AL HA-NISSIM (Heb. עַל הַנִּסִּים; "for the miracles"), thanksgiving prayer added to the penultimate benediction of the Amidah and to the Grace after Meals on Ḥanukkah and Purim. The prayer starts with a general introduction: "For the miracles, the redemption, the mighty deeds, the saving acts, and the (victorious) wars, which Thou didst for our fathers in former times at this season." On Ḥanukkah a condensed account of the Hasmonean Revolt is added. The opening words of this section "In the days of Mattathias, the Hasmonean, son of Johanan the high priest…" present some difficulties owing to an apparent confusion between Jonathan, the high priest, and Johanan, father of Mattathias the Hasmonean. The additional recitation for Purim briefly retells the story of Purim. This prayer dates back to talmudic times (Shab. 24a). Several ancient sources also have the addition "as Thou hast done for them, thus perform for us, Lord our God, miracles and wonders, in our days" (Sof. 20:8, also Siddur R. Amram Ga'on, Seder Ḥanukkah, and Siddur R. Sa'adyah Ga'on, 256), but the prayer books omit this phrase on the halakhic principle that petitions and thanksgivings should be kept separate (Sh. Ar., OḤ 682:1). An imitative form of Al ha-Nissim was inserted into the Amidah and the Grace after Meals on the local Purims (see Special *Purims), and an attempt has been made to establish the recitation of such a prayer on Independence Day in Israel.
Elbogen, Gottesdienst, 130 ff.
Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.