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This extra Vav seems to be the adopted Nusach of choice for all Ashkenazim (Edot Mizrach and Aram Sova do not; their beracha begins differently). I can only imagine there are earlier girsaot without the Vav. When did this version come into being, and what does it mean or add to the text? Is this beracha somehow connected to the previous one?

The beracha of ולמלשינים has the extra Vav as well, but I don't believe these to be of the same type, since ולמלשינים has been through significant censorship, so the version we have is necessarily a truncated form. (Note the Edot Mizrach version of למינים ולמלשינים.)

  • Pretty sure someone added it in so the gematria of the first letters of each blessing would add up to some magic number (1800?). We have old examples too of a Vav being added to Lameshumadim (pre-censor). The only reasonable historical claim would be that this is a remanent of the old practice of combining Yerushalayim and Et Tzemach, but then we'd expect the Vav on the latter. – Double AA Aug 25 '17 at 12:57
  • Is the Tur a valid source? he.wikisource.org/wiki/… – Double AA Aug 25 '17 at 13:33
  • @DoubleAA Interesting that he refers to the Bracha as בונה ירושלים when all of the others he names by the first word(s). – DonielF Aug 25 '17 at 17:48
  • @doniel no he also refers to קללת המינים (in uncensored Turs) – Double AA Aug 25 '17 at 17:54
  • @DoubleAA Okay, most of the others. – DonielF Aug 25 '17 at 17:55
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Rabbi Yaakov Shapiro says based on what he heard in the name of Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu, based on the Gemara in Megila, that the Vav here shows us that it is in the honor of the righteous people that Jerusalem gets elevated. The Aderes in Tehila l'David 10 explains that therefore there is a Vav in V'Lyerushalayim.

ולא בכדי התפילה של 'ולירושלים עירך' היא היחידה שמחוברת לתפילה שלפניה בוא'ו החיבור. כפי שהזכיר פה הרב שמואל אליהו את הגמ' במגילה, שקרנם של צדיקים מתרוממת בירושלים, ועל כן מסביר האדר'ת (תפילה לדוד אות י), באה וא'ו החיבור בין 'על הצדיקים' לבין 'ולירושלים עירך'.

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Partial answer:

In a study including dozens of early manuscripts of Shemonah Esrei, which appeared in Hakirah, Heshy Zelcer noted that the first appearance of this extra Vav appeared in the Siddur R. Shabtai Sofer, (authored in the early 1600's and published in London in 1822, and) most recently published by Ner Israel Rabbinical College, Baltimore, in 2003.

Beyond that, the only other reputable Siddurim included in his study which utilized the Vav are ArtScroll's Ashkenaz and Sefard siddurim.

As has been pointed out in the comments, there have been a number of siddurim since then which have included the Vav.

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    The only appearance? What about, for instance, R. Yaakov Emden's siddur (hebrewbooks.org/… ), or siddur Vayetar Yitzhak ( hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=23772&st=&pgnum=58 ) ? – Jay Aug 23 '17 at 14:43
  • @Jay Good point. "The only appearance" in his study. It seems the study was really limited to much earlier manuscripts, and just a few more recent siddurim were included to provide a contemporary framing. Certainly, many siddurim have included the Vav since the 1600's, though Siddur Shabtai Sofer predates both examples you provided by a century. – Chaim Aug 23 '17 at 14:48
  • There's this one, published the same century - hebrewbooks.org/… . And if the author is the famous R. Eliyahu Bachur/Levita, then this was actually authored in the previous century! – Jay Aug 23 '17 at 15:01
  • @Jay, I wouldn't count Vayetar Yitzchak, as Yitzchak Satanover wasn't particularly traditional in his choice of textual usages. – Noach MiFrankfurt Aug 23 '17 at 23:45

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