Jewish Liturgy: A Comprehensive History

Jewish Liturgy: A Comprehensive History

Jewish Liturgy: A Comprehensive History

Jewish Liturgy: A Comprehensive History


Originally published in German in 1913, this thorough academic study of the Jewish liturgy ever written is now available to the English speaking community. This analysis covers the entire range of Jewish liturgical development, beginning with the early cornerstones of the Siddur, through the evolution of the piyyutim to the traditional German prayerbook.


In the most ancient period, no public service was held at the beginning of the Sabbath any more than on other evenings, but religious "fraternities" (תוןוב) would celebrate the day by holding a common festive meal. These meals would begin while it was still daylight; they were interrupted at nightfall, when the leader of the fraternity would recite the "Sanctification of the Day" over a cup of wine. Otherwise, each individual would recite his own night prayer separately as on every day, with some adding special words in honor of the Sabbath. An example has come down in the name of R. Zadok:

םוי תא וניהלא 'ה ונל תתנ ןתיןב ינב לע תלמחש ונבלש ןתלמחמו ןמע לאןשי תא תבהאש וניהלא 'ה ןתבהאמ

הבהאב הוה שוןקהו לוןגה יעיבשה

"And because of Your love, O Lord our God, with which You loved Israel Your people, and because of Your kindness, our King, which You bestowed on the children of Your covenant, You gave us, O Lord, our God, this great and holy seventh day in love" (T. Ber. 3:7).

Only from the beginning of the amoraic period, first in Babylonia and later in Palestine, was a service held in the synagogue on Friday night as well, with Kiddush -- that is, the Sanctification of the Day -- at the end. Furthermore, the tendency was to prolong the service more than on other days. Because of the distance that separated the Babylonian synagogues from the cities, and because of the superstitions prevalent there, people were afraid to remain alone in the dark or in a small number in a synagogue. Many pursued their work on Fridays until the latest permissible minute, arrived late at the synagogue, and therefore had to catch up with the congregation in . . .

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