Isidore Singer.

The Jewish encyclopedia : a descriptive record of the history, religion, literature, and customs of the Jewish people from the earliest times to the present day (Volume 8) online

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vate devotion, and that no ritual was developed in
the pre-exilic period. Formal prayers are found
only in Deut. xxvi. 5-13 and Lev. xvi. 21.

In view of the position which the Temple occu-
pied, it may be assumed that after the exile the public
worship there influenced the liturgy.

Influence and in great part even created it; the
of the Tem- prayers just mentioned were part of
pie on the tlie Temple worship. The Levites

Liturgy, recited prayers of thanksgiving and
praise (hiring the morning and evening
sacrifices (I Chron. xxiii. 30), and Neh. xi. 17 indi-
cates that thi.s was an established ceremony. The
threefold repetition of the daily prayer (Dan. vi. 11 ;
Ps. Iv. 18 [A. V. 17]) is likewise connected with the
Temple service, the second prayer corresponding
perhaps with the sacrifices whicli were offered by
individuals between the official morning and evening
sacrifices. The Talmud says, with correct historical

insight, that the prayers were instituted to corre-
spond with the sacrifices (Ber. 24b, passim). The
fact that in prayer the face was turned toward the
Temple (Dan. vi. 10; II Chron. vi. 34; Ber. 4b-5a,
passim), as well as the contents of the prayer, to-
gether with various other indications, clearly shows
that the synagogal liturgy was derived primarily
from the Temple worship.

In the Temple itself, side by side with the sacrifi-
cial cult, there existed a hturgy whose most splen-
did remnants are the Psalms, which constituted the
hymnal of the Second Temple and now occupy
an "important position in the synagogal liturgy.
Those Psalms which are cast in the form of prayers
and hymns soon took their place as hymns in the
service of the sanctuary, even though they were not
originally composed for this purpose, and they were
sung, especially on feast-days, in the synagogue
and in private gatherings. In its descriptions of
Temple festivities the Book of Chronicles alludes to
them, especially to the eighteen ' Hallelujah,' ' Hal-
lel,' and ' Hodu ' Psalms (Ps. cv.-cvii., cxi.-cxviii.,
cxxxv., exxxvi., cxlvi.-cl.). . . . Prophecy and
psalmody were gradually typified in tAvo persons,
Moses and David. . . . Even after the destruction
of the Temple these united elements left their im-
press upon the Synagogue : the readings were de-
voted to the Law and the discourses to the Prophets,
while entire psalms, or verses from them, were used
as prayers " (Zunz," S. P." pp. 4 et seq.). The place
which many Psalms occupied in the worship may still
be recognized from their form (final verses, notes on
the mode of recitation, etc.) or from their contents
(see the commentaries to the Psalms by Olshausen,
Hupfeld, and others, and especially by Graetz). The
authors of the superscriptions and concluding words
of the Psalms recognize the collection as liturgical
(Ps. Ixxii., end: "The prayers of David ... are
ended"), and tradition freciuently alludes to this
fact {e.g., Tamid, end). In the ritual of the Syna-
gogue the Psalms retain their ancient position, at
least as regards the text of the prayers. " In the
Sabbath and festival discourses the wise man be-
comes the prophet, and the leader in prayer the
psalmist" (Zunz, I.e.).

In addition to the sacrifice, which was in the
care of the priests, and the singing of the Psalms,
which was performed by the Levites, the Temple
had its special liturgy for the third class of the peo-
ple, the Israelites. The entire nation had been di-
vided into twenty-four sections, so that to each divi-
sion of priests there corresponded one of Levites and
one of Israelites. Each section served for a week in
the Temple, and this period was a time of fasting,
for the Israelites assigned to the section doing serv-
ice, both those who were in Jerusalem and those
wiio had remained in their country homes. Every
day they read a prescribed portion of the first
chapter of Genesis. These details are recorded in
Ta'an. iv. 1, in both Talmuds ad lor., and in Tosef.,
Ta'an., iv., which seem to assign the beginnings of
synagogal worshi]) to the Temple; that there was
some foundation for their account is shown by
the fact that Joshua b. Ilananiah, a teacher liv-
ing in the time of the Temple, is mentioned. It
is possible, however, that the reading of the Torah



Little Kussia

was taken over into the Temple ritual from an al-
ready existing synagogal ritual.

The services in periods of drought constitute an
independent source for the liturgy of the Syna-
gogue. The frequent scarcity of rain
Fast-Day greatly distressed the people, for it
Services, meant famine and death to man and
beast. At such times public assem-
blies for fasting and prayer were held as early as the
time of the Prophets, in which old and young, the
bride and the groom, took part (Joel i. ; ii. 16-17 ;
Jer. viii., especially verse 11). An entire treatise of
the Mishnah (Ta'anit) is devoted to the regulations
in regard to fasting, and its second chapter discusses
the liturgy in detail. The prayer consisted of
twenty-four benedictions, of which eighteen were
those of the daily prayer and six were additional
(see Schilrer, "Gesch." 3d ed., ii. 490; Israel Levi,
in "R. E. J." xlvii., where the sources and bibliog-
raphy are given). The final evening prayer, "Ne-
'ilah," recited on this occasion, has been preserved
only in the service for the Day of Atonement.
The liturgy for the fast was developed long before
the common era, and it is highly probable not only
that it was evolved independently of the Temple,
but that it influenced the beginnings of the daily
form of worship.

It is certain, however, that the institution of the
reading of the " Shema' " (Deut. vi. 4-9) originated
entirely in the Temple service. At the morning
sacrifice the priests read the Ten Commandments
and the " Shema' " and recited several benedictions
(Tamid v.). Contrary to the custom in all other
ceremonies, the day for the Temple service began
with sunrise, and not with evening or with the ap-
pearance of the moon, and since the first rays of the
sun were awaited before beginning the morning sacri-
fice there was some danger lest it might be held that
the sun-god was being worshiped. Hence the congre-
gation was addressed as follows : " Hear, O Israel, the
Eternal is our God ; the Eternal is One. " It may have
become customary, therefore, as early
The Read- as the Persian period to recite the first
ing of the sentence of the " Shema' " in the Tem-
'* Shema'," pie before beginning the sacrifice, the
other verses, including Deut. xi. 13-
21, being added in the course of time. The require-
ment that it should be recited outside the Temple
and before sunrise (Ber. v. 1 et passim) points to the
origin of this usage. Its antiquity may be inferred
from the fact that Josephus ("Ant." iv. 8, § 13)
seems to ascribe it to Moses and that in traditional
literature it is explained as a Biblical custom. At
that time it must have been in existence for some
centuries, for its genesis had been forgotten. The
reading of the " Shema' " in the evening must have
been introduced somewhat later, since it was not re-
cited in the Temple, and the rules governing it were
less rigorously defined. The reading of the Deca-
logue probably became customary in the Greek
period in order to guard, by the solemn utterance of
the first two commandments, against the imminent
danger from Hellenistic polytheism (see Blau in
"R. E. J." xxxi. 179-201, where the history of the
benedictions in the " Shema' " is discussed). In an-
I cient times the " Shema' " was not recited in the

manner now customary in the synagogue, but either
with the leader, verse by verse alternately, or ia
some other way. As it was Israel's solemn confes-
sion of faith, each one knew it by heart (Ta'an. 26a),
and it was recited in the synagogue •' with one
mouth, one voice, one song" (Cant. R. viii. 14). It
might be read in any language (Sotali vii. 1 and
parallels), and a scribe once heard it in Greek (Ycr.
Sotah 21b, below). It was sometimes read back-
ward (Ber. ii. 4 and parallels), a custom which is
reminiscent of magic practises (see').

The second and doubtless later division of the
daily liturgy is the prayer consisting of eighteen
benedictions, named the " TefiUah " kct i^oxvv in the
sources. This petition, which is still
"Shemoneh included in every Jewish prayer-
'Esreh." book, is called She.moneh 'Esreh
(eigiitecn prayers) even in the ear-
liest sources (Ber. vi. 3; Ta'an. ii. 2). Rabbi Johanaa
(d. 279), the famous director of the school of Tibe-
rias, who was distinguished also for his knowledge
of the historical traditions, ascribes the introduction
of these benedictions, the emphasizing of the sanc-
tity of the Sabbath, the feast-days, and the bene-
dictions at their close, to the Great Synagogue (Ber.
33a). Four kinds of liturgy, in the widest sense
of the word, are here mentioned: "berakot," "tefil-
lot,""hiddushot,""habdalot." In the benedictions
are included, e.g., the sentences of thanksgiving
recited after meals, which are probably very ancient
(see Maimonides, " Yad," Tefillah), and which are ex-
plained as Biblical, as well as all blessings spoken on
partaking of fruit, executing commands, and the like.
The beginnings of these prayers, perhaps, date back
to the Persian period, their brevity and pure, simple
Hebrew favoring tliis view. Their development,
doubtless, was gradual and occupied several cen-
turies. This may be assumed even in the case of the
" Shemoneh 'Esreh," of which the first and last three
benedictions constitute the foundation and hence are
the oldest portion ; and they are mentioned in the
Mishnah with special names designating the several
sentences (R. H. iv. ; Tamid v. 1 ; R. H. 32a). " The
ancient regulation whicii designates that portion for
all the days of the year, while the other passages of
the ' Tefillah ' are excluded on the Sabbath and on
festivals, is almost certainly a proof of greater age "
(Zunz, "G. V." 2d ed., p. 380). The intermediate
twelve sentences are of later date, and Zunz ascribes
them to various periods. Different versions of one
and the same prayer were apparently differentiated
and included as independent benedictions. These,
however, never received a stereotyped form for gen-
eral use, and each has its own history (Elbogen, in
"Monatsschrift," 190'2). Even before the destruc-
tion of the Temple the twelfth benediction was
added expressly against apostates and traitors ("bir-
kat ha-minim "), and later was the cause of vari-
ous changes in the '' Shemoneh 'Esreh " (Zunz, I.e. p.
382; Elbogen, I.e.). This prayer can not have been
directed exclusively against Judaso-Christians, for
at the time of its composition they can have been
neither powerful nor antinomian in Palestine (see

On account of its age the "Shema'" was much
more widely known than the "Tefillah" whicli




has just been outliued. This is clear from tlie fact
that the "Tetillah" is regarded as a rabbiuical,
while the "Shenia'" is regarded as
" Shema' " u Biblical, prayer. As late as 100
and c.E. a prominent scribe asserted that

"Tefillah." the entire "Tetillah" was unneces-
sary and that the evening "Te-
fiUah " was not binding, in consequence of wiiich
view he became involved in a controversy with
the patriarch Gamaliel II. (Bcr. 28a, passim ; El
bogen, I.e.). On account of its length it was not
suitable for the mass of the people. As a mattei' of
fact, only seven, nine, or ten benedictions are in-
cluded in the " TefiUah " for the feast-days, although
they are of earlier date and of greater importance,
in view of the occasion. Ou these days, also, the
daily benediction was very sliort, consisting prob-
ably only of a few words, perhaps as follows:
" Cleanse our hearts that we may serve Thee faith-
fully " (Frisch, iu " Magyar-Zsido Szemle, " 1892,
pp. 264 et Keq., where the importance of a short
prayer is shown ; comp. ib. pp. 318 et seq., where the
same author attempts to sketch the historical devel-
opment of the "Telillah "). Probably both because
it was the custom of the Temple and because they
were ignorant of the "Tetillah," the people them-
selves did not pray, but listened to the hazzan, the
"delegate of the community," and punctuated his
sentences with "Amen" (R. H. 32a; Elbogen, ^.c).
In the sanctuary the people later responded with
another formula, mentioned below. They were
educated for prayer only by centuries of practise,
and the original formulas, consisting of one or two
words, remained as distinctive .signs in the ampli-
fied invocations. The"Haller' and "Hodu" for-
mulas, which are in fact found only in passages from
the Psalms included in the synagogal ritual, are
characteristic of the oral worship of the sanctuary.
The " Hosanna " is likewise derived from the Temple,
and the " Baruk " formula is probably taken from
the same source, although the latter soon became
predominant and was repeated frequently both in
public and in private worship. Prayers for week-
days. Sabbaths, and fast-days, the liturgy for fast-
days, and grace i)eforeand after meals, as well as all
kinds of benedictions and prayers of thanksgiving,
have retained the same fixed form to the present
day, and may, therefore, be di-scussed in some detail
here, together with their historical development.
As regards their externa4 form, all the praj'ers des-
ignated by the Talmud, in the passage cited above
(Ber. 33a), as "benedictions, prayers, sanctitications
and habdalahs," are merely berakot.

In the earliest times the peoi)l<' prayed only occa-
sionally, and the benedictions likewise were merely
incidental utterances of thanks tor mercies vouch-
safed, as for re.s(ue from danger, etc. The different
forms of tJie root " barak " occur frequentl}- in llic
Bible, even in the oldest portions. The word meant
originally "to bend the knee" (comp. " berek " =
"knee" in Ps. xcv. 6). and hence in general "to
praise," "to pray," because the ancients commonly
knelt on such occasions. In this sense the partici
pie ("baruk") is used in the "kal." and all the other
forms ("berck." "meborak," etc.) in the "pi'el" and

The adjuration "Praise God I " was probably ad-
dressed to the people of earlier times only in the
flush of victory after deliverance from the dangers
of war (Judges v. 2, 9), but later, when a regular
Temple cult had been instituted,
Doxologies it may have been uttered daily, so

During that it became a liturgical fornuila

Public with which divine Avorship was gen-
Worship. (Mally concluded (Ps. l.wiii. 27 [A. V.
2G], c. 4, piissim). In Ps. c.xxxv.
(comp. also cxviii. 2-4) Israelites, priests, Levites,
and the pious are summoned by groups to "bless the
Lord!" and it is noteworthy that this invitation is
placed at the conclusion of the Psalm. The final
verse, "Blessed be the Lord out of Zion, which
dwelleth at Jerusalem. Praise ye the Lord," con-
stituted the benediction spoken by those who had
been summoned. The benedictions that conclude
the closing chapters of the five books of Psalms (xli.,
Ixxii., Ixxxix., cvi., cl.), all being in substance one
and the same eulogy, may represent .synagogal for-
mulas from the time of the Temple which the people
intoned after completing the singing of the several
books. Occasionally, however, the people con-
cluded with a simple " xVmen " (comp. the Psalms
quoted and I Chron. xvi. 36). It may also be as-
sumed that such benedictions were not reserved for
public Avorship exclusively, but were also pro-
nounced in private: "I will bless the Lord at all
times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth"
(Ps. xxxiv. 2; comp. cxv. 18, cxlv. 2). Mention is
made of supplications at "evening and morning,
and at noon " (Ps. Iv. 18 [A. V. 17J), and of praise
offered seven times a day (Ps. cxix. 164), while iu
another passage only praise rendered in the morning
is mentioned (Ps. lix. 17).

The origin of this liturgical usage was the cus-
tom, on joyful occasions, of praising God for Ilis
goodness. A few examples may be

Private given here in their Biblical order.

Benedic- Thus Noah says, "Blessed be the
tions the Lord God of Shem " (Gen. ix. 26);

Model. Eliezer prays, "Blessed be the Lord
God of my master Abraham, who hath
not left destitute my master of his mercy and his
truth" (Gen. xxiv. 27); and Jethro exclaims,
"Blessed be the Lord, who hath delivered you out
of the hand of the Egyi)tians, and out of the hand
of Pharaoh " (Ex. xviii. 10). Similar utterances are
found in I Sam. xxv. 33 (David to Abigail) and
XXV. 39 (where David says of Nabal's death,
"Blessed be the Lord, that hath pleaded the cause
of my reproach") and II Sam. xviii. 28 (Ahimaaz).
Solomon thanks God in similar phraseology for hav-
ing placed him on the throne of his father (I Kings
i. 48, viii. 15; comp. viii. 56), and Hiram, King of
Tyre, uses the same formula in rejoicing that God
bad given David such a wise son over this great
people (ib. v. 7). The Queen of Sheba says to Solo-
mon, "Blessed be the Lord thy God, which delighted
in thee, to set thee on the throne of Israel " {ib. x. 9).
This formula is used also in Zech. xi. 5; II Sam.
xxii. 47 (Ps. xviii. 47 [A. V. 46]); Ps. xxviii. 6,
cxliv. 1; Ezra vii. 27; II Chron. ix. 8. It is inter-
esting to note that in Ruthiv. 14 the women address
I Naomi with the same formula, which shows that




it was transferred to the liturgy from popular

The doxology in all these passages is really a
prayer of gratitude to God lor blessings bestowed,
either on the speaker or on another.
Form. The occasion of the thanksgiving is
stated at the end and is general]}' in-
troduced by the relative pronoun " asher " (also by
"ki," Ps. xxviii. 6), or by a participle preceded by
an article (comp., however, Zech. xi. 5). The same
order occurs also in the benedic-tious prescribed by
the Talmud. The benediction proper is expressed
in most cases by "baruk," which generally consti-
tutes the first word. An exception is found in I
Kings X. 9 (II Chron. ix. 8), which has "Yelii
Adonai Elohcka baruk," imitating the phraseology
of'Yehi Shem Adonai meborak " (Job i. 21 ; Ps.
cxiii. 2). Neither of these formulas is found else-
where in the Bible. The Tetragranunaton alone des-
ignates the name of God in Ex. xviii. 10; Ruth iv.
14; I Sam. xxv. 39; I Kings viii. 56; Zech. xi. 5;
Ps. xxviii. 6, Ixxxix. 53. cxxiv. 6, cxxxv. 21 (once
"Adonai," Ps. Ixviii. 20 [A. V. 19], and twice "Elo-
him," Ps. Ixvi. 20, Ixviii. 36 [A. V. 35]). Usually
"Elohim," "Elohe Yisrael," or some similar expres-
sion is added to the Tetragrainmatou, so that God is
generally named in the third person. The phrase
"Baruk Attah Adonai, lammedeni hukkeka" (Ps.
cxix. 12) is an exception, and the benedictions in the
Talmud have, curiously enough, this form also, al-
though only as regards the use of the second person,
since "Elohenu Melek ha-'Olam" is normally added
to the Tetragrammaton. This use of the second
person indicates a later origin, like "Elohe Abotenu "
(Ezra vii. 27; comp. "Abinu,"I Chron. xxix. 10),
which occurs also in the first benediction of the
" Shemoneh 'Esreh. " The earliest form of the Torah
benediction is found in Ps. cxix. 12, which is also the
only one that is a prayer and not an expression
of gratitude. The benediction "U-baruk Shem
Kebodo le-'olam " (Ps. Ixxii. 19) is identical with the
preceding "Baruk Adonai," for "Shem Kebodo"
indicates the Tetragrammaton (comp. Dent, xxviii.
58, " ha-Shem ha-Nekbad " ; Neh. ix. 5, " Shem Kebo-
deka"; and Ps. xxiv. 7-10, "Melek ha Kabod ").
This gave rise to the later formula " Baruk Shem
Kebod Malkuto le-'olam wa-'ed " (which was, how-
ever, used in the Temple), in which " Adonai Elohim"
is paraphrased by three words in order that the people
should not pronounce the real names of God. The
henediction is once called " berakah " in the Bible—
"And blessed be thy glorious name, which is exalted
above all blessing and praise " (Neh. ix. 5). The
words" 'olam" and " 'olam wa-'ed," which with
variations are added to the benedictions, are of later
origin and belong to the liturgical formula. They
occur only in the Psalms and in Chronicles (Ps. xli.
14 [A. V. 13], Ixxii. 19, Ixxxix. 58 [A. V. 52], cvi.
48, cxiii. 9, cxv. 18, cxlv. 1 ; I Chron. xvi. 36, xxix.
; 10). This formula seems to have been used only
[ when the congregation was assembled as a whole.
i The significance of the benediction steadily in-
; creased in the course of centuries until it finally was
' used on the occasion of every manifestation of nature
and of human life. While it appears in the Bible
only in connection with public worship and on a

few .'jpecial occasions, in the traditional literature
it accompanies all the expressions of individual
life, and sanctifies all functions of the
Difference body and the soul. The pious Jew.
Between on going to sleep and on awakening,
Bible and and on all intervening occasions, ut-
Talmud. tered, and still utters, words of praise
to God. God is praised for His mercy
on occasions of joy or sorrow, on satisfying the needs
or desires of the body, on studying the Law, or on ful-
filling the ordinances of religion. The benediction,
like the entire religion, is individualized and special-
ized. It continually reminds the Jew of God, and
only when unclean, before he has bathed or purified
himself in some other way, is he forbidden to utter it .
The fact that the treatise Berakot, devoted to it, pre-
cedes all the other treatises, indicates its extent and
importance, ^nd its popularity is shown by the mi-
nute questions referring to it, which were discussed
even by the eariiest scribes. " The benedictions of a
man indicate whether he is a scholar " (Ber. 50a;
comp. Ta'an. 16a). Some examples are selected
here from the mass of material, which may show
the variety of these utterances and their nature.

There were persons who were very exact in re-
gard to the benedictions and watched their neigh-
bors closely {ib. j'jnpj). If any one
General made a mistake in the form in use
Doxology. during worship, the entire congrega-
tion corrected him {ib. 51a). He who
deviated from the form laid down by scholars was
remiss in his duty, although in a certain case the
short sentence of a shepherd— who was the proto-
type of ignorance among the Talmudists— was ap-
proved {ib. 40b). Prayers and doxologies might be
recited in any language {Sotah 32a et pasnm). Week-
days and feast-days, as well as all kinds of food,
had their special benedictions (Ber. 40a, below). A
blessing might not be pronounced over anything that
had been "accursed " (" min kelalah," unsound fruit,
etc. ; ib. 40b), nor in case of nocturnal pollution, nor
unnecessarily {ib. 20b. 33a). The doxology is pro-
nounced before fulfilling any of the commandments
(Pes. 7b; comp. Tosef., Ber. vii. 1).

One hundred benedictions a day shall be pro-
nounced by every one (Men. 43b, below), but who-
ever writes them down sins as grievously as if he
had burned the Torah (Shab. 115b). The Tetra-
grammaton and a reference to God as the King of
the World are essential to every benediction (Ber.
12a, 40b, 49a). While Johanan b. Zakkai still used
the Biblical form and in a doxology referred to God
in the third person (Hag. 14b, "Baruk Adonai Elohe
Yisrael she-natan," etc.), only the second person is
used in the later doxologies (" Baruk Attah Adonai
Elohenu Melek ha-'Olam'"). The last three words
are omitted in certain cases (Ber. 46a, below). The
knee shall be bent on uttering " baruk " {ib. 12b).
although this rule refers only to prayer and not to
other benedictions (comp. also ib. 34b, relating to
the king and high priest). One person may pro-
nounce the benediction for all the other persons as-
sembled {ib. 53a). The principal person at table is
entitled to say grace {ib. 47a, 45b), to which the
others respond with "Amen," which is regarded as
more important than the pronouncing of the bera-




kah itself (ib. 53b), and it is even praiseworthy to
say " Amen " after one's own eulogy. One should
not pronounce a "rapid, chopped, or orphaned
'Amen,' nor speak the benediction too quickly," nor
lift the voice at the "Amen" above the voice of the
speaker (ib. 45a, b, 47a). The form of some bene-
dictions depends on the number of those present {ib.
49b). " Thou Shalt praise God for evil fortune as
well as for good " {ib. ix. 1). One should say, even

Online LibraryIsidore SingerThe Jewish encyclopedia : a descriptive record of the history, religion, literature, and customs of the Jewish people from the earliest times to the present day (Volume 8) → online text (page 35 of 169)