On this Wikipedia article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amidah

On the "Structure of the weekday Amidah"

One of the prayers: "Known as Birkat HaMinim ("the sectarians, heretics") this asks God to destroy those in heretical sects (Minuth), who slander Jews and who act as informers against Jews."

On this Wikipedia article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minuth

Under Mishneh Torah, Minim it states that:

"Five peoples who can be classified as heretics(hebrew "Minim").:

  • One who denies the existence of God or the ruler of the world
  • One who says there are two or more rulers of the world
  • One who accepts there is one Master of the world but maintains He has a body or a form
  • One who denies that He is the sole First Being and Creator of all existence
  • One who serves entities that serve as intermediary between him and the eternal Lord such as stars, constellations or any other entity"

I don't understand why Jewish people must ask God to destroy those who do not believe in God or for any of the other seemingly benign reasons stated above. Do Jews consider people who deny the existence of God dangerous?

The second part of the prayer which speaks about destroying those "who act as informers against Jews" also raises confusion. Why would Jews ask God to destroy "informers" in particular. If we assume that Jewish people do everything right then there should be nothing to inform anyone about, thus no need for the informers to be destroyed. Asking God to destroy informers seems like admitting guilt and trying to cover something up so no one will know about it.

The part of the prayer that speaks about slander is the only logical reason in this prayer as to why one might ask God to do something as rash as to "destroy" someone.

A heretic, as explained on this Wikipedia article: http://simple.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heretic

Is someone who has ideas that are different from the ideas that a certain religious group teaches.

Obviously everyone who is not Jewish will have ideas that are different then those of Jews. This is somewhat contradictory and hypocritical because I am sure that Jewish people have different ideas then that of other religions as well.

Please understand that I am not posting this out of hate. I simply do not understand why we must ask God to punish those who do not agree with Judaism, it seems unnecessary and hypocritical.

  • 9
    You're referencing articles from the Simple English Wikipedia, which intentionally sacrifices precision for simplicity of language, and then making detailed inferences from the choices of language there. This is not a great way to gain understanding of a topic.
    – Isaac Moses
    Nov 29 '13 at 8:06
  • You quoted "One of the prayers: 'Asks God to punish heretics who then slander Jews'" and ignored the last four words.
    – msh210
    Nov 29 '13 at 8:30
  • @msh210 I think he understands those words to mean that the heretics slander Jews after Jews pray that God punish them. I think the use of the word 'then' is causing the confusion, and shouldn't be there( it isn't used in the equivalent in the regular English Wikipedia).
    – Tamir Evan
    Nov 29 '13 at 8:49
  • 1
    @msh210 I'd say: No. The other question understands Birkat ha-Minim to be directed against heretical Jewish sects. This question, as it stands, understands it to be against all those who disagree with what Judaism teaches, including non-Jews, and asks especially about the latter.
    – Tamir Evan
    Dec 1 '13 at 16:09
  • 2
    "Informer" is not a precise translation. The Hebrew term malshin does not imply that the report is true or that Jews did anything wrong.
    – Fred
    Dec 2 '13 at 5:23

This blessing was instituted in the days of Raban Gamliel when the Jewish heretics (saducees, etc.) of the time posed a direct threat to the nation, the blessing was instituted as an anti-missionary move.


  • saducees are heretics?
    – user4951
    Jan 4 '14 at 4:15
  • 1
    Direct threat as informants? As heretics? You haven't addressed the OP's assumption that being an informant shouldn't be a bad thing. How does this justify asking for their destruction anyway? Jan 15 '15 at 21:23
  • @Matt not sure what you mean, please explain
    – ray
    Jan 15 '15 at 22:06
  • 1
    1. one part of the question was, "aren't heretics harmless", and you've answered "no, they aren't", but you haven't explained why, as in, what threat do they pose 2. do Jews consider heretics dangerous, in and of themselves? (see Rambam Mamrim 3:1) 3. you haven't addressed the question of informants, "If we assume that Jewish people do everything right then there should be nothing to inform anyone about" Jan 15 '15 at 22:44

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