The Tefilla Gathering and Going Beyond Ultra

I went to the Tefilla Gathering on Sunday in the Wall Street area. It was a tremendous Kiddush Hashem as 40,000 Jews gathered peacefully to pray. The next day a friend emailed me this Voz Iz Neias link with my picture and the following caption:
Ultra Orthodox men in downtown Manhattan protesting the plan to require the ultra-Orthodox to serve in the army. The Atzeres Tefillah was attended by thousands form across the tri-state region.

There were a few problems with the caption:
1) There’s a misspelling in it.
2) I wasn’t there to protest, but rather because I understood this as a prayer gathering for a better resolution of the problems facing the Jewish people in Israel, specifically in regard to the draft issue. That’s how my Rav framed it.
3) Coming from an Orthodox publication, I probably did not fit in to their understanding of the word Ultra.

But then I thought a little more about the definition of Ultra. If it means people who believe in the primacy of Torah as the guiding force in our lives and our communities, then I’m definitely Ultra. And the Ultra (primacy of Torah) label also fits a lot of Rebbeim I have had the pleasure to learn from and grow with, who were educated in Yeshiva University and other Modern Orthodox yeshivos.

In todays parlance Ultra is a dividing word, but just beyond the term is the uniting concept of Torah defining and driving our collective lives. We certainly need to discuss potential solutions to problems that exist in our communities, but when we are Torah centered we can remain united in our search for solutions.

5 comments on “The Tefilla Gathering and Going Beyond Ultra

  1. I understand that people feel that everyone should be in the army, it’s a good thing to do. But I feel that Not everyone has to do the same thing. People should have a choice, army or learning or both. I think the government wants to steer them away from their lifestyle. What many don’t understand is that the country needs different types. We need both, the army for physical protection, and Torah for spiritual protection. We have disunity because we look at others like they are aliens, when we should look at others as brothers and sisters. If we go to someone’s house for Shabbos and sing together, then we would that we are not that different after all

  2. Aharon, at the prayer rally there was a seder of Tefillah – Mincha, Tehillim and Selichos and I tried to say them with as much intention that I could muster.

    On Shabbos in his drasha our Rav pointed out that his Rebbe – Rabbi Henoch Leibowitz zt”l had a picture of Israeli Air Force Maneuvers on his wall in his office and always expressed HaKaros HaTov to the IDF. Our Shul makes a Misheberach each week for the United States and the Soldiers in the Army and we say Hallel on Yom Atzmut and Yom Yerushalayim. At our Ask the Rav session this Shabbos, I specifically asked the Rav how he understands the lack of HaKaros HaTov shown by the charedim in Eretz Yisroel. He discussed the tragedy of the lack of civil discourse among both sides.

    I agree 100% percent that the Religious Zionists and the chiloni are part of the Jewish people and we spent a good part of our very short vacation visiting our relatives in those two groups. Every week I listen to 2-3 hours of Parsha drashas from a Religious Zionist Rav, so I’m there with you. I also spent some time with a non-Charedi Rosh Yeshiva from Israel this week discussing and listening to his tapes illustrating ways in which we can make Torah more relevant to those who are not Torah observant.

    So I’m making serious efforts trying to learn from and give to all types of Jews.

  3. Did you say a tefillah for the soldiers who put their lives on the line to protect the Jewish people? How about some hakarat hatov for them?
    Also when you said:
    “a prayer gathering for a better resolution of the problems facing the Jewish people in Israel, specifically in regard to the draft issue”
    The Religious Zionists and the chiloni are also part of the Jewish people

  4. Davening with 40,000 people is always an amazing event. I understand it’s hard for many people to get past the politics and the approval of the secular press, which is unfortunate.

    We just had Rabbi Ilan Feldman from Atlanta as a scholar in residence and one of the shiurim he gave was about Kiddush Hashem and there is no doubt that was what this was. When 40,000 Jews turn to Hashem in prayer it makes the world more aware that there is a G-d.

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