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 11) online

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" Lo be-hesed we-lo be-ma'asim banu le-faneka," in
others "Atanu 'al sliimka" or "Abinu malkenu
abinu attah." Each of these introductory selihot
was common to all the fast-days, and after it special
selihot appropriate to the occasion were recited. In
Amram's time the selihot were recited in the middle
of the sixth prayer of the "Shemoneh 'Esreh";
later they were transferred to its end. Except at
Ferrara, this is now the custom observed by both
the Sephardim and tlie Ashkenazim (Shulhan
'Aruk, Orah Hayyim, 566, 4).

The Sephardic collection contains selihot (1) for
the Ten Days of Repentance, which, like the Ash-
kenazic selihot for those days, are generally printed
separately ; (2) for New-Year and the Day of Atone-
ment, which are incorporated in the Sephardic Mah-
zor; and (3) for public fast-days, which are pub-
lished in the ritual. The recital of selihot for the
penitential days begins, according to Hai Gaon, on
the first day of Elul, as is the custom in Yemen
and Venice. In certain places, however, they are
first recited on the fifteenth of the same month,
while in others again they are recited only on the
days between New-Yearand the Day of Atonement.
Unlike the selihot for the public fast-days, these are
recited before dawn, that is to say, in the last night-
watch; they are therefore called "Seder ashmoret
ha-boker. "

Besides the penitential prayers which are common
to all days on which selihot are recited, such as the
introductory selihot and the thirteen attributes of
God, with their two introductions, there are two or
more special selihot for each week-day as well as for
each of the days between New-Year and the Day of
Atonement. On New-Year the Sephardim recite
only a few selihot, namely, one beginning "Elohai
al tedineni," before Nish.mat, a pizmon after the
"Shaharit" prayer — that for the first day begin-
ning "Le-ma'anka Elohai " and composed by David
ibn Pakuda, and that for the second day begin-




ning " Ya'aneh be-bor abot " — and a long pizmon
beginning "'Etslia'are razon le-hippateah," before
the blowing of the sliofar. On the Day of Atone-
ment selihot consisting of confessions ('' widduyim ")
and pizraonini are recited in all the live services.

The selihot for public fast-days consist of those
arranged for tlie five universal fast-days, namely,
the Third of Tishri (Fast of Gedaliah), the Tenth of
Tebet, the Thirteenth of Adar (Fast of Esther), the
Seventeenth of Tammuz, and the Ninth of Ab, and
those compiled for the Minhali service of these five
days and for that of the eve of New Moon. At the
morning service of each of the five fast-daj'S there
are recited, besides the ordinary selihot, two or three
special ones and a pizmon. The Minhah service
has one compilation for all the five days and another
for the twelve eves of New Moon. Both compila-
tions begin Avith the .selihah "Shema' koli," which
opens the Minhali service, except on the eve of
New-Year, when the service is opened Avith the seli-
hah beginning " Elohai al tedineni." The morning
service of the Ninth of Ab has comparatively few
selihot, their place being occupied by kinot. It may
be said that in Saadia's "Siddur " all the piyyutinj
recited on the Ninth of Ab are termed selihot,
though in reality many of them are dirges. Some
selihot are recited by the Sephardim on the seventh
day of the Feast of Tabernacles (Hosha'na Kabbah)
also, this day being considered one of the penitential

As stated above, the Sephardic selihot differ ac-
cording to the localities in which they are employed ;
consequently selihah collections based

Develop- on the customs of the Sephardic com-
ment munities of Yemen, Tripoli, Venice,
of Selihot. and other places are met with. As al-
ready mentioned, Amram's "Siddur "
indicates differences of practise concerning the intro-
ductory selihali. Later on, witji the development of
the selihot literature, these local ditterences became
still more marked, each community choosing certain
selihot and deciding the method of arrangement.
The differences extend also to the grouping of the
Biblical verses to which the poetic selihot are at-
tached. Some examples may be given here. The
Tripolitan collection has for every selihah morning
eleven selihot, dilferent for eacli day, and beginning
with a "petihah " and terminating with a "hatanu."
On the days which precede New-Year special closing
selihot, mostly by Isaac ibn Ghayyat, are recited.
There are also selihot for the Sabbath service of the
Ten Days of Repentance. The selihah collection of
Oran and Tlem^en has six selihot for each of tlie
twenty-five selihah nights, the services for which
are always opened and in most cases closed by Isaac
ibn Ghayyat's compositions. A manuscript collec-
tion of African selihot (Neubauer, "Cat. Bodl. Ilebr.
MSS." No. 1162) contains 391 for twenty-six selihah
nights preceding and six nigiits following New-
Year, the numbers for each night varying from nine
to nineteen. The Tripolitan selihah collection con-
sists chietiy of Isaac iba Ghayj-at's compositions,
the remainder being by Solomon ibn Gabirol, Judah
ha-Levi, Moses Kimhi, and David ibn Pakuda.

The Ashkenazic selihali division comprises- selihot
for the penitential days, generally published sepa-

rately under the title " Seder Selihot " or simply
" Selihot " ; those for the services of the Day of
Atonement, generally incorporated in the Mahzor;
and those for tlie public fast-days together with the
occasional selihot, all incorporated in the prayer-
books. The recitation of the main Ashkenazic seli-
hot for the penitential days begins on the Sunday
before New-Year, or, if the first day of the lat-
ter falls on Monday or Tuesday, on the Sunday of
the preceding week. Thus the number of the seli-
hah days before New-Year varies from four to eight;
each of these days has special selihot assigned to it,
as has also, in all cases, the eve of New-Year. The
number of selihot for the New-Year Day is consid-
erably larger than that for the other penitential
days. Then follow the selihot for the six days (ex-
cepting Sabbath) between New-Year and the Day of
Atonement, beginning with the Fast of Gedaliah
and terminating with the eve of the Day of Atone-
ment. All the selihot of the penitential days, in-
cluding those of the Fast * Gedaliah, are recited
by the Ashkenazim before Jawn, The selihot
compiled for the public fast-days include those
arranged for Monday, Thursday, and Monday fol-
lowing the feasts of Passover and Tabernacles,
and those arranged for the three obligatory fast-
days, the Tenth of Tebet, the Thirteenth of Adar
(Fast of Esther), and the Seventeenth of Tammuz.
It should be stated that the selihot of Monday,
Thursday, and Monday are recited only if there
are ten men of the congregation fasting. Like
the Sephardic Minhah selihot for every eve of New
Moon, some Ashkenazic siddurim include a compila-
tion of selihot entitled " Yom Kippur
For Yom Katon." are taken from other
Kippur selihah collections and used to be re-
Katon. cited each month in the Minhah service
of the eve of New Moon, if the quorum
of fasters was present. This custom, however, has
become almost ob.solete, the selihot being recited
only on the eve of the New Moon of Elul. It
has been remarked above that the selihot for the
Ninth of Ab were later superseded in the Ashke-
nazic rite by kinot. In Germany, Poland, and Italy
this change was made as early as the thirteenth cen-
tuiy ; but in the siddurim of Provence and Avi-
gnon some traces of selihot for that fast-day still
remain. Like the Sephardic selihot, those of the
Ashkenazic rite differ in various countries with
regard to selection, number, and arrangement.
Thus, while in Germany, Lithuania, an;l Poland the
number recited on the eve of New-Year is consider-
abl}' greater than that on the eve of the Day of
Atonement, the contrary is the case at Avignon and
Carpentras. Again, a difference between the two
latter communities exists with regard to the selection
and number of the seliliot. Moreover, special seli-
hot are recited on special days in various places in
commemoration of certain mournful local events.
The best known of the local selihah days are: Nisan
1, at Erfurt; Ni.san 23, at Cologne and some other
places, in commemoration of the massacres of 1147;
lyyar 23, at Worms; Siwan 20, in France, England,
and the Rhine iirovinces, in commemoration of the
martyrs of Blois in 1171; the same date, in Poland
since the Chmii^lnicki massacres (1649) ; Tebet 39, at




Worms; Adar 2, at Prague, in oommeinoration of
the troubles of 1611; and Adar 29, at Nuremberg
and Flirtli. A selihali composed by Sliabbelliai
Sofer in 1630, to be recited b)^ the community of
Przemysl on the eve of the New Moon of Nisan,
has recently been discovered and has been published
in " Ha-IShahar" (ii. 157). It consists of four-lined
strophes and is arranged alphabetically : it relates a
sanguinary event wliich befell the community of
Przemysl, ai;d describes the martyrdom of some
Jewish families.

There are special selihot for the members f)f tlie
Hebua Kauuisha, the established day for the re-
cital of winch is generally the tifteentli
For of Kislew, although different com-

Special nuinities have different arrangements.
Occasions. For example, tlie selihot for the hebra
kaddislia of Ilalberstadt differ from
those for the Frankfort-ou-the-Main society; the
Lemberg hebra recites its special selihot on the
Thursda}' of Shemot, while that of Cracow recites
its own selihot on the Monday of the same week.
In certain places selihot are recited on Mondaj'S and
Thursdays of Shemot, Wa'era, 13o, Beshiillah, Yitro,
Mishpatim, Terumah, and Tezawweli (nn D''331K'),
in a leaji-year. These selihot were first recited in
Austria, Moravia, and Bohemia; and since 16:^9
they have been used in Lublin also. In the
Nuremberg sclihuli collection also thei'e are seli-
hot for nn D'331t^; they are recited on Thursdays
only. The Italian communities recite selihot, com-
posed b}' Moses Zacuto, in the Miidiah services of
the first si.K weekly lessons (D^DSIJ?*) only. The
Nuremberg collection contains, besides, special seli-
hot for recitation on the eves of the New ]VIoons of
Nisan and Ab, respectively; others for circumci-
sion when this ceremony falls on a selihah day; and
still others, composed by Simeon b. Zalman Fi.sch-
hoff of Vienna, for recitation when the smallpox is

The earliest selihah edition is that according to
the Roman ritual (Soncino, 1487), the next oldest be-
ing that of the commimity of Prague (Prague, 1529).
Then follows the seiihah edition of the German
order, edited by ]\Ieir Katzeuellenbogen of Padua
(Heddernheim, 1546). Two years later there ap-
peared at Venice the same selihah collection, with a
commentary on the didicuJt words. Thcfiollecticm of
the Polish rite, with a full commentary by Mordecai
Mardus, was published at Cracow in 1584, anrl in
1597 that of the German rite, with a commentary
by lii(! same author, appeared in Prague. A German
translation of the Polish selihot, made by Jacob b.
Elijah ha-Levi, was published at Fraukforton-the-
Oder, 1602. In 1671 there were published in the
same jilace the selihot of both the German and Polish
rites, with a German translation. At Amsterdam in
1688 Eliakim b. Jacob published a Juda-o-German
translation of the Ashkenazic selihot for the whole
year, that is to say, of those that are printed in the
"Siddur." Thirty years later those for the peniten-
tial days, with a Juda'o-CJerman translation by Elia-
kim, api)eared in the same city.

BiBi,ior;nAPHY : Diilces. Z?(r Kriiiit)ii!is drr NeuheT)r(lischrn
Ucliiiinscn J'nesir. pp. 3:J ft sn/.; Steinschneifier, Jeirish
Liltrature. pp. ir)8, '.W) d .>■■(•(/.: Zu\v/..S. /'. pp. .5'.i ;5i>3 : idciii,
RitUf:, passim; idem, Litrj-nlioijcscli. passim. For editions

and translations see Benjacob, Ozar ha-Sefarim, pp. 420 et
seq.; Steinschneider, Cat. Bodl. cols. 430 et seq.
w. B. M. Sel.

Music : The more antique the traditional mel-

ody, th(! more ancient, as a general rule, the section
of the liturgy in connection with which it has been
handed down. Thus the reading of the Scriptures,
the earliest devotional exercise of the Synagogue, is
in all the various groups of rituals (see Lituugy)
flamed on the musical theory of the lirst few cen-
turies of the common era, and presents the form of
Cantillation, founded on an elementary notation
by neumes or accents, in Avhich the music of antiq-
uity was cast. The free improvisation, again, on a
fixed traditional model, to which the next oldest
section of the devotions, the " 'Amidah " and the
blessings centering around the "Shema'," is in-
toned, is cast in scales (comp. Jew. Encyc. ix. 122,
s.v. Music, Synagogal) nearer to those employed in
the plain-song of the Catholic Church and the Perso-
Arab melody, and developed in the peiiod from the
seventh to the eleventh century ; while it exhibits
a form of song equally late (comp. Gevaert, "Ori-
gines du Chant Liturgique de I'Eglise Latine," p. 30,
Ghent, 1890), and stilltlouiishiugin ]\Iediterranean re-
gions and in India (comp. Day, " The Music of South-
ern India," s.v. "Kaga," London, 1894; Gevaert,
" llistoire et Theorie de la Musiciue de I'Antiquit^,"
ii. 316). But when, later on, the ancient pro]iitia-
tory prayer for the fast days (Ta'an. 16b) developed
into the selihah (see above) and the liturgy of pen-
ance took its shape as a complete service (comp.
Zunz, "Ritus," pp. 120 ei secj.), the hazzan's intona-
tion of that service, termed collectively ".selihot,"
exhibited still later musical elements, being based
on scales inore closely agreeing with riiose of post-
medieval Western melody and shaped on its more
rhythmic and mensural forms.

While, too, agreement between the various north-
ern or southern rituals is complete in the method
and style, as in the matter, of the cantillation, and
is approximated in the recitation, as in the diction,
of the older benedictions and praA'ers, a wide diver-
gence is at once observable in the melody as in the
text of the penitential rituals containing the selihot,
the main point of contact being the imitation of
such non-Jewish airs as possess a strain of melan-
choly (conq). Mcnahem de Lonzano, '"Shte Yadot, "
p. 65b). The first presentation in the synagogue of
the liturgical melodies of the fast-days.
Later therefore, may be assigned to between

Orig-ins. tlu; tenth and the fifteenth century;
and their ])revailing wail of grief,
even more noticeable than the note of contrition,
voices the melancholy experiences of Jewiy duiing
that jieriod. Their especial transmission by tiie line
of the so-called Polish i)recentors has led some to
enlarge on their resemblance, in this expression of
sadness, to the airs redolent of gloom and desjiair
favored by the peasantry of Slavonic and other
east-European regions. The melancholy and grief,
however, are but natural ex])ressions of jienance;
and the minor mode is as noticeable in the German
or in the Spanish tradition.

The central featiu-e of the selihot is the proclama-
tion of the thirteen attributes of mercy (Ex. xxxiv.




6-7 ; see Middot, Shelosh-'Esreh) with the prayer
iutroducing them. This is normally recited after
each selihuh-hymn, and so in the Spanish rite is ut-
tered as many as twenty -six times in the Atonement
services. Reform congregations usually now limit
its utterance to once in each service. With the Se-
phardim, also, it is followed by a flourish on the
SnoFAU during the week-days from the 3d to the
9th of Tishri {i.e., the "ten days of penitence"), re-
calling the similar practise of the Talmudical period
(Ta'an. ii. 1). Other features common to all the
rituals are the extensive quotation of selected texts,
the prayer of contrition and the short confession
AsHAMNU, and the ancient concluding summaries,
as that in alphabetical acrostic, with the form "An-

on the days mentioned, before and after the New-
Year, as well as in the "Kol Nidre" service on the
evening of Atonement, forms a quasi-independent
service by itself. (2) An abbreviated order, in the
morning, additional, and afternoon services of
Atonement, and in the morning service of the fasts
of Monday, Tliursday, and Monday after Passover
and Tabernacles (see Fasting), the Tenth of Tebet,
the Thirteenth of Adar, and the Seventeenth of Tam-
muz, is inserted in the repetition of the " 'Amidah."
The longer order itself commences with an an-
tiphonal series of Scriptural texts, strung together
in compliance with R. Simlai's dictum that praise
should precede prayer, and associated in the Tal-
mud \yith the passage Ex. xxxii., read on fast-


A Andantino.

\ 12=5

-I H-



^ \-

Sho - me a' te - fil - lab, 'a

Thou that hearest prayer, all

B Piu lento.

de - ka kol ba - sar ya

fiesh. . . . shall come. . . be

- t^


lak: . ... hu

ma - king : have


sah 'al 'a - ma - lak Ha - ne - sha - mah

up - on Thine own la - bar. Since the soul is...








lak, we -ha - guf shel - lak: Ado - nai 'a - seh le - ma- 'an she - me - ka.
Thine, and the bod - y Thine al -so: Lord ! be • cause of Thy name's sake per - form it.

swer us, A, B, C, etc., answer us," or the Aramaic

prayer reproducing that outlined in the Talmud (26.)

in Hebrew. Otherwise the rituals differ extensively,

more particularly in the selection and even in the

ranking of the medieval hymns of peni-

Divergence fence. These poems, indeed, constitute

in. the difference within the wider uses.

Rituals, as between the Bohemian (and Polish

and English) and the German (and

Dutch) orders. In these two orders the selihot are

recited during the week preceding the New-Year

and between it and the Day of Atonement. In the

Sephardic ritual they are read on forty days, from

the 2d of Elul to the Day of Atonement (in allusion

to Deut. ix. 18).

In the Ashkenazic use the selihot service is of two
types: (1) A longer order, recited at early morning
XI.— 12

days (Ber. 23a). These versicles are intoned to
a melodious and interesting chant (A in the
music herewith), a slight variation of which (B)
forms the beautiful melody which closes the in-

The thirteen attributes are customarily pro-
claimed without definite melody by the assembly.
But the versicles (modified from Ps. Ixxxvi. 6, v. 3,
ciii. 13, XX. 10, etc.) which follow them lead on in
the Polish ritual, after the introduction, to the
prayer of Moses (Num. xiv. 19-20) and its response,
from which the selihot derive their title; and this is
usually chanted to a florid melody of the fifteenth or
sixteenth century, founded on the general intonation
of the penitential evening service, and quoted from
its most important position as ushering in the Day of
Atonement after the proclamation of Kol Nidre.

^ Selihah



In modern days the tradition has been received
of reading each selihah in an undertone, tlie con-
clusion being marked by the hazzan's singing of
the last stanza to the general penitential melody.
The sole exceptions to this custom, which other-

tradition prevails, the pizmon is chanted at length
to tile melody of the concluding verse of ordinary
selihor, which also ushers in the abbreviated order
and leads up to the congregational proclamation
of the "Middot" as well. It may be considered


Con Sj


-m-T-^ f ^ m



— ^-

rj:X^^..l^r:^ ^A

-T"^?- — 1 —

— X-

-m—i — 1 — m- ^

1 ^ ^C^

-— -^ •

— *— -

— _j^

^ Lg r i>-

-W- —

— 1 —

Se - lab.







ha - zeh.


- — * — « — ^^* — *-


T* ! ~> -IS- * ■ r^ -

go - del has


ka; we - ka












Miz - ra - yim we - 'ad.

he - nah: we - sham ne

e - mar.

wise covers every metrical and subject form of
selihah, are the Pizmon or chief and last hymn
in each service, and some few hymns
Pizmon in the Atonement services (see
Melodies. Ne'ilaii ; Omnam Ken). Of the piz-
mon hymns, a number possess char-
acteristic melodies of their own, as, for example,
Adonai, Adonai; Bemoza'e Menuhah; Ne'ilah;
She'eh Ne'esar; Shofet Kol ha-Arez; Yisrael
Nosha' ; Zekor Berit. But where no such musical

the general selihah-chant, and seems to date in
its present form from the fifteenth century. But
its final phrase, which serves as a congregational
response on the Day of Atonement, appears to
be much more ancient. It is precisely the intona-
tion and mediation of the second tone ("alter tristi-
bus aptus") of the Gregorian psalmod3% with this
"mediation" treated as an "ending" in the sixth
tone ("sextus lachrymatur et plorat"). The initial
portion of the chant also exhibits the tonality of


C Andante.

gi - nu;
D Solo.

me - hal... la - nu, Mai - ke - nu.

ki rab - bu 'a - wo - ne - nu.


-— £H - d 1^ — \ ^^- - !-=- — I

U - mi... ya - 'a - mod bet... im tish - mor, . . . U - mi ya




kum .

din... im tig - mor? Ha - se - li - hah 'im - me - ka, . . . "Sa-




^M. *_

-^ — « — *:



lah - ti" le - mor: Response: Ha - ra - ba-mim gam le - ka mid-da- te - ka lik - mor.




tliis second toue (from the fourth below to the
fifth above D, reciting on F), and points to an
earlier medieval imitation of the Church plain-
song in some Rhenish synagogue (comp. Kol

recited to the affecting melody here quoted, and
leads into the confession of faith, Ashamnu. ,

The Sephardic ritual is not characterized by
such a regular change of hymns as are the selihot
of the Ashkenazim; and the melodies, likewise,


Lento moUo espressivo.

1^ -



H 3 •— ^-

-I 1-

-t^^— t^-



-*— ^



She - ma' ko - le - nu, A - do - nai, .... E - lo - he - nu,
hear our cry, Lord, our Ood, . . .

JK- »

bus. . . -we - ra -
pit - y and com •








1^ ^ 1—

hem 'a - le - nu, we - kab - bel. ... be - ra - ha - mim u - be - ra - zon

• • • •

pas - .lion - ate us and in mer - - cy and fa - vor . . . . ac - cept











et te - fil - - la - te - - nu. Ha - shi - be - nu, A - do - nai, ... e -

these... the words of our pray • ing. Bring us hack, Lord,., to










le - ka we - na - shu - bah; had- desh... ya - me - nu ke - ke - - dem.
Thee, and we re - turn;.... re - new.... our days as of old.

A prayer commencing "Zekor" (Remember) fol-
lows the last selihah, based on the consolatory prom-
ises of Scripture and quoting the text in each case.
It is recited by the hazzan in a sad chant of ever-
increasing intensity, which rises to a climax when
the concluding prayer (v. 21) of Lamentations is

are more constant and invariable after the open-
ing hymn (Anna Bekorenu; Adonai Bekol
Shofak ; Yah Shema'). But they are characteristic,
and, like so very many other airs of the Sephar-
dic tradition, give evidence of their Peninsular ori-
gin, lu some of the phrases sung, as in the " Shema'



E SoiiO. Andante.


ir — ^■

A - do







- 'an she - me - ka,


1 ^ -

Response: We
F SoiiO.

Eesponse: We




Yisrael," etc., which is repeated in the Atouement
selihot, there is au essential resemblance to ancient
musical sentences of the Ashkenazic
Antiph- tradition (conip. Ne'ilau), whose
ony. general selihah chant is also repro-
duced to some extent. Compare the
Amsterdam tradition (E) in the preceding antiph-
ouy with C in the transcription of the selihah

Repeatedly employed, as the general chant is in

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