The Arabs' Secret Weapon

Balak (Numbers 22:2-25:9)

Rabbi Sinclair exposes a secret weapon of the Arabs

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The Arabs have a Secret Weapon.

Of all the nations in the world, God has joined His Name to only two nations: the Jewish people Yisra-El, and the Arab nations, Yishma-El. We are living in the time of Yishmael. We have seen a nation thrust from the backwaters of history into the world’s center stage. The source of Yishmael’s power, however, is not oil. It’s not their vast numbers and it’s not their rhetoric that holds the world to ransom. It is because they have a secret weapon: That weapon is the power of their mouths in prayer. Is there an Arab politician who makes a speech without saying “InshAlla?” Show me a Muslim who is embarrassed to pull out a prayer mat and bow toward Mecca even in the most secular Western milieu? For every proud Muslim, I can find you at least one Jew who finds his religion “too Jewish.” Millions of Muslims every year make the hajj – the pilgrimage to Mecca. The main highlight of many a Jewish pilgrimage to Israel is a disco in Tel Aviv or wine-tasting in the Golan. Time was when thrice-yearly, the entire Jewish people would make a pilgrimage to the Beit HaMikdash – the Holy Temple - in Jerusalem. Why is it that in spite of the miraculous victories of the Six-Day War, the Jewish people were not able to take possession of the Temple Mount, that holiest place on earth and had to allow it to return to Arab stewardship? What is the power that allows Yishmael to hold on to it? It is the power of prayer epitomized in his name, Yishmael – “God will listen!”

I have a friend who was walking through the Muslim Quarter in Jerusalem and he struck up a conversation with a shopkeeper. The shopkeeper asked him why the Jews are scared to walk through the Muslim Quarter because if someone killed him then that was the Will of Allah anyway. Yishmael is the ultimate fatalist. The fact that I did something proves that’s what G-d wanted because – hey – I succeeded in doing it! Yishmael means G-d will listen! God will listen to me – my success is G-d’s imprimatur that I did the right thing. The name Yisrael can be understood as Yeshar Kel – Yeshar means straight. Only what G-d does is completely straight. Man has freedom of choice to do Evil as well as Good. Success is not proof of rightness. What G-d does is straight and it’s my job to bend my will to His, and even when bad things happen to good people, and nothing makes sense, a Yisrael still declares “Yeshar – Kel” What G-d does is Straight. I cannot command God “Listen!”

But prayer is powerful even when it is based on fatalism, and G-d will listen to the prayer of Yishmael. He will listen as long as we don’t live up to our name, but if we really believe that “Yeshar Kel” that everything G-d does is straight and just, then the prayer of Yisrael is even more powerful than Yishmael’s. That’s Yisrael’s secret weapon.

Comments (2)

(2) Andrea Chester, June 26, 2021 2:39 AM


What an insight! As a non-Jew, I surely never have heard this explanation before, but it makes absolute sense. What a clarion call for those of us, (whatever our “religion”) who claim to love GOD to ACT like it.

Thank you, Rabbi

(1) Peshi, August 28, 2019 4:07 AM

I am speaking to high school
Teachers I just wanted the source of this from the Torah so I can repeat it in the name of who said it
Basically where is the source of the lesson
Thank you!


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