Omer Learning 2019: Day 45 | Siddur Q & A: In the Amida’s 17th blessing…

Today is 45 days, which is 6 weeks and 3 days of the Omer

Instructions for counting the omer are found on our Omer Overview Page. You can find the specific blessing for today at chabad.org.

We’re dedicating new Siddurim on the first day of Shavuot. In honor of this wonderful occasion, we’re using the counting of the Omer to learn about the siddur.

Enjoy today’s siddur related question and answer, which was provided by Fred R..

In the Amida’s 17th blessing… The Fires Of Israel?

If at times, you’ve davened using different siddurim, you might have noticed that some of them omit the words “ishei Yisrael” (“fires of Israel”) from the section of the Amida which just precedes Modim Anachnu Lach. They’re shown in brackets in the excerpt below:

R’tzei, Hashem Elokeinu, b’amcha Yisrael, uvitfilatam, v’hasheiv
et ha’avodah li’dvir beitecha, [v’ishei Yisrael], u’tfilatam b’ahavah…

Find favor, Hashem Elokeinu, with your people Israel, and with their
prayers; and restore the service to the inner sanctum of your Temple,
[and the fires of Israel], and accept their prayers with love…

As with many siddurim, the Sabbath and Festival edition of Lev Shalem omits these words. My recollection (perhaps faulty?) is that Mahzor Lev Shalem includes them, but in brackets or parentheses, which would seem to indicate some ambivalence on the subject.

So the question is, why did so many editors remove those two words?

The simple answer is that those editors feel “ishei Yisrael” can only be understood as “the fiery sacrificial offerings of Israel”. That is, even if we would like to see the Temple rebuilt, we’re not anxious to see the sacrifices restored.

But even the editors who remove “ishei Yisrael” leave in the word “avodah”; literally “Temple service” in this context. But one can easily argue that sacrifices are an intrinsic part of the Temple service, in which case the editing of this paragraph is contradictory.

Furthermore (!) I recently had a short but interesting chat with a fellow congregant who pointed out that “fires of Israel” could just as easily refer to the fiery spirit of our prayers, or the fire in our hearts and enthusiasm for Judaism. In fact, it appears that this is how the two words are understood by various congregations which include Ishei Yisrael in their synagogues’ names.

So not being a fan of Temple sacrifices – either animal or vegetable – that is also how I choose to understand the phrase. That, in turn, explains why I would write a 345 word commentary on the deletion of a mere two words from the Amidah.

Learn More

You can learn more at:

https://torah.org/learning/tefilah-17thblessing/