amalgam of so many varied types of people with so many varied backgrounds. While there are those who serve begrudgingly, there are countless soldiers who serve with tremendous pride. The overall goal of the army is to keep the citizens and visitors in Israel safe from all enemies, no matter what form they may take.

In synagogues across Israel and outside of Israel, a special prayer is recited for the safety of the soldiers of the IDF. This prayer beseeches G-d to watch over our soldiers whether they be on land, sea or in the air. It asks for our enemies to fall and  for us to be crowned with the crown of salvation. It also reaffirms that it is HASHEM Who is the One actually fighting the battles against our enemies.

In the synagogue, when this prayer is recited, it is traditional to stand, out of respect.

And yet, there are many synagogues who do not recite this prayer–actually, it is not that they “don’t recite it,” rather that they refuse to recite it. And in some places when it is recited, some of those present choose to sit instead of stand. The obvious question is: WHY? Why do some “refuse” to say this prayer and others refuse to stand when it is said.

Based on a very NON-scientific poll I have taken over time, the overwhelming reason given is: the army has non-Jews in it.

Wow, now there is a compelling reason (he says as sarcastically as possible). So, let’s get this straight. There are soldiers who place their lives on the line so you can live safely and PERHAPS some of them are not Jewish–but you will not respect them nor the rest of the army when asking G-d to protect them and watch over them?

Following your logic…if you happen to be in an accident (G-d forbid!) and the first-responder was not Jewish, would you not let that person work on you?

Perhaps you are unaware of the directive in Pirke Avot: רבי חנינא סגן הכהנים אומר: הווי מתפלל לשלומה של מלכות   (Rabbi Chanina S’gan HaKohanim said that one should pray for the welfare of the government.) Considering he lived at the time of the destruction of the Second Bet HaMikdash, he certainly was not referring to a Jewish government. And when it comes to an army made up of Jews, in their own land that some of those defending the land are not Jewish–you choose to show your contempt and lack of Hakarat HaTov by refusing to recite or to stand for the prayer for the soldiers?

Your priorities and your sensibilities are out of whack. EVEN if for some reason you do not feel any sense of connection to the government of the State of Israel, how can you SIT by (literally), as others pray for the welfare of those protecting you?

The literal translation of Hakarat HaTov is not “gratitude.” Rather, it means RECOGNIZING goodness. It is time you recognize the goodness that is the IDF and ALL of its soldiers who protect you and defend you. Indeed Hashem is at the helm protecting us–and it is to HIM we direct our tefillot to secure our soldiers…perhaps a little soul-searching will help you come to your senses and realize that the time has come: Stand up for what is right…pray for those soldiers and rise to the occasion!

About the Author
After living in Chicago for 50 years, the last 10 of which Zev Shandalov served as a shul Rav and teacher in local Orthodox schools, his family made Aliya to Maale Adumim in July 2009. Shandalov currently works as a teacher, mostly interacting with individual students.