(Jewish) Prayer (Gentile Kings and Democratic Country)


This 16th prayer, of Portuguese origin, Ha’Noten Teshua (He Who Gives Salvation) was then translated into English and presented by  Menasseh ben Israel to Oliver Cromwell in 1655. It became the template in traditional Jewish prayer and still appears in abbreviated form in modern orthodox prayer books. Appealing to autocrats, this baroque petition confirms Jewish fealty to sovereign authority and elevates and magnifies higher and higher the power of kings while begging protection from a position of Jewish social inequality. Unlike both the original form and the abbreviated form of the Ha’Noten Teshua in modern orthodox siddurim, the prayer for the country 1927 by Louis Ginzburg is democratic in spirit. It forms the basic template in Conservative movement siddurim, promoting good government and the universal blessings of liberal values like prosperity, peace, equality, and justice. Alas, it too lacks the poetic magnificence and visual grace, the path through strong waters and planetary star of the full Ha’Noten Teshua. Jonathan Sarna explores here the “liturgy of politics and the politics of liturgy” in American Jewish prayer.

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הַנּוֹתֵן תְּשׁוּעָה לַמְּלָכִים
וּמֶמְשָּׁלָה לֲנְּסִיכִים
הַפּוֹצֶה אֶת דָּוִד עַבְדּוֹ
מֵחֶרֶב רָעָה
הַנּוֹתֵן בַּיַם דֶרֶךְ
וּבְמַיִם עַזִּים נְתִיבָה
הוּא יְבָרֵךְ וְיִשְׁמוֹר
וְיִנְצוֹר וְיַעֲזוֹר
וִירוֹמֵם וִיגַדֵּל
וִינַשֵּׂא לְמַֽעְלָה לְמַֽעְלָה לַאֲדוֹנֵנוּ

He that giveth salvation unto Kings,
and dominion unto Lords,
He that delivered his servant David
from the sword of the Enemy,
He that made a way in the Sea,
and a path in the strong waters,
bless and keep,
preserve and rescue,
exalt and magnify,
and lift up higher and higher, our Lord:

[And then he names, the Pope, the Emperour, King, Duke, or any other Prince under whom the Jews live, and add’s :]

הַמֶּלֶךְ מַלְכֵי הַמְלָכִים בְּרַחֲמָיו יִשְׁמְרֶהוּ
וּמִכָּל צָרָה וָנֶזֶק יַצִילֵהוּ׃

The King of kings defend him in his mercy,
making him joyful,
& free him from all dangers and distress.

מֶֽלֶךְ מַלְכֵי הַמְלָכִים בְּרַחֲמָיו
יָרִוּם וְיַגְבִּיהַ כּוֹכַב מַעֲרַכְתָּוֹ
וְיַאֲרִיךְ יָמִים עַל מַמְלָכְתּוֹ׃

The King of kings, for his goodness sake,
raise up and exalt his planetary star,
& multiply his dayes over his Kingdom.

מֶלֶךְ מַלְכֵי הַמְלָכִים בְּרַחֲמָיו
יִתֵּן בְּלבּוֹ
וּבְּלֵב כָּל יוֹעֲצַיו וְשָׂרָיו
רַחֲמָנוּת לַעֲשׂוֹת טוֹבָה עִמָּנוּ
וְעִם כָּל יִשְּׂרָאֵל אַחֵינוּ

The King of kings for his mercies sake,
put into his heart,
and into the heart of his Counselors, & those that attend and administer to him,
that he may shew mercy unto us,
& unto all the people of Israel.

בְּיָמָיו וּבְיָמֵינוּ
תִּוָּשַּׁע יְהוּדָה
וְיִשְׂרָאֵל יִשְׁכּוֹן לָבֶטַח

In his days and in our days,
let Judah be safe,
and Israel dwell securely,

וּבָא לְצִיּוֹן גּוֹאֵל
וְכֵן יְהִי רָצוֹן
וָנֺאמַר אָמֵן:

and let the Redeemer come to Israel,
and so may it please God.

[[text and translation found here at the Open Siddur Project]]



אֱלֹהֵינוּ וֵאלֹהֵי אֲבוֹתֵֽינוּ
קַבֵּל נָא בְּרַחַמִים אֶת־תְּפִלָּתֵֽנוּ
בְּעַד אַרְצֵֽנוּ וּמֶמְשַׁלְתָּהּ.
הָרֵק אֶת־בּרְכָתְךָ ע֚ל הָאָֽרֶץ הַזֺּאת
עַל נְשִׂיאָהּ שׁוֹפְטֶֽיהָ שׁוֹטְרֶֽיהָ וּפְקִידֶֽהָ
הָעוֹסְקִים בְצָרְכֵי צִבּוּר בֶּאֱמוּנָה.
הוֹרֵם מֵחֻקֵּי תוֺרָתֶֽךָ
הַבִינֵם מִשְׁפְּטֵי צִדְקֶֽךָ
לְמַֽעַן לֺא יָסוּרוּ מֵאַרְצֵֽנוּ שָׁלוֹם וְשַׁלְוָה
אֺֽשֶׁר וָחֺֽפֶשׁ כּל־הַיָּמִים.

Our God and God of our ancestors:
Accept with mercy our prayer
for our land and its government.
Pour out your blessing on this land,
on its President, judges, officers and officials,
who work faithfully for the public good.
Teach them from the laws of Your Torah,
enlighten them with the rules of Your justice,
so that peace, tranquility, happiness and freedom
will never depart from our land.

אָנָּא יְיָ אֱלֺהֵי הָרוּחוֺת לְכָל־בָּשָׂר
שְׁלַח רוּחֲךָ עַל כָּל־תּוֹשְׁבֵי אַרְצֵֽנוּ
וְטַע בֵּין בְּנֵי הָאֻמּוֹת וְהָאֱמוּנוֹת הַשּׁוֹנוֹת הַשּׁוֹכְנִים בָּהּ
אַהֲבָה וְאַחֲוָה שָׁלוֹם וְרֵעוּת.
וַעֲקֺר נִלִּבָּם כָל שִׂנְאָה וְאֵיבָה קִנְאָה וְתַחֲרוּת.
לְמַלֺּאות מַשָּׂא נֶֽפשׁ בָּנֶֽיהָ הַמִּתְיַמְּרִים בִּכְבוֹדָהּ
וְהַמִּשְׁתּוֹקְקִים לִרְאוֹתָהּ אוֹר לְכָל־הַגּוֹיִם.‏

God of all that lives,
please bestow Your spirit on all the inhabitants of our land,
and plant love, fellowship, peace and friendship
between the different communities and faiths that dwell here.
Uproot from their hearts all hate, animosity, jealousy and strife,
in order to fulfill the longings of its people, who aspire for its dignity,
and desire to see it as a light for all nations.

וְכֵן יְהִי רָצוֹן מִלְּפָנֶֽיךָ
שֶׁתְּהֵא אַרְצֵֽנוּ בְּרָכָה לְכָל־יוֹשְׁבֵי תֵבֵל
וְתַשְׁרֶה בֵּינֵיהֶם רֵעוּת וְחֵרוּת
וְקַיֵּם בִּמְהֵרָה חֲזוֹן נְבִיאֶֽיךָ
“לֹא־יִשָּׂ֨א ג֤וֹי אֶל־גּוֹי֙ חֶ֔רֶב
וְלֹא־יִלְמְד֥וּ ע֖וֹד מִלְחָמָֽה”
וְנֶאֱמַר “כִּֽי־כוּלָּם֩ יֵדְע֨וּ אוֹתִ֜י
לְמִקְטַנָּ֤ם וְעַד־גְּדוֹלָם֙”.

And so may it be God’s will
that our land be a blessing for all who live on earth,
and that fellowship and liberty will dwell between them.
Establish soon the vision of your prophet:
“Nation will not raise a sword against nation,
and they will no longer learn war,”[1]
and, as it is said: “for all of them will know Me,
from the smallest to the greatest’.[2]

[texts available here at Open Siddur Project]

About zjb

Zachary Braiterman is Professor of Religion in the Department of Religion at Syracuse University. His specialization is modern Jewish thought and philosophical aesthetics. http://religion.syr.edu
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2 Responses to (Jewish) Prayer (Gentile Kings and Democratic Country)

  1. dmf says:

    Ginzberg’s erasure of identity reminds me of Dewey’s A Common Faith which was anything but.

  2. dmf says:

    be interesting to see what letters come to the editors that they will publish:

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