lethargic_man: (capel)

A while ago I discovered that the Singer's Prayer Book editorship made quite a lot of tweaks to subsequent early impressions of the first edition. I'm intrigued to know how the earliest impressions were different from the late first edition (from the 1950s) that my father has, and have been keeping my eye out for a few years for early impressions online. Unfortunately, truly early ones (pre-1895, or for that matter even pre-1900) don't seem to be turning up. When I had another look a few days ago and found the 1904 impression scanned and readable online, I thought this was probably going to be as good as I was going to get, and I had a look through this volume to see what it offered.

(I'm aware that most of my readership to whom this would be meaningful will be reading from Facebook, not LJ or DW; but I'm posting it here anyway, so that I can find it again afterwards.)

The early impressions, 1904 included, made much use of references to save page-count (to keep the price down to 1/–), something that was eliminated in subsequent volumes but without retypesetting the complete book; hence the joke: How can you tell someone who uses the first edition Singer's siddur? Get them to count to one hundred and see if they go 94, 94a, 94b, 94c etc. In the 1904 impression mincha consists of a list of references to prayers found elsewhere, and takes up a single page, expanded in later impressions to no fewer than fifteen pages.

Tallis and tefillin are to be donned after, rather than before, ברכת השחר.

No Kaddish deRabbanan after ברכת השחר or, later on, פִּטּוּם הַקְּטוֹרֶת. (Even the second edition (1962) merely says some congregations recite it there.) This kaddish is included in the 1904 impression after Shacharis with the legend "Kaddish to be said after reading Lessons from the Works of the Rabbis".

מזמור שיר חנוכת הבית לדוד is found after Shacharis, with the label "In some Congregations the following Psalm is said daily before ברוך שאמר". The subsequent Mourner's Kaddish is missing altogether.

ויברך דויד is only said standing until משתחוים.

In ובא לציון and elsewhere Aramaic is described instead as "Chaldee".

No עלינו or subsequent kaddish in mincha on Friday. (The idea, so I've heard, is that these are both recited at the end of the service, and when services are recited back-to-back, you're not really ending it. We still do this between mincha and ne`ila on Yom Kippur.)

No meditation before kindling the Shabbos lights.

No Mourner's Kaddish after במה מדליקין. (This was also the case in the second edition.)

A little to my surprise, וְדִי בְּכָל אַרְעָת גַלְוָתָנָא "and in all the lands of our dispersion" is already added to the first יְקוּם פָּרְקָן in this edition. (This is one of the rare cases of an Orthodox authority tweaking the traditional wording of a prayer; the rest of the Orthodox world (e.g. ArtScroll) still has here "in Israel and in Babylonia" and expects the reader to infer the rest of the world as well.)

The Prayer for the Royal Family is somewhere I was expecting change; over the years the wording of the mediaeval prayer הַנּוֹתֵן תְּשׁוּעָה לַמְּלָכִים. was gradually shortened. (Of course, that prayer was written about absolute monarchs, which is why my (non-Orthodox) shul in London replaced it with a prayer for the government, not one for the Queen with a single short reference to the government ("her counsellors").) The wording given here, with changes compared to the second edition in bold, reads:

He who giveth salvation unto kings and dominion unto princes, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, who delivered his servant David from the hurtful sword, who maketh a way in the sea and a path in the mighty waters,—may he bless, guard, protect and help, exalt, magnify, and highly aggrandize [in the Hebrew only, redundantly repeating the following words: אֲדוֹנֵינוּ הַמֶּלֶךְ] our Sovereign Lord, King Edward, our gracious Queen Alexandra, George Prince of Wales, the Princess of Wales, and all the Royal Family [in the Hebrew only: יָרום הוֹדָם may their glory be exalted].

May the supreme King of kings in his mercy preserve the King in life, guard him and deliver him from all trouble, sorrow and hurt. May he make his enemies fall before him; and in whatsoever he undertaketh may he prosper. May the supreme King of Kings in his mercy put a spirit of wisdom and understanding into his heart and into the hearts of all his counsellors, that they may uphold the peace of the realm, advance the welfare of the nation, and deal kindly and truly with all Israel. In his days and in ours, may Judah be saved, and Israel dwell securely [missing here: the text of the second edition, and probably also later impressions of the first edition, is missing altogether: "may our Heavenly Father spread the tabernacle of peace over all the dwellers on earth"]; and may the redeemer come unto Zion. O that this may be his will, and let us say, Amen.

No Prayer for the State of Israel, of course, as it didn't exist yet.

Duchaning is, surprisingly, missing.

The traditional wording for מָעוֹז צוּר is given. (Chief Rabbi Hertz later changed לְעֵת תָּכִין מַטְבֵחַ מִצָּר הַמְּנַבֵחַ "when thou shalt have prepared a slaughter of the blaspheming foe" to לְעֵת תַּשְׁבִּית מַטְבֵחַ וְצָר הַמְּנַבֵחַ "when you have caused the slaughter to cease, and the barking of the enemy" [translation by myself], but it was changed back in the second edition.) דְּבִיר, which I would translate "shrine", and designates part of the Temple, is translated here as "oracle".

The four verses after the psalm before bentshing on Shabbos and yomtov are not given. (Only the first two are there in the second edition.)

Psalm 150 to be recited at the end of the wedding service. (Also in the second edition; reduced to "Some congregations" in the third.)

At the end of the last page, the end. :o) Total page count: 660, as against 841 in the second edition, 903 in the third and 926 in the fourth.

lethargic_man: "Happy the person that finds wisdom, and the person that gets understanding."—Prov. 3:13. Icon by Tamara Rigg (limmud)

I don't know about you, but I find the Jewish liturgy can often be rather dry and unemotional. Even for the most emotional points of one's life—bris milah, the wedding ceremony, the graveside kaddish or memorial prayer—the liturgy often reads like it's written by someone who hasn't experienced what he's writing for, and is more concerned about getting in Scriptural references than reflecting the emotion the one reading this might feel.

Consequently, I was astonished, the first time I visited my mother's grave after her funeral, to discover the following beautiful, moving and emotive prayer to be said on such an occasion, which I reproduce here for the benefit especially of my un-bereaved readers, whom I suspect will have as little idea as I that such a prayer exists in Judaism:

Peace unto thy beautified and pious soul, beloved and affectionate mother, who hast given me birth, and has reared me. Thou, who has loved, fostered and cherished me, and who had endured much suffering for me all the days of thy existence. Thou whose maternal care has been unceasingly devoted to my happiness, whose eye so ardently watched over my physical and mental development. But alas! since thou didst go the way of all flesh, I find nowhere a guide like unto thee, I therefore have strengthened myself on my way, and proceeded to the field of weeping, until I came to the house of my mother, and to the chamber of her who bore me. And lo! there I could behold thine earthly remains, wrapt in the sleep of death, whilst thy soul has soared heavenwards, and I exclaim: peace be unto thy soul, and may thy repose be in glory, thou blessed of women! May continually be verified in thee the promise, Arise, shine, for thy light is come, and the glory of the Eternal is risen upon thee.

But I thy servant turn unto thee, that thou mayest invoke upon thy son/daughter the tender mercies of God, that He may vouchsafe to hear the voice of my supplication, when I say, O thou awe-inspiring and holy God! extend Thy forgiveness, pardon my transgressions, and let Thine ineffable attributes prevail! May He who establishes peace in His high heavens be gracious unto us, as in the time of old. May He from His celestial seat grant me daily food and sustenance, and not be silent unto my tears, when in distress I call upon the Eternal as a poor and needy one. May He be gracious unto me and bid His benign messengers: "Redeem him from going down into the grave. May his bread not fail, nor should he see corruption." Grant that I may be worthy to behold children and children's children attached and devoted to Thy sacred laws, to perform Thy commandments, to walk in the path of uprightness, and be adorned with a crown of a good name free from sin and pure from guilt.

May thy pious soul rest in calm and quietude in the garden of Eden, in the circle of the pious and righteous mothers in Israel. Mayest thou be deemed worthy rise to everlasting life, in fellowship with all those pious, virtuous and godly daughters, to stand for thy lot at the end of thy days. May God please do so. Amen.

שָׁלוֹם לָךְ אִמִּי מוֹרָתִי, אֲשֶׁר טִפַּחְתְ וְרִבִּית אוֹתִי׃ וְנִצְטַעַרְתְּ עָלַי בְּלִי שִׁעוּר כְּפֵאָה וּכְבִכּוּרִים וְכָרֵאְיוֹן, וְנִטְפַּלְתְ בִּי כָּל־יָמַיִךְ, וְכָל־מַחְסוֹרִי הָיָה לִי מִיָדַיִךְ׃ וְעַתָּה מִיוֹם אֲשֶׁר הָלַכְתְּ בְּדֶרֶךְ כָּל־הָאָרֶץ לֹא נִשְׁאֲרָה לִי אוֹמֶנֶת כָּמוֹךְ, כִּי בְכָל־עֵת הֵכַנְתְ אֶת־טוֹבָתִי׃ וּבִרְאוֹתִי אָרְחִי וְזוֹ צָרָתִי הָלַכְתִּי לִשׂדֵה בוֹכִים, עַד שֶׁבָּאתִי אֶל־בֵּית אִמִּי וּלְחֶדֶר הוֹרָתִי׃ וְהִנֵּה הִיא לוּטָה בַשִּׂמְלָה, וְרוּחָהּ עָלְתָה לְמַעְלָה, וְאָמַרְתִּי שָׁלוֹם לָךְ וְשָׁלוֹם לִמְנוּתָתֵךְ וְשָׁלוֹם לְנִשְׁמָתֵךְ׃ מִנָּשִׁם בָאֹהֵל תְּבֹרָךְ, וְתָמִיד יֵאָמֵר עָלִַיְךְ, קוּמִי אוֹרִי כִּי בָא אוֹרְךְ, וּכְבוֹד ה׳ עָלִַיְךְ יִזְרָח׃

וְלִי אֲנִי עַבְדְּךְ, יֶהֱמוּ־נָא רַחֲמַיִךְ לְהִתְפַּלֵּל בַעֲדִי אֶל־ה׳, שִֶׁיִשְׁמַע קוֹל תַּחֲנוּנַי, בְּאָמרִי אָנָּא נוֹרָא וְקָדוֹשׁ תַּרְבֶּה מְחִילָתֶךָ, פּשָׁעַי לִסְלוֹחַ תְּגַלְגֵּל מִדּוֹתֶיךָ׃ יְחָנֵּנִי מִיּוֹמַיִם בְּרַחֲמָיו עוֹשֶׂה שָׁלוֹם בִּמְרוֹמָיו׃ וְיַסְפִּיק לִי מִשּׁמָיו בִּר וְלֶחֶם וּמָזוֹן בְּרַחֲמָיו, וְאֶל־דִּמְעָתִי אַל־יֶחֱרַשׁ בְּקָרְאִי מִן־הַמֵּצַר כְּעָנִי וָרָשׁ׃ יְחָנֵּנִי וְיֹאמֶר פְּדָעֵהוּ מֵרֶדֶת שַׁחַת, וְלֹא יֶחְסַּר לַחְמוֹ וְלֹא יָמוּת לַשַּׁחַת׃ וִיזַכֵּנִי לִרְאוֹת בָּנִים וּבְנֵי בָנִים בַּתוֹרָה וּבְמִצְוֹת עוֹסְקִים, וְיִהִיוּ בַּעֲלֵי מִצְוֹת וְשֵׁם טוֹב וְצַדִּיקִים, וּמִכָּל־עָוֹן וְאַשְׁמָה מְנֻקִּים׃

וְאַתְּ, נִשְׁמָתֵךְ תִּשְׁכּוֹן בְּצֵל עֲצֵי עֵדֶן אֵצֶל הָאִמָהוֹת הַיְשָׁרוֹת הַקְּדוֹשׁוֹת וְהַטְהוֹרוֹת׃ וְתִזְכִּי לַעֲמוֹד לִתְחִיָּה עִם־שְׁאָר נָשִׁים שַׁאֲנַנּוֹת וַחֲסִידִים וַחֲסִידוֹת בְּנוֹת עֲלִיָה, וְתַעֲמְדִי לְגֹרָלֵךְ לְקֵץ הַיָּמִין׃ כֵּן יַעֲשֶׂה הָאֵל ה׳, אָמֵן׃

The first time I saw this prayer, I was very moved by it (but didn't have the wherewithal with me to record it); the second time likewise. The third time, though, something narked me about it, but I'm now struggling to figure out what. I think it might be the intercession at the start of the second paragraph, which is in clear breach of the fifth of Maimonides' Thirteen Principles of Faith, the nearest Judaism has to a creed: that one should only pray directly to God. Intercession, as most Jews perceive it, is something Catholics do, not us.

And yet the Thirteen Principles of Faith don't have the weight of a formal creed (and there have been prominent rabbis in every century since they were written disagreeing with every one apart from the existence of God), and there are two other examples of intercessionism which have crept into Jewish prayer without, I suspect, most people noticing: בָּרְכוּנִי לְשָׁלוֹם מַלְאֲכֵי הַשָּׁלוֹם, said on a Friday night before Kiddush, and בַּמָרוֹם יְלַמְּדוּ עֲלֵיהֶם וְעָלֵנוּ זְכוּת in bentshing.

Looking at the prayer in a wider context, it also seems to reflect a confusion about whether, as here, the dead can intercede for the living before God, or whether the living need to pray for עֲלִיַת נִשְׁמוֹתָם, to elevate their souls from Gehinnom.

But then there has never been a Jewish consensus on the nature of the afterlife, and the Jewish attitude is to concentrate on this life rather than speculating about the next.

Two other things about this prayer occur to me before I leave the subject: The objection someone put forward when I blogged the words of the Yizkor prayer used by Belsize Square Synagogue, that this isn't appropriate for those who did not have a good relationship with their deceased parents. In this case, I don't think that's so much a problem: If you have a problem with this prayer, simply don't say it. There is no halachic imperative to say a prayer here. (Nor indeed is there at Yizkor, though there is I feel a stronger weight of expectation there.)

And finally, looking closely, I see that some of what moved me came from the translation, which is a little free, rather than from the original Hebrew. I wonder where it came from. I encountered this prayer in the book of prayers for mourners compiled by the late R. Toperoff for the United Hebrew Congregation of Newcastle upon Tyne; the look and feel (page layout, font, translation style) of which are the same as the first edition Singer's Prayer Book—and yet this prayer isn't in the Singer's Prayer book (or at least I don't think so: it's not in the later editions, and whilst I don't have a copy of the first edition, I do have a copy of the commentary companion volume, from which I can deduce that it wasn't in the first edition Singer's as it stood in 1922 in at least).

For all the above quibbling, though, the above is all just nit-picking: I still retain the positive reaction I had to this prayer the first time I saw it.


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Lethargic Man (anag.)

March 2019

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