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נוסח אנגליה | The Nusaḥ of the Jews of England in 1287

The nusaḥ of the Jews of England before the expulsion is witnessed in a single text written by Jacob Jehudah Hazzan of London in 1287. The text is currently held in the collection of the library of the University of Leipzig. We are grateful to the library for making available to us a scan of just pages in the work containing the seder tefilot — something unavailable to its first transcriber (to which our digital edition is indebted). In April 1962, the former chief rabbi of the British Empire Israel Brodie published his transcription through Mossad haRav Kook, writing “The Etz Hayyim is the most notable and certainly the most voluminous of the literary productions of mediaeval Anglo-Jewry which have survived. It was written in 1287, three years before the Expulsion. The author of whom very little is known, wrote this comprehensive code of religious law based on the Mishneh Torah of Maimonides, on the Sefer Mitzvot Gedolot of Moses of Coucy and of many other rabbinic authorities some of whom are otherwise unknown. Included among his authorities are Talmudists — some of renown, who flourished in England. The Etz Hayyim appears to have been regarded as an authoritative source of Jewish Law, judging by references to it contained in works which will be listed in my full introduction. Though it was not quoted as frequently as other works of a similar nature, it takes its place among the Rishonim. David Kauffman in the Jewish Quarterly Review, Vol. IV, pages 20—63, 550—561, and Vol. V pages 353—374 gave a detailed description and appraisal of the Etz Hayyim. The full publication of the work, will, I am sure, provide scholars with additional and varied data which will justify the labour and time involved in its preparation and editing.” . . .

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. . . .

A Jewish Prayer for Peace between England and her Colonies on a public day of fasting and prayer, May 17, 1776

Fred MacDowell: “Then, as now, war was looked upon by many as a great evil, especially between brothers, and many American Colonists only wanted the oppressive measures of King George III to be lifted, bloodshed ended, and peace restored. The nascent American Congress called for a day of “Humiliation, Fasting and Prayer” along these lines for May 17, 1776. It was for this occasion that this prayer was recited in Congregation Shearith Israel in New York. As you can see, a complete service was arranged for this occasion, meant to invoke the solemnity and seriousness of the occasion; after morning prayer, Taḥanun was to be sung to the tune of a Yom Kippur pizmon; a dozen Psalms recited, and then the Ḥazan would recite this prayer written for the occasion, and of course all were to be fasting. The prayer hopes for a change of heart for King George III and his advisors, that they would rescind their wrath and harsh decrees against “North America,” that the bloodshed should end, and peace and reconciliation should obtain between the Americans and Great Britain once more, in fulfillment of the Messianic verse that Nation shall not lift up sword against nation. Of course this was not meant to be, and six weeks later the American Congress declared independence from Great Britain, and there was no walking back from the hostilities which had already occurred.” . . .


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