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September 13, 1963 - Image 72

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1963-09-13

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Friday, Sept. 13, 1963 — THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

Origin of the Makhzor

Rosh Ifashana,h Quiz

tained in each. "Piyyutim" — munities have retained their
(Copyright, 1963, Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Inc.)
(Copyright, 1963, JTA, Inc.)
religious or synagogal poetry— own unique High Holy Day ob-
additional poetry inserted in the evening
The first efforts to compile were composed by Hebrew poets servances. In Salonica, Greece,
service of Rosh Hashana as there are in the evening services
prayerbooks did not get under mainly in Spain and Italy dur- two congregations whose ances-
of other holidays or in the morning services of Rosh
way until after the Babylonian ing the middle. ages. Some of tors came from Spain almost
Talmud was completed — after them were famous figures in 500 years ago still use the same
The fact of the matter is that the community of Worms was
500 C.E. Until then, rabbis had Jewish history, such as Judah Makhzorim their forbears used
been opposed to fixed prayer Halevi, Solomon Ibn Gabirol, in their Aragonian and Cata- known (according to the Maharil's description) to have had
services that left no room for Azraham and Moses Ibn Ezra lonian towns. These Makhzorim poetic insertions in the evening service of Rosh Hashanah. The
reason for which our liturgy does not have any is usually ex-
spontaneous religious expression and Samuel Hanagid.
were first published in 1614 and plained by virtue of the fact that it was customary to fast on
through original verse or ap-
* * *
had been transcribed by hand the day before Rosh Hashanah and therefore the rabbis did not
propriate selections from the
The familiar hymn "Adon for at least a century before- want the evening service to have any additional poetry so that
Olam" was composed as a "piy- hand.
the fasting would not be necessorily prolonged. Strangely enough,
During the Talmudic period, yut"
* * *
probably by Solomon Ibn
it is claimed that the community of Worms did have these
all of the scholars who contrib- Gabirol,
who lived and wrote in
The need to render the Makh- poetic insertions in order to prolong the fast and to make sure
uted to this monumental com- Spain during
the 11th century. zor in languages other than He- that the fast did not end sooner than it should. Some claim that
pendium of Jewish law and tra- "Yigdal," another
of brew became apparent as early the absence of the poetry is to teach man that he can approach
dition—the Tannaim, Amoraim, synagogal poetry, is example
to as the 16th century. The- first the Almighty with the simplest of prayers just as well as he
Saboraim, Geonim and Posekim Daniel Ben Yehuda, ascribed
a Hebrew translation, into Judeo-German, can with flowery poetic devotions. Others claim the absence of
—forbade scribes from putting poet who lived in Rome
during was published in 1571 and poetry during the evening service is due to a desire to mislead
prayers into writing. Jews were the 14th century and is a versifi-
others appeared in the succeed- the prosecuting angel into thinking that it is an ordinary eve-
expected to know the basic lit- cation of Moses Maimonides' 13 ing
ning so that he would not give thought to prepare his case
urgy for weekdays or holidays Principles of Faith. Both "Adon
The first English translation, before the tribunal of the Almighty the next day accusing us
by heart and no congregation Olam" and "Yigdal" are includ-
however, did not appear until of our. sins.
was to be constrained from em-
ed in the Siddur and in the more than two centuries later.
bellishing these prayers with Makhzor.
In 1787, a scholar named A.
Why is it customary to sound and listen to one hundred
original Hebrew verse or ex-
The first Makhzorim, which Alexander published an English
blasts from the Shofar each day of Rosh Hashanah?
cerpts from the ample reservoir
of Hebrew literature — Bible, appeared in the 12th century, version of the "piyyutim" con-
These one hundred blasts are said to represent the one
tended to be encyclopedic tained in the Makhzor and of hundred groans emitted by the mother of Sisera (Judges 5:8),
Mishna or Talmud.
both in size and content and the entire Makhzor two years when she realized that her son was not to return to her alive.
The effect of this liberal at-
included many that have been later.
It thus reflects the feeling of helplessness and frustration which
titude was a new renaissance
dropped in subsequent edi-
It was not until the dawn of eventually brings about complete surrender and reliance upon
of Hebrew poetry that began
tions. The tendency to retain the 19th century. however, that the Almighty. The Midrash tells us another interesting reason
with Eleazar Kallir who lived
only the most eloquent "piy- one of the giants in the devel- (Tanchuma, Emor II) when it relates that the one hundred
in Palestine during the sev-
yutim" became more pro- opment of the Makhzor as we groans are those of a mother in childbirth. The first ninety-nine
enth century. He was the fore-
nounced in the 18th century, know it today—Rabbi Wolf Ben- cries are those of pain, while the last one (the hundredth one)
runner of a literary move-
when the European enlighten- jamin Heindenham, known also is the final cry of relief as a new life finally springs forth from
ment that flourished until the
ment imbued Jewish scholars by his Hebrew initials as "Ra- the mother's womb. Thus the first ninety-nine shofar notes rep-
expulsion of the Jews from
with a critical attitude toward veh"—prepared the first critical resent our despair and anxiety over our guilt while the hun-
Spain in 1492.
things medieval.
edition of the Akhkenazic Makh- dredth not indicates our relief that the New Year is finally
But as the situation of the
with vowel points, names of here and forgiveness is at hand. The last note is usually a long,
Jewish communities of Pales-
Gedolah" (The great blast).
tine, Babylonia, Egypt and other had ended, the "piyyut" had be- the poets whose "piyyutim" drawn out note—called "Tekiah
centers in the Mediter- come so common as a poetic were included and rational ex-
What is the origin of the "Avinu Malkenu" prayer that is
ranean world became increas- form that in Spain for example, planations for its contents. The
chanted on Rosh Hashana?
ingly precarious and the Jews each town had its own unique The Heidenham Makhzor, the
This same prayer is also changed on every fast day and also
found it necessary to seek new liturgy and was proud of its na- prototype for most Makhzorim
lands of refuge ever further re- tive poets who contributed to it. being used today, was published during the ten days of the Penitence which begin with Rosh
moved from the seats of Jewish Modern scholars estimate that in Reodelheim, Germany in Hoshanah and end with Yom Kippur. The Talmud (Taanith 25b)
culture and scholarship, the from 75 to 100 different Jewish 1800. It is distinctive for its relates that once during a period of drought, Rabbi Eliezer
need for a psalter or prayer- rites—"Minhagim" — each with careful selection of "piyyutim" went before the congregation and uttered many prayers and
book became apparent. To con- its own set of "piyyutim" were and its deliberate exclusion of they seemed to have been of no avail. Rabbi Akiba then came
tinue to do without one would extant in European, North Afri- Kabbalistic influences that had forth and chanted the opening and closing verses of "Avinu
have meant risking divergencies can and Middle Eastern Jewish crept into earlier medieval edi- Malkenu" and his prayers were answered. "Avinu Malkenu"
I thus seems to be the formula of prayer in times of distress. The
in Jewish prayer services to an communities during the middle tions.
* * *
first verse of our "Avinu Malkenu" prayer contains the inference
extent where religious anarchy ages and almost as many Mach-
Shortly after its appearance, that Rabbi Akiba composed (at least the first verse of it) be-
and consequent disunity would zorim were assembled on that
the Heidenham Makhzor was cause its numerical value (adding up . the numerical value of
have been inevitable.
* *
Among the better known translated into German by Rab- the consonants that make it up) equals the numerical value of
The rabbis had to concede scholars who composed Machzo- bi Miachel Zack of Berlin and the Hebrew expression which says: "Akiba ben Joseph formulated
that the gradual breakdown of rim based on the rituals ob- thereby gained wide circulation this." The well know book "Pardes," usually ascribed to the
the established centers of Jew- served in their communities among German-speaking Jews authorship of Rashi, explains that when the sages observed that
ish learning left little assurance were Rabbi Jacob Samson of in Central Europe for more Rabbi Akiba's verse helped in time of distress, they appended
that forthcoming generations of Fleisch—the teacher of Rabbe- than a century after its initial some additional supplications and designated it as a prayer of
repentance for all future generations. What is basic about this
Jews might have the knowledge nu Tam—Rabbenu Tam• himself publication.
and understanding necessary to and Rabbi Moses Ben Nachman,
The process of eliminating prayer is that it beseeches the Almighty both in the form of a
choose liturgical verse suitable also know as the Ramban or some "piyyutim" from the High "father" and of a "king."
for the synagogue. Opposition to Nachmanides. His Makhzor not Holy Day ritual was continued
Why is this prayer omitted on the Sabbath if the Sabbath
having a prayerbook ended and only abounded in piyyutim, but by the founders of Reform Ju-
falls on Rosh Hashanah?
the work of compiling a "Sid- also contained Rabbi Moses' daism. They preferred to insert
Actually, the way the rabbis formulated and arranged the
dur"—an arrangement of Jew- commentaries on them.
prayers in their place written in
ish liturgy—was started.
The best know and most com- German, English or other lan- intermediate verses, follows the pattern of the daily prayer
When the first praverbooks plete of the early makhzorim is guages that could be readily benedictions (Shmonah Esreh). These benedictions are petitions
were completed by Saadia Ga- the one assembled by Rabbi understood by their followers. and petitions are not to be addressed to the Almighty on the
on and Hai Gaon in the 10th Simcha ben Samuel of Vitry—a
The Biblical passages con- Sabbath because one is supposed to feel himself at peace and
and 11th centuries respec- disciple of Rashi. His work, tained
in the Makhzor's New well satisfied with his lot on the holy Sabbath. The "Avinu
tively, High Holy Day prayers which was completed in France Year service
drawn from Malkenu" is actually placed after the prayer benedictions
and those for all other occa- in the 12th century, contains all five books are
(Shmonah Esreh) because it is patterned as a model of these
sions were contained in the prayers for all occasions of the include 20 of the Bible's and
Since the full compliment of prayer benedictions
same collection. These were year and became the model for psalms in full or in part 150
(Shemonah Esreh) is not recited on the Sabbath because peti-
referred to as a "Siddur" or all subsequent makhzorim. One
tions are not allowed on the Sabbath—likewise is the "Avinu
as selections from the Malkenu,"
"1W akhzor" interchangeably, medieval Makhzor was compiled well
which is patterned after these benedictions, omitted
and even today, Sephardic in 1306 by a woman—Pola Bat Ezekiel, Obadia and Zechari- on the Sabbath. There are some prayer books that even delete
Jews use the two words as Abraham the Scribe. Today this ah, several verses from Sam- a few of the penitential verses from the "Avinu Malkenu" on the
edition is in the possession of a uel I and quotations from the days of Rosh Hashanah because of this same reason—leaving
It was the Ashkenazic Jewish library in Verona, Italy.
Books of Proverbs and Chron- these verses to be recited only on fast days, and during the
* * *
community of Western, Central
intermediate days of Penitence between Rosh Hashanah and
and Eastern Europe that gave
The violent disruption of Jew-
Yom Kippur, and on Yom Kippur itself.
"Siddur" and "Makhzor" the ish communal life in medieval
Thus, the Makhzor is a litur-
precise meaning they have in Europe occasioned first by the
America today. The Ashkena- Crusades, then by the Blaek gical anthology compiled from
zim used "Siddur" to denote the Death and finally by the Inqui- ancient and medieval Hebrew
(From the liturgy for Sinichath Torah)
prayerbook for weekday and sition, made it impossible for literature chosen by scholars
This Feast of the Law all your gladness display,
Sabbath services and "Makhzor" the local "Minhagim" to be per- during the past 900 years. In
Today all your homages render,
for the High Holy Days and the petuated. As a result, religious its present form it conveys the
What profit can lead so pleasant a way,
three major festivals of Sukkot, ceremonies were consolidated
What jewels can vie with its splendor?
Passover and Shavuoth.
and gradually evolved into the ditions and spirit of the Ten
Then exalt in the Law on its festival day,
* * *
Akhkemazic and Sephardic rites
The Law is our Light and Defender.
Jewish year.
Actually, the choice of the of today.
'My God I will praise in a jubilant lay,
To those who wish to intro-
two Hebrew words was arbitra-
New aggregations of Jews had
'My hope in Him never sun-ender,
ry. It could have been the other to be able to pray together in a duce new material meaningful
His glory proclaim where His chosen sons pray,
way around, as can be seen mutually acceptable fashion to contemporary Jews, it can be
My Rock all my trust shall engender.
from their English translations: based on Jewish religious prin- said that their intention is a
Then exalt in the Law on its festival day,
"Siddur" simply means arrange- ciple and custom free from the continuation of the dynamics of
The Law is our Light and Defender.
Jewish liturgical history.
ment and "Makhzor," cycle. stamp of provincialism.
Scholars point out that Makhzor
The invention of the print-
On the other hand to those
My heart of Thy goodness shall carol away,
was first used in Syria by Chris- ing press in the 15th century who insist on the preservation
Thy praises I ever will render,
tians to denote their prayer ser- hastened the standardization of the Makhzor, with no new
While breath is, my lips all Thy wonders shall say,
vices. This is explained by the of ritual. Makhzorim were additions or deletions, it can be
Thy truth and Thy kindness so tender,
fact that the root of the word is among the first books printed said that one of the lessons
Then exalt in the Law on its festival day,
common to various Semitic lan- with movable type and the learned by the rabbis who safe-
The Law is our Light and Defender.
guages, including Hebrew, and abundance of facsimiles cir- guarded Jewish unity in spite of
(Editor's Note: This beautiful poem was written in Babylonia, in the
means to. repeat or review.
culated throughout European exile and dispersion, was that early Middle Ages, poet unknown. The translation from the Hebrew was
done by Israel Zangwill, England (1864.1926). Zangwill distinguished him-
The major difference between Jewry accelerated the proc- excessive freedom in liturgical self
as a novelist, poet, playwright and critic. Later, he became strongly
the Siddur and Makhzor lies in ess of sandardization.
Jewish causes and with Jewish literary themes which
composition can create divisive earned for with
him a wide reknown among Gentiles as well as Jews. His
the number of "piyyutim" con-
Some European Jewish com- among Jewish communities.
reputation as champion of Jewish interests was worldwide.


Feast of the Law

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