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 VAYEITZEI AND CHANUKAH:

View Complete List

Bonding Time
Rabbi Dovid Green - 5760

Miracles of Modesty
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5762

Yosef Recognizes His Brothers
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5773

> O Chanukah, O Chanukah . . .
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5765

The Simile of the Dust of the Earth
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5766

What’s a Meta-phor?
Rabbi Label Lam - 5760

ArtScroll

"More Than I Deserve"
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5763

Body and Soul
Rabbi Naftali Reich - 5768

Stagnation is Descent
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5758

Looking for a Chavrusah?

Interpreting Dreams
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5771

Of Fire and Money
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5757

A Pillar to Mankind
Rabbi Dovid Green - 5759

Frumster - Orthodox Jewish Dating

Sadly Released from Prison
Rabbi Yisroel Ciner - 5758

A Legacy of Deceit
Rabbi Shmuel Goldstein - 5762

Lend Me an Ear
Rabbi Raymond Beyda - 5767

Now More Than Ever!
Rabbi Label Lam - 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