[Decree Against the Hebrew Aleinu Prayer]

AUCTION 75 | Thursday, March 08th, 2018 at 1:00 PM
Auction of Fine Judaica: Printed Books, Manuscripts, Autograph Letters, Antiquities, Ceremonial Objects & Graphic Art

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Lot 148

[Decree Against the Hebrew Aleinu Prayer]

Text in German. pp. 4. Stained. Unbound. Sm. folio.

Cölln an-der-Spree (Berlin):

Est: $7,000 - $9,000
In this edict the Prussian King Frederick I (1657-1713) banned the recitation of a portion of the synagogue concluding prayer “Aleinu LeShabe’ach.” The verse “For they worship vanity and emptiness and pray to a God who cannot save” had been controversial for centuries and was considered to be an anti-Christian statement (although the text predates Christianity). In the early 1700’s, Prussian Jews were physically attacked for reciting Aleinu. Here the Prussian government enacted that the controversial passage be omitted altogether. The Aleinu prayer is now to be recited aloud by the entire congregation in unison to ensure no-one was surreptitiously reciting the verse. Moreover government inspectors are to be posted within synagogues to ensure the offending line was omitted. Displays the extraordinary level of interference the secular authorities brought to bear in seeking to control the lives of local resident Jews. See S. Reif, Judaism and Hebrew Prayer (1993) p. 240 and EJ Vol. II, cols. 557-58.