Prayer for the Government in honor of George Washington, First President of the United States of America by K.K. Beit Shalome (1789)

Source (Hebrew) Translation (English)

בְּקָראֵינוּ אֵלֶיךָ אֵל צֶדֶק עֲנֵינוּ
הַקְשִׁיבָה לְקוֺל שַׁוְעָתֵינוּ וְחָנֵנוּ
רַחֵם עָלֵינוּ וּשְׁמַע אֶל תְפִלָתֵינוּ
כִי אַתָּה אֵל עֶלְיוֺן הִרחַבתָּ צָרָה מִמֶנוּ
When we call upon You, El Tsedek,[1]Righteous God answer us,
Listen to the sound of our cries and have mercy upon us,
Comfort us and hearken to our prayers,
For You are the supreme Master, You have distanced troubles from us.

אֵל חַנוּן הִצָלְתָּנוּ מִכָּל אוֺיְבֵנוּ
מִמִתּקוֺמְמִים עָלֵינוּ אַתָּה פְּדִיתָּנוּ
אַזַרתָּנוּ בְכֹח לִמְחוֺץ גֵאִוּת שׂנְאֵינוּ
בְבוּשָׁה וּבִכלִימָה נָפלוּ תַחַת רַגלֵינוּ
El Ḥanun,[2]Mericful God You have rescued us from all our enemies,
From those who rose up against us, You have saved us,
You provided us with strength to crush the conceit of our foes,
In humiliation and in shame, they fell before our feet.

אֵל צְבָאוֺת נָתַתָּ שָׁלוֺם וְשַׁלוָה בְאַרְמְנוֺתֵינוּ
וְאֶת the President of the United States נָתַתַּ לְרֹאשֵינוּ
וּבִתְפִלָה אָנוּ מַכְנִעִים לְפָנֶיך אֶלֹהֵינוּ
אֶל תַחֲנוּנֵינוּ תַּקשִׁיב וְתוֺשִׁיעֵנוּ
El Tseva’ot,[3]God of [the Angelic] Hosts You have provided peace and quiet for the heart of our government;
You have placed the President of the United States to act as our leader;
Through prayer we humble ourselves before You,
To our supplications lend an ear and rescue us.

שֵׂכֶל חָכמָה ותְבוּנָה תֵן בְלֵב רֹאשׁ מְדִינָתֵּנוּ
יִשְׁפֹט אֹתָנוּ בְצֶדֶק יִשְׂמַח וְיָגִיל לִבֵּנוּ
נְתִיבוֺת יְשָרִים הוּא יוֺלִיכֵנוּ
גַם עַד שֵׂיבָה יִפקוֺד וְיִשְׁפֺּט בְתֺכֵנוּ
Common sense, knowledge and insight, bestow upon the head of our state,
May he act justly towards us, gladden and bring joy to our hearts,
May he lead us along an honorable path,
Until his old age may he continue to act as leader and judge among us.

טָהוֺר וְיָשָׁר יִהְיֶה לֵב שָׂר וּפוקֵד עָלֵינוּ
אֵל שַדַי יִשְׁמַע אֶל קוֹלֵינוּ וְיוֺשִׁיעֵנוּ
נַאֲרִיך תְפִלָתֵנוּ לִפְנֵי אֵל גוֺאֲלֵינוּ
הוא ישמור וינצור the Vice President, Senators, Representatives of the United States.‏
May those who govern over us do so with purity of heart and with honor,
El Shaddai, listen to our voices and our calls,
As we lay out our prayers before El Go’alenu,[4]God our Redeemer 
Protect and shield the Vice President, Senators and Representatives of the United States.

יִתֵן שֵׂכֶל וּבִינָה לְכָל רָאשֵׁי מִשְׁפָטֵינוּ
יְשָרִים וְנֶאֶמָנִים יִהְיֵ לְבָבֵי שָׂרֵינוּ
יַצלִיח וִיִבָרֵךְ אֶת כָל מְדִינָתֵנוּ
וּמִיַד בְנֵי נֵכָר יַצִילֵנוּ
Provide wisdom and sense to all who lead our court system,
May the hearts of our leaders be just and trustworthy,
Provide success and bless all of our nation,
And from the hands of foreigners, protect us.

כִנְטֻעִים מְגֻדָלִים בִנְעוּרֵיהֶם יִהְי בָנֵנוּ
כִזָיִוֺת יִהְיֶ וּבְנוֺתֵינוּ
מְלֵאִים מְפִיקִים מִזָן אֶלזָן יִהְיֶ מְזָוֵינוּ
מַאַלִיפוֺת מְרֻבָבוֺת בְחוּצֹתֵינוּ
אַלוּפֵינוּ מְסוּבָלִים אֵין פֶרֶץ וְאֵין יוֺצֵץ בִרחוֺבוֺתֵינוּ
May our sons resemble young saplings that grow into strong trees,
May our daughters develop like olive trees,
May our land produce an abundance of food,
By the thousands and by the tens of thousands, in our fields,
May our livestock work hard; may they encounter no difficulties and may none be stolen from our streets.[5]This line is taken from Psalms 144:14 “אַלּוּפֵ֗ינוּ מְֽסֻבָּ֫לִ֥ים אֵֽין־פֶּ֭רֶץ וְאֵ֣ין יֹוצֵ֑את וְאֵ֥ין צְ֝וָחָ֗ה בִּרְחֹבֹתֵֽינוּ׃” — May our oxen be heavy laden, so there should be no breach or migration! May there be no loud cry in our in our streets!

כָל אוֹהבי הַמְדִינָה וְשׁוֺפטֵיהֶם יְבָרֵך אֶלֹהֵינוּ
וּתָנוּ כָבוֺד לה׳ אֵל גוֺאֲלֵינוּ
תִּוָשַׁע יְהוּדָה וְיִשְרָאֵל יִשׁכוֺן לָבֶטַח וּבָּא לְצִיוֺן גוֺאֵל
וְנֺאמַר אָמֵן
All those who love our country and its leaders, may they bless Eloheinu,[6]our God 
May they extend honor to YHVH El Go’alenu
May Judea be saved and Israel dwell in safety, and may the Redeemer come to Zion,
And let us say: “Amen.”

The above prayer for the government, quite possibly the first prayer composed for the nascent government of the United States of America,[7]An earlier prayer for the welfare of the 13 States, Governor of New York DeWitt Clinton, and General George Washington was read after the revolutionary war ended at K.K. Shearith Israel in 1784. was written by Congregation Beth Shalome.[8] Jews were already doing business in the Virginia Territory as early as 1650. By the 1760s they began to settle in Richmond and by 1790 Jewish residents numbered 100 citizens out of the 3700 citizens in the city. In 1789 a group of Jews established Kahal Kadosh Beth Shalome (The Holy Congregation, House of Peace), a Sepharadi congregation. It became the first congregation in Richmond and the sixth and westernmost Jewish congregation in the United States.in Richmond, Virginia in 1789. The original copy of this prayer is currently on display at the Museum of American Jewish History, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Much thanks to the museum for sharing a digital copy of the prayer for our transcription.) Please note the acrostic portion of the prayer in which the initial letters of the succeeding lines form the name: Washington.

Please visit Abe Katz’s excellent site, Beurei haTefila Institute, where he provides PDF sourcesheets of so many of his studies in tefillah. Abe Katz’s translation of this prayer was first included in his sourcesheet, “Prayers for George Washington and Abraham Lincoln.” I have digitally transcribed the text in Unicode Hebrew, proofread his translation, and corrected a few errors that appeared in his sourcesheet [–Aharon Varady].

Source

Prayer for the United States government and George Washington by K.K. Beth Shalome, Richmond, Virginia (1789) ("1979.10.1 b , The Richmond Prayer" Courtesy of The National Museum of Jewish History). Image provided has been gamma corrected for heightened contrast.

Notes   [ + ]

  1. Righteous God
  2. Mericful God
  3. God of [the Angelic] Hosts
  4. God our Redeemer
  5. This line is taken from Psalms 144:14 “אַלּוּפֵ֗ינוּ מְֽסֻבָּ֫לִ֥ים אֵֽין־פֶּ֭רֶץ וְאֵ֣ין יֹוצֵ֑את וְאֵ֥ין צְ֝וָחָ֗ה בִּרְחֹבֹתֵֽינוּ׃” — May our oxen be heavy laden, so there should be no breach or migration! May there be no loud cry in our in our streets!
  6. our God
  7. An earlier prayer for the welfare of the 13 States, Governor of New York DeWitt Clinton, and General George Washington was read after the revolutionary war ended at K.K. Shearith Israel in 1784.
  8. Jews were already doing business in the Virginia Territory as early as 1650. By the 1760s they began to settle in Richmond and by 1790 Jewish residents numbered 100 citizens out of the 3700 citizens in the city. In 1789 a group of Jews established Kahal Kadosh Beth Shalome (The Holy Congregation, House of Peace), a Sepharadi congregation. It became the first congregation in Richmond and the sixth and westernmost Jewish congregation in the United States.

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