It seems that Rabbis Asher Baruch Wegbreit, Emanuel Feldman and Shimon Pincus are not the only ones who have expressed thoughts on Aleinu in articles and S’forim.
Recently, while in Shul, this author picked up the Sefer “The How and Why of Jewish Prayer,” by Rabbi Yisrael Rubin.
R’ Rubin devoted three entire pages (pages 330-332) to some power-packed thoughts about Aleinu throughout the year which have been excerpted here. R’ Rubin writes:
Aleinu, says R’ Beryl Wein, “is a reaffirmation of Jewish goals and a hope for the better world for all humankind.”
Its position at the conclusion of prayer…, just prior to parting from Shul, is to underline our certainty that “…on that day [of redemption] Hashem will be One and His Name will be One.”
R’ Rubin cites The Bach, as cited in Sefer “Tefillah K’Hilchata” by Yitzchak Yaakov Fuchs (page 324) who says of Aleinu’s placement:
“To implant in our hearts before we leave Shul, the Oneness of the King of Heaven.”
R’ Rubin cites the Tur, from his Sefer “Orach Chayim” (page 133) and from Macy Nulman, from his “Encyclopedia of Jewish Prayer” (page 26) respectively:
Because of its import as a proclamation of faith in Hashem’s Kingship, you should stand while reciting Aleinu and recite it with great reverence.
The numeric value of Aleinu is the same as the Hebrew word for standing. (In the name of Pirkei d’Rabbi Eliezer) The word v’me’umad is spelled: vav, mem, ayin, vav, mem, dalet.
R’ Rubin cites Be’ir Heitiv, Perek 132, posuk 4:
During Aleinu — slightly bend your knees at the word “kore’im” and bow forward at the word “u’mishtachavim”. When you reach the clause, “el E-l lo Yoshia” (to a g’d which helps not), pause a little before continuing with “Va’anachnu Kore’im…” Remained bowed until “HaKadosh Baruch Hu.”
Just a thought from this author; It seems highly difficult, if not impossible to consistently, continually recite Aleinu — both paragraphs — with reverence and to have the thoughts expressed here, as well as by R’ Wegbreit, R’ Feldman, “Tefillah K’Hilchata”, “Orach Chayim”, “Encyclopedia of Jewish Prayer”, “Pirkei d’Rabbi Eliezer” and more in mind when in a dread race with a Shaliach Tzibbor’s break-neck 30-45 second recitation of this Holy Tefillah. R’ Rubin also discusses implications of a Shaliach Tzibbor’s break-neck pace of Chazzaras HaShatz (repetition of Shemona Essrei) on page 54 of “The How and Why of Jewish Prayer.”
In closing, this author urges that every Shul, and frum home have in it’s library of S’forim, “The Power of Aleinu” by Rabbi Asher Baruch Wegbreit and “The How and Why of Jewish Prayer,” by Rabbi Yisrael Rubin.
Moshe Burt is an Oleh, writer and commentator on news and events in Eretz Yisrael. He is the founder and director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network and lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.