Thursday, February 24, 2011

L'Shalom vs. B'Shalom

A number of years ago, I picked up the habit of signing off on my letters with “B'Shalom,” which means “in peace.” It just seemed like a pleasant way to end a letter, and so I started using it occasionally, and then all the time.

That is, until Rabbi John Moscowitz, when I was interning for him, told me that I wasn't supposed to do that. According to the Talmud, he taught me, “B'Shalom” was only supposed to be used in reference to the dead. “L'Shalom,” which means “to peace,” or perhaps, more eloquently, “towards peace,” was appropriate when speaking to the living. I made the switch, mostly because it seemed that, if there wasn't a good reason to go against it, it just made sense to follow the tradition on this one. But, I always wondered what the logic was behind it—why would “in peace” and “towards peace” be reserved in this way?

I can remember from whom I learned this, but it came up a couple years ago on one of my rabbinic e-lists. Peace is an ideal. It's what we're striving for in life. But, like any ideal, it's ultimately unreachable. No one, in their lives, will ever truly reach total and ultimate peace. The best that we can hope for is to move, bit by bit, closer towards peace. It doesn't matter if we're talking political or personal; peace is asymptotic. We can get closer, but we can never get there.

The only way we're ever going to truly know complete peace? That's what will happen when we die. Until then, we'll have to settle for more peace tomorrow we have today.

I've always loved that teaching, ever since I heard it. The goal in life is not to achieve perfection, but to move towards it. As Rabbi Tarfon said, your goal is not to complete the task, but not to avoid it, either.


Rabbi Rosenberg


Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Rabbi Malino and the Kiddush

I've been thinking about my rabbi, Rabbi Jerome Malino (z"l), a lot recently. There isn't a particular reason or impetus for this post, but I keep coming back to a couple of stories about him, and I just feel the need to share one.

For those who don't know him, Rabbi Malino was the Rabbi of the United Jewish Center in Danbury, Connecticut. He spent his entire career there (which is extremely rare for a rabbi to do) and was, in nearly every sense of the word, a Great Man. Among Reform Rabbis, he's a bit of a rock star. He is almost certainly the greatest sermonizor I've ever met. Because he had a persistent tremor, he could never write out his sermons, so he taught himself to memorize an outline, and speak completely without notes. And, without fail, every time he spoke, it was a thing to behold. He could speak, off-the-cuff, with more eloquence, coherence and intelligence than I can manage on the best day of my life, with all the time in the world to prepare. I often said that I would happily listen to him read from a Chinese take-out menu; with the way he spoke, he could probably make it sound more interesting, and more profound, than anything else I was likely to hear.

Whenever I said that to someone who knew him, they always agreed.

Rabbi Malino taught sermon-writing at my Rabbinical School. When he would stand up after services to critique a student's sermon, it's no exaggeration to say that people would often pay closer attention than they did even during the sermon itself. We would often be discussing his comments long after we've forgotten what the sermon was actually about.

I'm telling you all this in part because it's fun; it's nice to have a chance to speak well of Rabbi Malino (who, sadly, passed away a year or two after my ordination). But, it's also important background for the story I want to tell. To really understand it, you have to understand who Rabbi Malino was. Incredibly erudite. Surpassing intelligence. Absolutely dedicated to excellence, especially on the bimah. A Rabbi's Rabbi.

And so, that brings me to the summer after my first year of Rabbinical School, when I had the chance to intern at my home congregation, where he was Rabbi Emeritus. One Friday night, I led a service and gave a sermon, one of my first. Afterwards, at the Oneg Shabbat, everybody was milling around and, in between bites of food, telling me what a great job I did*. Then Rabbi Malino came over to me, and pulled me aside so he could talk to me in semi-private.

*I'm not bragging—when you're a Rabbinical Student, and you give a sermon at your home congregation, people will praise you beyond belief, no matter what you do. Pretty much, if you can form complete sentences, they'll be thrilled and think that you're the best, ever.

I can't remember what I expected—if I thought he was going to praise me, too, or if I thought he was going to discuss some philosophical point, perhaps. But, I remember being surprised by what he did say. He corrected me on two small points. First of all, I had translated the word “Deuteronomy” as “second telling.” The book of Deuteronomy is, more or less, a retelling of what has come before, and so “second telling” is a reasonable interpretation of what the word actually means. But, it's not an accurate translation. More precisely, it means “second law.” He wanted to make sure I knew the difference.

And, he also corrected my pronunciation of one word during the kiddush (the prayer over the wine on Shabbat). I had said, “te-HI-lah.” But, it should be said, “te-hi-LAH.” I remember him saying that, for his entire career, he's been saying it correctly, hoping that someone would notice, and stop mispronouncing it, as we all did. I'll admit that, to this day, I can't get to that word in the kiddush without thinking about him, and that moment.

Why does that story stick out in my mind so much? I think it's because of his attention to detail. Rabbi Malino, a man of incredible intelligence and thoughtfulness, a man who could discuss theology and philosophy on a level which I'll probably never reach, didn't want to talk about all those high-minded things. He wanted to make sure I got the words right. He wanted to make sure I got the emphasis right, for God sake. No detail was unimportant.

At the time, I remember feeling a bit disappointed. I had worked hard on that sermon (even though I can't remember what it was about, now). I probably wanted praise; I definitely wanted serious engagement on the issues. What I got was minutiae.

My disappointment didn't last long. Because, as you can probably guess, I realized that there was a lesson in there (whether he thought of it consciously, I'll never know). The details are never unimportant. Excellence doesn't begin with big ideas, or grand eloquence. It begins with meticulous attention to every little thing, and the realization that there are no little things.

Growing up, Rabbi Malino wasn't really “my Rabbi.” He had mostly retired by the time I was involved in my synagogue. But, when I got into Rabbinical School, he took me under his wing, and treated me as a student, in the best sense of the word. The lesson he gave me that Friday night is only one of the many which I remember. But, for some reason, it's the most dear.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Rationalist Religionists - lonely minority, or silent majority?

I was sent an article by a Rabbi by the name of Geoffrey Mitelman. In it, he describes his belief that it is possible to be religious, while being fully rational. Based on the short article, I think he means that in the same way that I would—not as a claim that standard religious beliefs are, themselves, rational. Rather, that it's possible to believe in a religion which doesn't require us to believe anything that isn't rational. That we can acknowledge that part of our religious traditions aren't rational, and were developed in a time quite different from our own. Saying that to be religious is to believe all those things would be like saying that to be scientific we have to accept the science of the 1800s. Knowledge and thinking progress, and that has to be true in religion, too.

What's really interesting, to me, is the e-mail conversation which he has with an author (Hank Davis) who feels that religion isn't very rational. Millman lays out his beliefs, and the author responds:

... If you were even remotely typical of the clergy, I would change my view and probably would never have written Caveman Logic. But you're not ... you're probably way to the left of center in your own denomination. In short, I'd like and admire you as a friend, but I can't imagine you as a spokesperson for either religion or the clergy. You speak for what it might have been had it gone right. But it didn't ...

[Your point of view is] sadly, about three standard deviations to the enlightened side of average.

You know, it's something I've wondered myself. Obviously, the kind of religion in which I believe, about which I preach, isn't the one we read about in the press. And, it often feels like I'm a distinct minority—that the world is made up mostly of people who are either quite literalist (and therefore, I'd say, not fully rational) in their beliefs, or self identified atheists. That the number of people who love religion, who try to be religious, but attempt to be rigorously rational at the same time is very small, indeed. But, I wonder if that's true. Maybe the silent majority of our world (or country?) are more like me than I think?


Don't know if anyone out there has an opinion, or can shed some light on this. But, I do think it's an interesting question.


Getting Past Pediatric Judaism

 a month or two ago, I read an article by Anna Solomon. In it, she describes her discomfort with her own child's comfortable connection with Judaism:

I began to feel uneasy. It was a familiar unease, one I'd felt last Halloween when Sylvie, dressed as a ladybug, ran through the streets of Park Slope pumping her fist in the air and shouting, "Shabbat Shalom!" I'd felt it at her naming, when instead of fussing at the foot-dipping ritual we weren't entirely comfortable with ourselves, she giggled and cooed.

Sometimes I feel it when we make Shabbat at home, often with guests, who seem either amazed or bemused as Sylvie sings every word of the Hebrew blessings with us before exuberantly yanking the cover off the challah.

Why the discomfort? Solomon isn't sure. It might be simple embarrassment about her own lack of knowledge, or own religiosity. It might be a kind of jealousy—a yearning for the relationship with Judaism which she had as a child, but now only sees in her own daughter, not herself. But, in the end, she realizes that figuring out why she is uncomfortable when not be the most important thing. The most important thing might be becoming more comfortable, herself, and that probably means getting involved in Judaism, not just thinking about it:

What if we were to go as ourselves–-doubtful yet yearning, fearful yet proud – and try to see through Sylvie's eyes? Maybe we would rediscover, at the root of our ambivalence, a simple curiosity. We might remember how much we still don't know. We might even learn something, like the Jews at Mount Sinai, who accepted the Torah before they had a clue what it meant. "We will do," they said, and then, "we will understand."

It would be, as all parenting is, an interesting experiment. It would mean taking the radical step of worrying less about Sylvie and more about us.

I love that last sentence. I've often thought (and this isn't exactly an original thought) that if I could magically do one thing that would improve the religious lives of Jews, it would be to get them to focus less on their children, and more on themselves. So much of synagogue life is focused on the children. Religious school drives both membership (if and when people join) and programming (what we do, and when). Services are often structured around the needs of the children, not around spiritual needs of the parents. And so on. It creates a kind of “Pediatric Judaism” which gives the impression that Judaism, at its core, is really for kids. That couldn't be further from the truth.

Judaism is very much for adults. Of course, we have to make it available for the kids, as well. But, that's secondary. Judaism, at its best, is much too complicated for kids. It involves philosophy. Serious, inward inquiry. Self-sacrifice. Questioning and seeking, while acknowledging that the answers will probably never be found, at least not in final form. That's all hard stuff--not exactly kindergarten-level, you know? It's a well known irony that many Jewish families stop their synagogue involvement at exactly the moment when the kids begin to be able to appreciate Judaism on a more mature level. It's as if we get involved with a sport, and quit just as the training ends, and the season begins. It doesn't sound like much fun that way, and it's no surprise that people are often dissatisfied with their religious experience; they missed the good part.

So, if you're one of those Jewish parents (and, as usual, this probably applies to non-Jews, as well, but what do I know about that?) Who feels as if their own Jewish education was sorely lacking, you pretty much have two options. Repeat the patterns of the past—give your kids essentially the same Jewish education that you had, and probably watch them have the same, mostly unfulfilling, experience. Or, break the cycle. Attend a class. Download a podcast. Read a book. Do something to stimulate your own Jewish mind, and your own Jewish life. You may well find that it makes your Jewish life better, and your kids as well.

Pirke Avot teaches that if we study, then our children will grow up to study. If we only tell our children to study, then they'll grow up to tell their children to study, and no more. That was almost 2000 years ago. Some things don't change, I guess…

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Is there a peace partner for Israel?

Rabbi Dow Marmur was the senior rabbi of Holy Blossom Temple in Toronto until about 10 years ago. Since his retirement, he splits his time between Toronto and Jerusalem, and while he's in Jerusalem, he regularly offers short opinion pieces about the situation there. His most recent is one of several regarding the ongoing “bloodless revolution” in Egypt. Because it's not available online, I've asked his permission to present it here, in its entirety:

When Al-Jazeera published the so-called Palestine Papers, reporting on the negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, it looked for a moment that the standard mantra of the right-wing in Israel that there’s no partner to negotiate with would be exploded. However, with the resignation of Saeb Erekat, the chief Palestinian negotiator, regrettably the old doctrine may have been re-affirmed.

By his own account, because the Al-Jazeera documents were taken from his office, Erekat’s life was now in danger, presumably because it showed how he had become friendly with the Israelis and seemed prepared to make serious concessions for the sake of peace. The reaction to the Al-Jazeera revelations made it obvious that even if the negotiators could come to an agreement, the so-called Arab street wouldn’t buy it.

So far, it seems, most Palestinians, supported by Arabs elsewhere, still hope for getting “everything,” which for the “moderates” may mean a return to the 1967 borders and for others the dismantling of the State of Israel. For example, the Libyan dictator has already urged Palestinians to follow the example of the Egyptians and rise against the Israelis and, we infer, their own “soft” leaders.

It may be the fear of more of the same that has prompted the Palestinian Authority to announce new elections later this year and, in the meantime, reshape its present government. While its prime minister continues to create the foundation of a viable Palestinian state, which of course would only come about after substantial concessions – for Israel isn’t about to disappear or even agree to return to the 1967 borders – the political mood may drive him in the opposite direction.

All this is bad news for the Israeli left and music in the ears of their opponents. The latter have based their approach to the Palestinians on the belief that there is no partner and therefore Israel should create as many “facts on the ground” as possible to secure the status quo. Expansion of settlements and Jewish inroads into Arab East Jerusalem are part of the process.

The government of Israel will continue to express its commitment to a negotiated two-state solution, perhaps confident that it won’t come about in the foreseeable future because of the intransigence of the Palestinians. It seems that even the American administration has reconciled itself to this fact, because despite the loss than cordial relations between Obama and Netanyahu, there isn’t much sign of pressure from Uncle Sam but much praise from his generals who seem to work very well with their Israeli counterparts.

Those of us who bewail the demise of the Israeli left must remind ourselves periodically that it’s not only the ineptitude of the once Socialist and Liberal politicians that is the cause, but also the sad fact that the right-wing mantra about there being no partner may be true and, therefore, the charges that the policies of the current government of Israel are bad has become hollow and futile.  Ehud Barak may have been less of a gentleman in bolting the Labor Party but he’s probably more of a realist than most.

All there’s left for us, therefore, is to hope for better times not only by a regime change in Israel but also by a change of heart in the Arab world in general and among the Palestinians in particular. Such hope isn’t utopian but neither is it in easy sight.

Rabbi Marmur sums up, precisely, how I feel about the prospects for peace with the Palestinians. I am, in my heart, still a liberal on this issue*. Were I in charge of the world, there would be two states living in peace—Israel and Palestine. I have no desire for a “greater Israel,” or for the ongoing oppression of the Palestinian people. But, I find myself agreeing, less and less, with the left and with the “peace camp” not because I think they're wrong in theory, or in principle, but because I believe that they are wrong in practice. Whether or not we want peace is only part of the question. If there isn't an honest partner with which to negotiate, then what chance is there of peace? If there is an honest partner, but he/she doesn't have the support of the people, then they aren't really a meaningful partner, are they?

*actually, I'm liberal on almost every issue. But, on this issue, and seemingly on this issue alone, my views line up with what most people consider to be right of center.

Like I said, this is the one issue in the world for which my views don't seem to line up, more or less, with the standard liberal point of view. And so, it's probably not a coincidence that this is the one issue on which I sincerely hope I am proven wrong in my views.

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Welcome to Evolution Weekend

I am a proud, if not particularly active, member of The Clergy Letter Project, a collection of clergy, from various religions and faith traditions, who support the teaching of evolution in schools, and more generally, a rationalist approach to religion. Once a year, they declare an “Evolution Weekend,” and this year, this is the weekend. No big fanfare—just a chance for interested clergy to talk a little bit about the intersection of faith and science in general, and evolution in particular.

This is the kind of thing which requires a book, rather than a blog post, but let me try and do it a little bit of justice in a short space.

I believe in evolution.

Most of you who know me, know this already. But just in case, let me be clear. I don't mean this as one of those sermonic tricks, where I tell you that I believe in evolution, but after 15 minutes you realize that I don't really believe it. No—I really do. I believe the universe was created billions of years ago with the Big Bang. I believe that human beings evolved on Earth from other, more primitive lifeforms. I don't believe that it was, in any real way, guided by a Supernatural Being. Nope—when it comes to questions about how we got here, I turn to science books, not to the Torah.

If you open up almost any dictionary, and look up the word “faith,” you'll almost certainly find that the first or second definition says something like “belief that is not based on proof.” But, the Hebrew word which we usually translate as “faith,” is “emunah.” And emunah doesn't really have anything to do with believing facts which can't be proven. It's got more to do with relationship. In Judaism, saying “I believe in God” doesn't mean that I assert certain facts about God. It's closer to what I mean if I were to say “I believe in you.” It means I trust you; I have an ongoing relationship with you which informs my behavior.

The important point is that Judaism doesn't ever ask us to believe a fact which is otherwise disprovable. We are never called on to reject rationality, or evidence, and to "take it on faith." I'll admit to still being a bit confounded by those who do. There are some incredibly smart, thoughtful, learned people who apply one set of standards to almost every fact they encounter in life, but apply an entirely different standard to facts proposed by their religion. If I were to tell you that I believed, truly believed, that Abraham Lincoln was the first President of the United States, then you'd probably think I was crazy. It is demonstrably false. But, if I tell you that I believe that the world was created around 6000 years ago, with all of our current life-forms existing essentially as they are today, it would mark me as pious.

Well, I am pious. I am deeply religious, and committed to my religious life. But, I simply don't subscribe to that kind of piety. I don't believe that it does us any good to ignore our God-given intellect and rationality. I don't believe that a faith which requires me to believe something with part of my being, which is denied by another part, is a very strong faith.

A few years ago, I read City of God by E.L. Doctorow. In it, I found one of my all-time favorite quotes:

I take the position that true faith…cannot discard the intellect. It cannot answer the intellect with a patronizing smile. I look for parity here. I will not claim that your access to the numinous is a delusion if you will not tell me that my intellect is irrelevant.

I believe that evolution is true. I believe in God. And I believe that trying to serve your soul at the expense of your mind can only do harm to both.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Niceness Test

If you read this blog (and, if you don't, then what are you doing here?) then you know that I've been talking recently about the value of “niceness.” I keep apologizing for the triteness of the message, but I keep writing and talking about it because, even if it is trite, I think it's important. “Just be nice” may not be the most profound statement in the world, but I actually think there is some profundity in there.

I've also been doing a lot of reading, thinking and (to a lesser degree) writing about mysticism, recently. I hope to write about this more, sometime soon, but I've started to take more of an interest in mysticism, of late. I'm not a mystic, myself, but I've read some things which make me much more open to the reality of mysticism, and its importance, as well. Like I said, more to come on this in the future, I expect.

Recently, I came across an article in which these two themes converged. Jay Michaelson, the author of Everything Is God, recently wrote an article about the reality of mystical experiences. It's interesting because Michelson is himself a mystic, and an avid practitioner of mysticism, but he's thoughtful about it, and willing to talk openly and honestly about mysticism, and respond to critics in an equally thoughtful way. He refuses to take either extreme: “it's real because I say it's real,” or “it's all bunk.” Instead, he tries to think through and explain exactly what “real” means, and how we can judge mysticism by reasonable standards.

In the article, among other things, he talks about the importance of kindness in judging mystical experiences:

This mind-state (whether devekut, samadhi, unio mystica) isn’t significant because of a story about what it represents; it’s significant because it engenders more compassion and more wisdom. Conversely, a mind-state that may have felt very “mystical” but that brings about cruelty or unskillful behavior is easily judged by its fruits, rather than by the supposedly mystical feeling that accompanied it. One finds in almost every contemplative tradition, theistic and non-theistic, precisely this metric for evaluating truth. The interpretations cannot be verified, but the effects can.

Of course, there's no reason to think that this standard applies only to mystical experiences, or mystical religions. It's a good criterion for any religion. It certainly isn't the only one, but it's an important one, and maybe the first one: does your religion make you kinder? Does religion make you a better person? If it doesn't, then it probably isn't the right religion. It probably isn't “real.”

I've often said that “goodness” and “kindness” aren't the same as religion. Being religious is not entirely about being a good person. I reject statements like, “I don't need to be religious; I'm a good person all by myself.” Statements like that imply a complete equality between the goodness and religion, when in fact, they aren't identical. But, it's important to be clear that even if religion isn't entirely about being good, nice or kind, it most certainly must be in part about that. In other words, religiously speaking, it's not enough to be nice, but it is necessary. You can be good without being religious; you can't be religious without being good.

Pirkei Avot (1:15) teaches: Shammai said, “make your Torah study a habit; say little, but do much; and greet each person cheerfully.”

If Shammai, who wasn't exactly known as a nice guy, can figure it out, why can't the rest of us in the religious world?

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Is Civility overrated?

One of my recurring topics recently has been civility: the importance of simply being nice to each other. Of trying not to hate, or, at least, not to act in a hateful way towards each other. I think it's an important message, and one I'll continue to give. But, there was one aspect of it which was making me a little bit uncomfortable, and it was expressed beautifully by Rabbi Eric Yoffi, the President of the Union for Reform Judaism (it's a short article, and well worth clicking through for):

When instructing the prophet Isaiah about how he is to confront those who oppress others, God's instructions are as follows: "Cry with full throat, without restraint; raise your voice like a ram's horn!" (Isaiah 58:1). There is no suggestion here that Isaiah should be civil. What is called for is exactly the opposite: casting civility aside and speaking out with passion, power, and "without restraint" against those who cause or ignore suffering.
Like everyone else in America, I was appalled by the shooting in Arizona, and the religious organization that I serve condemned those who use ugly and violent rhetoric to create an atmosphere of hatred. But in the aftermath of this terrible incident, it seems to me that the enduring emphasis on civility is misplaced. It has become an end unto itself, distorting the norms of democratic debate and distracting us from matters of more fundamental consequence.
Aren't there some issues which are so important that, civility be damned, we should be shouting from the rooftops about them? Aren't there some causes which are so sacred that we should be doing anything that we can to fix them, rather than trying to tread carefully around the feelings of others?

I can probably list a dozen of them. How about same-sex marriage? That one seems pretty clear to me. People are entitled to their opinions, of course, but I don't see a lot of reason for sitting down and politely discussing the intricacies of Leviticus with those who would pick and choose verses from it, in order to stop others from getting married. I just want to get these laws changed!

I think it's still pretty safe to say that we'd all be better off if the obnoxious hosts of radio and television “shock news” shows would just be quiet, already. I don't think that anything is served by that kind of vitriol or, frankly, that kind of nonsensical rhetoric which often passes for reasoned debate there. But, there's a difference between being reasonable, and being polite, on the one hand, and being meek, on the other.

Or, maybe more to the point, perhaps they're at times when being polite isn't really that important, at all. I mean, I'm not sure it would have been useful, or appropriate, to engage in polite discussions about why the Nazis were so bad. I'm not sure I feel the need to be respectful towards anyone who still holds those views. The same would go for members of the KKK, to pick another example.

Thankfully, nearly all of the topics about which we argue these days are less black and white than those. In nearly every one (maybe, every single one) the side with which I disagree has valid points. But, that doesn't mean that I can't be passionate in support of the views which I hold. And, if someone perceives that passion as disrespectful, maybe that's not the worst thing in the world.

One of the first things which I read in rabbinical school was an essay by Ahad HaAm, entitled “Priest and Prophet.” Basically, the argument was that society needs Priests—reasonable people, dedicated to the system, who are really to compromise, adjust, and work from within, but it also needs Prophets—people who are strident, single-minded, and often unreasonable. The Prophets provide the impetus, and the energy, for change. The Priests take that energy, and make it happen. Without the Priests, Prophets could never get anything done. Without the Prophets, the Priest might never bother. We need both.

By nature, I'll probably always tend towards the middle, towards reasonableness, towards thoughtfulness. That's a good thing; it's one of the things about myself which I like best. But, I'm thankful (sometimes) for those who see things a bit more clearly than I do, and those who have no patience for half measures, and slow progress.

I guess I have to laugh at myself, just a little. I'm so damn reasonable that I'm even willing to accept a bit of unreasonableness. All well. The curse of being a centrist liberal, I guess. I just hope it never keeps me from speaking up, and yelling, when necessary.

What does Egyptian unrest mean for Israel?

The ongoing unrest and upheaval in Egypt has been all over the news, of late. And, one of the sidebars to the story (and to some of us, the most important) has been the potential effect of all of this on Israel.

There are those who are hopeful that this turmoil could actually be a good thing for Israel. On paper, that seems like at least a possibility; most observers think that the governments of Arab nations overstate the threat, and “evil,” of Israel, as a kind of rallying cry for their people. The idea is to keep the masses so angry about Israel, that they don't really think about the larger, internal issues, about which their governments do nothing. So, the theory goes, a government created by the people, rather than by the politicians, might be more sympathetic towards Israel.

Unfortunately, an Op-Ed in the New York Times by Yossi Klein HaLevi makes all those hopes seem pretty unrealistic:

But few Israelis really believe in that hopeful outcome. Instead, the grim assumption is that it is just a matter of time before the only real opposition group in Egypt, the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood, takes power. Israelis fear that Egypt will go the way of Iran or Turkey, with Islamists gaining control through violence or gradual co-optation.

Either result would be the end of Israel’s most important relationship in the Arab world. The Muslim Brotherhood has long stated its opposition to peace with Israel and has pledged to revoke the 1979 Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty if it comes into power. Given the strengthening of Hezbollah in Lebanon, Hamas’s control of Gaza and the unraveling of the Turkish-Israeli alliance, an Islamist Egypt could produce the ultimate Israeli nightmare: living in a country surrounded by Iran’s allies or proxies

Nothing is certain, and therefore there is always hope. But, it's hard to think of a realistic way in which what is going on in Egypt will turn out to be a good thing for Israel.

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem.