Prayer for the Government


Dear Rabbi,

Politics aside, according to Judaism does a person have a civic or a religious obligation to strengthen and support the ruling authorities in the place they live?

Thank you!



  1. I hope we can all agree that it is in society’s best interest for there to be fairness, kindness and security. In fact, we find that one of our great Rabbis from two thousand years ago said, “Pray for the peace of the kingdom (government), for if not for the fear of it, people would swallow each other alive.” (Avot 3:2) This is pretty scary-sounding stuff indeed!

    Prayer is one way to support a just and stable government. Voting and good civic practices, in general, are but a few other ways to help ensure a moral government and society.

    While politics have no place in a house of God, religion is not insensitive to the role of government and leadership. In fact, throughout the centuries synagogues faithfully followed this rabbinic instruction to pray for the welfare of the government. I have heard that, based on this idea, a Jew named Irving Berlin penned the lines of “God bless America.” In his own way he put into words what our people had religiously expressed for millennia. The places which have given us a home, deserved and received our gratitude. This idea was actually first taught by the Prophet Jeremiah on the eve of our first exile: “Seek the welfare of our government and to pray for it.” (Jeremiah 29:7)

    Prayers for the welfare of the government have been traditionally said on every Shabbat and holy day. The appropriate time for saying these prayers is during the public Torah reading, when there is maximum community presence, attention and participation. A moment of prayer has traditionally been set aside for the health and welfare of those responsible for the functioning of the social order.

    In a practical sense, it is important to note that nowadays there are many customs prevalent among the varying communities of the world. Some have one liturgical text, others have a different text and some refrain from formal communal prayer. One should follow the customs and practices of the local community and speak with a local Rabbi as desired for further explanation.

    Best wishes from the Team