Pray for the Government

משנה ב רַבִּי חֲנִינָא סְגַן הַכֹּהֲנִים אוֹמֵר הֱוֵי מִתְפַּלֵּל בִשְׁלוֹמָהּ שֶׁל מַלְכוּת שֶׁאִלְמָלֵא מוֹרָאָהּ אִישׁ אֶת רֵעֵהוּ חַיִּים בְּלָעוֹ

Rabbi Chanina Segan Hacohanim says: pray for the well-being of the government, for without the fear of government, a man would consume his fellow alive. 

The above, when divorced from its historical context, might perhaps lead one to assume that the recommendation applies solely to a righteous regime; that when, however, one finds oneself under a corrupt administration one should certainly not pray for its well-being.

Rabbi Chanina the deputy High Priest lived under the latter sort of governance. The Roman Empire controlled the Jews for the most part and whatever Jewish governing bodies existed were Hellenistic. These subservient Hellenistic Jewish governing positions were themselves bought in a corrupt fashion from the Romans.

It is precisely with reference to a context of regime malfeasance that Rabbi Chanina is instructing us to nonetheless pray for the well-being of one's government. He adds in explanation, that even when the government acts in the most corrupt of ways it still provides a system of law and order. Its presence creates order. The lack of leadership, no matter how bad that leadership might be, would lead to anarchy and the chaos which accompanies it, איש את רעיהו חיים בלעו - man would consume his fellow alive.

We live at a time that this message is extremely pertinent.

Klal Yisroel lived for over two millennia under the rule of various oppressive regimes in many lands around the world. There were brief hiatuses from oppression when we were governed by kinder sovereignties.

The past sixty eight years have brought great change to this situation. For the first time since our exile a Jewish government was established. Not only is there a Jewish state but the Jewish state is situated (for the most part) within the promised borders of the Promised Land.

No one would say that the modern State of Israel is ideal. Particularly within various religious circles there are many claims against the modern state. Many of the issues are solidly legitimate religious problems.

God fearing Jews will not allow religious issues to fall by the wayside. A fervently observant Jew fights for Retzon Hashem to prevail.

Nonetheless, we should not forsake Rabbi Chanina's apothegm. The modern state of Israel is certainly a government that deserves our praying for its well-being. There are those who claim the modern state's existence is pushing off, or postponing, the final redemption. Aside from the ludicrousness of such a theory, focusing on it would be counterproductive. To fight the establishment is to aid anarchistic chaos. If one truly wishes to improve, one must focus on repairing not on ruining.  Until the end of times we will live in a world which requires corrections. It is time to search for the best and to rectify the rest.