In Yekum Purkan, we pray for the well-being of the rabbis in Bavel, the Reishei Chalei, & the Reish Galvasa (commonly pronounced Galussa). This specific prayer for non-existent people and positions seems unique and I wonder why wasn't it amended? See for instance Tur Orach Chayim siman 188 that the language of Birchat Hamazon reflected various states of pre Beis Hamikdosh, during the Temple period, and following the destruction, by saying build, uphold, our rebuild Yerushalyim. Apparently, this type of amendment was not applied to Yekum Purkan. Why would we not care about uttering words that are not proper? (See Sefer HaChinuch 606 to only pray words that are applicable.)

Note this is not a prayer to return to days of old, but a prayer to uphold the situation as is, even though it doesn't exist.

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    If I understand your question correctly, I think that "rabbis in Bavel" include all rabbis in the Diaspora; and that "Reish Galusa" is just another way to call the גדולי הדור of whatever time we're in. I think.
    – MTL
    Nov 4, 2014 at 18:01
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    If someone brought you a written source that said this, would you find it to be acceptable? ( I don't have one.....yet ;) .....also, you might want to edit that into the question if that's part of the basis of the question.
    – MTL
    Nov 4, 2014 at 18:08
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    Great question, especially as I found the following from the Aderes. האדר"ת זצ"ל תיקן שבמקום "לְמָרָנָן וְרַבָּנָן חֲבוּרָתָא קַדִּישָׁתָא דִּי בְּאַרְעָא דְיִשְׂרָאֵל וְדִּי בְּבָבֶל" יאמרו "לְמָרָנָן וְרַבָּנָן חֲבוּרָתָא קַדִּישָׁתָא דִּי בְּאַרְעָא דְיִשְׂרָאֵל וְדִּי בכל אתר ואתר" Nov 4, 2014 at 18:31
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    @Shokhet i just saw someone online who quoted the Artscroll siddur as saying your pshat. So you have good anonymous company. But I'm still holding out for a source with a name.
    – user6591
    Nov 4, 2014 at 19:50

2 Answers 2


When asked this question, R' Aharon Leib Shteinman שליט"א replied "ווייל דעם סידור טשעפעט מען נישט" - "because we don't mess with the Siddur"

ספר רבבות אפרים או"ח תנה deals with this question at length:

1) He writes that שו"ת זכר יהוסף responds to those who wish to abandon saying it, explaining how the terms רֵישֵׁי גַּלְוָתָא וּלְרֵישֵׁי מְתִיבָתָא, etc. apply to those in our community who represent us to our respective governments.

While the minhag ashkenaz is to say it, the reason that Sefardim don't say it is because they don't want to pray for things (תחנונים) on שבת. (See here)

Elsewhere, R' Ephraim Greenblatt (3:201) criticizes those who wish to do away with these תפילות, again, because we have so many great Rabbis who this applies to.

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    Beautiful thank you. The first link you provided has nice rebuke from the Chafetz Chaim too.
    – user6591
    Nov 11, 2014 at 19:30
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    When did the rule that we don't mess with the Siddur start?
    – Double AA
    Nov 11, 2014 at 20:04
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    @Double probably after reform revolution when everyone got scared to say a chidush for fear of being called a maskil or worse. But Rav Soloveitchik wasn't scared.
    – user6591
    Nov 11, 2014 at 20:27

Rabbi Hirsch suggests in his siddur (pg. 346) that this term does not necessarily refer specifically to the person called Reish Galusa, but rather to all men in the position of leadership in exile.

רישי גלותא the Exilarch who administered the affairs of the exiled nation and whose residence was in the city of Babylon, was called ריש גלותא, However, the term is employed in the plural here; i.e. reishei galutha. Now by right only one person at a time could hold the exalted office of Exilarch. It may be that at the time this prayer was written, the institution of the resh galuthah, the Exilarch , might still have been extant. But the fact that the term is used here in the plural should indicate to us that reference is made here not to that one official, but rather to all the men who assumed position of leadership in the communities in exile; in other words, the officers and leaders of the communities and congregations.

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