Most נוסח אשכנז prayer books I've seen, published in the mid twentieth century, had a prayer for the welfare of the national government and governors that began "הנותן תשועה למלכים". It's also found in R. Wolf Heidenheim's prayer book and in the prayer book based on R. Yaakov of Emden, for example. I've never seen another text — except that current prayer books published in or for Israel have a completely different text, one that starts "אבינו שבשמים". Nor have I ever heard the seemingly older text said in Israel. Why, when, and how did the switch occur?

  • The Hanotein text is for the US govt (and in the Heidenheim, for a specific person) whereas, as far as I recall, the Avinu text is for the entire state of Israel and doesn't list a person. Are you saying that the text about the US govt also starts Avinu shebashamayim? – rosends May 28 '17 at 22:23
  • No, @rosends. I don't mention the U.S. in my question at all. As far as I know, "הנותן" is for any government. – msh210 May 29 '17 at 6:26
  • I don't know what an Orthodox siddur in Italy would have for the Italian governent but it sees that there is a distinction between a prayer for a person or secular govt (hanotein) and a prayer for the state of Israel (avinu) - not that there was a shift but that there are two different types of prayers. – rosends May 29 '17 at 13:04

The prayer was instituted in 1948 by the Sephardic and Ashkenazic Chief Rabbis of the newly formed State of Israel, respectively Rabbis Ben-Zion Meir Hai Uziel and Yitzhak HaLevi Herzog. The prayer was originally published in the newspaper HaTzofe on September 20, 1948, and in Haaretz on the following day. Over the years it was assumed that Nobel laureate S. Y. Agnon was the one who actually composed the prayer, but researcher Yoel Rappel showed that Agnon was only asked to assist in composing it. This was confirmed by Agnon's son Hemdat

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prayer_for_the_Welfare_of_the_State_of_Israel

Interestingly, when examining the prayer published in the newspaper HaTzofe on September 20, 1948, I noticed that the editors were straightforward in crediting Agnon for merely assisting in the language rather than actually composing the prayer.

  • 1
    That answers when and by whom it was authored and I guess to some extent how the switch to this prayer occurred, but not at all when or why the switch occurred. Thanks, though, for the partial info. +1. – msh210 May 29 '17 at 4:17

To add to AviSch's answer, this article (Hebrew) from Tzohar has an anecdote which may shed some light on why Hanotein Teshuah was replaced soon after the establishment of the state.

על הזיקה בין שתי התפילות ניתן לעמוד מסיפור אישי שמביא פרופ' דב סדן באחד ממאמריו. סדן, אחד מחשובי החוקרים של הספרות העברית והתרבות היהודית, מספר כי ביום שלאחר הכרזת המדינה נפגש ברחוב עם שמואל יבניאלי שהיה מראשי תנועת העבודה. יבניאלי, שלפי עדות סדן היה כולו נלהב וחוגג, שאל את סדן האם אמרו בבתי הכנסת את ברכת הנותן תשועה למלכים "בתיקון לשון המתאים לתקומת ישראל" (לפי עדותו של סדן יבנאלי עצמו הציע נוסח אישי לתיקון שכזה בנוסח "בימינו נושע יהודה וישראל ישכון לבטח"). השיב סדן ליבנאלי כי שמע מפי הסופר ש"י עגנון כי מכיוון שתפילת "הנותן תשועה למלכים" חיבורה היה באונס (הכרח המציאות) ולכן אינה ראויה יותר.

The connection between the two prayers [Hanotein Teshuah and Avinu Shebashamayim] can be seen from a personal story told by Prof. Dov Sadan in one of his articles. Sadan, one of the most prominent researchers of Hebrew literature and Jewish culture, relates that on the day after the declaration of the establishment of the state, he met Shmuel Yavnieli (one of the leaders of the Labor party) on the street. Yavnieli, who according to Sadan was all excited and in a celebratory mood, asked Sadan whether they had recited Hanotein Teshuah in the synagogues "correcting the language to make it suitable for the rebirth of Israel". (According to Sadan, Yavnieli himself proposed a personal version of such an amendment: "In our days Judah has been saved and Israel will be secure.") Sadan replied that he had heard from the author SY Agnon that the prayer Hanotein Teshuah was authored under duress (for pragmatic reasons) and is therefore no longer fit for purpose.

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