Torah.org Home Subscribe Services Support Us
  Page title
Print Version

Email this article to a friend

The Twelfth Blessing: Heretics

“And for slanderers let there be no hope; and may all evil perish in an instant; and may all Your enemies be cut down speedily. May You speedily uproot, smash, cast down and humble the wanton sinners – speedily in our days. Blessed are You, Hashem, Who breaks enemies and humbles wanton sinners.”

The twelfth blessing of Shemoneh Esrei asks Hashem to destroy heretics. It follows the previous blessing, for after a Torah government is restored, the time will come when all heretics, who deny and seek to destroy the Torah, will be put in their place (Megilla 17b). This blessing was not part of the original formulation of the Shemoneh Esrei, but was added by the Sages at a later time.

The Talmud tells us that when Rabbi Meir prayed that the evil people should be destroyed, his wife Bruriah corrected him that it was preferable to ask Hashem to have them return to the right path. The Zohar writes that it is forbidden to ask Hashem to destroy evil people (Medrash Nelam, Vayera). In light of this, why are we permitted to recite this blessing?

In general, one ought to pray that evil people should return to Hashem, and not be killed. However, the Torah makes an exception for heretics, whose goal in life is to trivialize, deny and eradicate the Torah. It is to these individuals whom we refer when we ask, “May all evil perish in an instant.” With regards to other evil people, the halacha upholds Bruriah’s opinion, and one should definitely pray that they return to Hashem. Notwithstanding the general principle that, “Everything is in the hands of Heaven except the fear of Heaven,” we may pray that everyone will return to the right path. Our intention should be that the evil should not be tempted to engage in further sin, and that they should meet righteous individuals who may help them find fear of Heaven once more (Rav Moshe Feinstein, as cited in Responsa Rivavos Ephraim 3,591).


Text Copyright © 2010 by Rabbi Daniel Travis and Torah.org


 

ARTICLES ON NASO:

View Complete List

Behavioral Levis
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5761

If not for the Torah . . .
Shlomo Katz - 5772

Honor + Respect = Shalom Bayis
Rabbi Yisroel Ciner - 5758

Looking for a Chavrusah?

Small Talk
Rabbi Mordechai Kamenetzky - 5757

"Your Money Or Your Wife?" and Other Such Life Decisions
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5771

Out Of Control
Rabbi Yochanan Zweig - 5772

> The Common Denominator Between Long Hair and A Shaven Head
- 5769

Ditto
Rabbi Yisroel Ciner - 5757

Through Thick and Thin
Rabbi Dovid Green - 5760

ArtScroll

Your Honor
Rabbi Moshe Peretz Gilden - 5762

Realize Who You Really Are!
Rabbi Yisroel Ciner - 5760

Life, the Bigger Picture -- Say Cheese!
Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffmann - 5764

Frumster - Orthodox Jewish Dating

Priestly Blessings: Be Blessed
Rabbi Osher Chaim Levene - 5766

Not the Same Thing
Rabbi Raymond Beyda - 5763

Channels of a Different Type
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5758

Channeling Divine Light to the Entire World
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5771



Project Genesis

Torah.org Home


Torah Portion

Jewish Law

Ethics

Texts

Learn the Basics

Seasons

Features

TORAHAUDIO

Ask The Rabbi

Knowledge Base




Help

About Us

Contact Us



Free Book on Geulah!




Torah.org Home
Torah.org HomeCapalon.com Copyright Information