Seyder Tkhines: The Forgotten Book of Common Prayer for Jewish Women

By Devra Kay | Go to book overview

3
CHAPTER
The Seyder Tkhines:
A Book for a Messianic Age

An analysis of the Seyder Tkhines could fill an entire book. The three chapters I have devoted to it merely scratch the surface of a rich seam of available evidence. In this chapter, I will attempt to set the book in its historical context; in Chapter 4, I proffer some definitions; and in Chapter 5, I claim that the Seyder Tkhines provided a new Yiddish daily prayer liturgy for Ashkenazic women, as an alternative to the male-dominated Hebrew service.1 The Seyder Tkhines was at the very heart of the concerns of the closely knit, interactive, pan-European Ashkenazic community whose subsequent fragmentation and transformation were paralleled in the fate of the book itself.2 It was produced at a time of social, political, and religious turmoil in Europe, for a community that was about to experience the most widespread messianic movement in Jewish history. It not only reflects that period, but was also both a harbinger and a survivor of it. Literature usually reflects or anticipates the age in which it is written, and the Seyder Tkhines is no exception.

In Amsterdam, in 1648, an anonymous Yiddish prayer book entitled Tkhines appeared in print for the first time. Subsequent editions of the same book were occasionally entitled Taytshe Tkhines (Yiddish tkhines),3 but usually Seyder Tkhines, the title by which it must

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