Monday, 4 February 2013

Questions Rabbis Get Asked - Inshallah

A congregant asked:

One of my Islamist clients asked whether we had an equivalent to the word "Inshallah". I assume the answer is Yes, but more interesting is why we don't use it widely.




I'm not an expert at how, exactly, Inshallah works in Islam and in Arabic, but there are a number of Jewish ideas and phrases that seem similar.

They are common in more observant communities. If there is a difference


Im Yirtzeh HaShem is the direct corollary, 'If God wills it'

Sample conversation.

A:        Can I see you on Tuesday?

B:        Im Yirtzeh HaShem


Another similar idea is the tradition of writing in the top corner of a piece of paper the capitalised Hebrew letters in this Aramaic phrase B'Siatah Dishmaya - literally 'With the assistance of Heaven'

Sometimes you will also see the letters of the Hebrew phrase 'B'ezrat HaShem' - with the assistance of God.


Baruch Hashem, Blessed be God, becomes almost a 'tick.'

A: How are you?

B: I'm fine, Baruch HaShem.

Actually it has even, in some communities, replaced a more coherent answer

A: How are you?

B: Baruch Hashem.

There is a sense of not wishing to tempt fate in appearing to gloat over what we have, on sufferance from God, but also a sense of gratitude to God for what we have.


The other common interesting phrase is Bli Neder, literally 'Without a vow.'

Vows are a serious business in Judaism. You shouldn't make them. In Temple times you would have to bring a sacrifice even if you kept the vow and certainly you shouldn't find yourself forced to break a vow, even if that wasn't the intent.


A:        Can I see you on Tuesday?

B:        Bli Neder

i.e. I'm planning on it, but I'm not ramping the commitment up to a theological significant level.




For this I went to Rabbi school!



Anonymous said...

That would be "Muslim" clients, not "Islamist", unless you'd prefer "Zionist" over Jewish".

Man, this stuff ticks me off.

Rabbi Jeremy Gordon said...

Thanks for the comment.

The question came from a congregant who knows the difference between the two and who in his professional work encounters both.

As to the general point I would completely agree not all Muslims are Islamist.

But when my congregant used the term, 'Islamist' I trust him to know about what he speaks, so I used that term in the post.

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