Tuesday, October 25, 2011

May God bless and keep the czar far away from us! pt II

After my post May God bless and keep the czar far away from us! my good friend Eli Genauer was kind enough to send me an amazing scan of a machzor he owns which was printed in Germany in 1938 - תרצח, of all years. This edition of the famed Roedelheim machzor, almost certainly the last produced on German soil, contained the following original and pathetic prayer for the state ("vaterland"):

Here is the title page:



  1. Interesting that they write TarTzach, not TarChatz.

  2. Could be it was a little message that they were sure the Nazis wouldn't get. On the other hand I suspect it's a bit of a Yekkeshe thing too, keeping it straight. I know someone is going to dig up something from KAJ in 1984 that shows I'm wrong, but that's the feeling I have.

  3. My copy of the Sidur Sefat Emet, printed in 1999 has this tefilah as well. It still is titled: Gebet fur das Vaterland but the country name גרמניא is replaced by six large dots.

  4. Interesting that the the text calls for the protection of the vaterland rather than the head of state; was praying for Hitler too much, or do earlier editions also have this version?

    (I’ve thought that Jews in America should pray for the preservation of the Constitutions of the Union and of their State, and only after that for the President, Governor, etc., etc. Those who printed the Siddurim evidentally disagree.)

  5. I believe you meant to say Sidur - a Machzor would not have Rosh Chodesh Bentching

  6. Why is this prayer "pathetic"?

  7. pa·thet·ic/pəˈTHetik/
    Arousing pity, esp. through vulnerability or sadness.

    Anon, thanks. Of course I meant siddur; it's called סדור שפת אמת. Thanks for bringing it to my attention. I'll correct it.

  8. I see a few indications of a subtle critique of the Nazi regime. For one, as has been noted, the prayer is for the land and people rather than the government. Second, it refers unnecessarily to 1000 years that are but a moment in time. Could this be an allusion to the Nazi regime (3rd reich) that was supposed to last 1000 years? I not also that the introductory phrasing comes from Lamentations and selichot, as if to say, "we are in deep trouble". Then, too, there are some puzzling analogies and phrases such as "mashbiach she'on galim".

  9. Y. Aharon, משביח שאון גלים is of course a reference to Psalm 65:9; look at the whole psalm, of course. To me a lot of it sounds like praying for the avoidance of war, which is interesting in retrospect since in truth the only hope for an end to the Nazi regime was probably war.

    I'm guessing that the 1000 years is certainly a reference to that. It probably also intends to convey גם זו יעבור.

  10. S.,

    Your definition of "pathetic" is not how the word is used by most people. Colloquially, the word is derogatory.

  11. I am aware. That's why I didn't tell you I didn't understand the question. However, that's what I meant, no more and no less.

    What word would you have chosen?

  12. I have also used the word pathetic correctly, as S. did, and been "corrected" by someone who didn't know what it meant. I don't think that this is a good reason to abandon the term; not only does it lack good synonyms but it has been used for centuries when discussing works of art.

  13. I'm not sure, but I would've avoided using a word that plays into the accusation that German Jews tried so hard to assimilate, not realizing that Esav sonei l'Yaakov and that they will always hate us no matter what. The charedim love leveling this accusation at German Jews so as to discredit Torah im Derech Eretz more generally.

    Using the word "pathetic" to describe this prayer plays right into this stereotype.

  14. I just can't bring myself to apologize for not dumbing down English.

    Besides, what kind of a special moron wouldn't see that the Jews in Germany were under enormous pressure in 1938? On that note, open up the Aruch Hashulchan and read how awesome the Czar was.

    I happen to think the blog generally contributes more rather than less to the idea of Torah im derech eretz.

  15. S.,

    It certainly does, and I don't mean to belittle this blog. I think it's amazing. I just was a bit upset about this minor point.

    But forget it. It's always easier to criticize. Please keep up all your good work.

  16. No problem. I wasn't offended or anything. Don't hold back, I'd rather hear from a reader than not!

  17. Benjamin Szwergold1:53 PM, April 18, 2014

    I have a copy of this siddur printed in 1935 with the same prayer for the conuntry an I too found it very poignant. Has anyone researched the history behind this formulation or indeed the history of blessing for governments over time




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