Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Continuing The Conversation On Nusach Sefard Siddurim

(Painting by Elena Flerova)

Rabbi Tal Zwecker commenting on Brackets & Nusach Sefard Siddurim:

I read your blog again recently I enjoyed the discussion on siddurim and nuschaos. If you can pick up the Tefillah Yeshara Siddur printed by Ateret (originally printed in Berditshev) it has an interesting commentary called Keser Nehora you might enjoy. The nusach there is very similar to Ashkenaz many Chassidim used to use that siddur, as well as the Siddur of the Shel"a* and that of Rav Yaakov Emden the Kol Yaakov. All those nuschaos have brackets due to the confusion regarding the kavanos of the Arizal. I once asked the Clevelander Rebbe if it was preferrable to use the Chabad nusach or the general nusach from standard Siddurim and he told me to use the standard was better since it reflects the majority and the Baal HaTanya's Siddur had many changes that other Tzadikim rejected like removing Tzur Yisroel from Shacharis before Shemoneh Esrei. There is a famous story that the Baal HaTanya showed his "new" siddur to another Tzadik (I believe it was the Premishlaner) and the latter asked the Baal HaTanya, "How could you take out the Tzur Yisroel?"- a play on words referring to Hashem himself who is called the Rock of Israel as well as those words from text. I agreed with the analysis of Rav Rimmer's Siddur a valuable work for research etc. but not the derech of the Baal Shem Tov's students. My Rebbe Shlit"a quoted to me from the Shulchan HaTohar of R' Eizikl of Komarna that our Kabbala was that because the Baal Shem Tov was Ashkenazi his approach to the Arizal 's customs was based in Asheknaz custom and nusach.

* The Sulitzer Rebbe Shlit"a told me whosoever davens from the Shel"a Siddur is said that his prayers are not left unanswered as said in haskama / approbation of Rav Yoel Sirkis (author of the BACH on Tur) to the Shela Siddur.

Rabbi Dovid Sears comments:

I have read most of Rabbi Daniel Rimmer's analysis of Nusach ARI as the "shaar ha-kollel," and find his reasoning to be very compelling. His Tefillas Chaim Siddur is a brilliant work that brings this discussion to its zenith. However, I am sympathetic to Rabbi Zwecker's position, too. As Chassidim, we identify with our great Rebbes, beginning with the Baal Shem Tov, and most of them believed that it is appropriate for us as Ashkenazim to adapt Nusach Ashkenaz according to the ARI zal's modifications (found in various works such as Pri Etz Chaim, Shaar Ha-Kavannos, et al.).

The Siddur Baal ha-Tanya is one of the classical attempts to synthesize nuschos to conform to both the ARI and various poskim and other mekkubalim. To say that it is simply "Nusach ARI" would be incorrect -- and it would be an injustice to the Baal ha-Tanya, who no doubt had many kavannos and cheshbonos in redacting his siddur. It remains an extemely chashuv and time-honored nusach that many Chassidim and Rebbes used in addition to those of Chabad.

The Tefillah Yesharah or "Berditchever Siddur" (so named because it includes the haskamah of Reb Levi Yitzchok of Berditchev on Rav Aharon of Zhelkhov's perush, Kesser Nehorah) reflects the nusach of the Zholkover Siddur ARI, if I am not mistaken, and is close to Nusach Ashkenaz. Ditto Rav Asher's Siddur ARI, which was popular with many early Chassidic leaders including Reb Pinchos of Koretz. I once read that the nusach in Rav Shabbsai Rashkover's Siddur ARI was closer to the Sefardic siddur of 1524, which Rabbi Rimmer uses as the basis for his ground-breaking work. However, I'm told that when the Shoprener Rov prepared Rav Shabbsai's Siddur ARI for reprinting, he substituted the nusach of the Minchas Elazar of Munkatch, also published along with the Siddur Chemdas Yisrael of Rav Shmuel Vital. Assigned this task by his father, the Darkei Teshuvah, the Munkatcher Rov was the last Gadol who attempted to make this birur of Nusach ARI for Ashkenazim, using kesavim that the Baal HaTanya did not possess (see his "Maamar ha-Tefillah.").

Personally, I have used most of these siddurim at one time or another. Since my father's family were real Litvaks (from Shat, a small town a little south of Ponevez), I grew up davenning Ashkenaz. Then in the late 1970s, in my enthusiasm for Chassidism, I switched to Nusach Sefard. Then to Nusach Chabad from 1980-1987. Then to the Berditchever Siddur for a year or two. Then to the Munkatcher Siddur, which I still use, with a couple of "Breslover" changes here and there. I briefly davenned with the Slonimer Siddur, as well. At this point in my life, however, I am too emotionally attached to the Ashkenzic roots of the Chassidisheh nuschos to change.

It is interesting that Reb Nachman is conspicuously silent about the issue of nusach ha-tefillah and the "shaar ha-kollel," as the Maggid of Mezeritch termed Nusach ARI. Although he grew up in "the Baal Shem Tov's cheder" and seems to have davenned with either Reb Asher's Siddur ARI or that of Reb Shabsai Rashkover, these being the two most popular kabbalistic siddurim of his day and region, the Rebbe never makes an issue of the details of nusach. In fact, oral tradition has it that he once remarked, "If I had been born into a family that davenned Nusach Ashkenaz, I would daven Nusach Ashkenaz!" Reb Gedaliah Kenig questioned this sichah; yet it is indicative of something. In Breslev, there was never any preoccupation with such things. Significantly, the only place where Reb Nachman discusses the "shaar ha-kollel" is in Likkutei Moharan 9 ("Tehomos Yechasyumu") -- where it refers to davenning be-hiskashrus le-tzaddik ha-dor (attachment to the tzaddik of the generation). It seems that in Breslover Chassidus, this is the "thirteenth gate" -- no matter which siddur you use.


At July 25, 2006 at 10:05:00 AM EDT, Blogger ggg said...

Exelent post from R. David.
Im a Sefaradi & hassid breslev and i use a normal sefaradic sidur.
Just, before tefila, i said the "Breslov" leshem ichud (beitkasherut lejol hatzaidkim amitiim shebedorenu...)

At July 25, 2006 at 10:55:00 AM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

As an aside: I once asked Rabbi Berl Levin (the Chabad expert on these matters) about why, in Lubavitch, the Baal HaTanya's nusach is refered to as "Nusach Ari" when it is clearly a hybrid, and the fact is that all Sefard siddurim are just as based on "Nusach Ari."
He told me that they used to print two sidurim, and the reason that the Alter Rebbe's sidder said "Al Pi Nusach Ari" was not meant to say that this IS THE Nusach Ari, rather, it meant that this was the Chasidishe nusach (Ari), as opposed to the other available siddur they printed in the region (Ashkenaz).

At July 25, 2006 at 1:32:00 PM EDT, Blogger PsychoToddler said...

I can never tell if I'm supposed to say the stuff in the brackets, which is a problem now that I'm constantly davening for the amud. It doesn't matter, because there's always someone in the back blurting stuff out like "UMETZAPIN L'TSHUA!"

At July 25, 2006 at 2:34:00 PM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I believe the excellent siddur published by the Bostoner chassidim is based on the Berditchev / Kesser Nehora edition. It's very well laid out.

In the mid-1990's, I bought a newly typeset and published Munkacs siddur named after the Minchas Elozor, in one of the Boro Park bookstores. It had some commentary by the Minchas Elozor ZT"L and some details on the minhagim of Munkacs.

I don't know how available either of these siddurim is now. Both are free of "multiple choices" of language in the tefilla.

At July 25, 2006 at 6:18:00 PM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

> It is interesting that Reb Nachman is
> conspicuously silent about the issue of
> nusach ha-tefillah and the "shaar
> ha-kollel

I don't see anything conspicuous here, as many tzadikim didn't speak about this issue, which is mostly technical, and in that time was out of the grasp for most people, because all this sources were in ksav yad, and were available only to few.

However there is no doubt, that in Baal Shem Tov's circle nusach Ari issue was important, and his followers made efforts to daven with such sidurim. Toldoys Yakoyv Yoysef zy"o made such sidur (not available), and his son -Reb Avrohom Shimshon Rashkover zy"o as well (this one served as a primary source for Reb Shabsi's sidur). There is also a sidur of Reb Moyshe miLubomul zy"o, who is claimed to be Baal Shem Tov's talmid, however I didn't find any proofs of it.

However it is, in Baal Shem Tov's "cheyder", this issue was present (that nusach Arizal is Shaar haKoylel and is preferable), and obviously the Rebbe knew about it all. However very few really spoke about it (like Maggid for example). But it doesn't at all mean, that other's didn't hold of it.

The main issue - how to define, what is shaar hakoylel technically. Here is a big variety of methods. Some think (like Rabbi Rimmer) that it is one solid nusach from alef to sov. However it seems from all evidence, that chasidic approach is different, and it is rather just a combination of alterations, which are defined by Arizal, but they can be applied to native nusach (i.e. Ashkenaz or Sfardi).

Komarno's apporach to the nusach Ari is very radical even for other chasidic Rebbes, and leaves many questions unanswered (look in Tfilas Chaim about it). Most of chasidim don't it to such extreme, and are closer to general defintion given by the Maggid.

About taking things out by sidur compilers (like Baal haTania or Minchas Elozer) - if it is because of Ari za"l, and there is no opposite view form Baal Shem Tov for example, it according to Shaar haKoylel then and is legitimate.

At July 25, 2006 at 6:26:00 PM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

>It seems that in Breslover Chassidus,
>this is the "thirteenth gate" -- no
>matter which siddur you use.

Still this is just a speculation, even though some might like it. There is no proofs of this, and looking from general chasidic mesoyro coming from the Baal Shem Tov it is probably not very correct.

You can't prove it using negative derivation ("proof from the negative"), just pointing out, that if it is not mentioned, it is not valid.

At July 25, 2006 at 8:21:00 PM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

(R' Tal Zwecker):
> If you can pick up the Tefillah Yeshara
> Siddur printed by Ateret (originally
> printed in Berditshev) it has an
> interesting commentary called Keser
> Nehora you might enjoy.

That sidur originally was from Radvil, as I remember. Pirush Keser Nehoyro is defenetly worth to look at. It is also published in Zhitomir sidur (with a different nusach), and there it is much easier to read (the print is very clear). I just got 3 such sidurim on some sheymoys sail, just for 2$ each! (Of course these are not original Zhitomir sidurm, but good replicas).

At July 26, 2006 at 2:34:00 PM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think you guys should go back to nusach Ashkenaz. If you rely on Rashi, Baalei Tosfos, Rosh, Rama, etc., etc., for other things, I think you can rely on them for the siddur too.

At July 26, 2006 at 5:29:00 PM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Litvak: You can, but Nusach Arizal is better for those who doesn't know his sheyvet for known reasons.

Also, al pi halocho if you change from Ashkenaz to Ariza"l you aren't allowed to change back.

At July 26, 2006 at 6:15:00 PM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

A yid -

1) If Ashkenaz was good enough for Rashi, Rabbeinu Tam, Rosh, Rama, etc., etc. (did they 'know their shevet' more than us ?), it's good enough for us. We are not greater than them.

2) Not true, according to Ashkenazic/non-Hassidic poskim.

At July 26, 2006 at 8:13:00 PM EDT, Blogger A Simple Jew said...

Stevin: Good for you. If you connect with it, that is what is important.

Litvak: I agree with A Yid.

At July 26, 2006 at 9:22:00 PM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

> (Litvak):
> 2) Not true, according to
> Ashkenazic/non-Hassidic poskim.

But you are speaking to chasidim, and it is true according to chasidic poyskim.

> If Ashkenaz was good enough for Rashi, Rabbeinu
> Tam, Rosh, Rama, etc., etc. (did they 'know
> their shevet' more than us ?), it's good enough
> for us. We are not greater than them.

How do you make a connection, that only "if you are greater than them", then you might switch to nusach Ari? I don't see any logic here.

The whole concept of Shaar haKoylel as a nusach was revealed by Ariza"l. So why do you refer to Rashi with this issue for example? If you are fuzzy about this whole parsha look in Tfilas Chaim. He made an excelent essay about the issue on nusach Arizal from different perspectives.

At July 26, 2006 at 11:38:00 PM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I rely on Rashi and the other gedolim I mentioned. The Ashkenazic mesorah relies on them, not on the Ari.

At July 27, 2006 at 12:27:00 PM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

> I rely on Rashi and the other gedolim I
> mentioned. The Ashkenazic mesorah
> relies on them, not on the Ari.

You are wrong. Ari za"l made a big hashpoo on Ahkenazic mesoyro as well. But I think it doesn't worth arguing further. Because it is either obvious for litvak right away, or otherwise he'll not listen.

At July 28, 2006 at 2:48:00 PM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kabbolas Shabbos is not treated as pasrt of regular davening by Ashkenazim, rather as a sort of optional thing. You can see this in some Ashkenazic Shuls, where the shliach tzibbur leads kabbolas Shabbos from the bima, and only goes to the omud at the beginning of maariv.

Some Ashkenazim, e.g. some Briskers, don't say kabbolas Shabbos still.

Additionally kabbolas Shabbos has a varied pedigree, to say that it is all 'from the Ar"i', is incorrect.

At July 28, 2006 at 3:11:00 PM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What is your point anyway? You don't like that chasidim use nusach Ariza"l because of Ariza"l, Baal Shem Tov and their talmidim? Or you just like arguing for the sake of it? I think there are more useful things to do.

At February 19, 2007 at 2:51:00 PM EST, Blogger Unknown said...

joining this line a litle late...does anyone know what the background to the yesod malchus siddurim is?

At June 19, 2007 at 4:55:00 PM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

in the Mirrer Yeshivah they also omit Kabbalas Shabbos, and begin from Mizmor Shir L'Yom HaShabbos

that's an interesting point about ashkenazi shuls starting kabbalas shabbos from the bimah - we chassidim say it from the amud

At August 28, 2008 at 9:10:00 AM EDT, Blogger Unknown said...

Dear Reb Dovid,
At the end of the day, we just want to mean what we say. But I think I can feel for you in the sense that I have gone through a number of nuschaos myseslf.

Rav Mordechai Yosef ztsl would daven from the alter Rebbes nusach. He made two changes - he said vaychulu before the amida on the maariv of shabbos eve, and he would say Tsur Yisrael (God - the Rock of Israel) in shacharis. When they asked him why this was so, he answered, "I love the Alter Rebbes nusach, but really, I love Tsur Yisrael more."
When you coming home to the land?
Betzalel Edwards

At August 28, 2008 at 7:05:00 PM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very interesting he'arah from the Izhbitzer, and great to hear from you again! I keep missing you on your trips to the States -- but one of these days we'll hit it right.

As for "coming home," I don't know what to say. You did the right thing by making aliyah while you were still young. It is harder to make such big changes at this stage of life. But Shira was in E"Y for about two weeks recently and had a great time. "Nohr af simchas!"

At August 29, 2008 at 9:18:00 AM EDT, Blogger Unknown said...

Re Israel,

may Gd bless you to have the land call you and yours

and if it doesnt, Gd has his own plans for everybody. Be well and

Shabbat Shalom

At May 6, 2009 at 1:27:00 PM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Berditchever Siddur" (so named because it includes the haskamah of Reb Levi Yitzchok of Berditchev on Rav Aharon of Zhelkhov's perush, Kesser Nehorah)

Actually its called that simply because it was printed in Berditishiv


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