Open O’ers and the Siddur

By Rabbi Yair Hoffman for the Five Towns Jewish Times “Open O’ers? What is that?” We will get that, but first a piece about the Tefilah of HaNosain Teshu’ah, then a bit of news. The prayer for the secular government has its origins in Sefer Yirmiyahu (29:7) “Seek the welfare of the city.. and pray to Hashem on its behalf..” It also appears in Pirkei Avos (3:2), where Rabbi Chananya S’gan HaCohanim says, “Pray for the welfare of the government.” However, the prayer of HaNosain Teshu’ah first appears in the form that we know – in the Pinkas Ha’Ir of the Worms dating back to 1096 CE. In the photograph above, we find the Tefilah in a siddur from England. What if, for the sake of argument, the government under discussion is “evil” so to speak? Is the prayer recited then too? Let’s realize that Rabbi Chananya was referring to Roman times where the local populations were exploited and murdered in order to achieve goals and aims of the Roman Empire. Now the news: Arutz Sheva recently ran an article that highlighted how Rabbi Shmuly Yanklowitz, dean of the Valley Beth Midrash in Phoenix, Arizona, has rewritten the traditional prayer for the government – “so as to avoid actually blessing the 45th president. It has also been reported that he declared a fast day for Friday on the occasion of the next president’s inauguration. Forget about the halacha that we don’t do fast days on Erev Shabbos, but let’s get back to his new version of “HaNosain Teshuah.” “Because of my commitment to the integrity of prayer, starting this week, I can no longer recite or say amen to the Shabbat prayer for the success of the U.S. President,” Yanklowitz wrote. The prayer itself reads in part: “Guide the incoming leader of this country away from his basest instincts, thwart his plans to target certain groups and strengthen white supremacy; for You know, G-d, that all were created in Your image.” It continues, “We pray that the decrees from the Executive office do not harm the innocent. We pray that any policies that are meant to harm the vulnerable in prioritization of the powerful and privileged will be quashed. Should there be plans that will merely benefit the most privileged Americans, but not all of humankind and the planet we call home, may they fail. May our nation not consort or conspire with totalitarian despots but reaffirm our commitment to freedom and democracy. Grant us the strength to demonstrate spiritual resistance, to imbue our sinews with the highest integrity. Give us the wisdom and courage to do what’s right to protect the most powerless and defenseless in society.” Now the explanation for Open O’ers. It is suggested that for the sake of not misleading others, Orthodox publications and news sites should not be calling Rabbi Shmuly Yanklowitz “Open Orthodox” because by no means is he Orthodox. This just serves to confuse the non-Jewish media into thinking that he does represent Orthodox Judaism is some sense. He does not. We should be calling them Open O’ers instead. His writings, from a theological sense, reflect a perspective that is so beyond the pale that it does not fit into Orthodox Judaism in any sense. Rabbi Shmuly Yanklowitz’s writings on Mashiach being a … Continue reading Open O’ers and the Siddur