Government, Prayer for the

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GOVERNMENT, PRAYER FOR THE , the prayer for the welfare of the government that forms part of the synagogue ritual on Sabbath mornings and on the festivals. Its inclusion in the service is based on the Mishnah: "R. Ḥanina, Segan ha-Kohanim said: Pray for the welfare of the government; since but for fear thereof, men would swallow each other alive" (Avot 3:2). The idea is found as early as Jeremiah; the prophet counseled the Jews who were taken into the Babylonian captivity: "Seek the peace of the city whither I [i.e., the Lord] have caused you to be carried away captive, and pray unto the Lord for it; for in the peace thereof shall ye have peace" (Jer. 29:7).

The prayer for the welfare of the ruling powers of the state (king, government, etc.) and petitions for the welfare of the congregation, belong to the morning service and are recited before the Scrolls of the Law are returned to the Ark. The Sephardim recite it on the Day of Atonement after Kol Nidrei. The traditional version of the prayer starts: "May He Who dispenseth salvation unto kings and dominion unto princes, Whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, Who delivereth His servant David from the destructive sword… [etc.]… may He bless, preserve, guard, assist, exalt, and highly aggrandize our Sovereign…," the titles following.

In non-monarchic countries the prayer is recited for the welfare of the head of the state (the president) and the government. In modern times the prayer is recited in most synagogues in the vernacular. The wording has frequently been modified in accordance with the circumstances.

In Israel a new version of this prayer was formulated and approved by the Chief Rabbinate after the establishment of the state in 1948; it also includes a prayer for the welfare of all Jews in the Diaspora. The prayer is also recited in the U.S. at public services on special occasions such as Thanksgiving Day, July 4, and Armistice Day.

For samples of prayers for the government in the different rituals, see P. Birnbaum (ed.), Daily Prayer Book (1949), 379 (Orthodox); Hertz, Prayer, 506–7 (Orthodox); Rabbinical Assembly of America and United Synagogue of America,Sabbath and Festival Prayerbook (1946), 130 (Conservative); Union Prayerbook, 1 (1946), 148 (Reform).


Abrahams, Companion, clx–clix.

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