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A Prayer for the Government by Louis Ginzberg (1927)

תפלה בעד הממשׁלה | A Prayer for The Government[1]

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. אָנָּא יְיָ אֱלֺהֵי הָרוּחוֺת לְכָל־בָּשָׂר שְׁלַח רוּחֲךָ עַל כָּל־תּוֹשְׁבֵי אַרְצֵֽנוּ וְטַע בֵּין בְּנֵי הָאֻמּוֹת וְהָאֱמוּנוֹת הַשּׁוֹנוֹת הַשּׁוֹכְנִים בָּהּ אַהֲבָה וְאַחֲוָה שׁלוֹם וְרֵעוּת. וַעֲקֺר נִלִּבָּם כָל שִׂנְאָה וְאֵיבָה קִנְאָה וְתַחֲרוּת. לְמַלֺּאות מַשָּׂא נֶֽפשׁ בָּנֶֽיהָ הַמִּתְיַמְְּרִים בִּכְבוֹדָהּ וְהַמִּשְׁתּוֹקְקִים לִרְאוֹתָהּ אוֹר לְכָל־הַגּוֹיִם.‏
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. 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 נְאֻם־יְהוָ֔ה כִּ֤י אֶסְלַח֙ לַֽעֲוֹנָ֔ם וּלְחַטָּאתָ֖ם לֹ֥א אֶזְכָּר־עֽוֹד”. אָמֵן׃
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’,[2] and, as it is said: `for all of them will know Me, from the smallest to the greatest’.[3] (Amen)

“A Prayer for the Government” by Rabbi Louis Ginzberg (a new translation by Rabbi Tim Bernard): PDF | ODT | TXT

Louis Ginzberg (1873-1953)

Rabbi Louis Ginzberg’s “A Prayer for the Government,” was originally published in 1927 in the Festival Prayer Book, edited by Jacob Kohn and Maurice H. Farbridge. In his article “Conservative Prayerbooks” written for the Jewish Spectator in 1976, Dr. Eric Friedland had this to say about the Festival Prayer Book and Louis Ginzburg’s Prayer for the Government:

The Festival Prayerbook (1927, under the auspices of the United Synagogue of America), the first publication to bear the stamp of the Conservative Movement, shared not a few of the characteristics of the liturgical productions of Britain’s Orthodox United Synagogue, the Authorized Daily Prayerbook and various mahzorim, noted for their neat and orderly layout, textual accuracy, and judicious curtailment of piyyutim. The early disciples of Solomon Schechter, who himself had spent some time in Cambridge before he came and settled in New York to put the then-teetering Jewish Theological Seminary on its feet, were not impervious to the neo-classical trend of the nineteenth-century Anglo-Catholic Tractarians of the Church of England. While the elevated, formal “high-church” tone of the Festival Prayerbook has long since been supplanted, many of that prayerbook’s meticulous standards have been retained. One innovation that has perdured is Professor Louis Ginzberg’s Prayer for the Government. The entreaty is patriotic in the best sense of the term with scarce a trace of jingoism. Its longevity is warranted.

In his review, Dr. Friedland was speaking specifically of Ginzberg’s original Hebrew liturgy. A better translation was the main impetus behind Rabbi Tim Bernard’s contribution. As Rabbi Bernard explains:

This translation is more straightforward, less archaic, and much closer to original Hebrew than the traditional translation found in Conservative prayer books published between 1927 and 2005.

Shared by Tim Bernard in the year 5770/2010 with a Creative Commons Attribution/ShareAlike (CC BY-SA) 3.0 Unported license.

Last updated: 2014-12-19 16:00

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