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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in the house of mourning, " Blessed be the Merciful
One who grantetli good things" ("Baruk ha-Tob
weha-Metib "). Akiba, however, says, "Blessed be
the Just Judge" ("Baruk Dayyan Emet," «6. 46b,
64b, 60b). After a successful journey by sea or
desert, after recovery from illness, or after release
from prison, one should say, "Blessed be He who
granteth favors" ("Baruk gomel hasadim," ib. 54b).
There was also a special blessing for a person who
had been bled {ib. 60a). See Benediction.

God was praised at the crowing of the cock for
having given it understanding to distinguish be-
tween day and night, and there were special bene-
dictions for every act of dressing, which are now
collected at the beginning of the book of daily
prayer (Ber. 60b). "Whoso profits
Daily aught from this world without reci-
Benedic- ting a benediction defrauds it" {ib.
tions. 35a). Everything that may be en-
joyed (fruits of the earth, etc.) has a
corresponding benediction ; only the words " every-
thing came into being at His word" may be ap-
plied to them all {ib. 40a). There is even a berakah
for perfume {ib. 43b, where individual rules are
given for other things). Bread and wine, being the
most important articles of food, have special bene-
dictions {ib. vi. 1). The seven kinds of fruit of the
Holy Land enjoy certain prerogatives, and the oil
of the patriarch and of the emperor is especially
honored {ib. 40b, 43a, 44a). Most of the regulations
refer to the prayer after meals, which is often called
"the three benedictions." It had to be spoken
and might not be recited mentally {ib. 15a, b). It
was obligatory also upon women, slaves, and chil-
dren, who might pronounce it in place of the head of
the family, and did so if he was unacquainted with
Hebrew (ib. 20b). This and the Torah benediction
alone were regarded as Biblical, while the introduc-
tion of the others was ascribed to the Great Syna-
gogue {lb. 33a, 48b; Meg. 17a). The first benedic-
tion of the prayer at meals, it is said, was composed
by Moses, the second by Joshua, and the third by
David and Solomon (Ber. 48b); Moses was the first
one who could praise God for the food offered (the
manna), Joshua t he first who could praise him for the
Holy Land, and David and Solomon the first who
could praise him for Jerusalem, which was delivered
into their liands. The fourth benediction (" ITa-T'>b
weha-Metib "), it was said, was introduced at Jabneii
in thanksgiving for the burial of those who had been
killed in the great war with Rome (70 c.E.). These
four benedictions, according to a "heavenly voice"
(see Bat Kol), are worth forty denarii (Hul. 87b).
The blessing at meals had to be pronounced wliile
sitting (Ber. 51b), and there are ten regulations re-
garding the wine used in connection with it {ib. 51a).
It is dangerous, on account of the demons, to drink

two cups of wine, or any even number {ib. 51b).
The benediction pronounced over bread is also men-
tioned in the New Testament (Matt. xv. 36 ; John vi.
U ; Acts xxvii. 35) and by Philo (ed. Mangey, ii.

The Torah benediction and the reading of the
"Shema*" (Deut. vi. 4-8) are likewise explained as
being Biblical, while the "Shemoneh 'Esreh" is re-
garded as a rabbinical institution (Ber. 21a). As
the doxologies preceding the " Shema' " are really
Torah benedictions, they also are declared to be Bib-
lical (comp. ib. lib, 48b, and the interesting passage,
Shab. 88a, referring to the "threefold" Torah).
The following is considered the best berakah:
" Blessed be the Lord who hath given the doctrine "
{ib. lib). The division of the benedictions into
Biblical and rabbinical is important for the mat-
ter of chronology, the first group being earlier in
origin. The most important doxologies of the
prayer are " Yehi Shemo ha-gadol raeborak " {ib.
21a = Job i. 21 and Ps. cxiii. 2; Aramaic, "Yehe
Shemeh rabba meborak," Ber. 57a ; Shab. 119b ; Suk.
38b, 39a; Targ. Yer. to Gen. xlix. 2; Deut. vi. 4)
and the "Baruk Shem kebod malkuto le-'olam
wa-'ed " already mentioned (Pes. 56a; Deut. R. ii.
31, 36). In the sanctuary the people pronounced
this blessing, but no " Amen " (Ta'an. 16; Ber. 54a).
The following rules and customs deserve special
notice from a historical and religious point of view:
A special berakah was pronounced at
Benedic- the circumcision of a proselyte (Shab.
tions of 137b, " le-mul et ha-gerim"). " Amen "
Historical may be said after the benediction of a
Interest. Samaritan only if one has heard the
whole of it (Ber. viii. 1); the blessing
for light may not be recited for the light belield at
the end of the Sabbath in a city inhabited mostly
by Samaritans {ib. 53a). At Jabneh a special bera-
kah against Juda?o-Cliristians (Minim) was composed
after the destruction of the Temple {ib. 28b). If the
hazzan commits an error in reciting this passage he is
removed {ib. 29a). " Any one who says, ' The pious
praise Thee,' is guilty of heresy " (Meg. iv. 9), while,
according to R. Judah, any one uttering a benedic-
tion on seeing the sun is also guilty of heresy (Tosef . ,
Ber. vii. 6). This mishnaic teacher ordains that
one should praise God every day " that Thou hast
not created me a heathen or a woman or a slave "
(Men. 43b, below; comp. Gal. iii. 28; Diogenes Lacr-
tius, i. 1, § 7; James Darmesteter, "Une Priere
Judeo-Persane," p. 9, Paris, 1891; "Monatsschrift,"
xxxvii. 14; "Magyar Zsido Szemle," x. 100). On
seeing a Hermes one should say, "Blessed be He
who is lenient toward them that break His law,"
and on beholding a place where an idol has been
destroyed, "Blessed be He who destroyeth idols in
our land ; as He hath destroyed it in this place, so
may He destroy all in the land of Israel, and lead
the hearts of their worshipers back unto His service."
In a foreign country, however, one should say noth-
ing, for tlie majority of the inhabitants there are
heathen (Ber. 57b; comp. x. 1). "Any one behold-
ing a place where miracles have been vouchsafed to
Israel should say, ' Blessed be He who hath shown
marvelous things unto our fathers on this spot ' "
{ib.). together with benedictions applying to mani-




festatious of natural phenomena. One who sees
Jewish sages should say, " Blessed be He who hath
granted of His wisdom to His followers" ; and who-
ever sees pagan sages should say, "Blessed be He
who hath granted of His wisdom to His creatures. "
At the sight of Jewish or pagan kings praise was
rendered to God, who granted of His dignity to His
followers or to His creatures {ib. 58a). On be-
holding graves of Jews one should praise God.
who created them and who will finally raise them
up again {ib. 58b). He who sees the Euphrates
from the bridge of Babylon or the Tigris from the
bridge of Shebistena should praise the Creator {ib.
59b), for it was believed that these streams had arisen
at these places and were therefore still in their orig-
inal state, although a Babylonian amoraof tlie early
part of the fourth century indicates another place as
the source of the Euphrates, the Persians having
diverted it from its channel. God should receive
praise and thanksgiving from any one beholding a
ford of the sea, of the Jordan, or of the River Arnon
(where Israel beheld marvels) ; beholding hailstones
(Ex. ix. 33), the cliff of Beth-horon (Josh. x. 11), the
stone which Og, King of Bashan, wished to hurl
upon Israel, the rock on which Moses sat when
Joshua fought with Amalek (Ex. xvii. 12), the wife
of Lot, or the fallen walls of Jericho (Ber. 54a).
All these objects were still to be seen at the time of
the composition of this baraita, about the second

Although the benedictions of the priests, and
the benedictions pronounced in the house of mourn-
ing, and at betrothals, weddings, etc., are mentioned,
there are no indications that they were
Diflference regarded as exercising any material
Between influence on persons or things, i.e..
Christian that they were sacramental as the
and Jewish Christian Church has taught and
Benedic- still teaches (Herzog-Hauck, "Real-
tions. Encyc." ii. 588). They are merely
utterances of praise and thanks-
giving, and it can no longer be determined whether
originally they had the force which the Church
ascribes to them. It is certain, however, that the
idea of sacramentalism was foreign to Judaism.
Several passages in the New Testament in praise of
God are called "doxologies" {e.g., Rom. xvi. 27; see
Hastings, "Diet. Bible," i. 620).

The principal component parts of public worship
are the " Shema' " and the " TefiUah," the preceding
recitation from the Psalms, etc., having only the
force of custom. As late as the time of Maimonides
morning prayer began with "Kaddish" before "Ba-
reku" and ended with it (" Yad," Tefillah, ix.), and
this practise still obtains in the Sephardic ritual.
In the course of time additions to the
Origin and liturgy were multiplied. The ritual.
Develop- even in its simpler portions, tookdefi-
ment. nite form only by degrees. The earli-
est elements of synagogal worship
were developed from the Temple service and the
custom of sacrificial watches ("Ma'amad"), as well
as from private and public Avorship— from psalms
and prayers which were composed at different
times for special occasions. The benedictions at
the beginning of the "Ma'amad "and the prayers

at the end became respectively the "Shema'" and
the "Tefillah" (Rapoporl, "Kalir"; Zunz, "G. V."
pp. 361 ef seq.). The latter, which about 100 c.e.
had neither definite redaction nor general bind-
ing force, probably consisted at first of only six
numbers for week-days and seven for Sabbatii and
feast-days; in the remaining numbers either a Hasi-
dic or apolitical origin may be traced. Even in the
second century the final benedictions for public
fast-days still varied (Taan. 17a); in the third the
whole assembly was not yet accustomed to go to the
synagogue at "Musaf "(Yer. R. H. iv. 8; Rapoport,
" Erek Millin," p. 164), and the attendance was gen-
erally small (Zunz, " G. V. " p. 339). It took centuries
before the order of prayer as found in the Babylo-
nian Talmud became established : it was neither
desired nor was it possible to give it a fixed and defi-
nite form (Zunz, "Ritus," pp. 1 et seq.).

Private prayer existed side by side with the offi-
cial liturgy. A large number of prayers composed
by scribes and recited on special occa-
Private sions are mentioned in traditional lit-
Prayer. erature, and prayers by laymen are
also quoted. In general, an important
place was assigned to prayer, although its thought-
less drawling Avas condemned. Thus, it is said,
" Prayer is more pleasing to God than good works
and sacrifice" (Ber. 32b and parallels); while Jo-
hanan felt, " Would that prayer lasted the entire
day. " Worship was held to be equivalent to prayer,
and indeed the ritual was actually modeled upon the
sacrificial cult (Sifre, Deut. xi. i4; Ta'an. 2a; Ber.
28b). There were many rules regarding prayer {ib. 28,
31; Sanh. 22; Ab. ii. 18, etc.). He who prays should
drop his eyes, but lift up his heart (Yeb. 105b), al-
though hji should not raise his voice (Ber. 24,31). The
saying "God wisheth the heart" (Sanh. 106b) has
become a proverb. The suppliant knelt, or fell on
his face, stretching out his hands and his feet (pros-
tration ; Ber. 34b et passim), although this is now
done only on the Day of Atonement at the " 'Abo-
dah" (see Ador-ition). The pious made them-
selves ready an hour before prayer, and stood still
for an hour after it (Ber. 31b). A drunken man was
not allowed to pray ('Er. 64; see the eight prescrip-
tions which, according to "Yad," Tefillah, v. 1,
must be observed). All faces were turned toward
the sanctuary (Ber. 30a), and Maimonides ordained
{I.e. v. 6, following Ber. 31) that the windows should
be opened during prayer. The hands were washed
before praying (Ber. 16, 26; Shab. 10), a custom with
which the'construction of synagogues on the banks
of rivers is connected. Ten adults were required
to be present at worship (Meg. 34a), a custom which
still obtains. On the other hand, the entire congre-
gation did not pray, as it does to-day ; but the leader
in prayer, the "messenger of the congregation," the
most learned among them (Ta'an. 17b), standing in
a depression, prayed for all (Ps. cxxx. 1 ; Ber. 10b):
"to step down before the Tabernacle " is equivalent
to "leading in prayer" (R. H., end).

Among the people various superstitions arose in
connection with the recitation of prayers. The reader
of the " Shema' " must not blink his eyes, nor com-
press his lips, nor point with his fingers (Yoma
19). It is forbidden to pray with phylacteries in




the hand or with a Torah roll on the arm (lier. 23b).
He who is unwilling to lead the prayers in a col-
ored garment may not lead when dressed in white,
and he who will not lead in sandals may not lead
barefoot (Meg. 24b; for other examples see Blau,
" Altjlidisches Zauberwesen," pp. 146 et seq.).

The Jewish liturgy at first completely dominated
the Christian. The three benedictions— still placed at
the head of the morning prayer— in which the Jews
praise God that he has not created them heathen, or
slaves, or women (Men. 43b), express, as their brev-
ity indicates, ancient Jewish views; and therefore
they are not to be regarded as imitations of similar
Greek lormulas (Diogenes Laertius, i. 1, § 7). A stri-
king allusion to this prayer is found in Paul's Epistle
to the Galatians, iii. 28: "There is neither Jew nor
Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither
male nor female : for ye are all one in Christ Jesus."
A similar view is expressed in a Parsi prayer ("' .Mo-
natsschrift," xxxvii. 14 et seq.; "Magyar Zsido
Szemle," x. 113 et seq.). For early forms of liturgy
see "J. Q. R." x. Q'Aetseq.

The early Christian liturgy, in the reading of the
Scriptures, in prayer, and in the singing of the
Psalms, was modeled on synagogal practises. The
fact that no complete Christian litur-
Influence gical specimens of the first three centu-
on Early ries are extant indicates that the lit-
Christian urgy in use during that period may
Liturgy, have been borrowed from that current
in the synagogue. The earliest extant
Christian prayers, the pseudo-Cyprianic (text in Mi-
chel, " Gebet und Bild in Fruhchristlicher Zeit," pp. 3
et seq., Leipsic, 1902), written after 300, are still Jew-
ish in form and content. One of them begins with the
"Kcdushshah" and continues with the introductory
formula of the"Shemoneh 'Esreh," and mentions
also "purity of heart," which was and is still the
main point in the seventh or middle benediction for
the Sabbath antl feast-days. After the " Shema' "
the Jewish ritual placed the "salvation benediction "
("ge'ullah "); and Christian circles, in liarmony with
folk-beliefs, derived from this benediction various
prayers for deliverance from the persecutions of the
devil. Satan is mentioned in Jewish prayers also
{e.g., morning prayer), although not in the official
liturgy nor in the obligatory prayers.

The liturgy of tiie fasts, which is the oldest, as-
sumed definite form long before the common era (I.
Levi, in " R. E. J." xlvii. 161-171 ; Mi-
Jewish chc\. I.e. -pp. a et seq.). Its formulas
Prayers took the deepest hold upon the people
and Early on account of its antiquity and its
Christian peculiar solemnity. This explains
Art. why the views of tlie early Christian

Church show the dominant influence
of this liturgy and why its prayers contain for the
most part not New Testament but Old Testament,
l)lirase()logy. The liturgy naturally dominated early
Christian art as well. The subjects for the fig-
ures in the catacombs, on stained glass, etc., were
borrowed as a rule from those Biblical stories which
were found also in the Jewish festival literature; as,
for example, the sacrifice of Isaac, Danielln the lion's
den, the three Hebrews in the fiery furnace, and
scenes from the story of Jnnali (romp. Kaufmann

in "R. E. J." xiv. 33-48, 217-253). The prayers
do not always observe the chronological order of
events; in one prayer the name of Job follows im-
mediately upon that of Abraham, the author evi-
dently sharing the Jewish view that Job was the
contemporary of Abraham (.see Michel, I.e., where
extensive bibliography is given).

The history of the ritual is eventful and varied.
At first there were no written prayers; a scribe of
the end of the first century says, " The
History of writers of benedictions are as those
the Ritual, that burn the Torah. " A man w ho was
caught copying some at Sidon threw
a bundle of his copies into a washtub (Shab. 1151)
and parallels; comp. Blau, "Altjlidisches Zauber-
wesen," p. 93). In no case was written matter used
during public worship. Prayer-books appear about
the seventh century. "The prayer-books are doubt-
less older than the prayer ' orders,' which date from
the eighth century. However, the first book of this
kind of which definite mention is made was com-
posed by Gaon Kohen Zedek (843); a generation later
appeared the Siddur of Amram Gaon, -which was
much used after the eleventh century and formed
the foundation for benedictions and Siddur collec-
tions" (Zunz, "Ritus," p. 18). Prayer-books ("sid-
dur") were composed also by Saadia, Hai, Nissim,
and Rashi (extant in MSS. ; Buber, in "Ha-Zefirah,"
1904, No. 8), by Rashi's pupil Simhah ("Mahzor
Vitry," ed. Hurwitz, Berlin, 1892), and by others
(Zunz, "Ritus," pp. 19, 25). The most important
work of the twelfth century in this direction, and
one highly extolled in later times, was
Siddur and " the Yad ha-Hazakah of Maimonides,
Mahzor. in which, for the first time, the texts
of prayers and the ritual were ar-
ranged in masterly order by a scholar " (Zunz, I.e.
pp. 26 et seq.).

Between 1180 and 1320 an immense amount of
work was done in Europe in systematizing the wor-
ship, the prayer-books of this period forming the
foundation for the ritual of the succeeding centuries.
There were, also, Arabic forms of siddurim. Until
1300 the Halakah and the Haggadah, current prac-
tises, poetry, mysticism, and philosophy, all con-
tributed toward the shaping of the ritual, the poetic
material not being increa.sed to any extent after this
period (Zunz, I.e. pp. 27-30). The word "mah-
zor" (shortened from "mahzor tefillim"), denoting
"prayer-book," means literally astronomical or
yearly cycle. The Syrians use the term "mahzor"
to denote the breviary. While the Sephardim ap-
ply it to those collections whic-h contain all the
prayers for the year, the Ashkenazim apply it to
the prayer-books containing the festival ritual only.
Spanish, Italian, and French mahzorim were issued
sometimes in octavo and smaller sizes, and were
often written in small script and hand.somely bound.
In Germany the various collections were seldom
i.ssued in quarto, but generally in folio, with the
exception of the Siddur proper, which was issued
in smaller size. In contrast to these heavy and ex-
pensive volumes for public worship, the 12mo or
16mo Siddur was used for private devotions after
tlie thirteenth century. The latter often contained
much superstitious matter, part of which, in the




course of time, fouud its way inlo the regular prajcr-
books aud was tlien accepted us part of the ritual
service (ib. p. 84).

Tlic Cal)ala, Avhicii liad tal<eii deep root liy 1500,
effected material changes iu the Siddur. "In the
beginning of the seventeenth century
Influence Jsaiah Horowitz and others, with their
of Cabala, following of the school of Luria, be-
gan to introduce new prayers, strange
words, and unintelligible meditations ["kawwa-
not"J, with which they deluged public and private
worship. Ail the siddurim and mahzorim from
Tlemcen to Kaffa are tilled witii mystic alterations
and additions; even amulet-formulas were included
and thus introduced among the people. This cab-
alistic-ascetic movement progressed from Palestine
to Italy and Poland, from Poland to Germany and
Holland, and from Jerusalem and Leghorn to Bar-
barv. Based on ancient customs, it introduced fast-
ing on the ' Small Day of Atonement ' and on the
eve of New-Moon, early-morning devotions, regular
societies which lield meetings for prayer and fasting
on Mondays and Thursdays, and others which as-
sembled nightly to lament over the Exile, and the
like. . . . Through the dissemination of the printed
Siddur, of formulas for grace at meals, and of ' tik-
kuu ' of all kinds, prayers, either old and obsolescent
or new, found their way from foreign rituals and
from the works of thecabalists into the ritual of tlie
communities, and there they were retained, modi-
fying to a considerable degree public worship " (ih.
pp. 149 et seq.). On commentaries to the prayers,
and on ritual books, etc., see Zunz, I.e. pp. 21 etseq.,
153 et seq.; Abudarham, p. 30; for the varieties of
prayer-books used after 1180 see Zunz, "Ritus," p.
33; for mystic vigil order, etc., after 1580, evening
assembly at the Feast of Weeks and the '• Hosha'na
Rabbaii," etc., see ib. pp. 151 et seq.

On the whole, the original prayers, as handed down
by the Talmud and the Geonim, agree in all the
rituals with Amram's Siddur, although this, as re-
gards the position of the Psalms and of the " Baruk
she-Amar," or the wording of individual phrases and
clauses, coincides sometimes with the Roman and
sometimes with the German or the Spanish Mah-
zor. The various rituals are divided into two chief
groups, the Arabian-Spanish and the German-Ro-
man. In the former group, the Spanish, or, more
correctly, the Castilian, ritual has been preserved
in the purest form. This group includes the rit-
uals of Aragon, Catalonia, Avignon,
Two Main Algeria, Tunis, Tlem(;en, Majorca
Groups of (Catalonio-African), Provence, Car-
Rituals, pentras, Sicily (various rituals), and
Tripoli (for further details see ib. pp.
Z% et seq.). "Saadia's Siddur apparently contained
the substance of the old prayer-order of Egypt, his
version of the ' Tefillah ' in particidar being the one
used in that country. . . . After 1200, however, the
use of Maimonides' prayer-order became prevalent in
Egypt, Palestine, Maghreb, and among the Mozara-
bic communities generally, the members of wliich
"Were subsequently called ' Moriscos ' " {ib. p. 55).
At Saragossa and Traga the "Musaf Tefillah" on
New-Year's Day was not recited by the congrega-
tion alone before its recitation by the hazzan. but

together with the latter, the ignorance of the major-
ity of the congregation being assigned as the reason
for this practise {ib. p. 41). As Spain was a center
for the first group of rituals, so was Germany for
the second. The several rituals may vary in details,
but they agree in essentials. The Jews of Germany,
Bohemia, Moravia, Silesia, Poland, Pru.ssia, and
Hungary have one and the same order of prayer (il>.
p. 75). The French ritual is really that of Bur-
gundy, and the English communities had probably
the same or a similar one {ib. pp. 63 et seq.). The
Roman ritual was widely disseminated, and the " Ro-
manian " or Greek ritual exists in the Romanian Mah-
zor, which dates from some period after 1520 {ib. pp.
76-79). The Romanian group includes also the rit-
uals of Corfu and Kaffa, while the Palestinian ritual,
which varied to some extent in the earlier period,
lost its independence in the twelfth century {ib. pp.
82-84). The interrelation of the various rituals ap-
pears in individual portions of the service, chiefly in
those which were not based on ancient usage, such
as the dirges ("kinot") for the Ninth of Ab and
the "Hosha'not."

"The Day of Atonement did not always have the
somber coloring given it iu the Middle Ages. Even
in the time of the Soferim the peo-
Day of pie danced in the vineyards on that
Atone- day, and as late as the beginning of
ment. the fourth century it does not seem to
have been customary in Palestine for
everv one to spend the whole day in the synagogue
(Hul. 101b). The form of the ' Tefillah ' had not
been definitely fixed by the third century ; it occa-
sionally ended with ' Ne'ilaii, ' omitting the evening
prayer . . . ' 'Abodah ' and ' Sclihah ' were consid-
ered as the most important divisions, even though
the form of the latter was by no meana invariable."
Amram's Siddur does not refer to the "Kol Nidre,"
which is designated in the later redaction as of
Spanish origin, and was recited only by the hazzan
(Zunz, "Ritus," pp. 95 et seq.; on 'Abodah and

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 36 of 169)