בסיעתא דשמיא

הַנּוֺתֵן תְּשׁוּעָה | The Prayer for the Safety of Kings, Princes and Commonwealths, as presented in English translation by Menasseh ben Israel to Oliver Cromwell (1655)

From “How Faithful The Nation of the Iewes are.” in To His Highnesse The Lord Protector Of The Common-Wealth Of England, Scotland, And Ireland, The Humble Addresses Of Menasseh Ben Israel (1655), p.11-13 (p.91-93 in L. Wolf’s edition). The Hebrew liturgy shown was transcribed from the “Prayer for the Dutch royal family and the city council of Amsterdam” (1950) and has been edited to fit this earlier version of the text. What is clear in comparing this version with the version that became prominent in England and elsewhere, is the removal of the angelo-astrological phrase on the rise of the planetary star corresponding to the particular Sar in heaven and lord on earth. What changed between 1655 and the 18th century? Increased anxiety over exoteric references in the kabbalah following the messianic movement of Shabbetai Tsvi, and also, the Enlightenment. We’ll be keen to find other examples of Hanoten Teshua from before and after 1655, that might add additional light on how this prayer may have changed. Related to the liturgical phrase on the rise of the planetary star, Menasseh ben Israel includes a reference in his argument to Cromwell for the proper regard that should be granted the Jews by the other nations. The reference is to Zohar Pekudei (Zohar II 267b:8-10) and we believe this may be the first time anyone has ever located the actual text being referred to here. . . .

פרק שירה | Perek Shirah (Chapter of Song), a hymn of creation

Talmudic and midrashic sources contain hymns of the creation usually based on homiletic expansions of metaphorical descriptions and personifications of the created world in the Bible. The explicitly homiletic background of some of the hymns in Perek Shira indicates a possible connection between the other hymns and Tannaitic and Amoraic homiletics, and suggests a hymnal index to well-known, but mostly unpreserved, homiletics. The origin of this work, the period of its composition and its significance may be deduced from literary parallels. A Tannaitic source in the tractate Hagiga of the Jerusalem (Hag. 2:1,77a—b) and Babylonian Talmud (Hag. 14b), in hymns of nature associated with apocalyptic visions and with the teaching of ma’aseh merkaba serves as a key to Perek Shira’s close spiritual relationship with this literature. Parallels to it can be found in apocalyptic literature, in mystic layers in Talmudic literature, in Jewish mystical prayers surviving in fourth-century Greek Christian composition, in Heikhalot literature, and in Merkaba mysticism. The affinity of Perek Shira with Heikhalot literature, which abounds in hymns, can be noted in the explicitly mystic introduction to the seven crowings of the cock — the only non-hymnal text in the collection — and the striking resemblance between the language of the additions and that of Shi’ur Koma and other examples of this literature. In Seder Rabba de-Bereshit, a Heikhalot tract, in conjunction with the description of ma’aseh bereshit, there is a clear parallel to Perek Shira’s praise of creation and to the structure of its hymns. The concept reflected in this source is based on a belief in the existence of angelic archetypes of created beings who mediate between God and His creation, and express their role through singing hymns. As the first interpretations of Perek Shira also bear witness to its mystic character and angelologic significance, it would appear to be a mystical chapter of Heikhalot literature, dating from late Tannaitic — early Amoraic period, or early Middle Ages. . . .

A Prayer for the Earth by Rabbi David Seidenberg (neohasid.org)

God of all spirit, all directions, all winds You have placed in our hands power unlike any since the world began to overturn the orders of creation. . . .


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