Breaking From Tradition
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Breaking From Tradition

‘Siddur Lev Shalem” breaks new ground in a number of areas, such as offering a new prayer for those who are unable to recite mourners’ Kaddish due to the lack of a minyan, and writing a blessing to be recited by those called to the Torah for an aliyah to celebrate a joyous occasion. There are also two pages of meditations that ask for direction that are recited before the open ark to supplement the time reserved for personal prayer.

Unlike previous liturgical publications of the Rabbinical Assembly, this new siddur uses the traditional Hebrew text and brings back a more literal translation of the Hebrew, getting rid of the “contemporary gloss,” offered in the 1998 “Siddur Sim Shalom,” said Rabbi Edward Feld, the new siddur’s senior editor.

And that led to the expanded commentary.

“As soon as we adopted the principle of presenting a more literal translation, it meant we had to have a commentary explaining what the prayer says, what it means and how we can relate to it,” he said.

For example, in the Sabbath Shacharit Amidah prayer, Rabbi Feld pointed to one of the blessings that “Siddur Sim Shalom” translated as meaning that the Sabbath day was given to the Jews and not “as a heritage to idolaters, nor do others share in its rest.” The new siddur translates the blessing literally — that God gave the Sabbath day to the Jews and not to “idol worshippers nor the uncircumcised.”

But Rabbi Feld’s version has that paragraph bracketed off and the words “some omit” placed above it.

“We felt strongly that sitting in the sanctuary would be non-Jewish parents who had brought their kids to Hebrew school” and would be uncomfortable reciting those words, Rabbi Feld said.

The right column notes that the sentence does not appear in early Ashkenazi liturgy but must have been added in the High Middle Ages due to the competition between Judaism from Christianity.

“Our situation today is quite different, and we welcome non-Jews to join with us in celebrating Shabbat,” the text reads. “As the prophet Isaiah declared, Judaism’s gifts are not a secret treasure to be hoarded, but a divine blessing to be shared with all who would join in receiving them.”

stewart@jewishweek.org

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