The prayer for the State of Israel is a focal point of the Shabbat morning service both in Israel and the diaspora.
In addition to praying for the welfare of the state and its leaders, the prayer contains the dramatic theological claim that Israel is “reishit tzmichat ge’ulateinu”, “the beginning of the flowering of our redemption.”
The history of this phrase is interesting. According to recent research, both chief rabbis of the time of the establishment of modern Israel, Rabbis Yitzchak Halevi Herzog and Ben Zion Uziel, co-wrote the prayer.
Rabbi Uziel’s secretary sent the draft to Shai Agnon, Israel’s greatest writer and, later, winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature. He made some stylistic corrections and inserted the pivotal reishit tzmichat ge’ulateinu line.
This prayer declares faith in Israel as the beginning of a redemptive process. It prays for God to send wisdom to Israel’s leaders and for victory (in times of conflict) and peace. It concludes with the hope that all Jews will live according to the values of the Torah and for God’s glory to shine in the world.
Rabbi Julian Sinclair