Moshe-Mordechai van Zuiden
Psychology, Medicine, Science, Politics, Oppression, Integrity, Philosophy, Jews -- For those who like their news and truths frank and sharp

The importance of Avinu Malkeinu

Avinu Malkeinu, our Father, our King, we say repeatedly in the Prayers of Rosh haShannah, Jewish New Year. Why not just Avinu? Why not just Malkeinu?

We may have seen people who really seem to fear Heaven. They constantly and feverishly beg for Divine mercy, away from absolute sternness, and for receiving goodness and reward.

However, in the extreme, they do not have a pleasant life and are not pleasant people to interact with. Everything revolves around deserving and not deserving, and a stream of judgments never leaves their mouth and brain alone. They are still chewing the forbidden fruit from the Tree of Good and Evil – Genesis 2:18, 3:5).

But a Jewish life should be pleasant (Proverbs 3:17) and we should greet everyone with a smile. So something is off when we live in constant fear. Fear of Heaven should be like a safety belt: for when we go off the rails, that we don’t fly out towards our death. But safety belts should not hinder breathing. Life is meant to be a gift, not a visitation, scourge.

In Islam, a most popular prayer is G-d is Great. Such an imbalance has left a trail of blood the world over, all throughout history. If one is too stern, tremendous aggression will burst forth one day.

In contrast, we may have met people who really understand that G-d is good and loving. They bask in His light all day long, which makes them less alone and life more pleasant.

However, in the extreme, their lives are idle, they do not strive to become better people, and they have become or stayed too ignorant or unaware of worthy limits and goals.

But we should challenge ourselves, use our Free Will and improve ourselves all the time. Stagnation means decline. G-d’s whole intention with creating the Universe was to be generous, but that should not lead us to merely live a life of receiving and hedonism, without any attempt to be a partner with G-d in elevating ourselves and mending the world. That would be such a waste.

In Christianity, a most popular prayer is the Our Father. Such an imbalance has left a trail of blood the world over, all throughout history. If one is too sweet, tremendous aggression will burst forth one day.

So we need both. To see G-d as loving and to see Him as stern – at the same time. To live well, to feel good most of the time, we need to see His goodness, generosity and omniscient understanding. To live well, to have a responsible and meaningful life in which we set limits and challenge ourselves, we need to recognize Him as an absolute omnipotent Monarch.

On Rosh haShanah we make clear again that He’s our King. But we do not forget He’s our Father too.

Shanah tovah (assessable as good) umtuka (and experienced as sweet) for everyone!

About the Author
MM is a prolific and creative writer and thinker, an almost daily blog contributor to the Times of Israel, and previously, for decades, he was known to the Jerusalem Post readers as a frequent letter writer. He often makes his readers laugh, mad, or assume he's nuts—close to perfect blogging. He's proud that his analytical short comments are removed both from left-wing and right-wing news sites. None of his content is (partly) generated by AI. * As a frontier thinker, he sees things many don't yet. He's half a prophet. Half. Let's not exaggerate. He doesn't believe that people observe and think in a vacuum. He, therefore, wanted a broad bio that readers interested can track a bit about what (lack of) backgrounds, experiences, and education contribute to his visions. * If you don't know the Dutch, get an American peek behind the scenes here: * To find less-recent posts on subject XXX among his 2000 archived ones, go to the right-top corner of a Times of Israel page, click on the search icon and search "zuiden, XXX". One can find a second, wilder blog, to which one may subscribe, here: * Like most of his readers, he believes in being friendly, respectful, and loyal. Yet, if you think those are his absolute top priorities, you might end up disappointed. His first loyalty is to the truth. He will try to stay within the limits of democratic and Jewish law, but he won't lie to support opinions or people who don't deserve that. He admits that he sometimes exaggerates to make a point, which could have him come across as nasty, while in actuality, he's quite a lovely person to interact with. He holds - how Dutch - that a strong opinion doesn't imply intolerance of other views. * Sometimes he's misunderstood because his wide and diverse field of vision seldomly fits any specialist's box. But that's exactly what some love about him. He has written a lot about Psychology (including Sexuality and Abuse), Medicine (including physical immortality), Science (including basic statistics), Politics (Israel, the US, and the Netherlands, Activism), Oppression and Liberation (intersectionally, for young people, the elderly, non-Whites, women, workers, Jews, LGBTQIA+, foreigners and anyone else who's dehumanized or exploited), Integrity, Philosophy, Jews (Judaism, Zionism, Holocaust, and Jewish Liberation), the Climate Crisis, Ecology and Veganism, Affairs from the news, or the Torah Portion of the Week, or new insights that suddenly befell him. * His most influential teachers (chronologically) are his parents, Nico (natan) van Zuiden and Betty (beisye) Nieweg, Wim Kan, Mozart, Harvey Jackins, Marshal Rosenberg, Reb Shlomo Carlebach, and, lehavdil bein chayim lechayim, Rabbi Dr. Natan Lopes Cardozo, Rav Zev Leff, and Rav Meir Lubin. * One of his rabbis calls him Mr. Innovation [Ish haChidushim]. Yet, his originalities seem to root deeply in traditional Judaism, though they may grow in unexpected directions. In fact, he claims he's modernizing nothing. Rather, mainly basing himself on the basic Hebrew Torah text, he tries to rediscover classical Jewish thought almost lost in thousands of years of stifling Gentile domination and Jewish assimilation. (He pleads for a close reading of the Torah instead of going by rough assumptions of what it would probably mean and before fleeing to Commentaries.) This, in all aspects of life, but prominently in the areas of Free Will, Activism, Homosexuality for men, and Redemption. * He hopes that his words will inspire and inform, and disturb the comfortable and comfort the disturbed. He aims to bring a fresh perspective rather than harp on the obvious and familiar. He loves to write encyclopedic overviews. He doesn't expect his readers to agree. Rather, original minds should be disputed. In short, his main political positions are among others: anti-Trumpism, anti-elitism, anti-bigotry and supremacy, for Zionism, Intersectionality, and non-violence, anti those who abuse democratic liberties, anti the fake ME peace process, for original-Orthodoxy, pro-Science, pro-Free Will, anti-blaming-the-victim, and for down-to-earth, classical optimism, and happiness. * He is a fetal survivor of the pharmaceutical industry (, born in 1953 to parents who were Dutch-Jewish Holocaust survivors who met in the largest concentration camp in the Netherlands, Westerbork. He grew up a humble listener. It took him decades to become a speaker too. Bullies and con artists almost instantaneously envy and hate him. * He holds a BA in medicine (University of Amsterdam) – is half a doctor. He practices Re-evaluation Co-counseling since 1977, is not an official teacher anymore, and became a friendly, empowering therapist. He became a social activist, became religious, made Aliyah, and raised three wonderful kids non-violently. For a couple of years, he was active in hasbara to the Dutch-speaking public. He wrote an unpublished tome about Jewish Free Will. He's being a strict vegan since 2008. He's an Orthodox Jew but not a rabbi. He lives with his library in Jerusalem. Feel free to contact him. * His writing has been made possible by a (second-generation) Holocaust survivors' allowance from the Netherlands. It has been his dream since he was 38 to try to make a difference by teaching through writing. He had three times 9-out-of-10 for Dutch at his high school finals but is spending his days communicating in English and Hebrew - how ironic. G-d must have a fine sense of humor. In case you wonder - yes, he is a bit dyslectic. If you're a native English speaker and wonder why you should read from people whose English is only their second language, consider the advantage of having an original peek outside of your cultural bubble. * To send any personal reaction to him, scroll to the top of the blog post and click Contact Me. * His newest books you may find here:
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