Would the Rav Approve of the Soloveitchik Siddur?

Would the Rav Approve of the Soloveitchik Siddur?

Print Friendly and PDF

Yaakov Jaffe

Editor’s Note: This is Part II of a two-part series on using ideological preferences for choosing non-ideological texts. The previous article considered generally the criteria for choosing Humashim and Siddurim. This article analyzes the Soloveitchik Siddur in light of Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik’s Hashkafah.

In my previous article, I discussed the dangers of choosing and producing ritual texts with the express purpose of aligning them to our ideology. My primary concerns were twofold. First, intentionally crafting and forming these texts with an eye to meet a particular ideological agenda carries a grave risk that we might sacrifice the focus on prayer or Torah study, instead distracted by the ideological battles of the day. Second, we are all painfully aware of the nuance and range of views and approaches within Modern Orthodoxy, so in all likelihood any text that might be produced would speak for one group of Modern Orthodox Jews, not for all.

Thus, my preference would be to switch back to ideologically neutral Siddurim. Literal translations, minimal commentaries, simple instructions. This enables the individual at prayer to read his or her own ideology into the blank slate of the ancient words, instead of turning to an ideological view overlaid on those ancient words.

I turn now to one particular Siddur, crafted for the Modern Orthodox community and ideological viewpoint, which clearly highlights these two problems. This Siddur is a trustworthy beacon for Modern Orthodox theology—but it is precisely this fealty to theory and philosophy which can distract from prayer. And as I become more attuned to the precise theology of the Siddur, I notice more and more of a fault line between this Siddur and the conventional approach to prayer in contemporary Modern Orthodoxy and the precise theology of prayer of Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik, and so I wonder whether the creation of a new Modern Orthodox Siddur will ever meet my personal needs, or will always just reflect another nuanced instantiation of our movement, but not my own.

This analysis focuses on the Koren Masoret Ha-Rav Siddur, edited by Arnold Lustiger and published by Koren in 2011. It reflects upon both this Siddur’s role within the controversy over approaches to prayer and prayer texts, and its relationship to the approach to prayer propounded by Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik, the Rav zt”l.

The Soloveitchik Siddur and the Soloveitchik Liturgy

By its own admission (lii), The Soloveitchik Siddur does not strive to be an exact guidebook for those searching to pray using the unique nusah Ha-Rav. It does not present the pure text of Amidah that would have been recited in the Rav’s congregation; in fact, someone using the Siddur has no way of knowing when the Rav’s text differs from the conventional one.[1] The additional piyyutim recited by the Rav but not in other communities are absent from the book as well.[2] The Siddur does begin with a summary of roughly one hundred unique davening practices of the Rav. Yet, these practices only account for roughly half of the differences in the Rav’s prayer version, with nearly a hundred more published or transmitted elsewhere, but not included in the Siddur.[3] 

The Soloveitchik Siddur also does not strive to be a scholarly reconstruction of the Rav’s practices. In the time since Rabbi Soloveitchik’s passing, certain practices have come under question and debate, and the Siddur does not strive to reconcile or arbitrate between the different recollections and traditions.[4] 

Furthermore, the Siddur does not take a stand on a critical question prior to determining the Rav’s prayer version: What precisely is to be considered the Rav’s nusah or text of prayer? Is it the personal nusah of prayer he used privately? The nusah he instituted in his Beit Midrash at Maimonides?[5] The suggestions he made in shiurim and other public lectures? Since scholarly reconstruction isn’t its goal, the Siddur has no obligation to explicate or develop a clear position on this underlying question either.

Instead, the Siddur is focused much more on the ideas and philosophy of the Rav, writ large. The highlight of the Siddur is the pages of commentary containing insights on particular words and phrases in the prayers, often taken from the Rav’s philosophical works. Thus, at its core, the Rav’s Siddur provides a basic grounding in the principles of Modern Orthodox philosophy or theology, using the text of the Siddur as a launching pad for a series of excurses into Jewish Thought. The goal is less the prayer experience itself, and more using that experience as an opportunity to highlight beliefs.

Three examples will help demonstrate this decision and focus: On 32-33 in the Siddur, the last six morning blessings appear, with a comment of Rabbi Soloveitchik underneath. Though it goes unattributed, the lengthy comment is a summary, reworking, and at times verbatim quote of the start of “Catharsis,” one of Rabbi Soloveitchik’s most important articles, published in a special volume of Tradition in 1978.[6] The comment contains a key element of Rabbi Soloveitchik’s theology: that true heroism comes through retreat rather than victory, which is fittingly included early on in the Siddur volume.

The key irony, however, is that none of these blessings address any type of heroism in the liturgy as Rabbi Soloveitchik saw it. One blessing, the blessing of strength (Ha-Noten la-Ya’ef Koah), was omitted by the Rav entirely (see final entry to lx). The other, the blessing of might (Ozer Yisrael bi-Gevurah), seems to have been recited by Rabbi Soloveitchik when donning his belt in the morning following the Talmud (Berakhot 60b) and Maimonides (Laws of Prayer, Chapter 7); it is a blessing upon belts and not heroism.[7] In this case, the Siddur seizes an opportunity to share the general philosophy of the Rav, instead of explicating what these prayers would actually have meant for the Rav.

A second example comes a few pages later in the section of Korbanot (48-61). This long, complex, and often skipped section of the prayer service (which summarizes the daily Temple offerings) goes mostly without comment—the one major comment from Rabbi Soloveitchik is a halakhic analysis relates to the permissibility of grape juice for Kiddush. This topic was addressed by Rabbi Soloveitchik on many occasions, but is extraneous to the purpose of this section of the prayer service.[8]

The way the Rav understood things, this section of the sacrifices exists not as a way to invoke the Kiddush of Shabbat; its purpose is to provide an occasion for Torah study in the context of prayer and in advance of prayer.[9] Though the conventional interpretation might see this section as a petition for the return to Temple service, or a fond recollection of the Temple, for the Rav, they serve simply as Torah study (based on Berakhot 31a).[10] It is for this reason that, within the Rav’s actual liturgy, the section ends only with a Rabbi’s Kaddish, focusing on the aspect of study, rather than with the Yehi Ratzon prayer, which focuses on aspirations for the Temple. Here again, an opportunity to develop Rabbi Soloveitchik’s structure of prayer is replaced with a more general topic.

One final example comes from the end of the daily prayers (212-223). After the song of the day, the Siddur prints five additional prayers: the incense offering, final barekhu, six remembrances, the Ten Commandments, and thirteen principles of faith. The only comment discusses the special nature of Mosaic prophecy as a comment upon the practice to remember the story of Miriam in Numbers 12. The central comment is philosophical in nature, and does not cut to the core of this prayer experience. It reflects a mainstream tenet of Orthodoxy instead of focusing on the nuance of these many prayers.

These pages pass up numerous opportunities to share specific perspectives the Rav had on these prayers: a discussion and explication of the opposition to the recitation of the thirteen principles each day,[11] the opposition to the recitation of the Ten Commandments,[12] the problem with ending the prayers with a final barekhu,[13] not to mention the question of whether the Rav felt the six remembrances were actual Mitzvot and whether the text in the Siddur would suffice for that Mitzvah.[14] But since the Siddur’s goal is theology rather than liturgy, it focuses on matters other than the liturgical details.[15]

The Soloveitchik Siddur vs. the Soloveitchik Hashkafah 

More than anything else, the Koren Soloveitchik Siddur is a confident representation of the essential principles of Modern Orthodoxy. The modern centrality of Israel and the State of Israel jumps out every few pages, through explicit prayers for the state, its institutions and holidays,[16] as well as to regular footnotes alerting the reader to the course of prayers in Israel.[17]

The Siddur also visibly marks the advancements of Modern Orthodoxy in two other critical areas. The commentary often makes explicit reference to the value and meaning in secular knowledge and literature, proclaiming the commitment to secular studies and Torah u-Madda.[18] Additionally, the role of women in prayer, liturgy, and life cycle celebrations is raised to higher prominence than in earlier versions of the Siddur.[19] And it is fitting that a Siddur designed to be a standard-bearer for the movement carries the name of the giant of the movement. Still using those very same words, the selection of a Siddur enables the person at prayer to adjust along the edges so that the prayer reflects and resonates with a uniquely Modern Orthodox approach to Judaism: who we are and what we stand for. It achieves greater meaning for the supplicant by focusing more on what is most important to us, and less on the ancient forms.

However, the irony remains that, as I demonstrated in my previous post, for Rabbi Soloveitchik, the role and purpose of the prayer and consequently the Siddur is not to confidently proclaim what makes us unique or focus on what resonates most. To the contrary, it is meant to mark and recognize our limitations and failings. For the Rav it would be better to proudly develop an ideology outside of the synagogue, while using a Siddur text that reflects centuries of consensus and humble contentment with the past. Modern Orthodox Jews using the Rav’s Siddur are likely to be sanguine with the choice to follow their leader’s ideology and philosophy instead of his unique liturgy, but it behooves them to be conscious of the costs and benefits of that decision.[20]

Should Prayer Focus on Victory or Defeat?

In crafting a Siddur that focuses on our ideological commitments, The Soloveitchik Siddur focuses us proudly on the victorious moment of self-definition as a movement, instead of positioning us humbly with the defeated emotion of a lowly supplicant.

R. Soloveitchik helped convey the feeling of surrender towards God and Halakhah precisely through a series of differences between his liturgy and the conventional one, with the differences all pointing in the direction of withdrawal and recoil. The one offering prayers before God must be nearly passive or mute, constantly unable to even formulate certain prayers.[21] It is an approach to prayer that carries intense caution, even fear, lest the wrong words be put forth, Heaven Forbid. And so, as much as we think about the prayers we do say, we are also constantly reminded of all the prayers we cannot utter. Permission is needed to be able to pray, and prayer without permission borders on heresy. Or, in the words of the Koren Soloveitchik Siddur (120):

Mortal man, puny and insignificant, must first ask permission before engaging in a dialogue with the Infinite. Man needs a license, a matir…. An acknowledgment of His grandeur—an introduction with serves as the matir, the humble request for license which allows us to proceed to the gates of prayer.[22] 

Thus:

  • Some of Rabbi Soloveitchik’s customs are grounded in a lack of “license” or “right” to pray, unless certain preconditions and introductory prayers have been invoked first (final note to lxi, introduction at xv).
  • Some prayers are omitted because they were created in the modern period, and carry the hubris of creativity, unbecoming of the humble, defeated penitent.[23] 
  • Other prayers are omitted because they are too anthropomorphic in nature, or describe the Creator on the same level as human beings and not as significantly greater and beyond.[24]
  • At other times, prayers must be removed from the Siddur because we cannot offer a prayer at the wrong time in the service,[25] or the wrong day of the week, [26] so we recognize withdrawal by confessing that we cannot offer this particular prayer at this particular time.
  • We accept defeat by not repeating verses in the service,[27] and not reciting mystical prayers or catechisms.[28] We humbly pray what we can bring ourselves to say, but nothing more. 

In contrast, conventional prayer in Modern Orthodox synagogues has embraced the opposite attitude. Creativity, victory, and denominational ideology abound. Parts of the prayer service that fail to resonate are removed to the extent possible, while the parts that do resonate and often show great closeness to the Divine Creator become centerpieces of the service, even if they are the most daring and anthropomorphic.[29] Put differently, prayer for the Modern Orthodox Jew is the triumph and victory of Modern Jewish Thought over ancient prayer forms, while for the Rav’s liturgy it is precisely about withdrawal and surrender to those forms.[30] Whereas for Rabbi Soloveitchik the blessings of the Shema convey the themes of divine authority,[31] the Modern Orthodox Jew sees within them the theme of divine love.[32] Thus, as we start to use our own ideological assumptions to craft the prayer service, it begins to change, and quickly becomes something very different from what it was when we started.

        

Conclusion

Every reader of this article and its predecessor will draw his or her own conclusion about what they would like their prayer experience to be about: victory or defeat, ideology or supplication, neutral to hashkafah or expressive of it. And I would never begrudge anyone the opportunity to make such a choice about such a deeply personal element of religious life.

        

But, that being said, we should make these choices with our eyes open: with a recognition of the costs and benefits of the approach, an awareness of the implications of the way we chose texts with which to pray, and a respect for the problems inherent in insisting on perfect in-print representations of complex and nuanced philosophy, while in the midst of engaging in prayer.


[1] In this respect, there is a non-insignificant difference between the Siddur and Arnold Lustiger’s Mahzor Masoret Ha-Rav Le-Rosh Ha-Shanah (New York: K’hal Publishing, 2007): Each time a difference in text arises in the Mahzor, a footnote informs the reader of the Rav’s difference of opinion. In contrast, the Siddur makes no note of the differences on the page of prayer, and only by searching through the Rav’s practices that are listed in the introductory pages and then recalling them while reading the prayer text would one be able to use the Siddur to pray in accordance with the Rav’s textual versions.

[2] Most notably, the Rav established the recitation of Yotzerot Piyyutim on the five special Shabbatot before Purim and Pesah at his minyan in Maimonides, whichthough printed in the 1987 RCA Siddurdo not appear in the Soloveitchik Siddur. (The special Ge’ula Piyyut for Pesach, printed in the 1987 RCA Siddur, also fails to appear in the Soloveitchik Siddur.) Rabbi Soloveitchik also used alternative leining divisions for eight Shabbatot every year [See Meni Gopin, Davening with the Rav (New Jersey: Ktav, 2006), 116], which are not printed in the Soloveitchik Siddur. Thus, for at least one third of the year’s Shabbatot, the Soloveitchik Siddur is an insufficient resource for one striving to use the Rav’s version of tefillah.

[3] I have written about some of these practices before. See my “Upon the Wings of Eagles and Under the Wings of the Shekhinah: Poetry, Conversion, and the Memorial Prayer,” Hakirah 17 (2014): 191-204, and “The Psalm of the Day” [Hebrew] Beit Yitzchak 42 (2010), 103-109. See also the remainder of this essay, and Mendi Gopin, Davening with the Rav, for other practices not included. 

[4] The list of customs of the Rav are virtually identical between the Mahzor and the Siddur (when considering customs that apply equally on both days), with one notable difference. The Rosh Hashanah Mahzor (custom #10), shares the view that Rabbi Soloveitchik recited “Morid Ha-Tal” in the summer months, in agreement with Gopin, Davening, 113 (#9). However, the establishment of this custom has more recently come under dispute, and the Siddur makes no mention of the Rav’s view in either direction. Similarly, regarding the Rav’s version of the sixteenth blessing of the daily Shemoneh Esrei, Isaiah Wohlgemuth, Guide to Jewish Prayer (Brookline: Maimonides, 2015), 148, cites different traditions as to the Rav’s view, while the Siddur (towards the bottom of page, lxvi) asserts with full certainty that the Rav’s view was to follow a combination of Ashkenazic and Sephardic texts. There is also some controversy as to how the Rav concluded the final blessing of Musaf on Shabbat/Rosh-Chodesh (see Arukh ha-Shulhan, O.C. 425:2), which also goes unmentioned in the Siddur.

[5] To give two examples: Cantor Benni Gopin, zt”l, has testified to reciting the blessing of the new moon at Maimonides for years in Rabbi Soloveitchik’s presence, despite the Siddur’s attestation that this was not the Rav’s custom (top of lxxx). A possible solution may be that the custom expounded in a written essay was not be the one the Rav established in his Minyan. If so, one would need to present a method for determining which custom is to be considered the “official custom” of the Rav. A second example relates to the text of the Musaf offering in a holiday Musaf. According to Tzachi Goldberg, the Rav’s Chazzan for the high holidays, the text for the Musaf offering in the Musaf Amidah should be identical to the Maftir reading of that specific day. (This practice is also cited in print by Arnold Lustiger, Mahzor Masoret Ha-Rav Le-Yom Kippur, li, entry #80. Yet, this view is not mentioned in the Siddur. It is possible that this was the Rav’s personal practice, but not what he established at Maimonides (see Siddur, first entry to lxxxiv), again begging the question of which version should be considered the Rav’s nusah. 

[6] Joseph B. Soloveitchik, “Catharsis,” Tradition 17 (Spring 1978): 38-54, esp. 38-46.

[7] This is the implication of Gopin, Davening, 113 (#1). It is also noteworthy that in “Catharsis” itself, Rabbi Soloveitchik makes note of the absence of the first blessing from the Talmud in his third footnote, suggesting that the homiletical work was not precisely intended to reflect on the actual laws of prayer.

[8] Most notably in the second volume of Shiurim for the Yarzheit of his father, entitled “Mitzvat Kiddush,” Joseph B. Soloveitchik, Shiurim le-Zekher Abba Mari Vol. II (Jerusalem, Mosad Harav Kook, 2002), 135-50. See also Mesorah 7 (1992): 30, “Regarding the Cup of Kiddush” [Hebrew] and Mesorah 2 (1990): 57, “Concerning Maimonides’ Position Regarding the Prohibition of Leaven and Fruit Juice”[Hebrew].

[9] The practice is confirmed by a letter from the Rav’s student Isadore Halberstam, dated July 28, 1986 (entries 4-5). As “korbanot” function as Torah study, they are ‘learned’ and not ‘prayed,’ and no yehi ratzon follows. In any event, supplicatory prayers are not permissible before Pesukei de-Zimra; see Nefesh Harav (Jerusalem and New York: Flatbush Beth Hamedrosh, 1994), 108-9, so it is impossible that this section of Tefillah could function as a petition or prayer. In general, Halberstam’s letter confirms many of the customs that appear in the Siddur, although he does have a slightly different interpretation of some customs, and also adds the Rav’s positions (a) not to recite the Psalms typically recited when the Torah is returned to the Ark, (b) to skip the supplications before and after Mitzvot [such as Tefillin, Tallit, and Omer], (c) and to set the rules for the recitation of la-menatzeah to match those of tahannun.

[10] See the first lecture in the second volume of Yahrzeit classes about “Birkot Ha-Torah,” summarized in the back of the Siddur on 1206-9. Soloveitchik, Shiurim le-Zekher Abba Mari, Vol. II, 7-22.

[11] An extension of the objection to yigdal (in the last entry on lxxv), because of the problem of reciting catechism after prayer.

[12] An extension of the objection to standing for the Ten Commandments when they are read (first entry on lxxviii), based on Berakhot 12a, that the Rabbis prohibited their recitation outside of the Temple.

[13] This is noted in the list of the Rav’s customs for Maariv on lxxv, but is also true for Shaharit, since the same reason applies equally to both.

[14] The first Yahrzeit shiur (summarized at 503-506 in the Siddur), strongly implies that recalling the Exodus at the end of prayer as printed in the Siddur would not fulfill any obligation. Joseph B. Soloveitchik, Shiurim le-Zecher Abba Mari, Vol. I (Jerusalem, Mosad Harav Kook, 2002), 13-31.

[15] There is also a noteworthy extension into theology about understanding the reasons of Mitzvot (at 447-48)clearly not connected to the praises in the prayer at hand.

[16] Israel appears in 132 of 1100 pages in the Siddur, more than 10% of the pages, a significant evolution from the 1987 RCA Siddur. Prayers for the State include 554-57, 946-53, 834-35, and the additions to Birkat ha-Mazon, 1016-17. Many of these additions violate certain principles of the Soloveitchik liturgy, including his opposition to (a) coining new liturgy, (b) supplications not tied to charity, (see note on lxxviii), or (c) using language that is too anthropomorphic. The celebration of the holidays of the state is referenced at 156-57, 172-73, 188-89, 258-59, and 762-63, 776-77.

[17] See Siddur, 122-23, 130-31, 136-37, 144-45, 148-51, 200-1, 210-15, 230-31, 238-39, 244-45, 252-53, 280-81, 286-87, 294-95, 300-1, 316-17, 382-83, 394-95, 402-3, 406-7, 512-13, 526-27, 570-71, 586-87, 602-5, 646-47, 656-57, 742-43, 778-79, 788-89, 796-97, 804-5, 818-21, 830-31, 840-41, 850-57, 862-63, 866-67, and 876-87. My sense is that these references are less intended as resources for the Diaspora Jew who may have taken his Diaspora Siddur with him while on a trip to Israel. They instead serve as regular reminders that raise Israel to the centrality of consciousness in virtually every prayer for the individual praying outside of Israel, but wishing to feel connected to Israel.

[18] Citations to secular literature include John Milton’s Areopagitica (xxii), Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment (371), and I.L. Peretz (749). The Siddur also addresses the laws of physics (82-85), the Greek Symposium (691), medical research into human and animal organs (661-662), and makes numerous citations to Aristotle as well (see 487, 499, 697, xxiii, et al.)

[19] The Siddur includes (a) the addenda to zimmun for women (1006-1007 and 1068-1069), (b) the thanksgiving prayer for women after childbirth and the Zeved ha-Bat ceremony (1056-1063), (c) and a prayer for the Bat mitzvah (543). Many of these additions are also included despite contravening various principles of the Rav’s liturgy including his opposition to (a) new liturgy, (b) including more than the three patriarchs as “our forefathers,” (See Gopin, 117 (#20)) and (c) prayers without mention of charity (see bottom of lxxviii).

[20] Also striking is the decision, both in the Siddur (1017) and the new Koren Birkon (Birkon Mesorat Harav, ed. David Hellman [Jerusalem: Koren, 2016], 151), to add a prayer for the Israel Defense Forces in the Ha-Rahaman section of Birkat ha-Mazon. This does not seem to have been the Rav’s practice, for three reasons: (a) Rabbi Soloveitchik’s last active years in the public scene were in the early 1980s, while the Ha-Rahaman for the IDF wasn’t prevalent in American liturgy at the time. (See the Siddurim published in those years: the David De Sola Pool Siddur, under the direction of the RCA at the time that Rabbi Soloveitchik chaired its Halacha Committee, makes no mention of it. Neither does the Philip Birnbaum Siddur, nor the Rabbinical Council of America version of the Artscroll Siddur published later in Rabbi Soloveitchik’s lifetime in 1987, nor the Siddur Rinat Yisrael, a Siddur designed for prayer in Israel, but still used by some in the United States, and even other versions of the Koren Siddur.) (b) Rabbi Soloveitchik ended Birkat Ha-Mazon at the end of the fourth blessing, and did not say any Ha-Rahaman prayers (Birkon, 200-201); he would not have said one for the IDF while omitting the other half-dozen. (c) Rabbi Soloveitchik was generally reluctant to accept any changes or new innovations into the tefillot, as we have noted. 

[21] See an interesting concise summary of the approach in Hershel Schachter, Nefesh Ha-Rav (Jerusalem, 1994), 108-9.

[22] The notion of the need for license and permission is ubiquitous in “Thoughts on Prayer,” one of the few essays on prayer itself authored by Rabbi Soloveitchik in his own lifetime: Joseph B. Soloveitchik, “Thoughts on Prayer,” Ha-Darom 47 (1978): 84-106 [Hebrew], which has since been translated as the last chapter of Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik’s Worship of the Heart, 144-82 (New York: Ktav, 2003); see 89 and 103.

[23] For a longer discussion of this position, see Lustiger, Siddur, 953. See also Rosh ha-Shanah, lvii, entry #67, and “Thoughts on Prayer,” 89. One major position of the Soloveitchik liturgy is the omission of many prayers (and especially blessings) which were developed after the Talmud, including: (a) the blessing before birkat kohanim (see 863, as well as note to lxxiv), (b) the “oseh ha-shalom” ending of the Shemoneh Esrei (note towards the bottom of lxvii) during the ten days of repentance, (c) the sim shalom blessing (note towards bottom of lxxiv), (d) the blessing that closes le-olam yehei adam (45, and note towards top of lxi), (e) the blessing of rebuilding Jerusalem for the 9th of Av (243, although for a slightly different reason in note on bottom of lxxiv and top of lxxv), (f) barukh Hashem le-olam (top of lxxv, 280-283), in the daily Arvit prayers, (g) the sentence ki shem Hashem ekra prior to Minhah (bottom of lxxiv), and (h) the blessing melekh tzur yisrael ve-go’alo on festivals. One also imagines the Rav would have objected to the very recently written prayer for the US Armed Forces found on 553 of the Siddur for this reason. Aside from its problematic creativity, it also violates the rule of misappropriating a scriptural verse applied to God for something else, namely the US armed forces (see Numbers 10:35, and the final note to lxxxv), and uses the word “hashkifah” for a positive purpose (against Rashi to Genesis 18:16).

[24] Among the prayers the Rav omitting for this reason is the commonly sung Yedid Nefesh (343, omitted in the Rav’s nusah), Anim Zemirot (606-9, final note to lxxx), part of the text of Aleinu (see bottom of lxxii), and the version of the memorial prayer found in the Siddur, 835-838, as noted in my “Upon the Wings,” Hakirah 17.

[25] For this reason, the Rav’s nusah removes from the service prayers that seem to hinge on the performance of another commandments; see note 9, above.

[26] See top of lxxx; the supplications upon taking the Torah out on Yom Tov (535-36), the supplications during the priestly blessings (871-74, note towards top of lxxxv [although applied only to Shabbat and not Yom Tov]), and the supplications at the beginning of tefilah (first note to lxi).

[27] Such as the commonly sung thirteen attributes and va-ani tefillati (532-35; see middle note on lxxxiii)

[28] Shalom Aleichim Birkon, 197 and potentially Berikh Shemeih (534-37; see bottom of lxx).

[29] Tahannun has long been considered a burdensome, cryptic, lengthy prayer which does not resonate with the modern reader, perhaps particularly because of its focus on the worthlessness of humanity (“Thoughts on Prayer,” 101). Approximately following the Rambam (Tefillah 5:15), who considered tahannun the vital hishtahavaya (bowing) part of prayer, the Rav’s custom was to recite tahannun 408 times each year (compare Gopin, 115). The Siddur excludes an additional 28 occasions on 258-59 and 156-57. Another similar example of this phenomenon relates to Yotzerot, discussed above.

[30] Consider that the four changes to the Friday night service on lxxv-lxxvi, include removing Ve-Shameru and Magen Avot (379 and 395) which are commonly sung communally, and removing Kiddush and Yigdal (399 and 407), major occasions for youth participation in the synagogue. Similarly, consider the one major change to the Shabbat Shaharit (490-93), which also relates to the one major song of the Shabbat morning service (note to middle of lxxvii).

[31] Soloveitchik, Worship of the Heart, 105.

[32] Siddur, 98-99, 268-69, and 486-87.

Know it All: Of Jewish Philosophers and Doctors

Know it All: Of Jewish Philosophers and Doctors

Between Shabbat and Lynch Mobs

Between Shabbat and Lynch Mobs