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In the brocho of “hakol yoduchoShabbos Shacharis, some siddurim have “sheboro bemidas rachamim” while some have “sheboro bemidas HOrachamim”. Why?

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up vote 1 down vote accepted

So far all I've got is lists of siddurim, not a real answer.

במדת רחמים seems to be the older and more widespread version. Various old siddurim on Hebrewbooks (both Ashkenazic and Sephardic) have it that way, as do the influential siddurim of R. Hirtz, Shaloh, R. Zalman Hanau and R. Yaakov Emden.

So far, the earliest siddur I've found that has במדת הרחמים is that of R. Shneur Zalman of Liadi. I haven't come across anything giving a reason for this, though, nor whether it was his innovation or if he had an earlier source for it. (The various other recensions of the Ari's siddur have רחמים.) Could be that it's for the sake of consistency with various other places in davening where we refer to מדת הרחמים, such as in the preamble to the Akeidah and in the piyut מדת הרחמים עלינו התגלגלי; at any rate, that seems a possible reason why this version has infiltrated into other nuschaos.

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The Ba'al HaTanyah makes a point that he didn't make a change to the siddur without a source and that he went through many Siddurim looking. However if he did have a source he used the version for a word that he felt was Kabbalistically and gramatically correct even if it was not the version commonly in use. So he must have had a (probably obscure) source for that wording and chose it for what I would guess are Kabbalistic reasons. – follick Sep 5 '11 at 17:30
Thnaks for the answer, Alex and thanks for the comment, follick. – Avrohom Yitzchok Sep 8 '11 at 13:55

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