The scenes from Capitol Hill were horrifying.

As Jews, we are committed to pray for the peace of the places where we reside. In the words of the prophet Jeremiah:

And seek the peace of the city where I have exiled you, and pray for it to the L‑rd, for in its peace, you shall have peace.

We find the same idea in Ethics of our Fathers, but this time with a stark warning of the alternative:

Rabbi Chanina, the assistant High Priest said, “Pray for the welfare of the government, for were it not for the fear it inspires, every man would swallow his neighbor alive.”

When the Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, of righteous memory, discussed this Mishnah in 1984, he pointed out something quite remarkable.

Rabbi Chanina, the Talmudic sage who taught this Mishnah, was actually persecuted, tortured and eventually executed by the Roman empire. Yet despite all of that he was teaching his disciples to pray for the welfare of the government!


Because the alternative—anarchy—is much worse.

Anarchy is an assault on the foundation upon which society itself is established. Without respect for a society’s laws and the political process by which they are established—even, or especially, in a country like the United States, founded on the principles of faith and trust in the one Creator—individuals will feel free to use any possible means to further their self-interest, regardless of how it might impact others.

And ultimately, no one gains from anarchy, not even the anarchist himself.

In the Rebbe’s words in 1968: “Through acts of violence and destruction one abandons the path of righteousness and justice, and eventually becomes destructive even to his family and, ultimately to himself.”

This idea, that lawlessness is ultimately self-destructive, can be an impetus for positive changes in our personal lives.

In fact, the awareness that anarchy is dangerous and should be rejected is a secret of success for anyone interested in living a productive and wholesome life.

In a YouTube video that was watched over 12 million times, William McRaven, a US Navy Admiral, says: “If you want to change the world, start off by making your bed.” He goes on to explain how accomplishing one task will encourage you to do another task, and how making your bed will make you realize that “the little things matter.”

But I think the highly-decorated admiral missed a critical point.

The reason why making the bed is so important is because if you want to be an agent for change, communally or personally, you must be disciplined. You must not give in to the immediate gratification (or perhaps we should call it your inner anarchist) that thrives amid chaos, and instead, act with a mindfulness that is rooted in your highest long-term values, and not in your momentary impulses. Recognizing that we are not just creatures who are roaming on the face of the earth, but rather created by G‑d who expects us to behave a certain way.

It’s why we start each day with the simple words of Modeh Ani: We thank G‑d not only for restoring our souls and giving us a new day, but putting His faith in us that we will do the right thing. G‑d places us upon this earth to accomplish a unique mission in our surroundings, and so we are accountable to Him. By taking a moment each morning to remember this, it focuses us on the great many things we can and must accomplish.

This is something we must all do individually, but also collectively. It is time for a national Modeh Ani, a moment for us all to pause and contemplate the Creator and Master of the Universe. It is in our hands, and ours alone, to realize His vision for a peaceful world.

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So let’s pray together. Wherever we live in the world and wherever we stand on the political spectrum, let’s pray for the nation in which we reside, let’s pray that we can come together and heal, that we can all unite for the betterment of our nation and indeed the entire world.