At the beginning of the Amidah we say ברוך אתה ה, אלקינו ואלקי אבותנו אלקי אברהם אלקי יצחק ואלקי יעקב. Simchas Torah's answer to Yisrael or Yaakov? says that Yisrael refers to the spiritual. So why don't we say ואלקי ישראל?

  • 3
    How come we don't say shema yaakov? Commented Jan 1, 2017 at 13:33
  • 1
    Why do you think the spiritual would be more appropriate here?
    – Double AA
    Commented Jan 1, 2017 at 14:08
  • In a few places in the daily davening we do use the name Yisrael.
    – Yehuda W
    Commented Jan 1, 2017 at 15:30

1 Answer 1


This answer is partial, it gives sources for the choice of words used, but not in the context of the dialectical relationship between the two names Yaakov and Israel. I am not sure whether it is necessary to explain the blessing through this dialectic.

Abudarham said that the nusach follows the verse in Exodus 3, 15:

וַיֹּ֩אמֶר֩ ע֨וֹד אֱלֹהִ֜ים אֶל־מֹשֶׁ֗ה כֹּֽה־תֹאמַר֮ אֶל־בְּנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵל֒ יְהֹוָ֞ה אֱלֹהֵ֣י אֲבֹתֵיכֶ֗ם אֱלֹהֵ֨י אַבְרָהָ֜ם אֱלֹהֵ֥י יִצְחָ֛ק וֵאלֹהֵ֥י יַעֲקֹ֖ב שְׁלָחַ֣נִי אֲלֵיכֶ֑ם זֶה־שְּׁמִ֣י לְעֹלָ֔ם וְזֶ֥ה זִכְרִ֖י לְדֹ֥ר דֹּֽר׃ ‏

The comments explain that zichri is "how does one call me when praying". See Ramban e.g.

"וזה זכרי לדר דר" - יחזור אל אלהי אברהם אלהי יצחק ואלהי יעקב כי לא לעולם ישכח ברית אבות וכל הדורות כאשר יזכירו "אלהי אברהם יצחק ויעקב" ישמע אל ויענם (תהלים נה כ) ועל דרך האמת זה שמי לעולם אלהי אברהם אלהי יצחק וזה זכרי ואלהי יעקב ולכך הוסיף בו ו' וזה טעם זכרי לדר דר חסר והמשכיל יבין

The reason is that G-d would not forget the alliance with the fathers. Ramban adds a special need for the name Yaakov, but I don't understand it.

The Gemara in Psachim and Kiddushin use this verse to explain why when we read the name Y-H-V-H we need to pronune the name ADO-, i.e. the original name and the the name used to call Him are not equals. The issue is how to call. But the Abudarham adds an additional meaning in the same spirit, close to the words of the Ramban.

The perush Keter Nehoray said that we mention avot because the avot have put in place the prayers. {may be that since when Yaakov instituted Arvit he was not yet called Israel}.

The formal answer is that, looking for the verse that the blessing do paraphrase, we found (According to Abudarham) Shemot (3, 15) Eloke...Eloke...Eloke... This verse uses the name Yaakov, not Israel. The reason for the choice of this verse may be, according to the Ramban, that in this verse G-d explains how to talk to Him, and to use this formula is indicated. The question "why not Israel" from the symbolic point of view is not answered by the cited sources.

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