Siddur

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A siddur (Hebrew: סדור[siˈduʁ] ; plural סדורים, siddurim [siduˈʁim]) is a Jewish prayer book, containing a set order of daily prayers. (The word "siddur" comes from a Hebrew root meaning "order".)[1] This article discusses how some of these prayers evolved, and how the siddur, as it is known today has developed. A separate article, Jewish prayer, discusses the prayers that appear in the siddur, and when they are said.

History of the siddur[edit]

The earliest parts of Jewish prayer book are the Shema Yisrael ("Hear O Israel") (Deuteronomy 6:4 et seq), and the Priestly Blessing (Numbers 6:24-26), which are in the Torah. A set of eighteen (currently nineteen) blessings called the Shemoneh Esreh or the Amidah (Hebrew, "standing [prayer]"), is traditionally ascribed to the Great Assembly in the time of Ezra, at the end of the Biblical period.

The name Shemoneh Esreh, literally "eighteen", is an historical anachronism, since it now contains nineteen blessings. It was only near the end of the Second Temple period that the eighteen prayers of the weekday Amidah became standardized. Even at that time their precise wording and order was not yet fixed, and varied from locale to locale. Many modern scholars believe that parts of the Amidah came from the Hebrew apocryphal work Ben Sira.

According to the Talmud, soon after the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem a formal version of the Amidah was adopted at a rabbinical council in Yavne, under the leadership of Rabban Gamaliel II and his colleagues. However, the precise wording was still left open. The order, general ideas, opening and closing lines were fixed. Most of the wording was left to the individual reader. It was not until several centuries later that the prayers began to be formally fixed. By the Middle Ages the texts of the prayers were nearly fixed, and in the form in which they are still used today.

The siddur was printed by Soncino in Italy as early as 1486, though a siddur was first mass-distributed only in 1865[citation needed]. The siddur began appearing in the vernacular as early as 1538. The first - unauthorized - English translation, by Gamaliel ben Pedahzur (a pseudonym), appeared in London in 1738; a different translation was released in the United States in 1837.[2]

Creating the siddur[edit]

Readings from the Torah (five books of Moses) and the Nevi'im ("Prophets") form part of the prayer services. To this framework various Jewish sages added, from time to time, various prayers, and, for festivals especially, numerous hymns.

The earliest existing codification of the prayerbook was drawn up by Rav Amram Gaon of Sura, Babylon, about 850 CE. Half a century later Rav Saadia Gaon, also of Sura, composed a siddur, in which the rubrical matter is in Arabic. These were the basis of Simcha ben Samuel's Machzor Vitry (11th century France), which was based on the ideas of his teacher, Rashi. Another formulation of the prayers was that appended by Maimonides to the laws of prayer in his Mishneh Torah: this forms the basis of the Yemenite liturgy, and has had some influence on other rites. From this point forward all Jewish prayerbooks had the same basic order and contents.

Two authoritative versions of the Ashkenazi siddur were those of Shabbetai Sofer in the 16th century and Seligman Baer in the 19th century; siddurim have also been published reflecting the views of Jacob Emden and the Vilna Gaon.

Different Jewish rites[edit]

Nusach Ashkenaz Siddur prayer book from Irkutsk, Russia, printed in 1918

There are differences among, amongst others, the Sephardic (including Spanish and Portuguese), Teimani (Yemenite), Chasidic, Ashkenazic (German-Polish), Bené Roma or Italkim and Romaniote (Greek, once extending to Turkey and perhaps the southern Italian peninsula) liturgies. Most of these are slight differences in the wording of the prayers; for instance, Oriental Sephardic and some Hasidic prayer books state "חננו מאתך חכמה בינה ודעת", "Graciously bestow upon us from You wisdom (ḥochmah), understanding (binah) and knowledge (daat)", in allusion to the Kabbalistic sefirot of those names, while the Nusach Ashkenaz, as well as Western Sephardic and other Hasidic versions retain the older wording "חננו מאתך דעה בינה והשכל", "Graciously bestow upon us from You knowledge, understanding, and reason". In some cases, however, the order of the preparation for the Amidah is drastically different, reflecting the different halakhic and kabbalistic formulae that the various scholars relied on in assembling their siddurim, as well as the minhagim, or customs, or their locales.

Some forms of the Sephardi rite are considered to be very overtly kabbalistic, depending on how far they reflect the ritual of Isaac Luria. This is partly because the Tetragrammaton frequently appears with varying vowel points beneath the letters (unpronounced, but to be meditated upon) and different Names of God appear in small print within the final hei (ה) of the Tetragrammaton. In some editions, there is a Psalm in the preparations for the Amidah that is printed in the outline of a menorah, and the worshipper meditates on this shape as he recites the psalm.

The Ashkenazi rite is more common than the Sephardi rite in America. While Nusach Ashkenaz does contain some kabbalistic elements, such as acrostics and allusions to the sefirot ("To You, God, is the greatness [gedullah], and the might [gevurah], and the glory [tiferet], longevity [netzach],..." etc.), these are not easily seen unless the reader is already initiated. It is notable that although many other traditions avoid using the poem "Anim Zemiroth" on the Sabbath, for fear that its holiness would be less appreciated due to the frequency of the Sabbath, the poem is usually sung by Ashkenazi congregations before concluding the Sabbath Musaf service with the daily psalm. The ark is opened for the duration of the song.

Hasidim, though usually ethnically Ashkenazi, usually use liturgies with varying degrees of Sephardic influence, such as Nusach Sefard and Nusach Ari, in order to follow the order of the prayers set by Rabbi Isaac Luria, often called "Ari HaKadosh", or "The Holy Lion". Although the Ari himself was born Ashkenazi, he borrowed many elements from Sephardi and other traditions, since he felt that they followed Kabbalah and Halacha more faithfully. The Ari did not publish any siddur, but orally transmitted his particular usages to his students with interpretations and certain meditations.[3] Many siddurim containing some form of the Sephardic rite together with the usages of the Ari were published, both by actual Sephardic communities and for the use of Hasidim and other Ashkenazim interested in Kabbalah. In 1803, Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi compiled an authoritative siddur from the sixty siddurim that he checked for compliance with Hebrew grammar, Jewish law, and Kabbalah: this is what is known today as the "Nusach Ari", and is used by Lubavitch Hasidim. Those that use Nusach HaAri claim that it is an all-encompassing nusach that is valid for any Jew, no matter what his ancestral tribe or identity, a view attributed to the Maggid of Mezeritch.

The Mahzor of each rite is distinguished by hymns (piyyutim) composed by authors (payyetanim). The most important writers are Yose ben Yoseh, probably in the 6th century, chiefly known for his compositions for Yom Kippur; Eleazar Kalir, the founder of the payyetanic style, perhaps in the 7th century; Saadia Gaon; and the Spanish school, consisting of Joseph ibn Abitur (died in 970), ibn Gabirol, Isaac Gayyath, Moses ibn Ezra, Abraham ibn Ezra and Judah ha-Levi, Moses ben Nahman (Nahmanides) and Isaac Luria. In the case of Nusach HaAri, however, many of these High Holiday piyyutim are absent: the older piyyutim were not present in the Sephardic rite, on which Nusach HaAri was based, and the followers of the Ari removed the piyyutim composed by the Spanish school.

Complete versus weekday siddurim[edit]

Some siddurim have only prayers for weekdays; others have prayers for weekdays and Shabbat (Jewish Sabbath). Many have prayers for weekdays, Shabbat, and the three Biblical festivals, Sukkot (the feast of Tabernacles), Shavuot (the feast of weeks) and Pesach (Passover). The latter are referred to as a Siddur Shalem ("complete siddur").

Variations and additions on holidays[edit]

There are many additional liturgical variations and additions to the siddur for the Yamim Noraim (The "Days of Awe"; High Holy Days, i.e. Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur). As such, a special siddur has developed for just this period, known as a mahzor (also: machzor). The mahzor contains not only the basic liturgy, but also many piyutim, Hebrew liturgical poems. Sometimes the term mahzor is also used for the prayer books for the three pilgrim festivals, Pesach, Shavuot and Sukkot.

Popular siddurim[edit]

Below are listed many popular siddurim used by religious Jews.

Variety of popular Siddurim.

Ashkenazi Orthodox[edit]


Chassidic Siddurim[edit]

Sephardic[edit]

Spanish and Portuguese Jews[edit]

(Characterised by relative absence of Kabbalistic elements:)

Greek, Turkish and Balkan Sephardim[edit]

(Usually characterised by presence of Kabbalistic elements:)

North African Jews[edit]

(Usually characterised by presence of Kabbalistic elements:)

Middle Eastern Mizrachim (Sephardim)[edit]

(Usually characterised by presence of Kabbalistic elements:)

Syrian[edit]
Israeli, following Rabbi Ovadia Yosef[edit]
Edot Hamizrach (Iraqi)[edit]

Yemenite Jews (Teimanim)[edit]

Baladi[edit]

Shami[edit]

Conservative Judaism[edit]

Progressive and Reform Judaism[edit]

All of the following published by the Central Conference of American Rabbis:

Reconstructionist Judaism[edit]

Kol Haneshamah: Shabbat Vehagim

Digital Options[edit]

iPhone[edit]

Android[edit]

Blackberry[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ The word "seder", referring to the ritual Passover meal, comes from the same root.
  2. ^ Power and Politics: Prayer books and resurrection | Jerusalem Post
  3. ^ Nusach HaAri Siddur, published by Merkos L'Inyonei Chinuch.
  4. ^ A New Dialogue With The Divine, May 26, 2009, Jewish Week, Jonathan Rosenblatt [1]
  5. ^ Artscroll facing challenge from Modern Orthodox, April 5, 2009, JTA

External links[edit]