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    Warlike prayer – Ask the Rabbi

    Q. When the Ark is opened, why do we sing a passage that sounds so warlike – “Rise up, O Lord, and let Your enemies be scattered, and let those who hate You flee before You”?

    A. This is a verse from Num. 10:35. The context is, “When the Ark moved forward (in the wilderness), Moses said, “Rise up, O Lord, etc.”

    The implication is that when the Ark moves forward and the Torah leads the people of Israel, there is no reason to fear the threats of any enemy.

    What is it that Israel’s enemies sought to attack? Not simply the people of Israel but what they stood for, their faith, their principles, their teachings, their way of life.

    An attack on our beliefs and tenets was an attack on the Torah, and an attack on the Torah was an attack on God. When we suffered injury at the hands of enemies it was as if the Torah and God Himself felt the pain.

    But for so long as Jews believed in themselves, in their principles and their God, nothing could prevent their surviving.

    Nations kept coming and going, trying to eradicate us and what we stood for; but as PM Raskin says of Israel in one of his poems, “Thou an eternal witness remainest, watching their burial, watching their birth”.

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