Creation of the Hasidic Siddur
Serving the Almighty through prayer is one of the foundations of Hasidism. Its discoverer, Rabbi Yisroel Baal Shem Tov, taught that just as a Jew is obliged to study the Torah and strictly fulfill the commandments, his duty is to selflessly serve the Almighty with his prayer, pouring out his soul before the Creator of the universe.
Since then, the Hasid, sitting in the corner of the synagogue and carried away by his soul to the higher spiritual worlds, has been an integral part of the House of Prayer for any of the many directions in Hasidism.
Prayer has many forms: a cry, a stormy outpouring of feelings, a barely audible whisper; unhurried and meaningful pronunciation of each word, combined with reflection on the greatness of the Creator – and a hasty patter, so that nothing extraneous could penetrate into the thought.
However, all these forms are united by the same idea – the transformation of prayer into a “ladder standing on the ground, while its top reaches Heaven”.
The name Seder (siddur) tefillah was established by the Gaons and originally referred to all types of prayer books, coinciding with the concept of mahzor. In a number of communities, the distinction between the two types of prayer books is not made to this day.
The modern Ashkenazi (and, under their influence, some Sephardic communities) custom is to distinguish between a siddur (pl. siddurim), which contains only regular prayers, and a machzor (pl. mahzorim), which also contains piyuy, in most cases related to holidays, arose quite late.Yemenite Jews call the prayer book silent for all days.
The concept of siddur
The concept of siddur was as follows:
- a clear and understandable translation into Russian, not for the purpose of academic compliance with the Hebrew text, but from the point of view of ease of reading and understanding of the meaning. Therefore, translators from the very beginning refused to translate too literally, to put words in brackets for coherence, as was done in other translations of siddur, etc.
- An important feature is also detailed headings to help navigate the prayer and a detailed table of contents based on them.
the commentary was supposed to reflect the meaning of prayers for an intelligent Russian-speaking reader, and not for academic study, so much attention was paid to the meaning of prayers, their place in the history of Jewish liturgy and the history of Jewish culture, their emergence, etc.
- a special system of instructions was developed to make it easier for the reader to participate in the service in the synagogue. Special graphics indicating where they sit down, stand up, which prayers are read only in a minyan.
- at the end of the siddur there was a reference apparatus indicating the features of prayers on certain days, etc.
All this made it the most convenient Jewish prayer book in Russian. Siddur was called the “Gate of Prayer”, which emphasized its character of convenience for beginners.
The first edition of the siddur was published in 1992, and very quickly it became the most popular Jewish prayer book with a translation into Russian, being such to this day.
Siddur – prayer book
Most of the prayers accepted by the entire Jewish people were composed by the men of the Great Assembly and their successors – the sages of the Talmud.
Differences in the customs of the communities concern details: the order of prayers, some textual differences, the presence or absence of liturgical hymns of later origin.
These nuances characterize all nuskhaot – “variants” of prayer adopted in various communities. Nusakh Ashkenaz, Nusakh Sfarad, Nusakh Eydot a-Mizrah, Nusakh Polin, Nusakh Teiman and Nusakh a-ARI are the most widespread.
The books on Kabbalah say that in principle there are twelve variants, according to the number of the tribes of Israel. The division of the Jewish people into twelve tribes is not accidental, arbitrary.
It is historically due to the fact that our forefather Jacob had twelve sons. Each tribe is characterized by its own spiritual, emotional and intellectual characteristics, the roots of which are in the Sefirot of the world of Emanation.
This last aspect, as well as the symbolic meaning of the number 12, is discussed in detail in the writings of Rabbi Shneur-Zalman of Lyad (Alter Rebbe).
Therefore, each nusakh corresponds to the peculiarities of the spiritual nature of the corresponding tribe. This opinion is also given in halakhic literature.