April 26, 2016, Maaleh Adumim, Israel
The daily morning prayers, some say them, some do not, some say only words and some contemplate the meaning.
May it by thy will, my God and the God of my fathers, that you will save me/spare me today and every day, from arrogant people, from my own arrogance, from a bad person and from a bad inclination, from a bad friend and from a bad neighbor, and from being hit "with bad things", (included in all Jewish prayer books)
from the evil eye and from the evil tongue, from false witnesses and slander, from false testimony, hatred of mankind, from being framed, from a strange death, from bad diseases (only some versions/traditions have this).
from the satanic destruction, from a harsh judgment, from a legal case with a harsh opponent, whether a member of the covenant or not a member of the covenant. (included in all Jewish prayer books).
Now how is this relevant today to all of us? What is the real message over here?
The first line of self defense is to avoid trouble in the first place. We are seeking here the wisdom to avoid trouble, to avoid situations where there is a high probability that it will lead to trouble.
As Mr. Miyagi would said, "best defense, not be there".
Let's make every effort to avoid trouble. The best fight is the fight we avoided. The best encounter with the authorities, is the one avoided.
Today and every day - If we are saying "everyday" that already includes "today", so why the repetition, it is redundant, today is included in "everyday". It is because we start with today. "Everyday" is too general. Whatever project we want to do must begin today. The first step is today.
A person wants to be a black belt, that is too far in the future, that is the "everyday", but he must begin with today. A person wants to lose weight, he must begin with today even if the long term goal is difficult to see; one step at a time.
from arrogant people - Arrogant people are trouble. They are very difficult to work with, very difficult to teach and very difficult to learn from. We say the beginning of wisdom is humility. So we pray...let us avoid arrogant people, it will only lead to trouble.
from my own arrogance - Yes, we ask to protect ourselves from our own arrogance. We all have this and we must be careful, on guard, we get offended, angry and our arrogance came come to the surface. Once our arrogance appears it can get us into unnecessary fights whereas humility could save us from an unnecessary fight. Our own arrogance can lead us to unnecessary trouble, and thus we pray to avoid it.
from a bad person - Often a bad person will look very appealing. They can be seductive and charming. But we must spot them and avoid them.
and from a bad inclination - We all have some bad inclinations. Some of us get easily upset, others enjoy provoking others, whatever it is we must be aware of our bad inclinations and try to keep them under control.
from a bad friend - Yes, we all know that bad friend. He is a bad influence and will get us into trouble, but he is cool and fun...Avoid him!
and from a bad neighbor - Bad neighbors are trouble. Spend a little extra but move to a good neighborhood. If you have a bad neighbor, Lord help us!
There is an old Arabic saying; when looking for a new place to live, inquire about the neighbors before you inquire about the house.
and from being hit "with bad things -This is largely beyond our control; storms, stock market crashes...but we can pray.
from the evil eye - What does this mean? Leaving out the mystical we can say ...let people not look at us the wrong way, let them not bring negativity our way.
and from the evil tongue - Let them not say bad things about us. We pray that others do not speak poorly of us. For the tongue can be evil and vindictive, and largely we have little control over that.
from false witnesses - We must always protect and defend ourselves from those who wish to testify falsely against us. We are being warned here that human nature can get pretty nasty. We must always be ready with solid evidence to defend ourselves. No one is immune from this sort of vile attack.
slander -We must be on the lookout for slander and know how to deal with it.
from false testimony - those who go to court against us.
hatred of mankind -From hateful people and from the negative inclination to hate others. A person who hates others is truly sad.
from being framed -Yes, we must protect ourselves from this and take every precaution. This can happen to anyone, when least expected.
from a strange death - This is beyond our control but of course we can take some precautions to minimize our danger. Self defense is not only martial arts lessons, it is also taking safe transportation, staying in a safe hotel, not a road side motel where any vagrant can smash down your door in the middle of the night.
from bad diseases - Again, sometimes this is beyond our control but we can certainly take precautions; healthy living, proper eating etc.
from the satanic destruction - Any destructive forces in the world.
from a harsh judgment -Avoid bad court cases.
from a legal case with a harsh opponent - If we must go to court let it be against a fair opponent, not some evil devil with a shark lawyer.
whether a member of the covenant or not a member of the covenant -When it comes to proper behavior the issue is not religion or faith. A member of the faith, the covenant, or not, we must all seek to behave better and we must all be on guard against those, of any faith, who are a bad influence or of dangerous character.
It is interesting that unlike the modern politically correct society we are prejudging people here, for our own safety. If a person has a bad record, we stay away from them. We do not take chances.
Blogs, writings, from 2014