Home Subscribe Services Support Us
  Page title
Print Version

Email this article to a friend

Vanity and Emptiness

“They bow down to vanity and emptiness and pray to a god who does not save them …” (from Aleinu, based on Yeshaya 45,20). The numerical values of the words emptiness (316) and to a god who does not (92) are identical to the names of specific individuals who espoused heretical beliefs. These hints were purposely inserted into this prayer in order to express disdain for their ideologies.

After non-Jewish authorities launched vicious attacks against Jewish communities due to Aleinu’s insult to their supposed savior, censors worked relentlessly to have this line erased from the siddur altogether. Until this very day, there are some siddurim which print this part of the Aleinu prayer in parentheses or not at all. Since this verse is an integral part of Aleinu, one should make sure to include it.

For some people, even the slightest reference to heretical beliefs arouses such revulsion that they have a custom to pretend to spit before continuing with the next line, “and we bend down” (Taz Yoreh De’ah 179,5). This is meant as a symbolic gesture, and one should not actually spit in a way that could disgust others. Since one is acting for the sake of defending the Divine glory, this is not included in the prohibition against spitting in a shul (Steipler, as cited in Orchos Rabbeinu 1,68).

Text Copyright © 2011 by Rabbi Daniel Travis and



View Complete List

How Extrordinary The Result
Rabbi Dovid Green - 5761

Honoring Parents: Parental Guidance
Rabbi Osher Chaim Levene - 5766

The Light of Torah
Rabbi Yosef Kalatzky - 5763


The Hasmoneans Take a Stand: A History of Chanukah, Part II
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5774

A Huge Goal!
Rabbi Label Lam - 5772

Rabbi Frand on Parshas VaYishlach
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5770

> A Strategy Born From Strength
Rabbi Label Lam - 5767

A Tale Of Two Philosophies
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5763

Face to Face
Rabbi Dovid Green - 5758

Looking for a Chavrusah?

Our Power is Found
Rabbi Label Lam - 5764

Battle and Survival
Rabbi Aron Tendler - 5760

It Takes Two To Fight
Rabbi Aron Tendler - 5763

Frumster - Orthodox Jewish Dating

Chanukah and Mechiras Yosef: The Hidden Connection
Shlomo Katz - 5764

Oh Brother
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5758

Rabbi Label Lam - 5774

The Face Reflecting in the Water is Yours
Rabbi Yisroel Ciner - 5759

Project Genesis Home

Torah Portion

Jewish Law



Learn the Basics




Ask The Rabbi

Knowledge Base


About Us

Contact Us

Free Book on Geulah! Home Copyright Information