Extensive prayers lead Orthodox Jews to place their hopes in God rather than act. They appeal to God hundreds of times a day, thus accepting his direct influence on routine events from defecation to politics. That’s primitive determinism. Sages taught that God made the laws of nature and let the world develop according to those laws. He even tends to work miracles without violating the laws of nature. God endowed humans with hands, legs, brains, and free will so that they could act rather than bug him on every occasion. Rabbi Akiva didn’t wait for the messiah, but proclaimed one. Maimonides was clear that the Messiah would be a human leader who embarks on rebuilding the Temple. Modern Jews sheepishly pray for the Messiah while ostracizing every potential messiah from Zhabotinsky to Kahane.

No wonder that their prayers are answered in the negative. Rabbi Eliezer had good reason to remark, “If someone lets prayer become routine, it loses its quality of supplication” (Berachot 28b). Speed-mumbling the same prayers day after day leaves no hope for a personal relationship with God. The Torah wisely limited prayers to festivals and specific occasions, and doesn’t even demand prayers from laity. Judaism is about living through, not praying.

Ultra-Orthodox leaders consciously withdraw their flock from the world where the leaders cannot compete. Haredim popularize the stories of Jewish observance in the face of death during the Holocaust—not the accounts of Orthodox resistance in the Warsaw ghetto.

Politicians are necessarily corrupt. Their road to the top is laid with promises and compromises. The era of illustrious lone players had gone with Yitzhak Shamir. Politicians conform to the lowest common denominator of their voters, and must be acceptable to political bureaucracy. By the time politicians arrive at the country’s helm, they are apotheosis of evil. Two types of people could change Israel: a mid-level IDF commander who stages a putsch, or an authoritative, non-establishment rabbi who calls on religious Jews to fight the leftist collaborators.

do, not pray