Don’t Make ‘Democracy’ Such a Great Value

A Moment with the Rebbe: When a rabbi submitted to the Rebbe his universal prayer for the senate, the Rebbe shocked him with instructions to make it uniquely Jewish and more refined.

rov who was to deliver the opening prayer at the United States Senate prepared a text, in which he included a prayer of thanks for the advancement of democracy. He also wrote, “Bless this august assembly, them, their wives, their sons and daughters… pour down Thy beloved blessing on our distinguished president Lyndon B. Jonson… citizens of all faiths will know the joys of prosperity, tranquility and peace…”

When he gave the prayer in to the Rebbe for editing, he received the following response:

“Everything is good and nice, but it could have been written by any of the hundreds of religious sects in America. And there is certainly no way to know that this is not a Reform or Conservative prayer.

“Obviously it should be something they’ll accept, and also concepts which are permitted to deliver to goyim. Therefore, I suggest that you include ideas of hashgacha pratis, personal inner-harmony, and the triumph of spirit over matter.”

The Rebbe continued with some specific edits on the text, suggesting (1) to replace ‘wives, sons and daughters’ with ‘family’ so it is more refined. (2) ‘All faiths’ should be erased or replaced with ‘all race and color’ since Yiddishkeit cannot be associated with other religions.  (3) Don’t make ‘democracy’ such a great value; write instead ‘peace and justice.’

(Full handwritten response printed in Simpson Teshurah, Cheshvan 5771)

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