By April 14, 2008 Read More →

The Shema and its Benedictions, Ismar Elbogen, Jewish Liturgy, Jewish Publication Society, Philadelphia 1993.

The Dead Sea Scrolls
(1) The third section of the weekday Morning Service is called ,קריאת שמע “The Recitation of the Shema‘,” after its main content, or יוצר, “Creator,” because it begins with the benediction יוצר אור , “Creator of Light”; in fact, from this latter the entire Morning Service has acquired the name תפלת אור, which is still in use in Eastern lands.1 Likewise, the poems inserted in the fixed prayers are called יוצר (plural, יוצרות), because the first of them is inserted in this benediction.

At the heart of this section stand three passages from the Torah, שמע (Deut. 6-4–9), והיה אם שמע (Deut. 11-13–21), and ויאמר (Num. 15-37–41); the three sections together are called “Shema‘” or “The Recitation of the Shema‘” because of the first word of the first passage. The Mishnah already fixes the structure of the entire sec¬tion- “In the morning two benedictions are said before [the Shema‘] and one after it” (M. Ber. 1-4), meaning that one must preface the Shema‘ with two benedictions and follow it with one. The first benedictions are named for their beginnings, יוצר אור, “Creator of Light”; sometimes—as, for example, in Abudarham—also ברכת המאורות, “Benediction of the Luminaries,” and אהבה רבה, “With great love”; the concluding benediction is אמת ויציב, “True and certain,” with the eulogy גאל ישראל, “Who redeemed Israel.” This prayer was often prefaced with yet another special benediction, or with the verse והוא רחום, “And He, being merciful” (Ps. 78-38; thus Manhig, “Laws of Prayer,” §26); but these two additions have not been preserved in any rite.

(2) This section begins with ברכו, “Bless the Lord.” Already in the Mishnah (M. Ber. 7-3), R. Ishmael (ca. 120) cites it in the current wording, though this wording was even then the object of a dispute that remained unresolved until the end of the amoraic period.2 The ancient orders of prayer make no mention of the custom that while the precentor says ברכו the congregation recites the hymn יתברך, “May the Name of the King be blessed,”3 which is composed of fragments of the Kaddish (§12a) and other biblical phrases. Apparently, in ancient times no reply to “Bless the Lord” was expected,4 but this call served as the invitation to begin the public worship. Only later, when the call was taken to be part of the prayer, did the custom arise for the congregation to answer it with the special response ברוך יי המבורך, “Blessed is the Lord, Who is blessed.” This custom was generally established by the second century (Sifre Deut., §306).

(3) The current text of the Creator benediction contains rhymes, an alphabetical acrostic (in some rare versions, even further developed than in the current one), and other signs of relatively late origin.5 In accordance with the benediction’s function as a morning prayer, it begins with praises based on Is. 45-7, with a slight alteration at the end of the verse to suit it for the service. The daily renewal of light is briefly praised as a renewal of the act of creation. The beginning and the end, twelve words in all, are quoted in B. Ber. 11b and 12a; and of what follows, the words המחדש בכל יום מעשה בראשית, “Who renews every day the act of creation,” occur in B. Hag. 12b, though not in connection with our prayer. Parallel to the opening of the benediction is the eulogy יוצר המאורות, which is prefaced by the verse “Who made the great lights” (Ps. 136-7). This verse, too, may still be reckoned as part of the original stock of the prayer,6 but with these words everything has been said that needed to be said in this place. Indeed, the version of the prayer prescribed by Saadia for individual worship is in this short form, which is also found in several geniza fragments without special remark.7

The rest of the material between the opening and the conclusion in the current version adds nothing new to the ideas that were meant to be expressed; it is merely an artificial expansion that might be deleted without loss to the content. The beginning,מה רבו , “How numerous,” is drawn from Ps. 104-24, and the conclusion has a petition, רחם עלינו, “Have mercy upon us,” which is out of place here; the intervening words form an unnecessarily wordy transition to it. The words “have mercy upon us” themselves belong to the following series of rhymes, which Saadia quotes in a slightly altered form. Its content and form betray it as a later addition to the original base; yet, it may be older than the expansions that follow it. The fragment,אל ברוך גדול דעה . . . תמיד , “Blessed God, great in knowledge,” is an alphabetical acrostic, which apparently was meant to include the letters that have special final forms מנצפ”ך));8 it originated at the very earli¬est at the end of the talmudic period. In the geonic period such acrostics were not yet incorporated into the prayer; several were available to be inserted as alternatives. Saadia, for example, recommends a longer one in which every letter is represented by at least two words, and fragmentary prayer books provide additional examples. Another acrostic is found toward the end of this benediction-עושים . . . פותחים כולם אהובים . . . ברורים . . . גבורים . . . , “All are beloved . . . pure . . . mighty. . . perform . . . open . . . .” The acrostic is not complete, but that need not mean that our tradition is defective, for the poets did not always work out the acrostics to their completion. We do find more of this acrostic in the Crimean rite than in the other rites ((ותפארת ותיקים זכים חפצים . . . לובשים עוז, but this is very likely a late addition.9

The thirteen following words, תתברך, “Be blessed,” to סלה, “Sela,” return to the theme of the benediction (the luminaries) and were therefore considered by Zunz to belong to the original benediction; but they do not fit there and serve only to pick up again the subject’s broken thread. The words קדושים, “holy ones,” and משרתים, “servants,” open a new theme, leading to the Kedushah. All scholars agree that this Kedushah in its present form is not ancient, but they are divided as to whether the Kedushah itself originally belonged here or not. Many hold that this in fact was its original place, and that from here it entered the ‘Amida, while others believe that it originated in the ‘Amida and was transferred here. We deal with this problem below in §9a. The verbose character of our text, which serves as a transition and which appears in Saadia in a very abbreviated form, is apparently no older than the geonic period, having originated in the circles of the Merkava mystics,10 who strove mightily in their prayers to comprehend the godhead. They longed for visions; and the heaping up of hymns is a tried and true means of achieving ecstasy that was practiced by mystics in every age. From the circles of the mystics we have many prayers of marvelous beauty, but also many in which verbiage overwhelms feeling and thought. According to information in Seder rav ‘amram, the Kedushah was one of the most beloved prayers of the mystics of that period. Evidence has lately come to light that in the first century of the geonic period the mystics made great efforts to disseminate their ideas, thereby arousing much opposition.11 They were especially eager to spread the recitation of the Kedushah. In Palestine the Kedushah was recited [in the ‘Amida] only on Sabbaths and festivals, while the mystics demanded that it be introduced on weekdays as well; despite bitter opposition they did not let up until they had achieved their purpose. About the year 750 this movement spread from Babylonia to Palestine. It would seem that at that time the Kedushah entered Creator, while the ancient Palestinian rite did not know it at all. [This matter is still in dispute; see the supplementary notes to §9a, pp. 59–61, below.]

The section beginning לאל ברוך, “To the Blessed God,” is directly connected to the reference to the angelic choirs that preceded and thus cannot predate it. It, too, contains several rhymes (פועל גבורות ,עושה חדשות, and so forth). In accordance with the ancient rule (see above, p. 16), it returns to the theme of the opening, in fact, to the very words- המחדש בטובו בכל יום תמיד מעשה בראשית, “Who renews in His goodness every day the work of creation”; and as a biblical prooftext, כאמור, “as it is said,” it cites- אורים גדולים לעושה, “Who made the great lights” (Ps. 136-7). But the word “lights” proved to be a stumbling block, for poetic souls (perhaps the mystics mentioned above) attached to it a petition for the light of the messianic redemption- אור חדש על ציון תאיר, “Cause a new light to shine upon Zion.” Saadia, whose prayer book does not even have “Who made the great lights,” campaigned against this addition,12 but in Babylonia his effort was to no avail; yet, it is absent from the Sephardic, Romaniot, and Italian rites, while in the sphere of the French-Ashkenazic rite, Rashi expressed his opposition to it. In Germany it became known early on and was defended by R. Eliezer ben Nathan of Mayence (ca. 1100). The dispute is reflected in the manuscripts as well, some of them citing the sentence and others omitting it; in the printed editions of the Ashkenazic rite it is found since the first edition. Where “Cause a new light” is lacking, a different conclusion is found. The Italian and Romaniot rites have, after Ps. 136, על הארץ בחסדו נתנם {להאיר}, “and in His mercy He set them {Romaniot- to give light} over the earth”; and the Sephardic rite, והתקין מאורות לשמח (את) עולמו אשר ברא, “and He established luminaries to rejoice His world that He created.” It appears that this was the original conclusion until the messianic conclusion replaced it.13 The version “Cause a new light” itself is apparently a shortened version of a more elaborate messianic petition. In southern France it was the custom to follow “Cause a new light” with Is. 60- 1 and Ps. 118-27. This might be a vestige of a Palestinian tradition, as is often the case with this rite; in the geniza fragments we frequently find between the two parts of the sentence “Cause a new light to shine” and “that we may all be worthy,” alongside the above-mentioned verses, ונר מישחך תאיר לנו, “And cause the lamp of your anointed one to shine for us.”14 The eulogy יוצר המאורות “Creator of the luminaries,” is found already in B. Ber. 12a, Y. Ber. 1-8, 3b. The Reform prayer books have abridged the benediction in various ways; at first objections were raised only to “Cause a new light,” but later the references to angels (“Be blessed, our Rock”) were eliminated, and ultimately the short version found in Saadia was restored.

(4) The second benediction is called ברכת התורה, “The Benediction of the Torah,” in Y. Ber. 1-8, 3c. In our rite it begins with the words אהבה רבה, “With great love,” while in the Sephardic and Italian rites it begins אהבת עולם, “With eternal love,” alluding to Jer. 31-2. This variation is ancient; it goes back to the Talmud, B. Ber. 11b, and may be rooted in the different practices of Babylonia and Palestine. It continued in various times and places and even caused the text of the Talmud to be transmitted in alternate versions. In the geonic academies, Pumbedita had “With eternal love,” while Sura read “With great love” in the Morning Service but assigned “With eternal love” to the Evening Service. This compromise was accepted by Amram and by the Ashkenazic and Romaniot rites as well, while Saadia has “With eternal love” in both services, as do the Sephardic and Italian rites.

The content of this benediction, as attested by its ancient name, is gratitude for the revelation. This becomes clear through comparison with the Evening Service and with the ancient versions, for as it stands before us the original purpose of the benediction is evident only from its first pan. In its content this benediction is identical in all the rites. In most of them the text is longer than in Ashkenaz, but the variants are numerous only in the second pan. As in the first benediction, a petition of messianic content was inserted here, sometimes longer, sometimes shorter; already in Amram and Saadia it is longer than in Ashkenaz. An important variation in this petition is that whereas Ashkenaz and Rome have a petition for the assembling of the diaspora communities, והביאנו לשלום מארבע כנפות הארץ, “Bring us in peace from the four corners of the earth,” Amram, Saadia, and, following them, Sepharad express the petition for the messianic redemption in very general terms-(מהר ו}הבא עלינו ברכה (ישועה) ושלום מארבע כנפות הארץ ,“{quickly} bring upon us blessing, {salvation,} and peace from the four corners of the earth.” It is noteworthy that the messianic petition is found only in geniza fragments that begin “With eternal love” and not in those that begin “With great love.” The introduction of the messianic petition was probably occasioned by the sen¬tence ויחד לבבנו, “and unite our hearts,” which concluded the first part and served as a transition to the proclamation of the divine unity. In its source, Ps. 86-11, this sen¬tence was a petition for unbounded devotion to God, but it was then linked to the later conception of יחוד השם, (The Confession of the Unity of God’s Name)—the acknowledgment of God even at the moment of death, and especially in martyrdom, bringing it into connection with thoughts of the world to come and the messianic age. Even in the present version it can still be seen that the benediction originally ended with “and unite our hearts,” for the conclusion—”and bring us (our King) to Your great Name”—leads back to the thought represented by these words. Already in Amram, Saadia, and following them all the other rites, the conclusion goes on- באמת ו] באהבה Rome[ “to give thanks to You and to declare Your unity (Rome- in truth and) in love”; in the Romaniot rite the formulation is even more elaborate- וליחדך ולאהבה ולאהוב את שמך הגדול , “to declare Your unity and to love Your great Name”—showing how the development of individual words could lead to an expansion of the wording as a whole. As already mentioned, Ashkenaz and Rome have the shortest and simplest version of “With great Love.”15 The eulogy, הבוחר בעמו ישראל באהבה, “Who chooses His people Israel in love,” is identical in all the rites;16 its nucleus may be found already among the benedictions of the high priest on the Day of Atonement (Y. Yoma 7-1, 44b). For the Reform prayer books, the model is the version introduced in the Temple of Ham¬burg in 1818; there the messianic petition was much abridged and reworded after the version quoted above from the Sephardic rite.

(5) For the passages from the Torah in the Recitation of the Shema‘ itself, see page 17. For private worship, Ashkenaz adds before the Shema‘ the words אל מלך נאמן, “God, faithful King”; they exemplify the typical way in which misunderstandings arise and acquire religious significance. The three words are simply the word amen treated as an acronym. This word is found before the Shema‘ in Amram, Saadia, and even in Mahzor Vitry;17 in Palestine it was the practice to say “amen” after the benediction “With great Love,” though this custom was early prohibited (Y. Ber. 5-5, 9c). Now in the Talmud (B. Shab. 119b) we find- “What does ‘amen’ mean? Said R. Hanina- God, faithful King.” When the kabbalists came along and began to count the words of the prayers, seeking the mysteries concealed in numbers, they found that the three biblical passages contain 245 words, so that by adding the three words, “God, faithful King,” they reached the mystical number 248, corresponding to the number of limbs in the human body or the number of the positive commandments. The precentor does not say, “God, faithful King,” but he reaches the same total number by concluding aloud, “the Lord your God is true.”18

After the verse “Hear O Israel” the recitation is interrupted by the response, ברוך שם כבוד מלכותו לעולם ועד “Blessed be the Name of His majestic glory forever.” This formula is borrowed from Ps. 72-19; the middle words are equivalent to “The Lord our God.” This response formula was used in the Temple in answer to the pronouncing of the ineffable name by the high priest (M. Yoma 3-8 and elsewhere). Its insertion in the Shema‘ is related to the customary manner of reciting this passage in the most ancient period.19 On this subject, see page 24.

(6) As a conclusion to the recitation of the biblical passages comes the benediction, אמת ויציב, “True and Certain.” This name is found already in Mishnah (Tam. 5-1) in the Morning Service of the priests during the offering of the daily sacrifice. Because of its antiquity, R. Yehuda asserts (B. Ber. 21a) that the obligation of reciting it is toraitic. The eulogy of this extremely long benediction is גאל ישראל, “Who redeemed Israel,” whence its other name, “Redemption” (compare B. Ber. 9b; Y. Ber. 1-1, 2d). The two names point to two stages in the development of the prayer. “True and Certain” is a confirmation of the declaration of faith; it fits well with the first two passages of the Shema‘ and confirms the validity of these ancient verses for every age. The name “Redemption” arose through the introduction of the third biblical passage; its present content has its source in the Tosefta (Ber. 2-1; Y. Ber. 1-9, 3d)- “One who recites the Shema‘ {in the morning} must mention the exodus from Egypt in ‘True and Certain.’ Rabbi says- ‘In it one must mention {God’s} sovereignty.’ Others say- ‘In it one must mention the smiting of the firstborn {in Egypt} and {the miracle of} the splitting of the sea.’”20 This dispute is resolved at the end- “R. Joshua b. Levi says, ‘One must mention them all and must also say, “The rock of Israel and its redeemer”.’”

Also regarding the wording, a number of points deserve mention. “True and Certain” contains Hebrew and Aramaic words side by side, a frequent occurrence in ancient prayers. In addition, there is a large number of synonyms; Rashi requires eighteen, while in the prayer book there are altogether sixteen, and these words are exactly the same in all the rites, a sign of their antiquity. The sentence is thereupon resumed with אמת, “true,” and developed rather wordily in midrashic style. The text is the same in all the versions except for minor stylistic variants, though Romaniot has a completely different conclusion; Ashkenaz contains the surprising reading יוצרנו צור ישועתנו, “Our Creator, the Rock of our salvation,” instead of the expected צורנו צור ישועתנו, “Our Rock . . .,” which is found in all the other rites, including Vitry, and which matches the parallelism of the other phrases. When piyyutim are inserted, Ashkenaz employs a shortened version with the same content; the conclusion—למען שמך מהר לגאלנו, “For the sake of Your Name hurry to redeem us”—seems like an expansion, but is apparently only a summary of the Redemption benediction. Romaniot preserved this conclusion in the weekday service, and in the geniza fragments the short “True and Certain” is found in the weekday prayers; once again we have here a remnant of the Palestinian liturgy preserved in the Ashkenazic rite in connection with piyyut, a phenomenon we will frequently meet again.

With עזרת אבותינו, “Help of our fathers” (Vitry reads “helper”) begins the second part, the Redemption, in the form of a vigorous hymn. It is in the nature of this style that in the course of time certain phrases in it were altered or replaced with longer ones; in some geniza manuscripts it is still evident how parts of the text were deleted and added. But for these changes, which scarcely affect the content, the text is the same in all rites. It leads to the two quotations from the Song of the Sea, Ex. 15-11 and 15-18. But toward the end the variations are more numerous. Amram simply concludes here, rejecting any additions explicitly and absolutely. Nevertheless such additions are present in every rite. The simplest version is that of Sepharad, which adds only גואלנו, “Our Redeemer” (Is. 47-4). In all the other rites there is inserted at this point, again contrary to the original plan, a petition that God repeat the act of Redemption. Amram mentions בגלל אבות תושיע בנים, “For the sake of the fathers save the sons,” but he rejects it; nevertheless, it is in use in the weekday prayers of Romaniot and Rome, as well as in Ashkenaz on Passover in connection with the piyyut ברח דודי, “Flee, my beloved.” It is likely that this wording, too, derives from the Palestinian rite. In Ashkenaz the language of the petition in the weekday prayers is צור ישראל קומה בעזרת ישראל, “Rock of Israel, arise for the help of Israel,” with the addition, to which some Ashkenazic scholars objected, of “Our Redeemer”; this version was known also in southern France. Romaniot has “Our Redeemer” together with “For the sake of the fathers.” Very lengthy concluding formulas, completely different from the above versions, are found in fragments from the Oriental countries. After Ex. 15-11 comes- מפי עוללים ויונקים שירה שמעת, “From the mouths of babes and sucklings you heard song,” and as a response, Ex. 15-18, together with an extensive hymn and a petition-

ה ’מלכנו מלך אל חי וקיים שמך עלינו ה’ יוצרנו ה’ הושיענו חוס ורחם עלינו ברחמים הרבים כי אל חנון ורחום טוב אתה ה’ מלך ה’ מלך ה’ ימלוך לעולם ועד קיים עלינו ה’ אלהינו מלכותו וכבודו גדלו ותפארתו וקדושתו וקדושת שמו הגדול הוא ה’ אלהינו ירחם עלינו וירוח לנו מכל צרותינו ויגאל’ אותנו גאולה שלמה וימלך עלינו מהרה לעולם ועד בא”י צור ישראל וגואלו אמן.

“O Lord our King, King and God living and eternal, Your Name is upon us. O God, our Creator, O God, save us; spare us and have mercy on us in Your great love, for You are a kind, merciful, and good God. The Lord reigned, the Lord reigns, the Lord will reign forever. The Lord our God is eternally over us. His kingdom and His glory, His greatness and His splendor, His sanctity, and the sanctity of His great Name—He, the Lord our God, will have mercy upon us and relieve us of all our troubles, and redeem us with a perfect redemption, and rule over us speedily and forever.21 Blessed are You, O Lord, Rock of Israel and its Redeemer. Amen.”

The eulogy formula, “Who redeemed Israel,” originated in Babylonia in the fourth century (B. Pes. 117b)- “Rava said- ‘{The ending of the benediction following} the recitation of the Shema‘ . . . is, “Who redeemed Israel”.’”22 In Palestine R. Joshua b. Levi (third century) prescribed the wordingצור ישראל וגואלו , “Rock of Israel and its Redeemer” (Y. Ber. 1-9, 3d). This eulogy is in use today only in Ashkenaz for the evening service of festivals in connection with piyyut, but it was once in use in Palestine on weekdays, as the above-cited version attests.

(7) The combining of the biblical passages and the benedictions into the Recitation of the Shema‘ occurred in stages. As far back as our sources go, the three passages are mentioned as a single unit; nevertheless, there is reason to think that they found their way into the liturgy successively. A declaration of faith was to be made at this point; this purpose was met by the first passage, with its expression of the community’s attachment to the one God, and of wholehearted love for Him as a commandment binding in every time and condition.23 The Septuagint provides this passage with a solemn introduction. Of the three passages, the Nash Papyrus cites only it, together with the Ten Commandments, which also originally served in public worship. The second passage matches the first at its beginning and conclusion, and probably it was appended to it for this reason. Its main content, the Torah’s simple doctrine of reward and punishment, still suited the faith of the ancient period when the two passages were combined. There are several indications that the passage ויאמר, “And the Lord said,” was the last of the three, in time as well as in order. First, since it is taken from Numbers, it should not have come after the two passages from Deuteronomy. Second, we have a reliable tradition that, in Palestine, as late as the ninth century, it was not recited in the Evening Service. It seems that originally only the concluding verse, Num. 15-41, was part of the liturgy, for here that central event in Jewish history—the exodus from Egypt—particularly its religious significance, is emphasized with a degree of clarity unmatched in Scripture. And when the first two passages acquired a halakhic interpretation, and the laws of tefilin and mezuza were derived from them, the beginning of “And the Lord said” was also brought into the liturgy, and the commandment of fringes was given the significance attributed to it in the halakhic conception. The Mishnah (Ber. 1-2) and Josephus (Antiquities, 4.8.13, §218) know the three passages only as a unit, and in this form they have come down through the centuries.

Like the biblical passages themselves, the framework prayers are not from a single period. Here, the first in order is the latest in time. It was unthinkable to proclaim God’s unity in the public worship without a proper liturgical framework. An introduction was needed that would prepare the worshiper for its content. This function was filled by the second benediction, “With great love,” which accordingly was called “The Benediction of the Torah,” containing as it does thanksgiving for the revelation [and the giving of the Torah and the commandments]. That originally this was the only benediction before the biblical passages is attested by the liturgy of the priests, reported in M. Tam. 5-1—”One blessing” (compare B. Ber. 11b). “True and Certain,” in which every community in its time affirms its acceptance of the ancient revelation, served as a conclusion to the expression of faith. After the solemn declaration of God’s unity was joined to the Morning Service, an expression of gratitude for the physical light and for the continual daily renewal of nature was added; appropriately, it took the first place.

In the most ancient period, public worship concluded with the recitation of “True and Certain.” Its content was solely the declaration of faith. It did not contain any peti¬tions, these being left for individual worship, which was their special province. The problem of the relationship between public and individual worship was resolved by setting aside a place after the public prayer for the individual and his petitions (devarim, tahanunim). With the later expansion of the liturgy, this practice was no longer appro¬priate; hence, the stringent prohibition against uttering individual prayers after “True and Certain”- “One does not utter words of private petition and supplication after ‘True and Certain’ but he may utter words {of petition} after the ‘Amida, even {if the petition is} as {long as} the order {another version says ‘something like the order’} of the confession on Yom Kippur” (T. Ber. 3-6).

(8) The Recitation of the Shema‘ and its benedictions was performed as follows- One of the members of the congregation served as precentor; the congregation would sit on the ground and the precentor would remain among them. The recitation was antiphonal, with the congregation and the precentor alternating. From this practice the recitation of this prayer was referred to by the peculiar termפרס על שמע —that is, to recite the Shema‘ by dividing it.24 The head of the congregation would turn to one of its members and say to him- פרוס על שמע. The one thus invited served as precentor, reciting the beginning of the verse—for example, “Hear O Israel.” The congregation would repeat his words and finish the verse- “Hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One.” When the precentor heard them uttering the divine name, he would respond- “Blessed be the Name of His majestic glory forever,” exactly as the patriarch Jacob did, according to the story in Targum Jonathan and the midrash, when his sons declared to him their faith, saying, “Hear, O Israel.” At Mt. Sinai too, according to the midrash, the Israelites recited this verse, and Moses responded- “Blessed be the Name of His majestic glory forever.” This ancient manner of recitation gave rise to the practice, still current, of interrupting the first two verses of the Shema‘ with “Blessed is the Name of His majestic glory forever.” As then, so in all generations it is recited silently (B. Pes. 56a), the only exception being on Yom Kippur. Another manner of reciting the Shema‘ is called כרך את שמע, “to wrap the Shema‘“ (M. Pes. 4-8). This method is said to have been usual in Jericho; it consisted of the precentor reciting the entire verse from beginning to end, and the congregation repeating it after him word for word. In this system there was no room for “Blessed be the Name of His majestic glory forever”; and the absence of this response is in fact mentioned as typical of the rite of Jericho.
It may be that only the biblical passages were recited antiphonally, for only they could be assumed to be known perfectly by the congregation, while the benedictions were said originally only by the pores—that is, the precentor. In the Mishnah we find that the term pores et (or al) Shema‘ already refers to the entire complex, including the benedictions; hence, a blind man is excluded from fulfilling this function. This would also explain the false opinion that the word pores has to do with prayer or blessing. The Talmud does not give any direct explanation for this term, while in the post-talmudic period it was not properly understood since the procedure was no longer in use.

1. The name קריאת שמע is the usual one in the Talmud, midrash, and halakhic literature (M. Ber. 2-1 has מקרא). תפילת יוצר occurs in manuscripts and in printed books from Oriental lands. ברכת המאורות is found in Abudarham, among others.—As for the benediction before the Shema’ ברוך אתה ה’ אלהינו מלך העולם אשר קדשנו במצוותיו וציונו על מצות קריאת שמע להמליכו בלבב שלם וליחדו בלב טוב ולעברו בנפש חפיצה, “Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the world, Who sanctified us by His commandments and commanded us concerning the Recitation of the Shema’, to declare His Kingship with a whole heart, and to declare His unity with a willing heart, and to serve Him with a willing soul”), see JQR 10 (1898)- 654 and REJ 53 (1907)- 240f.; cf. Abudarham 47a; Ginzberg, Geonica, 1-136f. The benediction has meanwhile been found a few times in the fragments, not only for the Morning Service but for the Evening Service as well, and not only for weekdays but also for Tabernacles; cf. Mann, Palestinian, 286, 308, 332. But the benediction is not found in all the fragments, and whether it is optional or mandatory is disputed; Mann, Palestinian, 287, assumes that the Kaddish before “Creator” belongs to “Creator” and that in Palestine the benediction served as a substitute for it.

2. Y. Ber. 7-3, 11c; B. Ber. 50a (Elbogen, Studien, 19).

3. Tur, O.H. §57 and Abudarham; cf. Zunz, Literaturgeschichte, 13. In Amram 4a the words “‘Bless the Lord’ for the individual” are inserted here, but this is a late addition; cf. Marx, Untersuchungen, 4; Frumkin, Seder, 1-185.

4. Elbogen, Studien, 19.

5. New “Creator” texts were published by Mann, Palestinian, 273, 293, 320f., 323 (these last, for the Sabbath).

6. Analyses of “Creator” in Rapoport, Qalir; Jawitz, Meqor; Elbogen, Studien, 20f.—Manhig, “Laws of Prayer,” §30 defends the reading בטובו מחדש, “in His goodness He renews,” as against טובו מחדש, “His Goodness renews” [but this is the reading of Saadia, Siddur, 13]; see also Rivista Israelita 4 (1907)- 194f. and B. Ber. 50a.

7. Saadia’s text [ibid.], Amram 4b f.; Frumkin, Seder, 1- 193f.; Bondi, Saadia, 13; Elbogen, Studien, 21. In Saadia [Siddur, 36] the passage from אדון עוזנו to מה טובו (Bondi, Saadia, 17) is lacking, but he has, alongside “Blessed God,” another alphabetical acrostic [ibid., 37]; Zunz, Literaturgeschichte, 13; Bondi, Saadia, 17; Elbogen, Studien, 22 and n. 1, also on the chain-rhyme.

8. The letters with final form are now represented only by the words תמיד מספרים כבוד, while Saadia reads תמיד יספרו לאל קדושתו (ibid.); it appears that our text was not changed unintentionally. There were also some who sought in the words מספרים כבוד an acrostic of the name Michael (Baer, ‘Avodat, 77).

9. All are beloved- for Saadia, cf. Bondi, Saadia, 17. For Kaffa in Crimea, see Baer, ‘Avodat, 78; Zunz, Ritus, 82 demonstrates that its rite belongs to Romaniot; see I. Markon, “Ma’amar ‘al odot mahzor minhag kafa” in Zikaron le’avraham eliyahu, Festschrift for A. Harkavy, ed. I. Markon and D. Günzberg (St. Petersburg, 1908), 449f. The expanded acrostic was known also in Persia; cf. JQR 10 (1898)- 608.

10. On the Merkava mystics, see below, §44(4)f. The text in Amram 4a did not originate there (Marx, Untersuchungen, 18, Hebrew section, 4), but is taken from the Hekhalot; cf. Bloch, Merkava, 20.

11. Ginzberg, Geonica, 2-48; see now also REJ 70 (1920)- 135f.; Tarbiz 2 (1930/1)- 383f.; Elbogen, Studien, 22f.

12. [Saadia’s attack on the recitation of “Cause a new light” is not in his Siddur as printed, but it is found in a fragment published by N. Wieder, Saadia Studies (Manchester, 1943), 262; on the whole matter, see ibid. On Saadia’s position of principle vis-à-vis changes in the wording of the prayers, see Heinemann in Annual of Bar-Ilan University 1 (1962/3)- 220f.]

13. On the conclusion of “Creator,” see Baer, ‘Avodat, 79; Elbogen, Studien, 23. The following summary displays the development in the Reform prayer books- “Cause a new light” is lacking in the Hamburg Temple; “Be blessed, our Rock” and the Kedushah are lacking in the prayer book published by Heinemann (Vogelstein); a shorter version is found in D. Einhorn, Book of Prayers for Jewish Congregations (Chicago, 1896), the Union Prayer-Book, and the Baden prayer book.

14. The quotation in Mann, Palestinian, 293, n. 63 does not contradict the above; while the idea of Zion is strongly stressed, the text under discussion is a poetically elaborated one. Nor does the version mentioned in Mann, Palestinian, 295 constitute an absolute contradiction. It seems that this is an area of religious development and expression that has not yet been explored.

15. On the text of “With great love,” cf. Zunz, Haderashot, 179; REJ 50 (1904)- 145f.; Elbogen, Studien, 26f.; Haqedem 2 (1908)- 85, 88f. [; Heinemann, Prayer, 43, n. 34]. Expansions of the version current in France were rejected by R. Judah the Pious; cf. J. Perles’s article in Graetz Festschrift, 17.

16. A hitherto unknown variant of “Who loves His people Israel” appears in Mann, Palestinian, 288.
17. On amen, cf. Frumkin, Seder, 1- 96; Ginzberg, Geonica, 1-138 derives amen from the benediction mentioned above in §7, n. 1, which seems unlikely. Mann, Palestinian, 295, points to the Palestinian fragment, which reads here amen, but he himself admits that the problem has not been completely resolved. Y. variants cited in medieval works are not decisive, for we know that these often cite Y. even though it was not actually a source, as Mann himself admits (Mann, Palestinian, 291, n. 60).

18. On the word count, cf. Manhig, “Laws of Prayer,” §33; Tur, O.H. §61, and commentators; see also Baer, ‘Avodat, 81.

19. On “Blessed be the Name,” see Blau in REJ 31 (1895)- 189 and Elbogen, Studien, 10.—Supplementary material to the third edition- With this reference to Blau, I meant only that at the moment we can say no more about the development of the text. According to Aptowitzer in MGWJ 73 (1929)- 192, it came into being ca. 100 B.C.E., as a protest against the Hasmoneans and the Sadducees. Not all will agree that this is “beyond all doubt,” especially since it remains unresolved why the text was not eliminated or changed when the time for that protest had passed. On the other hand, the emergence of the text can be easily explained from the parallels in Pss. 72-19 and 145-11 cited by the author. According to Aptowitzer, the text was inserted into the recitation of the Shema‘ not out of liturgical, but out of political considerations. According to him, only one person would recite the Shema‘, while the congregation would merely respond. Eventually, when individuals began to recite it with the reader, they all said the response “Blessed be the name” (Aptowitzer, op. cit., 106). This implies that at that time the entire text was always recited aloud. The reason that it was later said silently was that, in the meanwhile, the cause for protest had ceased to exist. But still later a time came when the protest was again called for; hence, the need to proclaim the responses aloud was stressed. This would have been ca. 250, when the trinity dogma was being developed, and the Shema‘ with the proclamation “Blessed be the Name” attached to it was a kind of formal manifesto of pure monotheism. But this institution had only local force, and did not prevail everywhere (Aptowitzer, op. cit., 118). This rather complex construction does not shrink even from the assumption that changing times bring about changes in the manner of reciting the prayers; but at the same time, it does not take into consideration the fact that times change also with respect to their political and religious goals as well as in the availability of opportunities for protest. Furthermore, Aptowitzer does not give attention to such technical terms as פרס על שמע and כרך את שמע. [Cf. also Heinemann, Prayer, 84f.]

20. On the composition of “True and Certain,” see Elbogen, Studien, 28f. On the text of Saadia, see Bondi, Saadia, 13 [Saadia, Siddur, 15; cf. also Tarbiz 34 (1964/5)- 363f.]; Rashi, cf. Pardes 55a; Palestine, see JQR 10 (1898)- 656; Ashkenaz’s version for use with piyyutim, see Baer, ‘Avodat, 216.—Poetic expansions of the text, both of the Morning and Evening services for weekdays and Sabbaths in Mann, Palestinian, 294f., 305, 321; they are even more extreme than the versions reported in Elbogen, Studien, 31. But it must be noted that these expanded texts, though prolix, contain no conceptual innovations; only in the liturgical poem cited in Mann, Palestinian, 294f. and attached to the daily psalm is a reference made to the Resurrection.

21. The words קיים עלינו, “fulfill for us,” are rejected in Ginzberg, Geonica, 2-91, since this is no place to refer to Redemption.—How “Help of our fathers” took shape can be seen from the facsimile in Elbogen, Studien, 32; cf. ibid., 31 and REJ 53 (1907)- 236, 241 on the end of “Redemption.” The critique of R. Judah the Pious of other additions may be found in Perles’s article in Graetz Festschrift. In Worms, גואלנו was introduced only by R. Meir b. Isaac. See Epstein in Hagoren 4 (1903)- 91f.
[22. On the eulogy “Who redeemed Israel,” see Goldschmidt, Hagada, 58. But it cannot be excluded that this eulogy text existed before Rava’s time; perhaps it is only an alternate Palestinian eulogy. See Tarbiz 30 (1960/1)- 406f.; Heinemann, Prayer, 62 and n. 28. Evidence has survived that some used to say גואל ישראל, “Redeemer of Israel,” at the end of the Redeemer benediction after the Shema‘. Cf. Qiryat sefer 29 (1952–54)- 172. The conjecture of Z. Ben-Hayim in Leshonenu 22 (1957/8)- 223f. must also be considered- that this eulogy originally read גאל ישראל, “Redeemer of Israel,” participle of the form pā‘ēl.
On the rhyming “Rock of Israel,” see Heinemann in Annual of Bar-Ilan University 4–5 (1966/7)- 132f.]

23. Cf. Elbogen, Studien, 13f. As a declaration of faith, the passage came to be called “the acceptance of the yoke of the kingdom of heaven” (d. M. Ber. 2-3). On individual prayer- Elbogen, Studien, 40f.; below, §10.

24. Detailed discussion of the reason in Elbogen, Studien, 7f. Against my approach, Blau, REJ 55 (1909)- 201f.; Blau, REJ, 59 (1913)- 198f.; Bacher, REJ 57 (1911)- 100f.; and my reply, REJ 56 (1910)- 222f.; a compromise approach is advanced by Lieber, REJ 57 (1911)- 161f.; Lieber, REJ 58 (1912)- 1f. (also appeared separately under the title La récitation du Schema et les bénédictions), with which Brody agrees, MGWJ 54 (1910)- 49 If. But despite the strong opposition, I see myself compelled to hold my ground. First, no evidence is found that the Talmud anywhere refers to reciting the benediction, or the benediction over bread, by the expression פרס. This term is used only for breaking the bread itself, and a piece of bread broken from the loaf is called פרוסה. The same is the case with the verb בצע, and the statement לא בצע על פרוסה שאינה שלוin B. Hul in 7b is no exception. Bacher relies, to be sure, on Rashi’s comment לא היה מברך; but R. Gershom’s comment on the passage, כלומר לא היה נהנה, shows that this is unnecessary. Thus, neither the word בצע nor פרוסה refers to the benediction. It is true that a pious Jew would not break bread or eat it without saying a benediction over it, but this has nothing to do with the original meaning of the word. True, Rashi and all later commentators and decisors no longer made these distinctions, and most of the criticism of those who disagree with me depends on such inexact interpretations of the later rabbis. We would easily be able to come to an agreement as to how the expressionעל שמע פרס was understood by Soferim (the sources were assembled by Blau, REJ 73 {1921}- 140f.), for the sources speak quite clearly; but we must not pay attention to late commentaries of any kind, and must follow the original meaning of the earliest sources. From these, I am unable to reach any other conclusion than the one that I explained in Studien, 7f. Even today I am unable to find an attestation for the combination of פרס and על, but I do not think, as does Bacher, that my explanation collapses on that account. We must accept the fact that this is a unique expression that occurs only in connection with the Recitation of the Shema‘. Thus, one says, for example, in the often-cited baraita T. Meg. 4-27,על שמע הפורס, but המברך על המצוות. We all agree that the term refers to the three passages of the Shema‘ together with the benedictions, and that the Shema‘ was recited verse by verse antiphonally. Wherein lies our disagreement? My opponents insist on deriving פרסfrom the benedictions, whereas I derive it from the meaning “to divide in half.” Lieber goes too far in trying to connect the antiphonal rendition with the text in the present prayer book and in finding in all the functions named in M. Meg. 4-5 the same scheme and, wherever possible, the same internal structure of the benedictions.
[See lately also Albeck, Mishnah, 1-328. He believes that the congregation would respond “Blessed be the Name” after hearing the first verse and the name of God included therein from the precentor. This seems likely in light of the fact that we always find this formula as a congregational response. See Albeck, Mishnah, 2-502f. Lieberman, Tosefta, 5-1206f. upholds the interpretation of the expression הפורס את שמע as “the one who announces the Shema‘.” But despite the disagreements as to the meaning of the term פרס and as to the exact distribution of the recitation between the precentor and the congregation, no one disagrees that the Shema‘ was recited antiphonally in antiquity, as implied by R. Nehemiah in the baraita, “As a scribe הפורס את שמע in the synagogue- He begins and they respond” (B. Sota 30b, T. Sota 6-3).]

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